The idea for this recipe came from a a combination of two very famous Indian recipes - Paneer Butter Masala and Butter Chicken. I marinated the cottage cheese cubes like in Butter Chicken where the chicken pieces are marinated and shallow fried and I followed basically the same steps (but not all the ingredients) of Paneer Butter Masala. For those who may be in the dark, Paneer is cottage cheese in Hindi.
As the names imply, both the dishes mentioned above requires generous amounts of butter and cream. I try to avoid butter, ghee (clarified butter) or cream in my daily cooking for obvious health reasons. I used regular Canola Oil and instead of cream, I only used cahewnuts to get the creamy texture. Cashews also gave a certain sweetness to this very yummy gravy dish.
If you don't have the time to make cottage cheese at home (yes, it can be made at home!), store bought cottage cheese cubes can be used and because they are rather tasteless, the marinating give a delicious infusion of the spice taste to the cubes.
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side dish)
3 tbsps Canola oil or any other good quality Veg oil (No palm oil please!)
300gm Cottage Cheese Cubes
1 and 1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp salt
2 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
12-14 cashew nuts, split
3 medium tomatoes, roughly cubed
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 cup water
Salt as required
Coriander leaves for garnish
1) Put all the marinating ingredients with the cottage cheese cubes into a bowl and mix well. I wore a disposable plastic glove and went right in to get a good mix.
2) Leave aside to marinate for 20mins.
3) After the 20 mins, start shallow frying the marinated cottage cheese cubes in canola oil and turn over frequently so that all the sides are equally fried.
4) Drain the oil on kitchen towel paper.
5) In the same pot with the remaining oil, start frying the roughly chopped onions.
6) After 2-3 mins on medium heat, add the 2 tsps of ginger garlic paste.
7) Then add all the spice powders, salt, roughly cubed tomatoes and cahew nuts. The mix will become pulpy after around 10 mins..
8) Blend this mix and return it to the pot.
9) Add the shallow fried marinated cottage cheese cubes into the pot, 1 cup water and cover. Let the gravy thicken over low heat for 5-10 mins.
10) Serve hot with Basmati Rice, Naans or Wholewheat Flatbreads (Chapathis). You can now enjoy a Skinny version of Paneer Butter Masala and the best part ? You can have it guilt -free!!
Hummus is of Egyptian and Levantine in origin. But this simple mix of pureed sesame seeds and chickpeas has been devoured all over North Africa, Middle East and the Mediterranean for centuries. It makes a delicious dip, no doubt. I haven't made Hummus for a long time - I wondered why. It is quite tasty and so easy to prepare. I had it with wholewheat flatbreads called chapathis, and it made quite a nice snack.
I remember having Hummus with baked pita chips in Philadelphia when we had visited one of my husband's colleague Gaurav and his wife in 2014. We drove from Bluebell where we lived to Philadelphia which was just an hour away. Philly is a vibrant happening city, if you look past the dark alleys and certain unappealing areas.
The recipe below is for a basic Simple Hummus. You can also add coriander leaves to get Coriander Hummus or grilled Red pepper to get Red Pepper Hummus.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups )
1 can of chickpeans (15 oz)
1/2 cup of roasted white sesame seeds ( or 2 tbsps Tahini)
1 small clove of garlic
2/3 cup EVOO
2 tbsps lemon juice
1/4 tsp cumin powder
2-4 tbsps water (if needed to make the paste smoother)
2 tbsps olive oil
A dash of paprika
2 olives and a small sprig of coriander leaves
1)First, grind the sesame seeds into a paste.This is essentially the Tahini. This ought to yield 2 tbsps.
2) Then, put all the other ingredients and the tahini into a food processor and process untill the whole mixture forms a light brown thick paste. DO NOT use a blender as it takes forever to grind and you'll find yourself adding more and more EVOO or water to grind to a smooth paste.
3) Serve in a small bowl, garnished with swirls of EVOO and a dash of paprika nd the olives and coriander leaves.
4) Enjoy it as a dip for vegs, pita chips and more!
These are different from the regular white rice idlis. I added red rice to the regular idli recipe to see if they taste as good as the original ones. It turned out quite good. And of course, its healthier too!
Ingredients(12-14 rice cakes)
1/2 cup of idli ponni rice
1/2 cup of red rice
1/2 cup of split urad dal with skin
1/2 cup of rice flakes (poha)
1/2 tsp baking soda
Salt per preference
1) Put the 2 types of rice in a mixing bowl and the urad dal and rice flakes in another mixing bowl.
2) A close up of the ingredients.
3) Soak them in water (any amount as long as they are immersed totally in it) at around 10 am and leave them near a window for warmth. In the night at around 9pm, grind them separately and add in the baking soda. Mix all together.
4) Leave it overnight to ferment in a covered metal container immersed in another container of hot water, plastic preferably. So that the heat from the water conducts and stays with the metal container and it doesn't transfer to the metal container it is soaking in.
5) In the morning, your batter would have fermented and risen. Then, add salt and steam your idlis in your idli steamer per your usual way.
6) Enjoy delicious healthy red rice idlis!
Dessert brownies give a reason to LIVE! Seriously, they are so yum, I could eat it everyday. This is an original recipe of my sister June's who shared this with me ages ago. I hardly make this because it has full fat butter and 2 whole eggs. But after making a batch of low fat brownies (using applesauce and low fat sourcream instead of butter) a month ago and which I had posted in my blog under www.americanmoments.net/healthy-vegetarianvegan-recipes/skinny-choc-chunk-brownies , I was met with much dismay from my younger 12 year old daughter Riya who exclaimed, after taking a bite, 'Mama, please just make the 'regular' brownies, I am still young. I can afford the butter!"
And after tasting June's brownies at a family gathering at my brother's place recently, she has been bugging me to make some so called 'regular' not skinny brownies. So, I finally set aside some time to bake some of the 'regular' full fat butter brownies for her last week. It really is quite yummy.
There are times when you just don't give a damn and just want to enjoy food in all its glory. Forget low fat. Forget Skinny. I'm happy with my curves and all. You know those times?? These Dessert Brownies are for those times....:)
You can't eat more than 2 squares of these fudgey yumminess at one sitting because of its heaviness. June's recipe called for 1 cup of caster sugar, I had reduced it to 3/4 cup of regular fine sugar but I still found it very sweet. Reduce it to only 1/2 cup if you prefer a less sweet version. Plus, if you are having this vanilla ice cream, which is a great combi by the way and which I'm sure you already know :), it will be better with less sugar.
Ingredients (16 squares)
125 gm butter
2 bars of Hershey's semi sweet baking bars
1/2 cup of regular fine sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts plus extra for the top
1) Firstly grease a square bake tin with butter.
2) Then get all the ingredients ready. From left of TOP picture, Hershey's baking bars, butter. From BOTTOM left, chopped walnuts, flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder and vanilla essence.
3) Take a double boiler, and slowly melt the butter and chocolate bars. this will take at least 5-8 minutes.
4) Then, add the sugar and mix well for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
5) After about 10 minutes, add all the ingredients except the eggs. Mix well.
6) Then, add in the eggs. I add in the eggs last for fear of the eggs curdling because of the heat. Whisk it all together.
7) Then pour this ooey goey yummy batter onto the prepared pan, top with more chopped walnuts and bake at 180 deg C for 20-25 minutes. Don't keep any longer. It may look uncooked and the skewer stick to check may still hv some bits sticking to it..but it will slowly harden as it cools. We are intending to have a fudgey brownie effect.
8) Remove it from oven and let it cool completely before cutting into 16 roughly equal squares. Enjoy on its own or warmed up a little in the microwave and with vanilla icecream. Lasts for a week in the fridge. Riya loved it, of course!
Cheesecakes are a favourite dessert for a lot of people, including me. I like them plainly classic or with blueberries. My first introduction to cheesecake was around 15 years ago when my then neighbour Malar ( and always a close friend) had requested her husband, Nathan, to get the famous New York Cheesecake for me. It was creamy, light and so heavenly. I was hooked. Then, I remember years ago we had a small birthday celebration for a friend ( for those who hv read my earlier blog posts - it was for Supermom actually) who had just turned 40 at a Cheesecake Cafe near our house in the East of Singapore. It was a beautifully decorated cafe - very Victorian with fountains and statues. And of course, the cheesecakes were to die for!! When I returned from America 2 years ago, I found out, with much dismay, that it had closed down. Now, where would I get my cheesecake fix?
I came across some fun facts about our fav dessert... Did you know that the first cheesecakes may have been created in the Greek island of Samos? There were considered to be a good source of energy and were served to athletes in the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. Instead of all the complicated recipes of today - they just used flour, wheat, honey and cheese! Then, the Romans conquered Greece and modified the recipe to include eggs, cooked it over a hot brick and served it warm. They brought this modified Cheesecake recipe to Europe. The version we see today was not created till the 18th Century and adding cream cheese was an American addition to the cake.
Enough history. Having a no bake simple cheesecake recipe on hand will always prove useful. Using very few ingredients and inolving no baking, you can come up with this dessert in no time. This particular version is rather unique in that the base has a crunchy bite because of the addition of demerara sugar and the whole cheesecake comes together quite tastefully. On the other hand, if you prefer a sugarless base (I understand, there is enough sugar in the cheesecake filling), do it without the demerara. I have used a flat 10 inch pie pan which gave me rather thin slices but if you prefer a higher thicker cheesecake, do use a pie pan or a sprinform pan with a smaller diameter (8 inches). I promise - this is a keeper! :)
Ingredients (for 8 thin slices)
100gm Digestive biscuits, crushed to fine crumbs
50gm demerara sugar (optional)
50gm butter, melted
150gm icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
500gm Philadelphia cream cheese (2 blocks)
200ml Creme Fraiche (or double cream)
1) First, line your pie pan or springform pan with baking paper. This helps to lift the cheesecake from the sides easily.
2) Get the melted butter and crushed digestive biscuits ready and place them in a mixing bowl. If you are using demerara sugar, add now. Mix everything well.
3) Then, spread it out onto the prepared pie pan and flatten it out using the back of a metal spoon or a palette knife. Refrigerate in the freezer section for an hour.
4) Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Get the ingredients ready. From the top, block cream cheese, creme fraiche, vanilla essence and icing sugar.
5) Do note that the actual filling prepration should only be done half an hour before the time to take out the chilled base from the freezer. Whisk the icing sugar, vanilla essence and cream cheese first. Then whip the cream fraiche/double cream seperately and add it to the icing sugar mix. Fold it in using a wooden spoon, mixing well.
6) After an hour, take the chilled base from the freezer and spread the cream cheese filling onto it and even it out. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Chill for another hour in the freezer and its ready to be served.
7) Cut into desired number of slices and enjoy! If you are serving this in a party, keep bowls of blueberries or raspberries in sauce nearby so your guests can have it plain or with fruit on top.