Every cuisine has some basic ingredients that form the ‘foundation’ of many dishes. Punjabi Gravy is a rich, aromatic and versatile master curry sauce in north-Indian cuisine, that is the base for a variety of delicious north Indian curries.
As with most recipes in Indian cuisine, this one also starts off with fresh produce. All it is, is onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, simmered with warm Indian spices like garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and of course, salt, turmeric and cayenne, which is the inseparable trio in Indian cuisine!
You can make a variety of curries with this master sauce. Some popular examples are Chana Masala, Kidney Beans curry (Rajma), Paneer Mutter (Cottage cheese and peas), Everyday Chicken Curry, and believe it or not, even Butter Chicken! Wait…What? Yup! All you have to do is add chicken and heavy cream or Greek yogurt to this sauce, add a pinch sugar and cook everything till the chicken is tender. Garnish with cilantro and no one will ever know:-)
This Master Curry Sauce is a great make-ahead and freeze item. I always make a big batch of this sauce, cool it, and pour it in single-use mason jars, pop it in the freezer and pull it out on crazy weeknights. I add either lentils or canned chickpeas or Paneer & Frozen peas or even boneless chicken thighs, and we have a delicious dinner ready in minutes.
Party Planning: Whenever I am hosting a dinner party with an Indian menu, I always make this sauce a few days in advance. That makes cooking time so manageable and less exhausting for me, so I can enjoy my own party too:-) Continue Reading…
Sweet and juicy Peaches. Spicy and warm Ginger. What happens when you cook them together? You get the perfect blend of sugar and spice- Peach Ginger Chutney. Chutney is a spicy condiment made with fruits or vegetables, vinegar, spices, sugar and a pinch of salt.
It’s origin can be traced back to India. Fruit or vegetables chutney evolved with the Anglo-Indian cuisine in India, where the main aim was to preserve the seasonal fruit or vegetable for year round consumption. As a deviation from the Indian pickle, the oil and spices were replaced with vinegar and sugar, both adding to the longer shelf life of the product.
Peaches are my all-time favorite fruit. I can have them in anyway, fresh, as jam, canned in light syrup, in a salad, on a cheese platter, and of course, as a chutney. Chutneys and Jams are a nice way to enjoy the fresh taste of your favorite fruit, for the year round. I am very grateful for the giving Peach Tree in my backyard. This summer, it was so generous that we were picking fruit for a long time. We gave some to neighbors, colleagues, friends and even strangers:-) Then, we made Jam– oh boy did we make some Jam! Let’s just say we made enough to last us and our friends the whole year. We ended up freezing up a whole lot of them. The peaches you see in this recipe, came out of my freezer (that’s why they look a little brown:-). Continue Reading…
Cranberry sauce is a jam like relish made by cooking cranberries with sugar. It is probably one of the most popular accompaniment served with Turkey at the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
Cranberries are small round, seedless berries that grow in shrubs.. If you ask me, they are fairly deceiving in their appearance. The first time I tasted raw cranberries, I expected them to taste berry like- sweet, juicy, did I say sweet? But, they ended up being a juicy but tart, seeds-like texture. I don’t think I ever tasted them raw again.
Making cranberry sauce was the obvious next step for me. And boy, did that change my mind about cranberries! I love the hint of tartness in the jam-like cranberry sauce. In my house, I am the only one who likes cranberry sauce with turkey. My husband and kids aren’t fans of sweet with poultry. But, they love to pair it with creamy cheeses like brie or goat cheese, over a cracker or toast. Now I make this year round and it’s a staple on my cheese boards.
I have been making cranberry sauce using this recipe for over a decade now. The only change I made to it, was adding ‘Agave syrup’ to it during the cooking process. There is a subtle earthiness that Agave syrup adds to the sauce, which contrasts perfectly with this vibrant berry. That being said, it is optional. You can totally add the traditional orange juice or water and it will still taste yum. You can also add some orange rind, which is another popular combination. Me, I prefer the traditional cranberry flavors.
I pressure cook the cranberries, in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot Mini 3 Qt, with agave syrup for 1 minute, wait for 7 minutes and release the pressure. Open the lid, add sugar and sauté for 2-3 minutes till it reaches a jam-like consistency. At this stage, the cranberries have all broken down, but are not mush, which is what makes the texture so great.
Stove Top Recipe: This cranberry sauce can be on the stove-top too. Simply combine all ingredients in a sauce pan on medium high heat with 1/2 cup water. Cover till everything comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, till the berries are cooked. Remove lid and cook for another 3-5 minutes till the sauce reaches a jam like consistency.
This recipe is so easy and so delicious, I promise you, you won’t buy another can of cranberry sauce again! It stays good in the refrigerator for a few weeks, so definitely a make-ahead recipe for thanksgiving or big parties.
Serves: Makes around 14 oz. Cooking Time: 5 minutes Manual, QR after 7 minutes
12 oz. pack fresh cranberries
1/4 cup agave syrup ( or honey or orange juice)
2 tablespoons water
1 pinch salt
Zest of 1 medium orange (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
Turn On Instant Pot. Pout water followed by agave syrup. Pouring water will prevent the syrup from sticking to the bottom and burning.
Add cranberries and salt. Stir and close lid. Press Manual for 1 minute on Sealing mode. Let the pressure release naturally (NPR) for 7 minutes. Turn the value to Venting position and release all pressure. Open lid.
Turn on Saute mode. Add sugar and stir. Saute for 2-3 minutes till the cranberry sauce reaches warm jam like consistency. Cool for 10 minutes and pour in jars.
For making this in a stove-top pressure cooker like Prestige or Hawkins- follow all steps and cook on medium high heat for 2 whistles. Turn off heat and let it cool for 7 minutes, after which, release the pressure by7 carefully lifting the weight. Follow the remaining steps in the instructions.
Come November and my countdown to the holidays starts! The excitement of who’s coming over or where are we going soon turns into, what am I making or taking?
One thing I love doing around holidays is to try recipes that are quick to make, sure to please, and, can be made ahead of time. Last weekend, I jazzed up a tried and trusted store-bought cornbread mix from Trader Joe’s, that I have been using for years, and made two variations with it- Pumpkin Spice Cornbread & Cranberry Orange Cornbread, hit a home run with both in my house! I have made cornbread from scratch many a times and have found this pre-mix from Trader Joe’s taste very similar to that. So, this is one short-cut that leaves me more time for the zillion other things to do. From one 15 oz. box of cornbread mix, I can make four mini loaves. I typically half the mix and make two flavor variations out of it. If you want to stick to one flavor, simply double up the ingredients in this recipe.
I baked, or should I say cooked, this cornbread in my electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot DUO this time. It was done in about the same time as the oven, was missing the golden crisp top layer that a cornbread typically has, BUT, it was the most moist cornbread I have ever had! Seriously, it was delicious- a sponge cake like consistency with the earthiness of the cornmeal- I am definitely going to be pressure cooking my cornbreads from now on.
This flavor combination of Cranberry- Orange-Cornmeal was just meant to be. It took me 2 tries to get this right. Adding orange zest to the second batch took this cornbread to another level of flavortown. The orange compliments the subtle sweetness in the cornmeal and the cranberries’ tartness provides a nice contrast and balance to the cornbread. The result is a well balanced, moist and flavorful cornbread which smells of orange and cornmeal. This can be enjoyed as-is but will also make a great base for stuffing. Using the same recipe, you can make Cranberry Orange Corn muffins too, this will be a great add for a breakfast or brunch table. I made this recipe using Mini Loaf Baking Pans. This size just works great for my family and also makes for a perfect size for gifting or adding to your holiday basket.
These Cranberry Orange Cornbread loaves can be made in the oven too. Simply mix everything as per the directions and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 12-14 minutes. The actual time will depend on your oven. At the 12 minute mark, check for doneness by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean, you’re good, else, pop-it back for another minute or two.
Cranberry Orange Cornbread in Instant Pot (or Oven)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (can use dried orange cranberries too)
Melt butter in the microwave, about 20-30 seconds. Add orange juice, sour cream, egg and orange zest. Whisk together. Add cornbread mix and dried cranberries and mix with a spatula.
Grease mini-baking loaf pans with any baking/cooking spray. Divide the better equally between two loaf pans.
Pour 1 cup water in the Inner pot of your Instant Pot (I used the 6QT DUO). Place trivet. Place two loaf pans on top. If you're doubling up the recipe, you can stack two more on top as shown in the photo above.
Close lid. Set valve to Sealing. Press Manual for 12 minutes. Open lid after natural pressure release. Cool cornbread for 5 -10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy as-is or with honey butter!
Fall is my favorite season of the year. The pleasant breeze, leaves changing color, salads giving way to soups, ice-creams making way for pies and cobblers! It’s also the beginning of Pumpkin season. You can start seeing pumpkins of all shapes and sizes widely available everywhere. I love cooking and baking with pumpkin and I am always looking for new ways to use pumpkin in sweet and savory dishes. One thing I love doing around holidays is to create recipes that are quick to please and can be made ahead of time. Seems like I’ve hit a home-run in my house with this recipe- Pumpkin Spice Cornbread!
Earthy and sweet cornbread mix meets creamy and moist homemade pumpkin puree– the result is a soft, moist and delicious Pumpkin Spice Cornbread. This holiday season, I am jazzing up a tried and trusted store-bought cornbread mix from Trader Joe’s, that I have been using for years. This cornbread will make a great addition to your table. Enjoy it as-is or make stuffing with it. Pair it with honey butter or pumpkin butter and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee for a delicious and light snack.
In the video here, I have made this Pumpkin Spice Cornbread in my electric pressure cooker- The Instant Pot DUO. It cooked in about the same time as the oven, was missing the crisp golden outer layer, BUT, pressure cooking made this cornbread really really moist. I like making mini loaves of cornbread using the disposable Mini Loaf Baking Pans. I prefer the portion size of the slices- prevents me from over-indulging 🙂 Plus, makes for cute gifts for the holiday basket. From one 15 oz. box of cornbread mix, I can make four mini loaves. I typically half the mix and make two different flavors out of it. You can use this recipe and make Pumpkin Spice Muffins too, it will be a great side for your breakfast or brunch table. They are perfect for taking to office potlucks too. The second flavor I made over the weekend was another huge success in my house- Cranberry Orange Cornbread. If you want to stick to one flavor, simply double up the ingredients in this recipe.
These Pumpkin Spice Cornbread loaves can be made in the oven too. Simply mix everything as per the directions and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 12-14 minutes. The actual time will depend on your oven. At the 12 minute mark, check for doneness by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean, you’re good, else, pop-it back for another minute or two.
Melt butter in the microwave, about 20-30 seconds. Add egg, pumpkin puree, milk and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk together. Add cornbread mix and mix with a spatula.
Grease mini-baking loaf pans with any baking/cooking spray. Divide the better equally between two Mini Loaf Pans.
Pour 1 cup water in the Inner pot of your Instant Pot (I used the DUO 6 Qt). Place trivet. Place two loaf pans on top. If you're doubling up the recipe, you can stack two more on top as shown in the video.
Close lid. Set valve to Sealing. Press Manual for 12 minutes. Open lid after natural pressure release. Cool cornbread for 5 -10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy with honey butter!
Cucumber Raita is a variation of a popular Indian yogurt dip called Raita. It can be used as a dip with Pita bread/Chips or as an accompaniment to popular Indian main dishes like Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala , Tandoori Chicken etc., as well as everyday Indian food. It is made by mixing together freshly chopped cucumber (without seeds), cilantro and/or mint, yogurt, salt, an Indian spice blend called Chaat Masala and roasted ground cumin. Chaat masala is a spice blend that adds a zing, which compliments the cool yogurt. Roasted cumin on the other hand, adds a wonderful earthiness and a sweet aroma to the dip. That’s all there is to it. Depending on the tanginess of the yogurt, one can add a pinch of sugar too. Sometimes I add a pinch of cayenne or paprika to it to give it a kick. I like using Pickling cucumbers or Persian cucumbers for this recipe because of two reasons. They are almost seedless, so I don’t have to remove the seeds, nor do I have to peel them, plus they are typically more crunchy in taste, which adds a great contrast to the creaminess of the yogurt.
Yogurt is a staple in daily diets of many Indians, either in the form of a buttermilk, a variation of Raita, or plain old yogurt! It balances the heat and warmth of the Indian spices and in summer months, helps deal with the heat. In Punjabi cuisine, plain yogurt is an integral part of a traditional breakfast of stuffed whole-wheat flatbreads- Paranthas.
Cucumber Raita always brings back sweet memories for me. When I was a kid, whenever my family would go out to dine at an Indian restaurant, my parents would order a variety of meat and vegetarian dishes, and, Cucumber Raita & Naan for my sister, who was a toddler then. She lived on that combo for a long time. So much so, that most of our frequently visited restaurants would know that no matter what we ordered, it had to come with a Cucumber Raita and Naan combo for my sister! Now when I see both my children equally fond of that combo, I feel life has come a full circle…. and that they both inherited her picky genes :-).
Prepare the cucumbers- if using regular cucumbers, peel and cut them in half. Using a teaspoon, remove the seeds from the core and chop it fine. If using English, Persian or Pickling cucumbers, chop them fine.
Assemble all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix with a spatula. Garnish with mint. Serve as a side accompaniment to Indian entrees or as a dip for Pita chips.
Jeera Rice or Cumin Rice, is a popular Indian side dish where rice is cooked with aromatic cumin seeds. It is traditionally cooked with Basmati Rice, which is a long grained rice known for it’s sweet aroma and a slight nutty flavor. It is the perfect accompaniment to all lentils and curries. This simple yet versatile rice dish is the base of many great dishes like Jeera Pulao (Cumin Pilaf with sautéed onions) and Vegetable Pulao (Rice Pilaf with chopped vegetables).
Basmati Rice comes in many varieties. I like using Tilda Basmati Rice, or, Kohinoor Basmati Rice XL. Both have extra long rice kernals, which I love! Cooking times of Basmati rice and water-to-rice ratio can differ depending on:
How long the grain is
How you like your rice- el dente (like in Biryani), or soft & fluffy
Lastly, how well you drained it after rinsing it (yup- that’s a factor too).
In a simple stove-top version of this recipe, rice is typically rinsed 2-3 times and then soaked for 15 – 30 minutes before cooking, that creates a soft and fluffy texture, while each grain of rice stays separate. Then, you heat a sauce pan on medium-high heat, add Ghee or butter to it, add cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle. Now add the strained rice and sauté for 30 seconds. Add salt, water and let is come to a boil. Then, turn the heat to medium and set a timer for 7-8 minutes. Turn off the flame and let the rice rest for 5-10 minutes. Open the lid and gently fluff with a fork. Done!
It took me a few tries in the Instant Pot to get it ‘just right’ for my family. The magic number for me is 6 minutes for Basmati Rice. I cooked a few batches with a 1:1 ratio of rice to water, but found that adding 2 tablespoons extra water plus 1 teaspoon butter/ghee or oil made them more fluffy, which was perfect for us. If you like your Basmati rice a little el dente, stick to 1:1 ratio. If you like them more soft, add 1 1/4 cup water for 1 cup rice. But the time remains the same 6 minutes, NPR for 10 minutes.
Fill-it, Shut-it, Forget-it version: For plain Basmati Rice, skip the cumin and just add all remaining ingredients in the Instant Pot. Press Manual (high), 6 minutes, NPR 10 minutes.
Rinse the basmati rice 2-3 times and soak for 20 minutes. Strain the soaked basmati rice in a sieve to get all the water out. Turn on IP on Sauté. Wait 30 seconds and add ghee/butter/oil and cumin seeds.
When the cumin seeds begin to sizzle (a few seconds), add rice and sauté another 30 seconds. Add salt and water and stir. Close the lid. Set the valve to 'sealing'. Press Manual (high) for 6 minutes, NPR for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could just dump everything in and turn ON the Instant Pot on the same setting. It will have a milder cumin flavor, but will still be present.
Open the lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Cumin rice is best served warm with lentils soups, curries or any grilled entrée.
Ghee, or clarified butter, is unsalted butter that is heated till the milk solids separate , leaving behind the clear fat. Ghee has been an integral part of Indian cooking for generations. My mother still makes it from scratch. She boils each batch of milk and skims off the fat layer when it’s cooled. After collecting enough fat for a week, she slow cooks it for an hour or so, till the clarified butter separates from the milk solids. She even has some clever recipes for the caramelized milk solids that get left behind…. but that’s another post!
Ghee has gained immense popularity worldwide over the last few years. Due to it’s health benefits and fat composition, it is a big part of many trending diets now . Thanks to it’s popularity, it is now widely available in supermarkets and grocery stores. Ghee is also available on Amazon.com.
But, nothing beats the taste of homemade Ghee– creamy, rich and slightly nutty! Using this simple, fail-proof recipe, you can make this “liquid gold” in under 10 minute using grass-fed, organic or any unsalted butter of your choice. This time is for 16oz. of butter.
In this video, I have used my Instant Pot DUO 6QT for making Ghee. In a Instant Pot Mini 3 Qt, it will take a few minutes longer. It takes me anywhere between 13-15 minutes for the same amount of butter, since Mini has a smaller surface area. I get the same results on stove-top too:-) However, whenever I have to pass on this recipe to a friend, it’s hard to predict what “medium” heat on their stove-top will be like, how thick their “heavy bottom” pan will be or how cold will their butter be when they start. Instant Pot just takes that “guesswork” out for me when I’m passing on my recipes. For example, if I have to delegate this task to one of my kids or my husband, I would feel confident with the Instant Pot version:-) The Instant Pot results are more time and heat consistent, which means lesser chance of burnt Ghee:-) Another huge plus is that you don’t have to stir the pot regularly. So, however you choose to make Ghee, you’ll be happy with the result!
Flavor Variation: Saffron Infused Ghee:Once the ghee was done, I strained it into mason jars and added 1/2 teaspoon saffron strands in each mason jar. Since the ghee is still warm at this point, it gets infused with a subtle flavor and color of saffron, which is what I wanted. I still want to be able to smell and taste the nuttiness of the Ghee, but now it has a nice floral hint, which takes it to another level.
Turn Instant Pot on Sauté (normal mode). If your pot tends to heat up faster, you can switch to "less" mode and proceed. Add butter to the pan and set a timer (on your watch, oven etc.) for 7 minutes. Depending on the butter and temperature around, it takes anywhere between 7-10 minutes for ghee to be done, so keep an eye starting at 7 minutes. This time is for the 6qt DUO. In a 3qt MINI, it takes me about 12-13 minutes. Temperature in the house also influences the time it will take.
When done, Ghee should be clear and you should be able to see the bottom of the pan. The milk solids at the bottom will be caramelized (brownish), so don't worry. Turn off IP and let the ghee cool for 5-10 minutes.
Using a cheesecloth or a fine sieve, carefully strain the ghee into clean and dry storage bottles. Store ghee in a cool dark place or refrigerate. Ghee stays good for a month and in the refrigerator for up to six months.
16 ounces of butter makes roughly 14 ounces of Ghee. If you like to double the butter and use 32 ounces, set a timer for 12 minutes and start monitoring. Depending on the butter and temperature around, It may be done anywhere between 12-14 minutes. STOVE-TOP Instructions: Heat a deep sauce pan on medium heat of your moderate flame/heat burner. Set a timer for 10 minutes for 16 oz of butter, stirring at half-way point. Follow all other instructions as-is.
Brown Jasmine rice is a variety of long grain rice originally grown in Thailand. It is one of the popular varieties of rice due to its nutty flavor and floral aroma. When cooked, it has a little bite to it. It pairs very well with most curries and grilled meats. Brown rice tends to be a healthier choice than white rice since it doesn’t go through the milling process to make it white. Since it retains its ‘brown’ husk, it also ends up retaining fiber and many essential nutrients. It’s often recommended to people following a low-carb or a low calorie diet.
Everyone likes their rice a certain way. Almost every culture has their unique way of eating it. So, the end result can wary between a sticky texture to firm kernels. Which is why cooking time and water-to-rice ratio is different for everyone. The time and ratio is different for a short-grain brown rice. So you see, one size doesn’t fit all here!
I did many experiments with cooking times and water ratios to find the perfect combination for Jasmine Brown rice. I found that Basmati Rice had similar results. Here is what I realized:
My family likes our rice to be in between soft and firm. So, the ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water + 1 teaspoon ghee/oil, Manual (High) 22 minutes, NPR, works best for us. We typically eat our rice with curries or stir-frys.
If you like your rice more firm than soft, then a 1: 1 ratio, Manual (High) 20 minutes, NPR.
If you like your rice more soft and fluffy, 1:1.25 ratio,Manual (High) 22 minutes, NPR.
Lemon Pickle or lemon preserves are perhaps one of the most popular condiments in Indian cuisine. It’s popularly known as ‘Nimbu ka Achaar’ in the north. There are endless variations of this pickle. This is my father-in-law’s super-hit family recipe, that he inherited from his grandmother! It goes great with lentils, curries, biryani, rice pilaf, stuffed flatbreads, naan. Recently, I served it with my cheese platter, along with crackers and creamy brie- it was such a hit and so many of my friends asked me for this recipe. It is now a staple on my cheese plate appetizer!
Typically, lemon pickle is made in summer by brining lemons in their own juice, salt and a blend of spices, and sugar in some variations. The pickle is then matured in sunlight and this process takes a few weeks. This is my version, except this one got ready in 30 minutes!
Best Results: This pickle tastes even more delicious as it ages. I make it and refrigerate it for a couple of weeks before taking it out. It stays good in the refrigerator for a few months at least!
In this video, I have made this pickle in my programmable pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but it can be made in a stove-top pressure cooker too by following the same directions.
Alternative Spice: If you don’t have Panch Poran spice blend, you can substitute with 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon methi seeds (fenugreek) and 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds instead.
If you like your pickle more spicy and/or sweet, you can always add more during the sauté process.
Variation using Meyer Lemons: Recently, I picked up a bag of gorgeous Meyer Lemons from Trader Joe’s. I decided to try this recipe using those instead. I made one change though. I was out of Panch phoran, so used mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds instead. Meyer lemons are sweeter, juicier and have a thinner peel as compared to regular lemons. So, the pickle is naturally more sweeter, which was a plus 🙂 Since the peel was thinner and there was more juice and fibers in the lemon, the pickle is more like a chunky preserve, as you can see from the picture. This pickle with Meyer Lemons was a bigger hit in my house. My kids just loved it- they smeared it all over their Parantha (stuffed flat-bread) and enjoyed it! A keeper for us!
Wash and dry 6 lemons. Turn on the Instant Pot. Pour 1 cup water in the inner pot and place a trivet. Place lemons in a bowl and place on top of the trivet. Close the lid. Set the vent to Sealing position. Hit Manual (High Pressure) for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, roast the spice blend for grinding. Place spices listed under the "Roasting spices list" on a microwave safe plate and heat in microwave for 3 minutes in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Cool for 5 minutes and grind to a fine powder in a spice blender.
Wait for natural pressure release from the Instant Pot. Open lid and remove the lemons. Cut in halves and remove seeds. Turn on the Instant Pot on sauté mode and let it heat up, about 30 seconds. Add oil and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds begin to splutter, add lemons, salt, sugar and all spices. Stir well.
Continue to sauté for 4-5 minutes till the liquid reaches a jam like consistency. Turn off the Instant Pot. For best results, let the pickle rest in the refrigerator for 4-5 days before eating.