Cocktail recipes are brought to you by my hubby, Sumit, who is our House Mixologist 🙂 He has very graciously agreed to be a ‘Guest Blogger’ at GMK, and share some of his most appreciated cocktail recipes! Over to Sumit…
There is nothing more refreshing than a Jal-Jeera drink on a hot summer day. Jal-jeera is an Indian spiced beverage, which is an extremely popular summer drink in Northern India. In Hindi, Jal means water and Jeera means cumin. You can think of this beverage as a Mojito spiced with cumin and other spices.
Jal-Jeera is a spicy drink with lots of cumin and many other spices in it. Its very similar to the spice-mix used for “Pani Puri”, a popular chaat item, yet different. Jaljira powder generally consists of roasted cumin, ginger, black pepper, mint, black salt, dried mango powder, and cayenne.
I use a Jal Jeera Masala Mixto make this cocktail, but add a few more ingredients to get the taste just right. And as with any drink I make, I cut the calories and the carbs (carbohydrates).
This refreshing drink is also a great party cocktail that you can make ahead by the jar full (one jar is never enough). I mix half the soda with the vodka, jal jeera powder mix, lemon juice, and Tamarind Chutney. I put the pre-mix into the refrigerator and then add the rest of the soda to the jar when it is time to serve. Just add ice into individual glasses and the jal-jeera vodka concoction.
You can substitute white rum or white tequila for vodka. Rum and tequila have a sharper taste than vodka that some might enjoy as a contrast to the Jal Jeera water.
Lamb Korma is an Indian Mughlai dish where Lamb stew meat is braised in a cream based sauce and bold Indian spices and simmered for hours to reach the perfect tenderness and flavor. The word Korma or Kurma draws it’s origin from the Persian word Kormah, which literally means “braise”.
The flavors of Korma are developed by using the popular spice blend called Garam Masala, which includes, Cardamom, Cumin, Coriander, Cloves, Bay leaves etc. These flavors are infused in a yogurt, cream or coconut cream sauce. The meat is then simmered in this sauce for hours over slow heat, till it becomes tender. I am able to mimic that slow-cooking set-up by cooking this Korma in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot DUO. The end flavors are to die for and I and am able to cut down the cooking time significantly. You’ll never guess how easy this is!
You can make the korma sauce using three different cream bases- heavy cream, yogurt or coconut milk. My family loves the taste of a coconut milk based sauce, so that’s what I end up making most of the time. Using coconut milk also makes this dish is dairy-free, so people with dairy restrictions can also enjoy this amazing curry. If you’re eating low-carb, you can have this with cauli-rice or nutty brown rice. My family loves to eat this korma with butter naan, paratha- flat bread, cumin rice or brown rice. I serve this with a side of garden salad with a simple lemon vinaigrette. The salad adds a beautiful contrast to the creamy Korma, and adds some greens to your meal too!
You can make this Korma with chicken or beef too. For boneless skinless chicken, reduce the cooking time to 5-6 minutes of high-pressure cooking. For beef stew meat, increase the cooking time to 25-30 minutes of high pressure cooking, depending on the size of pieces. Continue Reading…
Whenever I want to test a new Chinese restaurant, I always order their Kung Pao Chicken. That determines if I’ll be going back to that place again or not. It is my all-time favorite asian stir-fry dish to eat! After having tasted a gazillion Kung Paos, I have to admit, in the end, nothing beats ‘Panda Express’s Kung Pao Chicken:-)
Kung Pao Chicken is asian comfort food for me. Tender juicy chicken, crunchy onions, peppers and celery, dressed with a light garlicky sauce, which is a perfect blend of salty & sweet goodness. Peanuts complete this dish by adding a slight crunch. I don’t even need rice or chowmein with it, I can eat a bowl full as-is. That being said, it pairs really well with brown jasmine rice.Continue Reading…
Hard Boiled Eggs! Here’s an easy and fail proof recipe to make perfect Hard Boiled Eggs in a pressure cooker! The popular 5-5-5 method works like a charm every single time and makes for some real-easy-to-peel boiled eggs. The 5-5-5 method is not a secret code- it’s an easy way to remember this recipe- 5 minutes of pressure cooking, 5 minutes of rest before opening lid, followed by 5 minutes of water bath. It’s really that simple! The result is so consistent- you’ll be amazed.
So, why bother pressure cooking your eggs? The answer to that is consistent results , but before I elaborate on that, I have a confession to make- I cannot make perfect looking boiled eggs on the stove- I just cannot. No matter, how much I try, how many timers I set, I just cannot get the perfect center and cannot peel them nice and clean. A lot of my egg white ends up sticking to the shell and then starts the battle between the egg and me, and the egg usually wins! The result is always an unappetizing, butchered egg. When I saw so many people getting great results cooking them in the electrical pressure cooker, the Instant Pot , I tried it myself, and the results were amazing. The selling point was the ease of peeling them. The yolk texture was just right for me- moist and creamy, not dry or crumbly at all. It took me just a few minutes more than the time on the stove, so pressure cooking the eggs in my Instant Pot was a clear winner for me.
Frittata Muffins or Egg Bites– Warm, fluffy, flavorful and nutritious eggs bites that are shaped like muffins. 5 minutes of prep, 5 minutes of cooking. Cooking these is a 1-2-3 process– Beat eggs, top with your favorite mix-ins, cook them for 5 minutes in the Instant Pot– breakfast couldn’t get any easier than this!
Eggs! The number one choice of breakfast foods in my home. Growing up, Omelet-Sandwiches were a staple breakfast for school mornings. Sometimes, mom would add a variety of small diced vegetables in it and give it to us for lunch. It’s a perfect meal- protein and nutrient packed- keeps you full and going for hours.
So what is a Frittata? Frittata is an Italian egg-based dish similar to a quiche without the crust. It’s made by mixing the egg mixture with meats, cheeses, vegetables or even pasta. My family is crazy about frittatas- We make a simplified version for some week mornings, and then go all out on Saturday mornings. We usually bake these, but have started cooking them in our Instant Pot now. We make all kinds of variations- Mediterranean Frittata, with Feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil; Indian Frittatas– with fine diced onions, peppers and tomatoes, seasoned with cumin and cayenne; Sometimes, left-over mac’n’cheese makes it in a Mac’n’Cheese Frittata, and then there is the “Anniversary Special“- which is a Crispy Potato Frittata. This is one of my all-time favorites- so my husband makes this for breakfast on our anniversary, every year… well, almost every year:-)
Here, I have adapted my recipe for my electrical pressure cooker, the Instant Pot 6 Qt . The Frittata Muffins turn out so moist, and stay moist for re-heating and eating. 5 minutes of prep and 5 minutes of cooking- how easy is that! They are a great make-aheads for the week, or, for a brunch gathering. I assemble them in Silicone Cupcake Muffin Molds, my new favorite kitchen accessories. Another great alternative that some of my friends use is the 7 Cavity Silicone Mold Muffin Pudding Mold. You don’t need to grease them, the muffins come out so easily, and I love how colorful they are- right!
Minestrone Soup is an Italian soup, typically made with root vegetables, like onions, celery, carrots, stock, dried herbs, beans and tomatoes. It’s mostly vegetarian and often includes rice or pasta- perfect one-pot meal! I use this recipe a lot for weeknight meals- it’s one of my fill-it, shut-it, forget-it, meal series. Simply dump all ingredients in the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker), close the lid, set a 3-4 minute timer. Once it’s cooked, manually release pressure after 5 minutes and you’re done! It’s that easy!
I have always noticed how our meals often reflect the colors of the season. This soup certainly screams Fall– a perfect blend of orange, red and green, it is also the perfect comfort soup to have on a cold and chilly evening. This soup comes together so easily, it’s almost wrong to call it ‘home-cooked’:-)
You can easily customize this soup to your taste- I keep switching the veggies in this soup. Sometimes, I add chopped squash or pumpkin to this and it taste amazing. I prefer to use canned beans in Minestrone Soup, simply out of convenience. The time it takes for dry beans to cook is too long for the vegetables, so, if using dry beans, one has to make this a two-step cooking process- cook the beans first and then add the remaining ingredients. I personally like using organic Northern beans here, but you can use the beans of your choice, Kidney, Pinto or Cannellini Beans. I make this soup with low-sodium vegetable broth, but you can use regular broth or even chicken/Beef broth. You can add diced tomatoes to this soup. We prefer a slightly less tomatoey flavor, so adding tomato paste just works out great for us.
Typically, this soup calls for a small pasta. I substitute it with Quinoa. My family prefers the taste of quinoa, plus it bumps up the fiber and protein in the soup. You could even add barley or bulgar instead. I add chopped spinach after cooking. The heat from the soup wilts it down. You can use any dark leafy green instead of spinach- kale would be a great addition here too. Garnish it with chopped basil, or freshly grated parmesan cheese and call it a day!
Optional Variation: Sometimes, I like to add an extra, totally optional, ingredient in this soup towards the end. I add chopped, pre-cooked, chicken and jalapeño sausage from Trader Joe’s. The sausage is fully cooked, so it just needs to hang out in the soup for a few minutes and it absorbs the flavors of the soup and becomes really soft. My family loves the combination of this spicy sausage with this soup, but you can skip it and make it totally vegetarian.
Stove-top:You can certainly cook this soup on the stove-top too. Add all the ingredients in a soup pot, stir well, and cook covered on medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes. Follow the remaining instructions for garnish and enjoy!
Stove-top Pressure cooker (Hawkins/Prestige): Follow all instructions and cook for 2 whistles in the pressure cooker. Wait 5 minutes and manually release pressure by carefully lifting the pressure weight.
Few tablespoons grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Prep: Chop vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, celery, spinach). If using fresh garlic, finely chop garlic cloves. Rinse and drain canned beans.
In the inner pot, add olive oil, garlic, chopped vegetables, beans, vegetable stock, spices, chili-garlic sauce, tomato paste (or diced tomatoes), quinoa (or elbow macaroni), and stir well.
Close lid. Set vent to Sealing mode. Cook on Manual (high) for 3-4 minutes, depending on how you like your vegetables (I cook for 3 minutes).
Wait for 5 minutes and release the pressure manually, and open the lid (which means QR after 5mins). . Stir in chopped spinach and sausage (if using). The heat from the soup will be enough to wilt the spinach and bring everything together. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Cucumber Raita is a variation of a popular Indian yoghurt 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 yoghurt. 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 yoghurt, 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 yoghurt.
Yoghurt is a staple in daily diets of many Indians, either in the form of a buttermilk, a variation of Raita, or plain old yoghurt! It balances the heat and warmth of the Indian spices and in summer months, helps deal with the heat. In Punjabi cuisine, plain yoghurt 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.
You know Fall is here when you start seeing cute little Sugar Pumpkins or Pie Pumpkins in your grocery stores. Like their name suggests, they are sweeter than the big ones, which makes them ideal for pies, cakes, soups etc. My kids love carving and decorating a bunch of sugar pumpkins for Halloween and putting them around the house with tea-lights.
Till a few years ago, I used to think that making homemade pumpkin puree is a very time consuming process and was happy using canned pumpkin. Then one day, my little girls went to a pumpkin patch with their school buddies and came home with a little too many pumpkins for us to carve and decorate. So I looked up the recipe for oven-roasting the sugar pumpkin and made pumpkin puree from scratch for the first time. I’ve never looked at canned pumpkin puree again!
Don’t get me wrong, I do value canned stuff- makes life a lot easier, but if you have 30 minutes- an hour to spare, I would highly recommend giving either of these recipes a try. The taste is so much creamier and richer and that translates to whatever you end up making with it.
In my house, we end up using the puree in Pumpkin pie, Pumpkin Spice Walnut Bread, Pumpkin Spice Pancakes and our latest ‘food-venture’- Pumpkin Spice Cornbread! So, if you’re sold on the idea of homemade pumpkin puree, here are the two ways of cooking the pumpkin- roasting it in the oven, or, pressure cooking it in an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot. I like using smaller size sugar pumpkins for making puree, around 2 pounds each. A 2 pound pumpkin should result in roughly 2-2.5 cups of pumpkin puree.
Oven vs. Instant Pot: If you’re cooking 2 or more pumpkins, I would recommend using the oven method. I can easily fit 2 sugar pumpkins, around 2 pounds in size each, on one baking sheet. So between 3 racks, you can roast up to 6 pumpkins in the same time. If you do, remember to switch the top and bottom layer half way through. But if you’re cooking just one, Instant Pot is a clear winner- it cuts down the cooking time by a third.
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Wash and dry the sugar pumpkin.
Slice the stem off, it makes working the pumpkin much easier. Using a sharp knife like a chef’s knife, slice the pumpkin in half. Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, remove the seeds and stringy core. You can save the seeds for roasting if you wish.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil. Place the pumpkin face down on the sheet (flat side down). Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or till the pumpkin skin darkens and the flesh is fork tender. The exact time will depend on the size of pumpkin.
Cool the pumpkin for 10 minutes. Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh, like you would for an avocado. The skin is so soft and starts separating very easily from the flesh. Blend the pumpkin flesh in a puree and you’re done!
Wash and dry the sugar pumpkin. Slice the stem off. Pour 1 cup water in the inner pot. Place the trivet and put the pumpkin on the trivet. Close the lid. Set the valve to Sealing mode. Press Manual, high, for 8 minutes.
Let the pressure release naturally. Open lid, remove the pumpkin and let it cool for 10 minutes. Slice the pumpkin in half or quarters. Using a spoon remove the seeds and stringy core. You can save the seeds for roasting if you wish.
Using a sharp spoon, scoop out the flesh, like you would for an Avocado. The skin is so soft that it starts separating very easily from the flesh. Blend the pumpkin flesh in a blender and you’re done!
‘Wat’ or ‘Wot‘ is an Ethiopian style stew or curry that may be prepared with chicken, beef, lamb, a variety of vegetables. It is cooked in clarified butter, Ghee, and uses a spice blend called ‘Berbere‘, which is a mix of nutmeg, cloves, cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, cardamom and more. Key Wat is one of the signature dishes that you’ll find in most Ethiopian restaurants.
This recipe is traditionally made with a spice blend called Berbere Seasoning, which is a combination of warm whole spices like cumin, cardamom, coriander, and fenugreek, garlic, cloves, turmeric, grated ginger root, black pepper, salt, paprika, cinnamon, and dried red chiles, that are toasted and ground together. This spice blend provides a distinctive tangy flavor to the lentils, stews and curries. I wasn’t too keen on buying a speciality spice blend that I wouldn’t use “that” often, so I looked up the composition of the Berbere and realized that this spice combination is very similar to the Garam Masala blend. So I used that, with a few additional spices to replicate the flavor of a berbere blend and the result was very successful. If you have the berbere spice blend, substitute my spice list with 2-2.5 tablespoons Berbere spice mix (depending on how warm you like it). I also added an additional, but optional, ingredient- fried onions. I like how just a tablespoon of fried onions adds a deep color and taste to this stew, that you typically get from fried-browned onions.
Key Wat is traditionally served family style over a spongy flatbread called Injera. I pair it with a Red lentil stew called Misir Wot and butter couscous along with a garden salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette. This recipe can be made with lamb or chicken as well. I like the fall-off tender texture of the beef, so cooking it for 30 minutes work perfect for my family. If you like a more firm texture, reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes. If using Lamb pieces, adjust cooking time to 15 minutes. If you’re using boneless skinless chicken cubes, reduce the cooking time to 5 minutes. You can also make this dish more hearty by adding some root vegetables like carrots, potatoes or parsnips.
Key Wat can also be made in a traditional stove-top pressure cooker. Simply follow your cooker’s meat cooking times and procedures and follow this recipe. You can also make this dish on the stove-top, using a sauce pot or dutch oven. I would advise using a heavy bottom pan, since that can evenly distribute the heat and withstand a longer cooking time. Simply follow all the instructions and cook the meat on medium heat for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, till the meat is fork tender.
Prep: Using a mini food processor, pulse together onion chunks and ginger-garlic, 8-10 times. Alternatively, finely chop them.
Turn the Instant Pot on Sauté mode. Wait 30 seconds till the inner pot is hot and add ghee or butter. Add chopped onion, ginger-garlic, turmeric and salt and cook till slightly caramelized, about a minute.
Add all dry spices, tomato paste and 1/4 cup water, stir well and cook for a minute. Add the remaining water and beef cubes in the pot. Press "cancel", close the lid and set valve to 'Sealing' position. Press Meat/Stew, 30 minutes. Wait for Natural release of pressure.
Open the Instant pot lid and check for seasoning. Add sugar. This is optional, but highly recommended. The pinch of sugar brings together all the warm spices in the stew. Serve with couscous with a garden salad dressed with fresh lemon vinaigrette, or, the traditional sourdough flatbread, Injera.
Butter Chicken or ‘Murgh Makhani‘ (literally means Buttery Chicken), is an authentic Punjabi dish that was created in the 1950s, in a super popular restaurant in New Delhi called ‘Moti Mahal Delux’. The founder and Chef of the restaurant decided to use left-over Tandoori Chicken in a rich and buttery tomato gravy. Little did he know, that he was creating one of the most popular curry dishes from the Indian subcontinent.
It is so popular all around the world that it will be hard to find an Indian restaurant that doesn’t serve this dish. It’s funny how till date whenever I am inviting non-Indian friends over for an Indian meal, they always expect Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala to be on the menu. Talking of Chicken Tikka Masala, CTM is the British cousin of Butter Chicken. So legend goes that somewhere in England, in an Indian restaurant, a customer ordered “Chicken Tikka“- grilled chicken skewers. He sent it back to the kitchen complaining that it was too dry and needed some sauce. So, the restaurant’s Bangladeshi chef improvised and made a sauce using a can of tomato soup, Indian spices and heavy cream, dunk the pieces in and finished the sauce with some ‘butter’, and that’s how Chicken Tikka Masala was born. So, you see how both dishes have a lot in common- both include marinated and grilled chicken simmered in a rich tomato based gravy- one is more creamy (BC), the other, more spicy and tomato-ey (CTM).
I have grown up eating Butter Chicken! It happens to be my Mom’s favorite dish, and now my kids’ favorite too. Not so long ago, it used to be quite an intimidating dish to make at home since you could never get it to taste like the “restaurant”. But years of perfecting this recipe, using quality ingredients and pressure cooking techniques, I can now get that slow simmered flavor at home! So this one’s for my Mom and my kiddos- a super easy and authentic recipe for Butter Chicken. Enjoy it with Garlic Naan or simple and fragrant Cumin Basmati Rice.
Multiple uses of this recipe/sauce: This recipe is pretty versatile. You can make it vegetarian by switching the chicken with paneer. Simply marinate the paneer pieces, broil, them for 2 minutes and add them to the sauce after cooking it, in step 4 of this recipe. You can make this dish dairy-free by substituting ghee with oil and heavy cream with coconut cream or a thick coconut milk. I wouldn’t recommend using a fat-free or light version here. You need such little quantity anyway. I have used this sauce and put pre-made meatballs or veggie balls and you have Malai Koftas ready to impress!
In this recipe here, I have made Butter Chicken in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot. But this recipe can be made on the stove-top too. Here’s how:
Follow steps to marinate and broil or grill the chicken.
In a dutch oven or a wide sauce pot, melt butter, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds on medium flame.
Add tomato puree, spices, half the cream and the grilled chicken pieces with their juices. Stir well and cook on medium flame for about 10-12 minutes, covered. Keep stirring every 2-3 minutes and if your sauce is beginning to look too thick, add 1/4 cup water so that it doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom.
Open the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes uncovered. Adjust seasoning and turn off the heat. Let is rest for 5 minutes. Add the remaining cream and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with Garlic Naan or Cumin Basmati Rice!
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (coconut cream for a dairy free dish)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, for garnish
Marinate chicken This step is optional, but highly recommended. If you don't have the time for it, add an additional teaspoon garam masala in the sauce. Combine all ingredients listed under "Marinade". Add chicken and coat well with the marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes-4 hours. If you're short on time, broil it right away. Broil the chicken or grill it for 6-7 minutes. We're not cooking it through- just sealing the marinade flavors in the chicken.
Prepare sauce For the sauce, heat the Instant Pot on Saute mode. Add butter (or olive oil for a dairy free dish). Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds.
Add pureed tomatoes, spices and 1/2 of the heavy cream and stir well. Add grilled chicken pieces with their juices and stir well. Close lid, set valve to Sealing and cook on Manual for 5 minutes.
Open the lid after natural release of pressure (NPR). Add the remaining heavy cream and stir well. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with Naan or Cumin Basmati Rice!