November 14, 2010

Walnut cookies

I have been thinking to write about these awesome and simple cookies for some time now. These walnut cookies are my favorite. I can eat tens of them together. I had it for the first time when Blaž’s grandmother made and instantly fell in love with it. The crispiness, taste of walnuts, sweetish taste of vanilla sugar, all simply melts in the mouth. And it is such simple to make!! One can give any shape, but the classic horse-show shape is my favorite. With a layer of homemade marmalade in between it can form another delicious combination. These old classic grandmother recipes are forever.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Makes a box full)

250g flour
100g walnut flour
100g sugar
1sp vanilla sugar
150g butter
1 egg
Vanilla sugar powder


1. Mix everything to form uniform dough.
2. Wrap it and keep in fridge for 15 minutes.
3. Pinch off small balls from the dough, roll it over palm and bend to give a horse-show shape. Use flour in this step to avoid stickiness if any.
4. Preheat oven at 200°C and bake in batches until the cookies turn light golden. It takes around 15 minutes.
5. After taking out from oven, dust with vanilla sugar while still hot and remove into a box carefully. Take care, as while hot the cookies are quite delicate.

You can make cookies in pairs of circles with a hole in one of the cookies in a pair. After baking, add a little marmalade of your choice on the base cookie and cover it with the one with hole. Dust with vanilla sugar.
The walnut power should be ‘airy’ and not compact or sticky. It is best to get it from store as simple grinding will take the oil out and make it sticky and clumpy.

November 11, 2010

Corn and prawn salad

I am not a fan of green salad. However, I find salads interesting when it is a mixture of different tastes, textures and colors. This makes it look very palatable, and interesting. I wished some quick dish that would use the corn that was sitting for some time now, would be healthy, and interesting. And thus came out this colorful salad. The sweet taste of the juicy corn and the saltiness of the prawns with a hint of chili complemented each other. Salad greens and fresh tomato gave a crunchy freshness. The soft creamy mozzarella topped it. Looking at my colorful plate, I couldn’t resist eating and just got time to quickly take a few pictures. The taste was great, an excellent mixture of flavors and textures.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Serves 2)

100g lamb’s lettuce (corn salad)
300g sweet corn seeds
400g prawn (small)
1 medium sized tomato
8 fresh mozzarella balls (small)
Wine vinegar
Chili oil


1. Wash the lamb’s lettuce, dress in wine vinegar and salt.
2. Heat chili oil and sauté the corn seasoned with salt and pepper.
3. In chili oil, fry well the prawns. Season it with salt and pepper at the end.
4. Cut the tomato in slices.
5. Cut the mozzarella balls in half.
6. On serving plate, make a bed of the lamb’s lettuce. Next make a layer of corn. Put on top the tomato slices. Add the fried prawns as last layer. Top with fresh mozzarella balls.


This simple salty snack with subtle flavor of Nigella seeds reminds me always of Kolkata and childhood. I have always seen my parents and grandmother making nimkis after Durga Puja. I always enjoyed looking at the little diamonds getting deep fried and slowly turning golden. And later I enjoyed devouring them all along the day. They can be stored for months, but in reality would not last a few days. This year after the Durga Puja, I decided to follow the tradition and make nimki. Though I sort of had the idea about the recipe, I called my mother to know it in details, and specially learn the tricks or tips from their experiences. Having no experience of making crispy snacks from dough, I was a bit not confident in the beginning. The dough is similar to paratha dough and I couldn’t imagine how deep frying it will turn it nicely crispy. But in the end they did turn crispy. Though I over fried the first batch making it a bit too hard, there was no compromise in the taste. And I was happily munching these nimkis for days.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Makes a bowl full of nimkis)

2cups flour
3tbsp refined oil
2sp Nigella seeds
1/2 sp baking soda
1sp salt
Warm water
Oil for deep frying


1. Take the flour in a bowl and add baking soda. Make the flour lighter and airy by rubbing in between fingers. After sometime you will be able to feel that the flour is lighter.
2. Rub in the oil; mix for a couple of minutes to form fine crumbles.
3. Add salt and Nigella seeds. (Rub the Nigella seeds in palm before adding, this brings out the flavor.)
4. Make smooth and tight dough using warm water.
5. Divide dough into 2-3 balls and roll each into 0.5cm thick.
6. Cut into small diamonds (1cm apart vertical cuts followed by 1cm apart diagonal cuts).
7. Heat oil for deep frying.
8. Gently put the nimkis in oil and fry on low heat in batches until they turn light golden.
9. Drain excess oil and store in airtight container when cold.

Making the flour lighter, and rubbing with oil (also amount of oil used) is the key to the crispiness. The more you do, the crispier it is. But doing too much can result in making brittle nimkis.
To test if oil is hot enough, put a little dough in it, if it floats with initial foaming of a few seconds, the oil is ready.
Fry on low heat such that nimkis get cooked in middle and are not too borwn.
Over frying can result in a bit harder nimkis.

Potato slices

I always love this simple baked potato slices. Salt and freshly ground black pepper being always my favorite seasoning for potatoes, it is great when served with main course.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Serves 5)

15 medium sized potatoes
Ground black pepper


1. Set the oven to preheat at 200°C.
2. Wash and peel the potatoes, and cut them into thick slices.
3. Add a little oil to the slices and garnish with salt and pepper.
4. Line a baking tray with baking sheet, and put the potato slices in layers.
5. Bake uncovered for 45mins to an hour.

Can turn the potatoes a bit (if there are a few layers) at around 30mins into baking.
Can keep the skin if using bio-potatoes. Wash very thoroughly in that case.

Gajar halwa

For long I had not made gajar halwa and decided to make it for the occasion of Diwali. Actually, this rich and tasty dessert is made (or bought) in almost every household of northern India during the festive occasions. Therefore, it was a perfect time to prepare it last Friday. The dish (like most of Indian desserts) is very time taking but really worth all the effort and time. The carrots, slowly cooked in milk and rich with nuts and raisins, brings out an excellent taste and texture to entice the taste buds. To it the ghee and cardamom add a subtle but rich flavor. The recipe has two distinct steps and in many cases the recipe is followed in a reverse order than given here. My mother had tried both the versions and this recipe brings the best and real taste. And I follow her recipe which makes the perfect gajar halwa every time.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Makes 10-12 portions or more depending on serving size)

1kg orange carrots
2lt milk (full cream)
3-4tbsp sugar
5-6 green cardamom
2 bay leaves
150g ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, cashews)
1/2cup raisins


1. Clean the carrots and coarsely grate.
2. In a large pot start heating the milk and add the grated carrots. Also add the cardamoms and bay leaves.
3. Boil it on high-medium temperature stirring occasionally, till the milk reduces and the whole mixture is almost solid.
4. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. In a large wok, heat the ghee.
6. When the nice aroma of the ghee comes (much before reaching smoking temperature), add carefully the carrot milk mixture to it and mix well.
7. Add also the sugar, nuts and raisins.
8. Cook until it is solid and everything is mixed well.
9. Serve cold garnished with nuts, raisins.

Rinse the pot with cold water (do not dry) before pouring the milk. This prevents burning at the bottom to some extent.
Use a really large pot while boiling the milk carrot to prevent any spill over and this will also allow you to use high heat.
When the mixture is almost semi solid, it can splatter a bit.
As the milk reduces take care so that the bottom does not burn.
Unsalted butter can be used in case you do not get ghee or clarified butter.
 Also you can decrease the amount of ghee or use low fat milk for health reasons.
You can vary amount of raisins and nuts according to choice.
I personally do not like too cold desserts from fridge, to me it tastes less full, and hence I bring it to almost room temperature always.


This thick flatbread baked in the special tandoor oven (a type of clay oven) was always my favorite. But, while in India, I never really tried making it except once. And as I had tried to bake them in normal oven at home then, the naans came out hard and crunchy instead of its soft chewy texture. After that failure I never really tried again. Now here in Slovenia I tried making it once more. And this time on a flat pan over heat. To my surprise, it turned out perfect, soft and chewy with this amazing smell of fresh yeast breads. Greased with a bit of butter on top, they are eaten much quicker than I can make them.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Makes 10)

750g flour (bread flour that contains high gluten)
7g dry active yeast
1 cup light yogurt
Warm water
1sp salt
3tbsp oil


1. Make a hole in the mound of flour and add the yeast in it. Add salt and oil on the side and start making the dough with a bit of warm water.
2. Add yogurt and make tight dough adding a little water at a time.
3. Knead the dough for 10mins more.
4. Cover it with kitchen cloth and keep in warm place for an hour to let it rise.
5. When the dough has doubled in volume, knead again for 5mins.
6. Divide in 10 equal balls.
7. Roll each ball into an elongated or teardrop shape.
8. Dust a little bit of flour on both sides of the naans, cover them and keep aside for 30 more minutes.
9. Heat a flat pan uniformly and then reduce the heat to medium.
10. Bake each naan at a time, gently pressing with spatula on the already baked side.
11. When the naan is baked through and is getting brown spots, remove it from the pan and grease it with butter (optional).

You can also of course use other forms of yeast instead of dry yeast.

Meaty nutty pepper boats

It was a successful cooking weekend. I call it successful not only when the taste is good, but when it is exactly same to what I wished and imagined it to be before cooking. And this pepper boats were exactly that. The cheesy and spicy meat was complemented with the crunchiness of the nuts and the raisins gave a hint of sweetness to the bites from time to time. I loved the balance of spicy, crunchy cheesy and sweet taste in the juicy peppers.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Serves 4)

4 red bell peppers
300g minced meat
Paneer from a liter of milk (How to make paneer)
1 cup of unsalted peanuts
1 handful of raisins
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 big tomatoes
1 small potato
1cup grated cheese
Cayenne pepper


1. Set the oven to preheat at 200°C.
2. Chop the onion, garlic, and tomatoes.
3. Grate the potato.
4. Grind the nuts very coarsely and chop the raisins
5. In a wok, heat oil and add the onion garlic.
6. When it starts turning golden, add the minced meat.
7. Cook on medium heat until the meat changes color and the water dries up.
8. Now add into it the chopped tomatoes, grated potato, and crumbled paneer.
9. Season with thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper, and salt.
10. Cook on medium heat for 6-7mins.
11. Add the grinded nuts and chopped raisins and cook for another couple of minutes before removing from heat.
12. While you are preparing the filling, cut the bell peppers in halves, and deseed them.
13. Sprinkle a bit of salt and brush their outer surface with oil.
14. When the filling is cold, stuff the pepper boats with the filling.
15. Sprinkle cheese on top.
16. Bake uncovered for 30mins with the baking tray in the middle rack.

Malai raisin chicken

I cooked this on the special occasion of Diwali. I was thinking of doing something in similar line to malai chicken. But then, I made quite some modifications that resulted in an exquisite misture of aroma and flavors. The subtle aroma of juniper berries and the sweet aroma of saffron complemented the hint of sweetish taste coming from raisins. Whereas, cayenne pepper added a hint of spiciness to it. I have this habit of imagining the exact taste I want before I start cooking something new, and this dish perfectly satisfied my buds. This sweetish creamy chicken dish was soon savored with the naans.

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Serves 4)

750g chicken breast
180g sour cream
1 cup milk
1/2cup golden raisins
1 small onion
1 inch ginger
2 colves garlic
Cayenne pepper (to taste)
Nutmeg powder
A few strands of saffron
Dry whole spices:
1-2 bay leaves
1 black cardamom
3-4 green cardamom
4 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
4-5 juniper berries
5-6 whole black pepper


1. Cut the chicken into small pieces, marinate with salt, pinch of sugar and cayenne pepper for 30mins.
2. Soak the raisins in warm water for 30mins, and then chop coarsely.
3. Soak the saffron strands in a little warm milk.
4. Chop the onion and coarsely grate the ginger garlic.
5. Heat oil in a wok and add the dry whole spices.
6. As the spices crackle and a nice aroma comes out, add the chopped onion and ginger, garlic.
7. Cook on medium heat until onion turns transparent and soft.
8. Add the marinated chicken and chopped raisins.
9. Cook on medium to high heat until the chicken is almost done.
10. In the meantime, beat the sour cream in a bowl with milk. Season it with salt, a dash of nutmeg powder and a bit of cayenne pepper.
11. Add the beaten cream to the chicken, mix well, and cook on low-medium heat for 3-4mins.
12. Remove from heat and place it in a serving bowl.
13. Garnish with the saffron milk before serving.

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