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I believe this to be my greatest discovery this summer. While I cannot honestly fathom how I did without this heavenly mango drink for so many years, I have a good mind to catch up on what I’ve been missing and I strongly urge you to do the same if you have not already done so. Mango mastani is a thick blend of fresh mango puree, chilled milk and vanilla ice cream topped with nuts, tutti fruit and candied cherries. I do not think that the term ‘milkshake’ really does it any justice to the mango mastani, which originates from Pune, Maharashtra in honor of the beautiful queen Mastani, wife of Maratha Peshwa Bajirao I. The love story of these ill-fated lovers has been over the years retold through novels, Tv series and movies, the most famous being Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani, released in 2015. The recipe for this refreshing royal beverage, from Cook with Manali, has been tweaked to include mango sorbet as I was running short of vanilla ice cream and it serves to enhance the mango flavor, which can only be a good thing here.

MANGO MASTANI

Ingredients:

2 large ripe mangoes

1 cup whole milk, chilled

1/2 cup whipping cream

5-6 ice cubes, crushed or whole

2 tablespoons sugar, to taste

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

4 scoops vanilla ice cream

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

2 tablespoons tutti frutti

2 glazed cherries

Few mango pieces

Method:

  • Peel the mangoes and remove all the pulp. Blend all the ingredients till smooth.

  • Pour into serving glasses, fill the glasses 3/4th leaving some space for ice cream.

  • Add 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream to each glass. Garnish with the chopped nuts.

  • Top with tutti frutti, mango and cherries. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Mango Mastani

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The one vegetarian dish I always order whenever I am eating out at an Indian restaurant has to be paalak paneer. Though I may sometimes be tempted by dal makhani or baigan bharta when I look up a menu card, my final choice has to include the famous spinach gravy from North India even when I happen to order a thali meal for a quick lunch. With time, I learnt to make paalak paneer at home combining young spinach leaves from the local market and freshly made cottage cheese to match the ‘restaurant’ taste and texture of the restaurant of this favorite dish of mine. The recipe, from MyFoodStory, is one I have used many times with consistently outstanding results using minimum effort. The bright green spinach colour comes through nicely and the gravy gets much of its creamy texture from a blend of cashew nuts and tomato puree, which is best enjoyed along with a spicy masala curry and piping hot naans.

 

PAALAK PANEER

Ingredients:

5 cups spinach

1-2 green chilies

5 garlic cloves

1-inch fresh ginger

1/2 cup cashew nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-inch cinnamon stick

1 dried bay leaf

2 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

2 tablespoons kasuri methi

2 tablespoons heavy cream

200g paneer, cut into cubes

Kitchen salt, to taste

Method:

  • Blend together fresh spinach leaves, chilies, ginger, garlic cloves and cashew nuts in blender.

  • Add 1/2 cup water and blend till smooth. Heat olive oil in a pan, add cinnamon and bay leaf.

  • Add cardamom pods and saute the spices for one minute, then add minced garlic and onions.

  • Cook onions till they are translucent and add tomatoes, coriander powder and salt to the pan.

  • Mix and cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes till the tomatoes are soft. Pour in spinach mixture.

  • Add kasuri methi to the pan and mix well. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer.

  • Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Check for seasoning and add more salt, if it is required.

  • Add cream and paneer to gravy. Mix gently so as not to break paneer and cook for one minute.

  • Ladle the palak paneer into a serving dish and serve hot with naan or rice. Makes 6 servings.

Paalak Paneer

This spectacular fruit salad, from Carl’s Bad Cravings, combines all my favorite seasonal fruits together for a refreshing summer treat. Chunks of chilled watermelon, pineapple and mango, dunked in honey and lime mint dressing, are fabulous on their own though you could add blueberries, strawberries, kiwis or pretty much anything sitting in your fruit bowl that does not look too boring. I do not bother with the grilling process as I do not think it is worth heating up a grill to build a simple fruit salad. But if you already set for a BBQ party, you might as well char your pineapple and watermelon slices for a couple of minutes before adding them to this colourful jumble of chopped fruit.

WATERMELON & PINEAPPLE SALAD

Ingredients:

For the Fruit Salad

1/2 watermelon, sliced into 1″ slices

1 pineapple, sliced into 1″ slices

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced

1 pint blueberries or strawberries

For the Honey Lime Mint Dressing

1/4 cup pure honey

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon lime zest

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh mint

Method:

  • Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and chill mixture for at least 20 minutes.

  • Preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill pineapple for 8-10 minutes or until caramelized.

  • Grill watermelon for 4 minutes until grill marks appear, turning once but do not overcook.

  • You can either refrigerate pineapple and watermelon separately or serve fresh off the grill.

  • When ready to serve, chop watermelon and pineapple. Add to a large bowl with other fruit.

  • Pour desired amount of dressing over fruit salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Watermelon & Pineapple Salad

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