Wednesday, June 22, 2011

tori chana ...nenua chana ki subzi...

I decided to introduce you to one of the purist recipes of Banaras today . Eastern UP to be precise . And I choose to cook only the quick ones you know .

This is an everyday subzi during summer days as the guards are considered cooling for the system and they are available in plenty . Seasonal gifts of nature. I enjoy all seasonal vegetables and use them in all the ways possible. This one, sponge guard is one vegetable liked by the husband quite dearly , all it's variations . One of the variations I have posted earlier and more will be coming in future as this a regular vegetable and i have many pictures in my drafts.

The subzi is called 'nenua chana ki subzi' or 'tori chana ki subzi' and although this is a quick recipe it needs some precision it is with all simple recipes.

I like the guard slices well done but not disintegrating and the chickpeas well done and soft . This is difficult to achieve as the chickpeas take a long time to get done and the sponge guard cooks faster. Many times people don't mind hard chickpeas in the subzi or completely mushy slices of the guard in the subzi but I will do an extra step happily to get the perfect consistency I want....

So I pressure cook the chickpeas separately and then add it to the curry in the second stage of cooking. Works very well to get the right balance. Otherwise you can always add the chickpeas first to the pan and after some 10 minutes of cooking add the guards and cook further .... My version is the way I like it...

(3-4 servings)
black chickpeas soaked overnight 1 cup or a bit more
sponge guards 500 gm
onions sliced 200 gm
green chillied chopped to taste (i use about 4)
whole cumin seeds 2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
mustard oil 1 tbsp


Boil the chickpeas in pressure cooker or in a pan with enough water and salt to taste. Do the pan coking of the vegetables in the meantime.

Heat mustard oil in a pan , I use my cast iron kadai hence the dark color of the curry. Throw in the cumin seeds and green chillies , in that order . The cumin seeds should get browned and green chillies just blistered...

Add the sliced onions and salt to taste . Fry the onions till they start sweating . Do not brown the onions. Add the turmeric powder and mix well.

Add the sliced sponge guards , mix well to coat and cover to cook . Enough water is released from the sponge guards to be cooked , just keep the flame low so it cooks slowly . Slow cooking makes this curry very flavorful .

Add the boiled chickpeas as soon as they get ready . If they are cooking simultaneously , they get ready by the time sponge guards start releasing water . This is the best time to add the boiled chickpeas . Slow cooking of the chick peas and sponge guards together brings the best flavors as i said .

The contrast in the texture and flavors of the guard and chickpea makes this curry very interesting. I like the way chickpeas give a nice bite with the soft slices of guard . The sponge guard has a nice sweetness to it , enhanced well by the onions . You would like the hit provided by the green chilies too, do not substitute them with red chilies or any other peppers . Actually do not substitute anything in the recipe as the ingredient list is already frugal .

Try the recipe if you are not familiar with it already . I know many people have grown up eating this. We like it with chapatis or even with rice . A bowl of fresh curds is all i need with it .


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

apple and pumpkin spiced cake..

 I had never intended to share any baking on this blog of mine as the purpose of Banras Ka Khana is to revive all the desi traditional recipes . Time to time i am tempted to write about the odd cake or brownie the way i like them . There are millions of cake recipes on the internet and there are blogs and websites dedicated to baking . I always look up to these blogs and websites when i want to make the best chocolate cake or an angel cake . I don't wish to post those recipes here but whenever i make something unusual and am pleased by the results , i feel like sharing it here.

This cake was one such baking experiment i found worth sharing here. Just look at the different colors of fruity goodness in the slices...


maida ( APF ) 500 gm
eggs 6 nos.
vegetable oil 200 ml
sugar 150 gm
pumpkin grated 2 cups
apples grated or cut in small pieces 3 cups
apple sauce 1 cup
baking powder 3 tsp
baking soda 1/2 tsp
nutmeg powder 1 tsp
cinnamon powder 1tsp
dry ginger powder 2 tsp
salt 1/2 tsp


Mix the dry ingredients and keep aside after sieving them all together to aerate the mixture..

Pour oil a large mixing bowl , add sugar and then the eggs . Whip the mixture well till everything is homogenized . Add the applesauce and mix lightly . The applesauce i used was quite thick and i spooned it into the batter so some chunks of applesauce are there in the baked cake.

 Add the grated pumpkin and apple , mix well and then add the flour mixture and fold in lightly . Do not whip after mixing the flour mixture.

Pour the batter in greased and dusted tins and bake in preheated oven . 180 degree C for 45 minutes .

Check with the help of a skewer and cook a bit more if needed.

Cool down the cake and enjoy . The cake keeps well in the fridge and ages well too. The spices make this cake very special by the passing days ...if it lasts ...

This cake accompanied many of our teas and coffee...

I had made some muffins with the same batter in my ceramic teacups ...

And those muffins were gobbled down for breakfasts ... They were refrigerated after covering them with foil and it was easy to remove the foil and just microwave them for 30 seconds for a hearty breakfast...The husband loves sweet treats for breakfast...

I like something handy to serve... something rich , moist and sweet .

Rich sweet breakfast is not always a bad idea ... my glass of milk is hot while the husband likes it lukewarm ... but sometimes we like similar things too :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

malai paalak paneer ...

It's no ordinary paalak paneer so don't be disillusioned by the name . It is a malai (fresh cream) paneer paalak where the paneer plays the protagonist adorned with malai . Paalak remains in the background , giving subtle hints of a greeny freshness infused with garlic .

Sinful is the word . Paalak ( spinach) is not just for cosmetic purpose in this silken stir fry and it will be great of you get some baby spinach or the very tender variety of spinach ...leaves only. The garlic infused spinach has it's own charm , a mild sweetness brought by the sauteed onions. And there is just enough heat brought in by chopped green chillies and some red chilly flakes thrown in .

Fresh paneer has it's own charm and i would suggest using as fresh as you can . If using the packaged paneer , it better to let it boil submerged in water first and then use for this curry .

(for 3-4 servings depending on weather it is served as a main or side dish)
paneer cubed 200 gm
baby spinach or tender spinach leaves 2 cups (i used fresh from my garden)
sliced onions 1 cup
finely chopped garlic 2 tsp
chopped green chillies 1 tsp
red chilly flakes 1 tsp
freshly grated nutmeg 1/5 tsp
ghee or butter 1 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 1 tsp
freshly milled peppercorns 1 tsp
salt to taste
fresh cream 2 tbsp


There is no paste to be made and no extensive peeling chopping done , so the dish gets ready within 15 minutes once the ingredients are ready .

Heat ghee or butter in a pan and thrown in the cumin seeds first and then the garlic . Let the garlic brown and then add the sliced onions and green chillies.
Add salt and freshly milled pepper and saute the onions just enough to make them sweat.

Add the paneer and roughly chopped spinach , mix well to coat and let the spinach wilt . Add red chilly powder and keep stirring to let the flavors seep in . Keep the flame low after adding paneer as it may stick to the base .

Add the cream and grated nutmeg , mix well and cook covered on very low flame for about 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with chapatis or naan..

This dish is a creamy satiny curry with very soft and fresh paneer . The sauce is just enough to coat the paneer cubes and the vegetables bits are soft cooked but not gooey . The onion and spinach both retain their individuality and yet mingle with the subtle spicing .

Red chilly flakes , green chillies and black peppercorns make the dish quite hot too which hits the palate instantly . The heat becomes lesser when the dish is consumed the next day . It reheats very well in the microwave and freezes well too .

Adjust heat to your preference and add lesser red chilly flakes if you want it mild and if you are serving it immediately after cooking. If serving the next day you could go liberal with chilly or peppercorns...

Roomali roti or thin chapatis are the best accompaniments . A greens salad could make a great meal along with it...


Sunday, June 12, 2011

jeera aloo ...potatoes to please someone...

Jeera alu was made after repeated threats and requests, I finally gave in to the alu craving of the husband. He feels deprived of potatoes all the time and I have to treat him with an exclusive potato meal sometimes. Yes, a potato dish which can be served and enjoyed on it's own. No side dishes are required with this "king of vegetables".

jeera alu recipe

Potato becomes the king with jeera aloo most definitely.

The cumin infused cubes of potatoes, if I ever dare to translate the flavors...

And don't worry you all. You are not going to have any starch poisoning by watching all these pictures I have uploaded one after the other.

Jeera aloo is not a favorite of millions for nothing. Potatoes are known to take on any kind of seasoning and spicing well and even desserts do so very well with potatoes. Have you heard about aloo ka halwa (a halwa made with potatoes). That is one more reason to rejoice for the halwa lovers.

Not me.

But jeera aloo is somethings that makes me take second helpings even though I cook it rarely.


boiled potatoes 4 nos. ..
boil them in the pressure cooker or in a pan. Microwave cooked potatoes work well for the jeera aloo only when the potatoes are new, the winter potatoes.
ghee or butter 1 tbsp (no compromises here)
cumin seeds 2-3 tsp
cumin powder 1/2 tsp
black pepper powder 1/2 tsp
red chilly flakes 1/2 tsp
chopped green chilly 1 tsp
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
chopped coriander leaves 1 tbsp
salt to taste

The coriander leaves used here are from my garden and this dish was made with the season's last few leaves of coriander, the needle shaped mature leaves of coriander bear the most concentrated flavors  it made the aloo jeera magical this time.


Once you have boiled, peeled and cubed potatoes, there is not much to do as this is a quick chore.

Quick to be vanished from the table too, quick to bring smiles .... quick get the drift.

Heat the ghee or butter in a kadai. I used ghee and butter both, best of the both worlds. Let the ghee and butter melt and then add the jeera, that is cumin seeds and let it splutter softly.

Immediately add the cubed potatoes followed by the powdered spices and salt to taste. Toss to mix and coat everything on the potato cubes. keep tossing and stirring the potatoes to get lightly pink at a few spots. Do not brown the potatoes otherwise it will not inhale the flavors of the exclusive spicing.

Once the potatoes are pinkish at a few spots, add the chopped green chillies and the chopped coriander leaves. Toss well and bring the pan off heat.

Serve immediately.

PS : If you are not using coriander leaves you might like to add a pinch of amchoor powder or a dash of lime juice, and a pinch of coriander powder along with the other powdered spices...
The coriander leaves have a hint of citrus along with an earthy flavor.