Tuesday, January 24, 2017

murgh ki tahiri | a one pot chicken and rice dish

Murgh ki tahiri or chicken tahiri is one of the comfort foods we love, sometimes more than Biryani because of the simpler flavours and the fact that the chicken tahiri is more moist than a chicken biryani.

One pot meals are a norm on my table. I love such meals because one gets the comfort of a good meal in just one dish, not much because it involves lesser work in the kitchen but the taste and warm comfort such meal bring. Our tahiris and khichdis are not so simple to cook as they sound most of the times but we love such meals for many reasons other than that.

In fact if you think of it, most one pot meals involves as much work as any other meal if you are including all major nutrient groups in one pot, especially the vegetables. You do all the chopping, you do some sauteing, tempering and whatever needed, only the ingredients are cooked in one pot. And most of the times our tahiris and khichdis are served with an appropriate raita that needs additional work but no one minds that.

(2 servings and may be some leftover)

2 legs of chicken cut in 3 pieces each
1/4 cup of rice
1 cup of fine diced onions
1/2 cup of chopped coriander leaves (dhaniya patta) along with the stems
1/2 cup of finely chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves or a handful of crushed dry kasoori methi (optional)
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
chopped green chilies as per taste
everyday curry powder 1 tbsp
special garam masala 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp or lesser
salt to taste
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 tejpatta (Indian bay leaves)
1 tsp lemon juice mixed with 1/4 cup water 


Rinse the rice, drain water and keep for 10-15 minutes till you proceed with the chicken and spices.

Heat ghee in a thick base handi or stockpot. Add the cumin seeds and wait till it gets fried and aromatic. Tip in the onion, ginger and garlic and fry on low heat till it starts getting pinkish brown.

Add the fenugreek leaves or crushed dry kasoori methi if using and the chicken pieces. Keep bhunoeing (sauteing) for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the powder spices and salt, stir and cook some more till the spices become aromatic and the chicken looks a little glazed. Add the chopped dhaniya patta and stir to mix.

Now add a cup of water and let the chicken cook covered for 10 minutes. Heat a griddle on the other side of gas stove in the meanwhile.

Add the rice and the lemon juice mixed with water, mix well and cover the pot tightly. Place the hot griddle under the tahiri pot and let it cook on very low flame for 10-12 minutes. Switch off the flame and let the pot sit for another 10 minutes before you open and serve the chicken tahiri steaming hot.

It tastes best with raw onion and pomegranate raita but you can make cucumber raita or any other raita you like. We like it even with a kachumber salad of tomatoes and onions and may be some flame roasted papad too. In fact the chicken tahiri can have many side dishes on the table, have it as simple as you wish or make it elaborate with as many side dishes you wish to have with it.

Chicken tahiri or murgh tahiri will never fail to comfort you warmly and softly like a grandmother. Trust me.

We had it for dinner last month sometime between our back to back travels and the pictures were taken in a hurry to document it. Otherwise I have rarely been able to click pictures of our tahiri meals although we have tahiri quite often.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

sagpaita recipe | urad dal aur palak ka sagpaita

Sagpaita is simply a dal cooked with winter greens. As I mentioned in the bathue ka sagpaita recipe, dals are rarely cooked without greens in winters. Many times the dals are replaced by the various nimonas and sometimes people even replace the everyday dal with rajma or chhole to be had with plain boiled rice. Those are some of the comfort foods for many of us and rajma chawal, chhole chawal, nimona chawal or sagpaita chawal kind of meals bring back the memories from childhood till date.

Urad dal (black lentils) are consumed a lot during winters for all traditional recipes of khichdi, dals and of course the badas and badis of different types.

urad dal (split  black beans)

Mung and masoor are the easily digestible dals chosen for summer meals while chana dal and urad dal are common winter foods. Other dals also keep featuring in various permutation combinations and there are various names for all the dals we eat. A cook's prowess is often measured by how well he/she cooks a dal and there are many old kahavats (sayings) featuring the humble dal, it can be such a homely dish that can be adapted to just about anything.

We used split urad dal with skin for this recipe of urad dal ka nimona and the common greens used for this are spinach, bathua of chenopodium, or a mix of all seasonal greens, each one imparting a new dimension to this sagpaita. I often add a handful of tender carrot leaves or spring onion greens to add more flavour to the sagpaita.

urad dal ka sagpaita

Feel free to add any greens you like but spinach or bathua taste the best with a little added carrot leaves, spring onion, dill leaves or even a bit of fenugreek leaves.

(3-4 servings)

1/3 cup split urad dal with skin (as shown in the picture above), rinse and let it soak for 15 minutes
salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
2 cups of cleaned and chopped spinach leaves (about 300 gm)
3/4 cup of chopped spring onion or dill leaves or fenugreek leaves ( I used spring onion here)

for tempering
1 tbsp ghee or a little more if you wish
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped ripe tomatoes (preferably desi, I don't use tomatoes many times)
1 tsp everyday curry powder
red chili powder to taste


Pressure cook the split urad dal with salt, turmeric powder, ginger and a cup of water. It takes about 10 minutes after the first whistle. Lower the heat after the first whistle to let the dal cook. Let the pressure release on its own.

In the meanwhile prepare for the tadka and you can cook the rice etc to go with the dal.

Open the lid of the pressure cooker and add all the chopped greens, mix well and place the lid back. The greens will get cooked in the remaining heat.

For the tadka, heat the ghee in a pan, add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, garlic and onions in that order, waiting in between to let the aromas infuse in the oil. Brown the onions lightly.

Add the curry powder as soon as the onions brown, mix quickly and dunk the chopped tomatoes in it. Add a little salt and cover to cook the tomatoes thoroughly on low heat. This takes about 4-5 minutes.

Now pour the dal and greens mix to the tadka pan, mix well, add some water to adjust consistency and simmer for a couple of minutes before serving.

urad dal ka sagpaita

This sagpaita tastes really good with plain boiled rice and makes hot comfort food in winters. I always remember eating hot dal chawal in a bowl and I still do that. Now I have huge breakfast mugs that I use for me soup meals o dal chawal meals, sagpaita and chawal meals also come in the same category. You really don't need anything else with this sagpaita and rice meal but the traditional bhujias, roasted papad and raita etc are pleasant additions always.

Sometimes I add lot of tomatoes and some green peas too in the tadka and cook them thoroughly before adding to the sagpaita. Variations always feel good in such everyday recipes and sometimes leftover dals can also be turned into sagpaita with just the tadka and some tomatoes and winter greens added.

urad dal ka sagpaita

It always feels good to cook something our grandparents have been eating and most certainly their grandparents ate the same too. It is in the last 2-3 decades that our food habits have changed so much that many of us have forgotten cooking from scratch, using real ingredients and not sauces, mixes and blends.

My motive is to bring back the food wisdom on the table everyday. We need to realise that simpler foods are the tastiest and stay in our memory for ever. A curry loaded with a hundred spices gets lost in the memory lanes. Try recollecting your food memories and you will know what I mean. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

recipe of shakarkandi ki kheer : a rich creamy dessert with taste of roasted sweet potatoes

Shakarkandi (sweet potato) ki kheer is a recipe I don't cook much but whenever I do I make it a point to do it the way I like. Yes I don't eat desserts much but if a dessert has some character that has imprinted in my mind I keep reviving my memories at least every few years if not every season.

In the case of shakarkandi ki kheer it is the roasted flavour of the shakarkandi that I love and I found a trick many years ago to bring the roasted flavour to the kheer. It is simple and yet makes a world of difference from the regular shakarkandi ki kheer.

shakarkandi ki kheer

The shakarkandi ka halwa is not my favourite but shakarkandi ke roth I love since childhood. This kheer made of shakarkandi has been much preferred over shakarkandi wali rabdi which is a lighter rabdi, although I don't make desserts everyday. Sweet potato hash browns are my type.

Also I prefer desserts that don't use much sugar or use a bit of jaggery and preferably made with sweet fruits or sweet potatoes as in this case. If you reduce milk slowly the subtle sweetness is enough along with the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes in this shakarkandi ki kheer.

I suggest you try this recipe without using any sugar and see how the rich multilayered natural sweetness of the ingredients shines through in the absence of sugar. If we add sugar it overpowers the subtle sweetness of milk and sweet potato combined. If you feel like adding sugar you can always keep some thick syrup ready to be added in the last moment. I bet you wont need that if you really like the roasted flavour of the sweet potatoes..

sweet potatoes

(2-3 servings, depending on portion size)

one medium sized sweet potato (about 150 gm)
500 ml milk (full fat, I used 7% fat)
some chopped nuts for garnish


Simmer the milk in a thick base pan till it reduces to about 200 ml.

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato using the thin side of the grater. Place the grated sweet potatoes in another thick base pan, sprinkle with 1 tbsp water, cover and cook on very low heat for about 7-8 minutes or till you get a roasted sweet potato aroma.

You will find the grated sweet potato sticking to the bottom of pan and getting reddish brown, that is a desirable step of the recipe as it brings in the much desired flavour. This is the trick to get that roasted sweet potato flavour in the kheer, let it stick to the bottom of the pan in a controlled way and see how it makes a difference.

Take care to use a really small pan for such a small quantity as a large pan may alter the cooking time. Using cast iron or anodised Aluminium pan works better.

By the time the sweet potatoes are cooked and aromatic the milk will be reduced suitably, add the cooked sweet potato to the reduce milk and let it simmer for a couple of minutes together or till you get a desired consistency.

shakarkandi ki kheer

Chill and serve with chopped nuts on top. You will not need any sweetener in this recipe I promise.

Do let me know when you make this shakarkandi ki kheer, and whether you liked it.

I have seen even kids loving it without realising it is a dessert without sugar. The roasted flavour of the sweet potato is a great help in bringing out the natural sweetness of the ingredients.

Caramelisation of the natural sugars in food they say.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

kale til ka tilkut | black sesame and jaggery balls spiced with ginger

Kale til ka tilkut (black sesame and jaggery balls) was an annual affair in my home and how eagerly we used to wait for it. This kale til ka tilkut is traditionally made for a festival called Sankashti Chaturthi, Sakat Chaturthi or Sankashti Ganesh Chaturthi which comes in January and the tilkut or til modak is offered as prasad to Ganeshji.

It is considered that Ganeshji makes one free of all sankat (bad times) if you do this puja. Sankashti Chaturthi this year (2017) falls on 15th of January.

None of us siblings were ever interested in any sorts of puja but as soon as we would get a whiff of the kale til ka tilkut being made we used to get hungry just for this.

kale til ka tilkut recipe

Making this kale til ka tilkut used to be a whole day affair. My mother used to wash and clean the black sesame seeds, then sun dry it a couple of days ahead of Sakat Chaturthi when she used to fast the whole day.

On the day of puja she would pound the black sesame seeds in the huge iron mortar and pestle, once the sesame seeds were almost powdered she will add jaggery and ginger to the same mortar and pestle and pound some more, till the mixture starts coming together like a sticky ball. The mixture was empties in a wide thali later and mixed with ghee before shaping it into small balls of tilkut. This special tilkut remains quite sticky because raw jagerry melts while it is pounded along with black sesame that releases some oil, then some ghee is also added. But the specialty if the kale til ka tilkut is this stickiness that makes the balls get shapeless by the time puja is done and we get prasad.

How wonderful such prasad traditions are. Even if these traditions are followed only once a year they make sure people keep believing in eating these seasonal ingredients every year. Black sesame, jaggery, ginger and ghee together make a great combination of nutrients just right for winters. This tilkut is great remedy for joint inflammations in elderly and great nourishing food for growing kids.   

kale til ka tilkut recipe

No one seems to be making these old recipes now as they take too much time or may be no one likes these kind of foods any more? I am not sure because whenever I share these with someone they always seem to love these kind of foods.

Well, I made the recipe of the tilkut simpler. Actually I could have made it simpler in those days too as we used to help mother pound it all in the mortar and pestle back then but the whole affair of doing things on a slow pace had a charm in that big family of ours.

Now I can't think of finding so much time to do things on slow pace. So I took an hour or so to make these kale til ke tilkut this year to revive my memories of that forgotten taste. Yes I took the help of my trusted mixie.


300 gm black sesame cleaned
450 gm jaggery chopped or grated
75 gm fresh ginger grated
2 tbsp or 60 gm ghee

kale til ka tilkut recipe


Sun dry the sesame seeds completely or heat them up in the oven. To heat them in the oven just spread on a baking tray and heat it for 10 minutes at 200 C. Alternately dry roast in a thick base kadhai for 5 minutes. Cool down before processing in the mixie.

Empty the sesame in a large mixie jar. It is better to work in 2 batches if you have a small jar.

Grind the sesame till powdered. Add the chopped jaggery and grated ginger and pulse the mixie at shot intervals till everything mixes well. Add ghee and pulse one more time to mix.

kale til ka tilkut recipe

Some bits of jaggery and ghee are desired in this mix.

Scoop out from the mixie jar and shape balls. These will be very soft balls and loose shape if kept together. But the tilkut balls get harder the next day as the temperature in winters is quite cold.

It is advisable to store these tilkut modaks in one layer so I used a two tier steel dabba for storage.

kale til ka tilkut recipe

It is better not to pile up these tilkuts because they tend to clump together owing to the stickiness. Bite into this sticky mess and you would know what heaven it is.

This tilkut was such a favourite of all of us that we used to get upset stomach after sakat chaturthi almost every year. For some reason I couldn't eat more than one tilkut when I made this batch. There is no fun eating such things alone, a family full of siblings is a thing to cherish.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

sagpaita recipe | bathua wala sagpaita

When winter greens are cooked with dals (lentils) the preparation is called as sagpaita in UP homes. Dals are rarely cooked without greens during winters and the use of hing (asafoetida) and garlic is generous to keep it warming and curb bloating.

Winter food in Indian kitchens is all about relishing the fresh produce in abundance. Especially the leafy greens that come during winters are used in thousand different ways and there is a recipe suitable of every meal and snack time. The everyday dal always has some leafy greens added, a generous tadka of hing and garlic makes sure the excessive intake of greens is digested well, those who avoid garlic add a little more hing to the tadka.

This bathue wala sagpaita or arhar dal cooked with bathua (chenopodium greens) is something we look forward to in every winter. Bathua is a delicious saag (leafy green) that we use for parathas, raita, kadhi, chokha, saag or bhujia type preparations, this dal is also one of the popular recipes that is made in many homes across UP. 

(2 servings)

cleaned and washed bathue ka saag 300 gm
arhar dal (split pigeon peas) 50 gm
masoor dal (red lentils) 50 gm
salt to taste 
turmeric powder 1 tsp
chopped onion 1/4 cup
chopped tomatoes 1/2 cup
minced garlic 2 tsp
hing a pinch
cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chili powder to taste 
ghee 1 tbsp


Rinse the lentils and soak for 30 minutes. Pressure cook the dal mix with salt and turmeric, along with 1 cup of water. It needs about 8-10 minutes after the first whistle. Cool down to release pressure before proceeding.

Meanwhile chop and bathua finely.Add the bathua to the cooked dal once you open the cooker. If cooking the dal in a pan you can add the bathua once the dal is cooked through.

Prepare the tadka by heating the ghee. Add hing, cumin seeds and garlic in that order, waiting for each ingredient to turn aromatic before adding the next. Add the chopped onions and fry till pinkish. Add the tomatoes and a little salt, fry and cook till tomatoes get completely mushy. 

Add this tadka to the cooked dal and bathua mix. Adjust the consistency by adding water if needed, stir and mix, simmer for a couple of minutes before serving.

The dal is not rich and doesn't look so. It doesn't need any garnish but a dollop of ghee is added to each portion after serving. It tastes great with plain boiled rice and some bhujia type subzi