Category: Veg Side Dishes

Dal Nawaabi

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My Era and I have been frequenting each others’ blogs for some time now. One thing common between the two of us is our passion for food. When I discovered the hard core foodie in her, I asked her to share a few recipes. Least did I know that she had a treasure trove of ‘hatke’ dishes up her sleeves. My bookmark list is flooding with every other recipe that she posted till date. Check her blog for more…

Coming to the Dal Nawaabi, I simply wanted to make it as soon as I saw it in her space. I am crazy about Dal. Rarely a day passes without dal being prepared in my kitchen. And I am known to finish my meals not by concluding it with a desert but by pouring dal onto my plate and ‘burkoying’ (act of picking fluid food from the plate using one’s finger and licking it off using a slurrrping sound) it. When I made this Dal Nawaabi, I had spoonfuls of rice and burkofied Dal n number of times. (Value of ‘n’ is better left untold)


  • Split Black Urad Dal ( skin on) – 1 cup Or 70% of the mixture
  • Red Kidney beans (Rajma) – 1/3 cup Or 20% of the mixture
  • Split Chana Dal – 1/6 cup or 10% of the mixture
  • Tomatoes – 2 to 3, finely chopped
  • Onions – 2 medium-sized, finely chopped
  • Ginger – about 2 inches, finely chopped
  • Garlic – 4 to 5 cloves, crushed and chopped
  • Fresh coriander – half a bunch to one cup full finely chopped
  • Green Chili – 2 finely chopped
  • Red Chili Powder 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 3/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Butter around 60 grams
  • Oil – 1 tbsp (any oil you use to cook food in)
  • Baking Soda – a pinch


  1. Soak the black Urad dal, Rajma and Chana dal overnight. I add a pinch of baking powder in the water while soaking.
  2. In a pressure cooker transfer the dal-rajma mixture, add around four cups of water. To this add salt and turmeric powder and one tablespoon of cooking oil.
  3. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and let the dal mixture simmer on medium flame till around 5 to 6 whistles blow. (Do not cook on high flame, else the dal mixture won’t cook through).
  4. Once the dals are cooked, place the cooker on medium flame and using the back of the round table-spoon mash the rajma and dals till you achieve a thick consistency dal with no individual ingredients visible.
  5. Adjust the water to a consistency of your liking.
  6. Add a generous dollop of butter to the dal while it is simmering.
  7. Add half of the coriander leaves (around half a cup) finely chop them and add to the cooking dal.

For the Tadka:

  1. Take the remaining butter in a pan, heat it. Now add cumin seeds, chopped onion, crushed garlic cloves, finely chopped ginger and let them saute till they start getting golden on their edges.
  2. Now add chopped green chili, chopped tomatoes, chopped coriander leaves in the above and let them fry till tomatoes are tender.
  3. Add one teaspoon of red chili powder and immediately add this tadka to the prepared dal.
  4. Place the lid immediately to avoid the aroma from escaping.
  5. Serve hot with Indian bread or flavoured rice.


Rajma Masala

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When R’s Mom wrote about how her husband RD makes Rajma which is out of this world, I requested her for the recipe. She asked RD and check how he jotted down the recipe in such a neat and orderly manner. When I tried the recipe for the first time, the quality of Rajma I had used were not good. They were adamant to get cooked and hard as stone. Although the gravy turned out lipsmacking good, the Rajma beans wouldn’t disintegrate. I made this again yesterday with better quality of Rajma and we were all bowled over by the taste. I tweaked the recipe only a teeny weeny bit. Here’s RD’s recipe copied and pasted verbatim with the only two changes that I made in parenthesis.

Getting the Rajma Ready
Soak Rajma beans overnight – use lukewarm water (I added a pinch of baking soda to the water)
Cook the beans in a pressure cooker – about 6-7 whistles are required

The Gravy – Ingredients
3 midsized onions – finely chopped
2 midsize tomatoes – minced – or a bowl of tomato puree
2 green chillies
2 cloves of Garlic and little ginger – you can use Ginger garlic paste as well
3 – spoons of curd.
2 spoons of cooking oil
1 small cube of butter
Turmeric – Haldi
Garam Masala / Rajma Masala (I used Everest Chicken Masala powder)
Jeera – Cumin seeds
Mustard seeds – Rai
Jeera Powder – 1.5 spoons
Dhaniya Powder – 1 spoon
Little bit of Hing
Coriander to season

Heat the oil in a kadai and add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. After about 1 min, add the onion, ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry till the onion become soft and brown in color.
After about 5 mins add the minced tomato and fry for about 2 mins.
Then add the haldi, garam masala, salt, hing, jeera powder and dhaniya powder, mix well and continue till you begin to see the oil separating out of the mixture.
Add the curd and mix well and cook for about 2 min
Now add the rajma beans, about 2 cups water (or more depending on your taste) and cook till rajma is soft. This is about 7-8 min.
Mash some of the rajma like you do in pav bhaji.
Add the butter on top.
Garnish with coriander and serve with Rice.

No matter how hard I tried, I always failed with this dish in the initial few years of my marriage. Ingredients are minimal and I had no clue how I could go wrong with such a simple dish. Then came a day when a colleague of mine had brought this dish and I hastily asked her the recipe. She gave me almost the same procedure as I did it. I told her that I followed similar method but mine never turned out half as good as this. She gave a tip that I need to use a bit extra oil. Also, I need to add the poppy seed paste only after the veggies are cooked and then keep it uncovered. All I did that day at work was to wait to get back home and better my culinary skills at perfecting this Bengali classic dish.

Ridge Gourd – 1 medium, cut into 1 cm cubes
Potato – 2-3 medium cut into 1 cm cubes
Onion – 1 medium sized, finely chopped (optional)
Poppy seeds – 2 tbsp
Green Chillies – 3-4 or more as per your spice tolerance
Salt – to taste
Oil – 6 tbsp (I generally mix sunflower oil and mustard oil)
Panch Phoron – 1 tsp (a mix of fennel, cumin, nigella, mustard and fenugreek seeds)

1. Grind poppy seeds, green chillies and salt in mixie without adding water first. Then grind by adding water little by little until you get a smooth paste. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Add panch phoron. Let it splutter.
3. Add onions and saute till tanslucent. (If using onion)
3. Add cubed potatoes and saute till the cubes turn golden in colour.
4. Add ridge gourd cubes, combine. Cover the pan and let it cook in ridge gourd’s juices. If the water seems less at any point you may add a little for the veggies to cook.
5. Once the veggies are cooked, uncover the pan, add the poppy paste and combine. Adjust salt if required
6. Let it cook on high flame till extra moisture evaporates and you get a dry gravy.

Kaku and Kakima had invited us for lunch at their place when we were in Kolkata. That was during the first year of my marriage and my first time indulging in an authentic Bengali fare. I simply fell in love with Bong cuisine. All those veggies that I detested earlier suddenly were endearing and I regretted having troubled Amma by being a fussy-picky eater that I was! Abbas teases me saying you were destined to be a Bengali but somehow you were born a Konkani. 
Coming back to Kakima, she addresses me as her ‘Choto Meye’ (younger daughter) and Abbas as her Jamai. She creates wonders in kitchen. If some dish goes wrong, she analyzes it and provides instant solution that magically changes the taste. She loves to feed and serve and always eats only after she makes sure that everyone has eaten. This dish is one of our favourites and I have never been able to match Kakima’s version. Although the recipe is simple and tastes good, we miss Kakima’s love in it each time I make it.
Spinach – 3 tiny bunches
Potato – 3/4 cup, diced
Pumpkin – 3/4 cup, diced
Brinjal – 3/4 cup, diced
Ridge Gourd – 3/4 cup, diced
Bori – 1/4 cup (optional)
Panch Phoran – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 1 nos, broken into 3-4 peices
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Bhaja Masala powder – 2 tsp (you may substitute with garam masala powder)
Ghee – 1 tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Green chillies – 2-3, finely chopped (increase or decrease as suitable)
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves – a handful, chopped (optional)
Water – 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
1. Wash spinach leaves thoroughly in atleast 3 changes of water. Finely chop and keep aside. You may use tender stems of spinach by chopping them in 1″long pieces.
2. Heat oil in a pan.Add turmeric and salt. Add cubed potatoes. Saute till potatoes are uniformly roasted and turn golden in colour. Remove from pan and keep aside.
3. Repeat the same procedure for pumpkin, brinjal and boris.
4. In the remaining oil, add panch phoron and red chilli pieces.
5. Once the tempering splutters, add all the sauteed veggies, ridge gourd, boris and spinach leaves and stems. Add salt, sugar, green chillies, coriander leaves, water and combine.
6. Cover and keep on low flame. Stir once in a while. Once all veggies are cooked, increase flame and cook till extra water (if any) evaporates. This dish is neither too dry nor has any gravy.
7. Remove from flame. Sprinkle bhaja masala powder and ghee on top. Cover immediately. Give a brief stir before serving.

Bharwan Bhindi

Ladies’ finger gets counted in the list of my favourite veggies. And I’m glad to discover that my kids love it too. Bharwan Bhindi has been in my to-do list for quite a long time. But most recipes I laid my eyes on in the www had coconut in the stuffing or just a mix of few spice powders. Neither of these struck a chord. I decided to stuff with paneer burji. I sauteed some chopped onions… and realized I had ran out of tomatoes. I dunked in tomato ketchup, mixed in crumbled paneer, some spice powder, salt, coriander leaves and combined. Abbas came into the kitchen and like a dutiful husband, asked “Do you need some help Seemu?” Chance pe dance I did. “Would you like to stuff bhindis?” After some thoughts, he obliged.

I heated some oil in a pan. Added a pinch of cumin seeds and asafoetida. I placed the stuffed bhindis neatly and sprinkled the leftover stuffing on top. When the bhindis were almost cooked, I realized that the salt was less. I plainly sprinkled some salt on top. After light stirring I felt that the salt was more now. Hmmm, I did not give up! I added some tamarind extract… WTH? You may exclaim. Out of the box thinking, I say. Anyway, again I felt the bhindis were getting soggy and suddenly craved for some crispy bhindis. Guess what I did. I sprinkled some Besan all over and gave a good stir.

Inspite of all these impromptu additions, the end product came out a winner. I wonder if I will be able to recreate the taste next time when I add in the known ingredients!

Get going with your instincts… With tender Bhindis in your kitty, you can never go wrong!

Due to unavailability of VaaLi or Malabar Spinach, this dish laid back in my memory which used to be my favourite. Whenever Amma brought VaaLi home, it was mostly Vaali Ambat. I used to make frequent requests for this Sukke also. It’s so easy to make and finger licking good. I can have a couple of bowlfuls of this dish and easily skip a meal given an option. Recently most of the supermarkets have this on offer and I am a happy girl. During last visit, I bought two bunches and they were undiscriminatedly divided to make a Bong Side Dish with Hilsa fish head (which is like a classic) and the next day I make this dish.

VaaLi / Malabar Spinach – 1 punch
Coconut – 1/2 cup, grated
Red chillies – 8-10 (or as per spice tolerance)
Tamarind – a marble sized ball
Salt – to taste
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Garlic cloves – 10-12

1. Chop leaves of spinach and cut the tender stems in 1″ pieces. Pressure cook for 2 whistles.
2. Grind together coconut, red chillies, tamarind and salt together with a little water.
3. Add this masala to the cooked spinach and boil well till well blended. Adjust any salt required. Keep aside.
4. Heat oil in a pan. Add the garlic cloves and saute on low flame till they are uniformly cooked on all sides.
5. Pour this tempering on the spinach mixture.
6. This is served as an accompaniment with rice.

Sending this to Priya’s Veggie/Fruit A Month – Coconut


The Amchi soul in me jumps at the sight of Taro leaves, Bread Fruit, Bamboo Shoots and many such rarely available ingredients. Similarly with time, my Amchi Soul has split into two personalities. Its new born twin is Bong, you see… It jumps at the sight of Date Palm Jaggery, Gobindo Bhog Rice, Bodi and the like! A couple of months back we discovered this Bengali Store which stocked up all such goodies which are hardly seen anywhere in Bangalore. Just looking at all that the store had to offer made me nostalgic. I was reminded of our ‘Paara’s Mudikhana dokan’ (local grocery store) and the faces of the storekeepers came floating in my mind like movie clippings. I stood there inspecting each and every shelf to ensure I was not missing anything. I spotted this ‘Tadka masala’ which Bhabi used to use whenever she made Tadka at home. It was then that I realized I hadn’t eaten Tadka in ages…
Green gram captivated me for the first time when Bhabi prepared this dish at home to go along with Puris for breakfast. She also added eggs to it which made it even more special. Tadka can be served with Rotis for lunch or dinner as well…
Green Gram – 1 cup, washed and soaked overnight
Onion – 2, medium sized, finely chopped
Tomatoes – 2, medium sized, finely chopped
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp (optional)
Red chillies – 1, broken into 3-4 pieces
Bay leaf – 1-2
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Green chillies – 2 or more as per spice tolerance, chopped (Optional)
Salt – to taste
Tadka masala – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Eggs – 2 (opional)
Oil – 3 tbsp + ½ tbsp
Coriander leaves – a handful, finely chopped
  1. Boil soaked green gram in pressure cooker with salt for 4-5 whistles (2 on high, rest on low). Retain the water.
  2. Omit this step if not adding eggs: Heat ½ tbsp oil in a pan and 2 eggs in it along with salt. Scramble eggs and keep aside.
  3. Heat 3 tbsp oil in the same pan. Add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add red chillies and bay leaves.
  4. Add chopped onion and sauté till they turn light brown.
  5. Add ginger paste and garlic paste (if adding) and sauté till raw smell goes away.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté till they become mushy and oil separates.
  7. Add boiled green gram along with the water, tadka masala, turmeric powder and salt (Check salt before adding as the gram boiled water would already be salty). Boil till you get the desired consistency.
  8. Granish with scrambled eggs and coriander leaves.
I used Sunrise brand Tadka Masala. If it is not available, you may substitute with Pav Bhaji Masala or Kitchen King Masala.

I can survive on only Ambat and Rice for months together. Amma used to make an array of Ambat for lunch back home. For the non Konkanis, it is a preparation of lentils cooked with veggies or greens, blended with coconut and spice paste and concluded with varieties of tempering. We would have our lunch on banana leaves and the flavour that these leaves impart to any hot dish that is poured on them is unique. Having your meal on banana leaf is an art in itself and it is a hearty experience. Especially I never miss pouring ladles of Ambat on my banana leaf / plate and by just using my fingers pick the gravy and quickly suck it in with a distinguished ‘Srrrrrrrrr…..’ sound. Mmmm, this sure is the best part of my meal. In Konkani we call this act as ‘Burkuche’ and I sure am a Burkofying freak!
This particular ambat is made of a variety of Spinach called Malabar Spinach. It is called ‘VaaLi’ in Konkani and ‘Pui Shaag’ in Bengali. Pui Shaag has a respectable designation of its own in Bong cuisine as it is widely cooked with Bengal’s most sought after fish Hilsa. We never spotted Malabar Spinach anywhere after leaving Kolkata. Recently when one of my dad’s aunts visited us, she brought these for me. It had to be Ambat as my VaaLi deprived thirst had to be quenched.
Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
Malabar Spinach – 1 bunch
Salt to taste
Onion – 1 large, diced
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Oil – 2 tbsp
For the masala:
Coconut – ½ cup grated
Red chillies – 7-8
Tamarind – 1 marble sized ball
  1. Separate the spinach leaves, cut tender stem into 1” size pieces. Avoid using hard stems. Wash thoroughly.
  2. Grind red chillies, tamarind and coconut together.
  3. Pressure cook dal, spinach leaves, stem and diced onions along with salt for 2-3 whistles.
  4. Mix the ground masala along with cooked dal and add enough water to achieve desired consistency and let it boil for 10 mins. It should neither be runny nor too thick. (Adjust salt at this stage)
  5. Heat oil and add finely chopped onions. Let it brown on low flame. It will take time and its better done on low flame. Once onions start turning brown, pour the seasoning on cooked dal. Immediately cover and set aside.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.

Punjabi Chhole

Chhole makes it appearance on our table during weekends when the family craves for an exquisite breakfast. It is served with a bowl full of finely chopped onions along with  delicately chopped green chillies and lemon wedges. Hot puris land up on plates. Abbas also requires the bottle of green chilli sauce as the chopped green chillies fail to satiate his spice hunger… I feel so satisfied looking at Abbas as he indulges in one of his favourite breakfast platter ever! He would say “Seemu, I have overloaded myself. I think I’m gonna skip lunch today!!!” I smile to myself as I know he will be hungry by afternoon…
I had been making a ‘No-onion No-garlic Chhole’ for quite a long time and wanted a change of taste. Googling led me to the blog “A Mad Tea Party” and I instantly liked the recipe as it used roasted spices powder. I have always felt through my experience that freshly ground spices give a different dimension to any dish you cook. It’s calls for extra effort and time but then the end result would be simply worth it! I prepared this version of Chhole last Saturday and was happy with the outcome. We had some leftover Chhole which was consumed as Sunday brunch. Put Chhole in bowls and topped each bowl with onions, coriander leaves, green chillies, and Sev. We enjoyed it in the form of Chaat….
Here goes the recipe…

Kabuli Chana – 3 cup (chickpeas/garbanzo beans), soaked overnight in ½ tsp of cooking soda (or soak for 3-4 hours in hot water)
Ginger – 1”piece, peeled and grated (I used ginger paste)
Onion – 2 cups chopped
Tomato – 1 cup chopped
Oil – 2-3 Tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp (optional)

For the masala
Coriander seeds – 2 tbsp heaped
Anardana  (seeds of wild pomegranate) – 1tbsp, (I did not have this, so omitted)
Cinnamon – 1” piece
Cloves – 4-5
Black peppercorns – 1 tsp
Black cardamom – 3-4
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Bay leaf – 1


1.      Pressure cook chana / chickpeas for about 20 mins with enough water to cover them. I generally keep the flame high till one or 2 whistles and then keep it on sim for rest of the duration.
2.      In a cast iron pan, roast all the spices. Keep tossing and till they are almost blackened. Cool and grind to a powder.
3.      Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger and stir till its fragrant. Now add onions and sauté till they turn translucent pink. Then add tomatoes and sauté till oil starts separating.
4.      Add fresh ground masala, garam masala powder (optional) and red chilli powder.
5.      Add green chillies, cooked chhole (along with water) and salt. SImemr for 10 mins or more till you get the desired consistency.
6.      Serve hot with Indian bread.

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes Every Tuesday event hosted by Priya and Aipi.

When we have Fish served on our table, it’s Ma who gets to eat fish heads. Neither do I nor hubby eat fish heads. Ma is certainly expert at eating heads (pun intended, wink wink) So nowadays when we bring fish we generally preserve the heads in the freezer for use in side dishes like this or even the Bong Classic Mug Dal with Fish Head. Initially I used to nauseate looking at a large fish head swimming in a bowl of dal. Now I have kinda got used to this fishy addition to my otherwise veg dishes. I have begun liking my Sabzis with fish heads coz you don’t get to see the scary thing staring back at you coz the whole piece gets disintegrated as you keep stirring while the dish is getting made and gets united with the veggies. You would have a fishy flavour to your vegetarian dishes. This dish could be prepared without the fish head and tastes wonderful on its own.
A small cabbage – finely shredded
Potaoes – 2 medium sized, cut into 4 or 6 cubes each
Green peas – a handful (optional)
Tomtoes – 2 medium, finely chopped
Ginger paste – 1 1/2 tbsp
Onion – 2 medium, finely sliced

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 3 tsp or as per spice tolerance
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Roasted cumin powder or Bhaja Masala – 1 tsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Oil – 3 tbsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – 1 a handful, finely chopped
Fish Head – one half of a large fish (Use head of Rohu or Katla) – absolutely optional
1. If using fish head, marinate it with salt and turmeric powder and deep fry in oil till it is cooked and keep aside.
2. Pressure cook cabbage and potatoes with salt and very little water as cabbage will release water for 1 whistle and keep aside. Strain the cabbage and potatoes and throw away the water. (The water is not retained coz Ma says it will becoz Cabbage boiled water causes gastric problem.)
3. Heat oil in a pan, add sliced onions and saute till they turn golden brown.
4. Add ginger paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
5. Add tomatoes and saute till they turn mushy and oil is separated.
6. Add cabbage, potatoes, peas, fish head (if using), turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt and sugar and combine well.
6. Cover and cook on low flame till all the veggies are well cooked. Now remove the lid, increase flame and cook till excess water is evaporated, stirring once in a while. This is a dry side dish so, we don’t want it to be watery.
7. Remove from flame, add chopped corainder leaves, Bhaja Masala or Roasted Cumin Powder, Ghee. Give a gentle stir and keep covered till served.
8. Mostly served with Indian breads or as a side with Rice and Dal.