Crunchy green beans and carrots sautéed with mustard seeds and coconut flakes, and seasoned with salt, coriander and cayenne. This super simple and amazingly easy vegetable side-dish is a great accompaniment to many entrée.
You can switch out the beans and carrots and make this recipe with your favorite vegetables like cauliflower, peas, zucchini, broccoli, corn…. possibilities of customization are endless. In fact, I make a very similar dish following this recipe with chopped beets- Coconut Beets. The coconut flakes are optional in this recipe, but I really enjoy the slight sweet and nutty flavor that they give in this dish.
Stove-top Stir-Fry: In this video, I have made this recipe in my programmable pressure cooker, the Instant Pot DUO. But, making this on the stove top is as easy, and takes only 10 minutes.
I start off by heating a heavy bottom skillet on medium heat. Add oil and when it’s hot, add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start sizzling/spluttering, add chopped beans and carrots and sauté for 30 seconds.
Add salt and spices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water and stir everything. Add unsweetened coconut flakes. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
Open lid and saute for 2-4 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your veggies. Garnish with Cilantro!
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…
Thai Green Curry is one of the most popular and the spiciest curry you’ll find at a Thai restaurant. It’s a lemony, earthy, spicy curry that goes perfectly well with the creamy coconut milk. The two balance each other so well and the result is a sweet and spicy curry that can compliment any meat or vegetable you add to it. This curry can be made with Chicken, Shrimp or Tofu (Vegetarian). This is another weeknight favorite in my home!
When I have time to plan ahead, I like to make this paste from scratch. I blend together the following with maybe a tablespoon or so of oil for easy blending:
1 lemongrass stalks, outer layers removed
5 serrano chiles, de-seeded
1 large shallot, cut in half
3 garlic cloves
2-inch piece ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 cup cilantro leaves with stems
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
But then there are days, where I barely have time to cook. For those days, this pre-made paste works great. I really like the Maesri brand of Thai curry pastes. They make weeknight meals taste so good. I always tell my friends that Maesri curry pastes are so authentic, that if you ever did a blind taste test, you won’t be able to tell between a restaurant version and yours.
I simply simmer this paste with coconut milk, add protein and vegetables and cook it for 2 minutes in my programable pressure cooker, Instant Pot, on Manual or Pressure Cook, QR after 5 minutes! Finish with brown sugar and few drops of lime juice. Simultaneously, I make Brown Jasmine rice and our meal is done!
Spice level Tip: This Thai paste is on the spicier side. If you’re not sure how you’ll like the spice, start by adding 1/2 a can and cook it. If you like it to be more spicy, you can always add a few more tablespoons after the cooking process, and then saute it for a few more till everything comes together.
I make this mostly with Chicken, Shrimp or Extra-Firm Tofu. You can add your choice of vegetables like water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, zuchhini. If adding peppers, I would them after cooking and saute for 2 minutes. When cooking this with Chicken , increase the cooking time to 4 minutes for bite size chicken pieces. When cooking this with Shrimp, cook the curry for 1 minute, QR, and then add the Shrimp, saute’ for 1-2 minutes, till they turn opaque. If you add them earlier, they’ll be over cooked. This is a very versatile curry, add your favorite combination and enjoy!
Chicken Shawarma is on my family menu a few times a month. This easy and low-carb recipe is pretty versatile and very family friendly. My husband and I eat a low-carb diet so we enjoy it with a Greek salad, and the kids enjoy it as a wrap in Pita bread. The condiments make it such a delicious, healthy and a complete meal. All this comes together so easily and cooking this in the oven or in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, is a breeze.
I make my own combination of the Shawarma spice mix. I use the same spice mix for lamb, beef, fish and even flavoring rice or couscous. This middle eastern gem is a super hit with my family and friends too! I start by putting together the spice mix and then marinating the chicken. If I’m using chicken thighs, I trim off the excess fat. If I’m using chicken breasts, I half them each breast in two and then cut it half, length-wise. I marinate the chicken for 20 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how much time I have. But this spice mix is so flavorful that even with a 20 minute marinade, the chicken comes out juicy and delicious.
Typically, I make Chicken Shawarma in the oven. Here’s the Oven method: I simply line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (easy clean-up). Spread the chicken flat, giving enough room for the chicken (don’t crowd the baking sheet). Then turn on BROIL and put the chicken in about 2-3 inches away from the broiler and bake for 8 minutes on the first side, flip it, and 6 minutes on the second side. This timing may wary depending on the size of the chicken and your oven intensity.
Oven vs. Instant Pot: Ever since I got my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, I have been wanting to try this recipe. And when I did, the result was amazing. If I compared it to the oven method, there was a texture difference, but both methods had their merits that contribute to the flavor of this dish. The chicken turned out super moist in the Instant Pot, since we steam cooked it. Broiling it in the oven, gave it that crispy crust on the chicken that you see commonly when you go to a mediterranean restaurant. So, you will get a flavorful Chicken Shawarma either way.
I try to imitate the Shawarma/Gyro spinners in my Instant Pot. I used half an onion as a base. Then, I inserted 4 bamboo skewers as 4 pillars on which the meat is stacked. Then, I thread the meat pieces though those 4 skewers, one by one, forming a stable stack of chicken. This allows the chicken to stay super moist and looks fancy too. But, if you don’t feel like going the extra mile, just stack the chicken on top of each other and you’ll have the same delicious flavor within minutes!
Chicken Shawarma goes really well with Tzatziki sauce. It adds a creamy contrast to the spicy and lemony chicken. It’s real simple to make as well. Simply combine plain greek yogurt with lemon, cumin, paprika, salt, mint and grated cucumber and you have yourself one of the simplest dips ever! You can also add half a clove of grated garlic in it too, but my family prefers our Tzatziki sauce without it.
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. It goes really well with nutty brown rice, and if you’re eating low-carb, you can have this with cauli-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 ice-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 in the oven for about 22 minutes at 350F, 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 I started using recently is the 7 Cavity Silicone Mold Muffin Pudding Mold. You don’t need to grease them, but I like to spray them lightly with a coconut oil baking spray and the muffins come out so easily!
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 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.