Monday, January 9, 2017

Quinoa Mushroom Pulao

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain, has high protein, high fiber, high antioxidants and a low glycemic index. Quinoa, thus one of the healthiest and most nutritious grains has now become a trend and has reached a "superfood" status.

This Quinoa Mushroom Pulao is easy to prepare, needs few ingredients and busting with Indian flavors.

Serves: 2


Quinoa - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Cooking Oil - 3 tablespoons
Bay Leaf - 1
Star Anise - 2
Cardamom Pods - 4, crushed
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Cloves - 6
Peppercorns - 8
Green Chili - 3, minced (adjust as per your spice level)
Onions - 1 large, sliced
Ginger Paste - 1 teaspoon
Garlic Paste - 1 teaspoon
Portobello Mushrooms - 10, sliced
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Pulao Masala Powder - 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

For Garnishing:

Spring Onion, chopped - 1/4 cup
Cilantro/Coriander Leaves
Slivered Almonds and Cashewnuts

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a sauce pan.
  2. Meanwhile, clean quinoa thoroughly under running water using a mesh strainer.
  3. Add quinoa to boiling water, lower the flame, cover the sauce pan with a lid and cook until all the water is evaporated. Turn off the flame and gently fluff it up using a fork. Keep it aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large pan.
  5. Add bay leaf, star anise, cardamom pods, cinnamon and cloves. Saute until the spices are slightly roasted and fragrant.
  6. Now add minced green chilis. Saute for about half a minute.
  7. Add sliced onions, ginger paste and garlic paste.Saute until onion turns translucent.
  8. Add sliced mushrooms and saute until they are tender. Do not over-cook the mushrooms.
  9. Sprinkle turmeric powder, pulao masala and salt. Mix until well combined and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Now add cooked quinoa, mix gently until well combined. Cover the pan and cook on low flame for 2 to 3 minutes more and turn off the flame.
  11. Garnish with spring onion, cilantro, slivered almonds and cashewnuts.
  12. Serve hot with raitha.

  1. I used white quinoa for the above recipe. You can try red or black quinoa too.
  2. Cooking quinoa so that it is not mushy and each grain is separate is very important. Follow the instructs 
  3. You can try various combinations of fresh green peas, sweet corn, paneer or other vegetables.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Custard Powder Halwa

An easy, quick and light jelly-like sweet prepared from Custard Powder, one of the most versatile products used in most of our kitchens. This sweet requires very few ingredients that are usually stocked in our kitchen pantries and takes just a few minutes to prepare.

Yields: 25 - 30 pieces (approx)


Custard Powder - 1 cup (any flavor, the pictures are of Vanilla flavor)
White Sugar Granules - 2 cups (you can add 1/2 to 1 cup more if you prefer it sweeter)
Water - 4 cups
Clarified Butter/Ghee - 3 tablespoons + greasing
Cardamom/Vanilla Essence - 1/4 teaspoon
Watermelon Seeds - 1/8 cup (optional)
Cashew nuts, broken - 1/8 cup

For Aid:

A square or rectangle tray (I used one 8x8"tray)


  1. Grease a tray with some ghee/clarified butter. Keep it aside.
  2. Take all the ingredients in a thick bottomed pan. Mix thoroughly until there is no lump of custard powder.
  3. Place the pan on high flame and cook the mixture by stirring continuously to avoid the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan or forming any lumps.
  4. Keep stirring until the mixture turns glassy or semi transparent. Now set the flame to low.
  5. Continue stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Immediately, transfer the mixture into a greased tray. Gently shake the pan for the mixture to settle down; do not try to level it with a spatula. Do not scrape the left-over mixture from the pan as it sets very quickly and the scraped mixture will not set in well. Allow it to cool down completely to room temperature.
  6. Cut into squares and serve. The left-over halwa can be stored at room temperature for a day. If refrigerated in an air tight container they stay fresh for 2 days.

  1. This halwa can be prepared using different flavors of custard powder.
  2. You can try different flavors of essence or skip it totally if you do not prefer.
  3. Various other chopped nuts of your choice can be added.
  4. Using a square tray gives some height to the sweet while the rectangle tray makes it flat. Use the tray per your choice.

Recipe Adapted from Tickling Palates

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Banana Halwa

Yields: 40 Pieces (approx)


Fully Ripe Nendra Bananas - 6 (see notes below)
Sugar - 1 3/4 cups (if you prefer sweeter, add 1/4 cup more)
Salt - a pinch
Ghee - 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon for greasing
Cashew nuts, chopped - 1/2 cup
Cardamom Powder - 1 teaspoon

  1. Peel all the bananas and cut them into 1cm thick discs.
  2. Place the banana pieces and sugar in a container and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Do not cook the banana pieces directly in the cooker as the banana pieces might get charred or stick to the cooker.
  3. Remove the container from the pressure cooker and let it cool down to room temperature.
  4. Puree the cooked banana. Add the liquid sugar too that has been produced as the sugar melted while pressure cooking. Make sure the puree has no banana piece left behind.
  5. Take the pureed banana and a pinch of salt in a large microwave cooking bowl, mix well. Set the microwave to cook on HIGH for 30 minutes. It very important to pause the oven and stir thoroughly for every 10 minutes and place it back in the oven immediately. If reminding yourself to pause every 10 minutes is too tedious, cook for 10 minutes on HIGH and repeat it two more times. 
  6. Add chopped cashew nuts and cardamom powder. Mix well.
  7. From now, reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes or TWO 5 minutes interval; stirring thoroughly after 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of ghee after each interval, mix well.
  8. Now reduce the cooking time to 9 minutes or THREE 3 minutes interval; stirring thoroughly after every 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee after each interval, mix well.
  9. Again reduce the cooking time to 8 minutes or FOUR 2 minute interval; stirring thoroughly after every 2 minutes. 
  10. The banana mixture should now form a lump. Cooking of the mixture will be done in total of 55-60 minutes depending on the power of the microwave oven and the quality of bananas used. To check the doneness, if the mixture after Step 9 has formed a fluffy and porous lump, stop cooking any more and follow step 10. If the mixture is still not fluffy and porous, microwave on HIGH for 1 minute intervals; stirring after every minute until it becomes fluffy and porous.
  11. Immediately, transfer this mixture onto a greased tray.
  12. Using a greased spatula spread the halwa evenly on the greased plate.
  13. Once cooled, cut it into squares or any other desired shapes.


  1. To prepare halwa, Nendra bananas must be very well ripened. The bananas are ripened enough when the peel turns completely black in color. If you use the bananas which are not fully ripened, the halwa will come out as desired.
  2. I use a 1.5kW and 1.8cu.ft microwave oven. If you are using a smaller microwave oven, the total time taken might differ. So keep a careful watch in the last few minutes for doneness.
  3. It is very important to place the mixture back in the oven after stirring in every interval so that the mixture does not lose heat and take longer to get the desired result.
  4. You can prepare the halwa, the traditional way. Instead of using Microwave in steps 5-10, stir the banana puree continuously in a heavy bottomed pan until it comes together and forms a fluffy and porous lump.
  5. Instead of Nendra variety of banana, you can use the small variety (Elakki/Yalakki/Kadali) banana. To replace 6 Nendra bananas, you need about 20 small bananas. I personally like the halwa made with this small variety of bananas.It have a a deep purplish-black color and a firmer texture.
  6. The most commonly available bananas, Cavendish/Dole/Chiquita bananas are not good to prepare this halwa.