Thursday, 9 February 2012

Tangy Roasted Bell Pepper Hummus

The weather has been pretty great lately and yesterday being a little warmer than most days. To blend in with the lovely weather we had ourselves a real cozy dinner. Besides the usual sabzi, chicken and rotis, I made fresh healthy hummus and roasted veggie and chicken sandwiches.

This was my first time at cooking and tasting hummus and I must say, I loved it. I'm sure many of you have tried and tested recipes for hummus. But today, I have for you my version of hummus made with roasted bell peppers. Hummus is a simple and healthy Arabic style dip.

I did go through a few recipes for guidance on how to make a basic hummus (which is so easy btw) and added my own twist just to add to the flavour. I chose fresh red bell peppers to complement the rich texture of the chickpeas.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, I just realized are not very easy to photograph!

Actually they are rather boring to photograph. There is no zazzy colour nor do they have an interesting outer texture to them!

However they have a fantastic nutlike taste and are very versatile legumes. They are often found in many Indian and Middle Eastern dishes and can come in the form of falafels, in curries or as dips. While I picked chickpeas that are beige in colour (white kabuli chana), there are varieties that feature black, green, red and brown beans.

Above all chickpeas are fiber All Stars! They are rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber and can lower cholestrol.

You'll find more health benefits for chickpeas here.

Selecting and Storing
Chickpeas are available dried in packets or canned. When selecting dried chickpeas make sure that there are no signs of insect damage or moisture and that they are not cracked. You can store dried chickpeas in air tight containers in a cool, dark and dry place which will last for upto 12 months.

Bell Pepper
The roasted bell pepper in the hummus lends it's wonderful aroma and texture to the entire dip, making it wholesome and flavoursome. Bell peppers are not only an excellent source of carotenoids but also rich in vitamins, fiber and other nutrients. They are amazing antioxidants and recent research also suggests that intake of bell peppers can reduce risk for gastric cancer and esophageal cancer. This veggie can be used in a variety of ways, fresh crunchy salads, stuffed with lentils, chicken or other meats etc... to name a few.

Selecting and Storing
While buying bell peppers (be it red, yellow or green), if possible go for the fresh and bright colour because it is in these bright coloured peppers, you will find the true aroma and flavour. Make sure they are free from blemishes, bruises or colouring.

For short-term use, the best way to store bell peppers (to avoid getting rotten fast) is to refrigerate them in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. To ensure good air flow, remove peppers from any plastic bag or container they were purchased in. With proper refrigeration, a healthy bell pepper should last from three to five days in the refrigerator.

Store bell peppers for up to a month by freezing them. Frozen properly, bell peppers should retain good colour and flavour for a month. Wash, core and seed fresh bell peppers to get them ready for freezing. They can be frozen either whole or sliced.

Now over to the recipe.


Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans (dried) - 1 cup
Red Bell Pepper - 1
Garlic (minced or crushed) - 2 cloves
Tahini paste – 2 to 4 tbsp
Fresh Lemon juice – juice from 2 lemons (adjust as per your taste)
Smoked Sweet Paprika (if available) or chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

For Marination

Olive oil – 2 tsp
Cracked pepper – a pinch
Salt – a pinch


Peel and deseed the bell peppers and keep aside. Preheat the oven at 200°celsius. Make the marination mixture by adding olive oil, cracked pepper and salt in a small bowl and whisking well. On a greased baking tray, lay out the prepared bell pepper and pour the marination over the top. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cover baking tray with aluminium foil and place in oven and roast for about 20 minutes or till veggie is soft and coloured. (take off aluminium foil after 10 minutes in oven and continue to roast uncovered)

In a pan, dry roast the cumin seeds until they are fragrant. Take out and allow to cool. Powder and keep aside.

Blend or puree the chickpeas in a food processor along with roasted bell pepper, powdered cumin seeds, tahini paste, lemon juice, minced or crushed garlic, smoked sweet paprika or chilli powder and salt. Pulse until the mixture just comes together. With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until incorporated and mixture becomes smooth. If you are using a blender, add all the ingredients along with olive oil into it and blend to a fine paste. If the paste is too thick use some of the reserved liquid from the cooked chickpeas. The consistency should not be liquidy and runny but thick and creamy.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. (optional).

Serve with pita bread or pita chips and crudités (refer notes) for dipping.

Notes: Crudite's are raw and lightly blanched vegetables that are frequently served as an accompaniment to dips. A bountiful array crudités makes a colourful addition to a picnic, buffet table or cocktail party.

To prepare crudités, follow the procedure below:

Clean and trim the edges of veggies. (you can use asparagus, carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, cucumber, green or yellow beans) Cut into slim sticks for dipping.

Blanching vegetables for crudités:

Some veggies benefit from a quick immersion in boiling water to soften their texture before serving them as crudités. These include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and green or yellow beans.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Feel Good: Warm Aloo Aur Hare Mattar Ki Tikki - Potato & Pea Patties

Always in search of new ways to enjoy good and healthy meals in a fun and innovative way, I decided to cook up the very popular North Indian snack in my kitchen - Aloo Aur Hare Mattar Ki Tikki. This is a very famous dish found in North India and is eaten quite often as a snack or a side to a hearty thali or whole meal. Both Reju and I love potato and peas and it was this love that drove me to make these yummy patties.

Flavour combinations mean a lot and I often enjoy putting together ingredients that might seem unusual at first, but often these ingredient combinations complement each other so well, bringing out a new harmony of aromas and flavours. I was glad that I gave this tasty dish a go in my kitchen.

The dish has a lovely fusion of flavours going on which gives it an unforgettable blend of spicy and herby aromas. Cumin and coriander really puckers up the entire dish, while the green chillies, fried onions and fresh coriander leaves adds a robust kick.

Giving the whole dish a lovely shade of colour are the addition of lovely green peas, which provides a good source of protein, fibre and vitamins, not to mention texture. So like I said before, all these tasty flavours and aromas rounds up the potato and pea tikkis for a delicious bite.

These patties are quite simple, versatile and can be made in a multitude of ways. The recipe I have for you today is from Aditya Bal, chef and cookery show host on NDTV Good Times, but with a few changes of my own. I encourage everyone trying out this recipe to use their imagination and be a little creative. You really can't do anything wrong here. I assure you this recipe is so easy to prepare you might think I am pulling your leg. But I am not!

We enjoyed this with hot rotis and chole masala. (it goes with any veggie curry or sabzi) Do try it and then you'll see what I am talking about. Have fun cooking.


Potato (boiled & mashed) - 3 (big)
Green Peas (boiled & mashed) - 1/4 cup
Big Onion (finely sliced or chopped) - 1 (big)
Green chilli (finely chopped) - 1 or 2 (adjust as per spice tolerance)
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - a generous amount
Salt – to taste
Refined Oil

To Dry Roast & Grind

Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) - 1/2 tsp
Pepper corns - 1/2 tsp


Take a pan and dry roast the ingredients listed under "To Dry Roast & Grind" till the spices begin to splutter and pop. Grind to a fine powder. Heat oil in the same pan and saut'e finely sliced onion with salt till light golden brown.

Take a bowl and add the mashed potatoes and peas into it. Add finely chopped green chillies, coriander leaves, sautéed  onions, ground spice mix, salt and a little oil into it. Combine well. Check for salt and adjust according to taste. Form small balls of equal size, press between your palms to form a nice round shape or tikki. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or till potato and pea dough turns firm.

Heat oil in a pan (preferably non-stick to avoid excessive oil usage) and shallow fry on a medium heat, flipping sides till both sides turn golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot.


1. In case you want your patties more crisp, you can coat the patties very lightly with all purpose flour and shallow fry them on the griddle until they just start to colour. Take out and pat dry. Place the veggie patties on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes approximately.

2. If you find that the dough is too soft and won’t form a proper shape, you can add coarse bread crumbs into it.  Here is how you can do it:

Dip pieces of bread in water, squeeze out water with palm and give it a blitz in the food processor. Add these crumbs to the dough and mix well. Form desired shape and refrigerate for an hour.

Serving tips:

1. If you are eating these tikkis as a snack, it goes really well with a spicy and tangy mint chutney or tomato ketchup.

2. You can enjoy these as a side to go with your regular thali meal.

3. They also work really well as veggie patties to go into your sandwiches or burgers with some crunchy onion rings, fresh juicy tomato slices, tomato ketchup and fresh coriander leaves.

Have I got your mouth watering?! :)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Kerala Calling - Kadala Curry aka Chickpea curry

Howdy folks! So how is the New Year coming along? For me, it has been an interesting start to the year and I must say time definitely flies really fast! It’s February already and Bangalore is getting less cold but yet very pleasant.

I love my legumes especially chickpeas. Only Indians have such a large repertoire of incredible tasting legume dishes. The variety seems never ending. One of my all time favourites is a simple and comforting dish of chickpeas cooked Southern style, more specifically Kerala style.

Breakfast is a very integral part of Kerala cooking. You will always see the table laden with goodies both savoury and sweet during breakfast. So I’m back today with a famous breakfast dish I grew up with on the coastal shores of Kerala. Chickpea (usually black chickpea) in a deliciously smooth onion and coriander gravy along with steamed rice cakes or puttu (click here to get recipe for puttu) is one of the most popular breakfast combinations inside and outside the homes of all Keralites. (the sides that go well with puttu are many, chickpea being one of the most popular and common) Generally, black chickpea is more common in Kerala as opposed to the white chickpea in North India. But I personally am a bigger fan of white chickpea and hence decided to use it in today’s recipe. The traditional recipe for this curry uses roasted coconut or coconut milk. But I have avoided coconut and kept it simple and healthy.

I learnt this dish from amma, (my hubby’s mum) queen of simple and quick recipes! Thanks amma for this lovely recipe. I dedicate this post to you.

If you ever happen to visit a Kerala home especially during breakfast time, you are most likely to be treated to a bowl of this simple and flavourful curry with steamed rice cakes. In little hotels/restaurants where these sell like hotcakes, you get them served in little bowls made of banana leaves. Oh! and the flavour that comes out, heavenly!! :)

This popular dish from Kerala is sure to fit your bill perfectly when you desperately need a hearty and wholesome breakfast. I also love this dish because it goes extremely well with garam naram rotis :) Fancy it is not – but it is darned good and a perfect dish if you are still acquainting yourself with Kerala cuisine. Enjoy!


Chickpeas (kabuli chana) – 1 cup
Big Onion (finely chopped) – 2 (medium)
Tomato (finely chopped) – 1 (medium)
Garlic (ground to paste or finely chopped) – 5 to 6 cloves
Ginger (ground to paste or finely chopped) – 1 small piece
Green chilli (slit lengthwise) – 1 or 2 (adjust as per spice tolerance)
Fennel seeds – ½ tsp
Coriander powder – 2 ½ to 3 tsp (heaped)
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp (you can avoid this if you find it too spicy)
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Water – 2 cups

For the Tempering

Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – 2 to 3 sprigs (enhances flavour of the dish)
Oil (preferably coconut oil) {refer notes}


Soak chickpeas overnight or for atleast 8 hours. (refer notes) Drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker and splutter fennel seeds. When fennel seeds start to pop, add green chillies and finely chopped onions and sauté till onions turns golden brown. When onions have browned, add ginger & garlic paste into it and sauté till raw smell disappears.  (if you are adding finely chopped ginger and garlic, add it along with green chillies and onions) Into this, add the spice powders and stir till raw smell disappears and the masala is cooked through. Now, throw in the chopped tomatoes and sauté till it becomes soft and oil separates. Add the drained chickpeas and sauté for 1 minute on medium heat till masala coats the chickpeas. Pour water and cover and cook till done. Switch off flame and open when pressure releases. Make sure the gravy is thick and the chickpeas is well coated with the masala/gravy. (if there is excess gravy/liquid, reduce it to get the right consistency)

To prepare the tempering

Heat oil in a kadai (wok) and splutter mustard seeds. Throw in the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. (make sure the leaves don’t burn and turn black) Add this seasoning to the chickpea gravy and close for 15 minutes. Serve hot with puttu or chapathi.


1. Coconut oil definitely lifts up the flavour of the dish. But you can always use any other oil to make it healthier. I didn’t use coconut oil when I prepared the dish, but it tasted just fine.

2. In case you forget to soak the chickpeas earlier, soak it in hot water to speed up the soaking process. But remember you will still need 4 to 5 hours for this process.

Source: Amma
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