This recipe for 2-ingredient Plum Jam is like capturing the fresh flavors of summer in a jar! Plums and sugar is all you need to make this pot of deliciousness. I cook down the sweet and tart plums with sugar, which helps them release their juices and natural sweetness. I cook it till it reaches a thick, spreadable jam-like consistency! This flavorful, sweet and slightly tart jam is one of my favorite things about summer!
Coconut rice is a delicious vegan and gluten-free side, that compliments a wide range of entrees. I prepare it by cooking rice in coconut milk, and season it lightly with salt. Coconut milk adds a creamy and naturally sweet flavor to the rice, which elevates everyday rice into an elegant and flavorful side dish. In this simple recipe for Instant Pot Coconut Rice, all I do is add all the ingredients to the pot and pressure cook the rice for 6 minutes. Continue Reading…
Beet Coconut Stir Fry (Beetroot Thoran) is a quick and easy stir-fry of chopped beets with grated coconut. I lightly season it with salt, turmeric and coriander, and finish it with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. This light and refreshing dish does full justice in highlighting the sweet and earthy flavors of beets.
Beets, the Super Food
Beet, or beetroot, is a popular super food that is gaining visibility for a wide variety of health benefits. Based on my internet research, and to name a few, beets are rich in antioxidants, amino acids, and help in reducing blood pressure. Beet greens are rich in Vitamins A, K and C. They taste somewhat similar to kale and swiss chard. In the past few years, I’ve seen beets feature in many restaurants, as appetizers, side dishes, and even as part of entrées . I’ve been experimenting with beets in my recipes, and am loving the results. Although, I must confess that I have yet to fall in love with beetroot ice-cream 🙂
This recipe for Beet Coconut Stir Fry (Beetroot Thoran) is on repeat menu in my home. It’s inspired by one of my favorite south-Indian side dishes, Thoran.
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern vegetarian salad made of finely chopped parsley and mint, with Bulgar wheat, chopped tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and seasoned with a simple lemon vinaigrette. In this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad, I have replaced Bulgar wheat with cooked quinoa, which makes the Tabbouleh gluten-free, hearty and protein-rich. This simple Mediterranean side takes very little time to make and compliments many grilled meats and vegetables.
This creamy cauliflower potato garlic sauce is simply magical. It’s like mashed potatoes met cheese fondue! I steam the potatoes, cauliflower and garlic together, and add heated heavy cream, or half-and-half, with butter, tangy goat cheese, salt and pepper, and whisk it till I get a silky smooth sauce! The addition of goat cheese adds a tanginess which cuts through the richness, and balances this sauce perfectly. Parmesan cheese compliments the goat cheese and makes this sauce absolutely delicious.
Finally nailed it!
Years ago, at a middle eastern restaurant, I had a garlic sauce that was served with grilled chicken and lamb kebab. It was hands down, one of THE most delicious sauces I have ever had! Since then, I’ve been trying to imagine a mash-up between that garlic sauce and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. I also wanted to make this sauce lighter and healthier, so that I wouldn’t have to feel too guilty about loading up on carbs. So, I decided to do a half and half of potatoes and cauliflower. After a few ‘almost there’ attempts, I finally nailed it. Continue Reading…
Kale and Mango Slaw with Chickpeas is a hot favorite dish in my home currently. It screams SPRING, in looks as well as flavor. I lightly sauté my favorite kale slaw mix (from Trader Joe’s), with chickpeas, juicy mango, and top it with crunchy slivered almonds. All the flavors come together really well in the end. My family enjoys it as a side with Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Mediterranean Lamb Chopsand Black Pepper Shrimp, and, leftovers make for a delicious power-packed lunch.
Customize it: I use cooked chickpeas in this recipe. You can use canned, or pre-cooked chickpeas. I typically, pressure cook about a cup of chickpeas for 30 minutes in my Instant Pot, and use them in different recipes throughout the week. Chickpeas add a nice earthy and creamy flavor, and, boost the protein and fiber content of any dish. That being said, you can choose to use other kinds of beans instead, like black beans, kidney beans, or, skip them entirely to make a simple kale and mango slaw. The same goes for soycutash too. I personally, love the contrast of flavors that soycutash brings to this slaw, with the sweet corn, crunchy edamame and juicy peppers. But, you can use frozen corn or peas instead, or, skip it entirely. On another note, I have used mango in this recipe since I love the combination of kale and mango. You can easily switch that with a pear or a juicy granny smith apple too.
One-Skillet Wonder: The easy of putting this slaw together is a big bonus for me. Everything happens in one skillet, so no extra dishes to wash! I sauté cooked chickpeas in cumin and paprika, add soycutash and saute it till it thaws. Then add the Kale slaw mix, salt and vinegar, and sauté it for 30 seconds, and turn off the heat. Add chopped mango, garnish with roasted slivered almonds, and just like that, this nutrition packed slaw is ready!
Here’s how to make Kale & Mango Slaw with Chickpeas:
Aromatic basmati rice cooked with buttery soft spinach in homemade ghee, that’s what makes this Instant Pot Spinach Rice Pilaf so flavorful and hearty! Spinach Rice, or Palak (spinach) Pulav (rice pilaf), is a popular vegetarian side, where long-grain Basmati rice is cooked with fresh spinach, and seasoned with cumin seeds, garam masala (Indian spice blend) and ground coriander. Finally, I finish the spinach rice with a light squeeze of lime and it tastes divine. I like to add a few cashews or slivered almonds to spinach rice, as they add a nice texture and contrast to the creamy spinach and the soft fluffy rice.
Following this quick and easy recipe for Instant Pot Spinach Rice Pilaf, you can elevate your everyday rice into an elegant and delicious side dish!
A very popular variation of this recipe is the Greek-style spinach rice, called Spanakorizo. That’s pronounced as span-a-ko-reezo. Now, try saying that 10 times fast 🙂It is extremely easy to make Spanakorizo by switching a couple of ingredients in this recipe. Typically flavored with fresh dill, lemon zest and juice, this flavor-packed dish goes really well with a mediterranean themed menu. I pair it with these Lamb Chops, or my Mediterranean Chicken and everyone loves it in my home. I have listed the recipe for Spanakorizo in the ingredients list below.
This Instant Pot Spinach Rice Pilaf has a nice fluffy and creamy texture and taste, due to which it seems like the perfect pairing with most Indian curries. My personal favorite pairings with Spinach rice are with Butter Chicken , Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Tikka Masala and Paneer Butter Masala (Paneer Makhani). My local Trader Joe’s carries both these combinations in their frozen entrée section as well :-). There’s something about these combinations that makes them go so well together; the buttery spinach compliments the rich curry in all these dishes.
Stove-top Recipe for Spinach Rice Pilaf:
In this recipe, I’ve made the Spinach pilaf in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but this recipe can very easily be made on the stove-top too. Here’s how:
Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan on medium-high heat. Follow the instructions to saute everything, add rice, seasonings, water. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
Open lid, gently fluff rice with a fork, add lime juice and mix. Let it sit, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving. As a result of this resting period, any excess moisture evaporates, therefore, resulting in soft and fluffy rice.
Instant Pot Spinach Rice/ Palak Rice (Spinach Pilaf)
Juice of 1 small lemon, about 2 teaspoons, to be added after cooking
Rinse rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear. If you have the time, soak it for 20 minutes. Rinse and drain before using.
Heat ghee on SAUTE mode. Add cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle, about 15-20 seconds. Add chopped onions and cashews and saute for 30 seconds. If you're adding curry leaves and green chilies, you can add them with the onions. Add crushed or grated, ginger & garlic, and saute another 30 seconds.
Add chopped spinach and cilantro and saute for about a minute, till the spinach wilts. See video for clarity. Add rinsed and drained rice and saute another minute. Add spices and water, stir well. Close lid. Cancel SAUTE. Set pressure valve to 'Sealing' position. Cook on Manual or Pressure Cook for 6 minutes.
Wait 5 minutes before manually releasing the pressure, by turning the valve to venting position (NPR 5). Open the lid after the pin drops. Fluff rice with a fork. Let it sit uncovered for 5 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and mix it gently.
Saffron Rice Pilaf (Pulao)! Aromatic and nutty basmati rice cooked in a Saffron infused broth. You can pair this easy and popular side with so many dishes across different cuisines. Saffron is a spice that is derived from the core of a flower called, saffron crocus. Each strand of saffron is carefully extracted by hand, which makes it the world’s most expensive spice (by weight). That being said, most recipes call for a pinch or two of saffron, so if you invest in a small box, it’ll last a long time.
Saffron adds a deep floral fragrance along with a golden-yellow to a light-crimson color to dishes, depending on the quantity used. You can bring out the best flavor of saffron, by soaking it in a warm liquid, like water or milk. In Indian cuisine, Saffron is used in many rice preparations, both sweet and savory. One of my favorite dishes, and, an extremely popular savory meat & rice pilaf, which uses saffron, is Biryani.
In this recipe, I have cooked saffron rice in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but it can be prepared in any pressure cooker, a rice cooker, microwave, or even on the stove-top. To learn more about the instant pot, check out my Instant Pot FAQ and Accessories blog.
Here is how to make it on the stove top or the microwave as well.
Rinse 1 cup of rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear. If you have the time, soak it for 15 minutes, that results in fluffy rice. For one cup of rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add rinsed and drained rice, salt, ghee or oil, slivered almonds (optional), and saffron, that has been soaking in warm water (see how-to instructions in recipe card). Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, till you reach your desired texture.
Make it in the Microwave:
Rinse 1 cup of rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear. If you have the time, soak it for 15 minutes, that results in fluffy rice. In a microwave safe bowl, add drained rice, 2 cups of water (for 1 cup rice), and all other ingredients, and cook it at “rice” mode.
Prep: Rinse 1 cup of rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear. If you have the time, soak it for 15 minutes, that results in fluffy rice. Take 1/2 teaspoon of saffron in a microwave safe bowl, Using a teaspoon, break down the stems into smaller pieces. Add 1 tablespoon hot water to it, or, add cold water and microwave it for 20-30 seconds. Saffron rice can be prepared two ways in the Instant Pot- Direct pot, or Pot-in-Pot. Here are both ways:
Main Pot Add rinsed and drained rice and all other ingredients in the inner pot. Close lid. Set valve to sealing position. Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 6 minutes, OR, Rice mode, which defaults to 12 minutes.
Pot-in-Pot Add all ingredients in any oven safe container. Add 1 cup water, or the recommended quantity, to your inner pot. Place trivet and place the rice bowl on top of that. Close lid. Set valve to sealing position. Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 6 minutes, OR, Rice mode, which defaults to 12 minutes.
Wait 10 minutes before manually releasing the pressure (NPR 10). Open lid after pin drops. Using a fork, carefully fluff the rice. Serve with your favorite entree!
Garam Masala is a fragrant blend of locally grown spices from the Indian subcontinent, similar in concept to the French herb de Provence or Chinese five-spice powder. The basic composition of this blend differs by region, since the climate and soil-type varies all over India. Plus, almost every household has their own spin on homemade garam masala based on their taste preference.
How to Make Garam Masala Spice Mix
Garam masala is a ground mix of whole spices like cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon bark, cardamom, etc. I start by lightly roasting whole spices to release their flavor and aroma. Then, I cool the spice blend and grind it to a fine consistency, using a coffee grinder. If stored in a cool and dry place, this homemade garam masala stays fresh for months.
Ground vs. Whole Spices
This blend is my grandmother’s recipe for Garam Masala. Most of my curry and Indian recipes on this blog call for garam masala as one of the main flavoring components. Some traditional Indian recipes ask for whole spices, to add a stronger aroma and flavor to the dishes. These whole spices are not pleasant to bite on, so they have to be fished out before serving. I prefer to use this blend instead to make my life easier.
Homemade garam masala beats store-bought any day. But for busier times, I always have a store-bought back-up in my pantry. I have tried many brands and find the Frontier Garam Masala blend to be a close substitute. I feel it’s well-balanced and no single spice overpowers the others.
Makki ki Roti is a popular punjabi flat bread made from corn flour and generally served with Sarson Ka Saag. Fine yellow cornmeal is seasoned with salt, red chili powder, carom seeds (ajwain) and coriander powder. Using warm water, the cornmeal is kneaded into a semi-soft dough. And then flatbreads are rolled out using a small portion of this dough. The earthy flavors of this roti make this a perfect accompaniment for sarson ka saag.
Variations in Recipe
Just like any traditional dish, every family has their own spin on it. My family has a few of them. Just like my grandmother, my mom would always make Makki ki Roti with seasoned cornmeal, nothing else added. One of my aunts adds freshly chopped fenugreek leaves to the dough. My mother-in-law always added shredded diakon-radish to her dough in addition to freshly chopped cilantro. I loved her version the best. To me, the radish acts as a great binder for the dough, plus enhances the flavor of this Roti so much. It goes so well with the creamy Sarson ka Saag.
Cornmeal / Corn Flour
Makki ki Roti is made with fine-ground cornmeal or corn flour. This taste and consistency is close to the Mexican corn flour that is used for making corn tortillas. This flour has a very earthy and subtle sweet taste that makes it unique, which is why substituting any other flour may not give you the same results. You can find this flour at any Indian grocery store, or on amazon. Here is a picture of one of the brands that I like.
Making the Flatbread / Makki Ki Roti
The process of flattening the flatbread often intimidates people. It looked impossible to me. For the longest time, I thought that was something only Moms could make, and, that it was an art that one needed to master. And then I saw my mother-in-law make them one day. Since that day, I firmly believe, that you can science your way out of recipes, and make them work! I realized that, the consistency of the dough makes it tough to roll out, because it sticks and crumbles on you. So, I cut open a large ziplock bag, place the dough in between the two sides, and, use a heavy fry pan to press down on the dough a couple of times, till it becomes flat. Then, simply peel off the flatbread from the ziplock and place it on a hot griddle for cooking. As simple as that! Watch the video above and you’ll see how easy this process is.
Makki ki Roti is traditionally served with Sarson ka Saag. Here is the recipe for creamy Sarson ka Saag. If for any reason, you cannot make makki ki roti, a close substitute would be stone-ground corn tortillas from your local supermarket, or, handmade corn tortillas from your favorite taqueria. To elevate the tortillas to another level, lightly grease a fry-pan, brush the corn tortillas with a little ghee, sprinkle a little cayenne on top, and lightly toast them. The end result gets pretty close to the classic Makki ki Roti. Serve this combo with some Sweet and Spicy lemon Pickle and you’ll thank me!
Make the dough In a large mixing bowl, mix in sifted cornmeal, salt, carom seeds and red chili powder. Add grated radish and cilantro and mix with a fork. Using a few tablespoons of warm water at a time, knead gently into a soft dough. Knead the melted ghee into the dough and divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll out those 8 portions into individual dough balls, about 2 inches in diameter.
Make Makki Rotis/Flatbreads To make rotis, cut open a gallon size ziploc bag on two ends and spread it open (like a book). Brush both inner sides with water. Wet your palms and gently flatten the dough ball with you fingers. Place the in the center of the ziplock and cover with the other side. Using a heavy bottom fry-pan, press down on the dough 2-3 times, till you have an even thickness flatbread.
Cook the Makki Roti Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Peel off the roti from the ziplock and place it on the hot skillet. Cook for about 30 seconds, till it turns a shade darker. Flip it. Brush a little ghee on the other side and flip after 30 seconds. Repeat the process on the other side and cook till the flatbread turns golden in color.