Sunday, 19 November 2017

Lunch Box Surprise- Spicy Vegetables Cooked In Onions & Tomatoes with Soft Roll (Pav Bhaji)

So, if you ask me about street food, I believe every street dish should be something totally unique, and yet appeal to the masses. You can use your own unique ingredients, but you should also do something that everyone will appreciate. The Pav Bhaji, is a great example of that. The vendors prepare a delicious blend of vegetables with their aromatic spices and serve that with delicious hamburger buns. Whilst the vegetables are distinctly flavoured with the likes of onion, tomato and other special spices, the bun is just something comforting; soft and buttery. When you hit the streets of Mumbai, India, you have to try this dish at least once. If you feel scared about eating on the roadside (due to unhygienic practices that might be there), try it in a higher class restaurant or a hotel.

Or, better still, try this recipe at home in the comfort of your own kitchen (and much healthier also)... The video is right here:

For Vegetables
1/2 small capsicum (preferably green), finely chopped
1/4 cauliflower, grated
2-3 small potatoes, scrubbed (DO NOT PEEL)- you can just cut it into half to help it boil faster
1/2 small carrot, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp frozen green peas
1/4 cup French beans, finely chopped
About 2-3 cups (or so) water to boil
1 tsp butter

For Gravy
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp ground asafoetida (hing: Hindi)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera: Hindi)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2" ginger
2-3 small tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 green chilli
1/2 red chilli
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp (or less) red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi: Hindi)
3/4-1 tsp pav bhaji masala
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp (or less) lemon juice

To Serve
1 tbsp coriander leaves, for garnish
4 hamburger buns
1 1/2 tbsp butter
Pinch of ground turmeric, pav bhaji masala and red chilli powder
Few slices of onion mixed with lemon juice, coriander leaves and black salt

For Vegetables
1. Heat water for boiling in a saucepan. Place all vegetables, except capsicum, to cook till soft- a little more than fork tender. DO NOT DISCARD WATER.

2. Take out potatoes from the rest of the vegetables and peel off skin. Keep all vegetables aside.

3. Heat butter in a small pan, add capsicum and saute till little soft. Keep aside.

For Gravy
1. Heat 1 tbsp butter, add asafoetida and cumin. Wait till cumin seeds crackle a little.
2. Add onions, and cook till translucent. Take off heat.
3. Make a paste of ginger, garlic and red chilli.
4. Heat remaining amt of butter, add ginger etc. paste and cook till fragrant.
5. Add tomatoes and cook till oil separates.
6. Add green chilli and cook for about 2-3 mins.
7. Add potatoes and other vegetables except capsicum. Mash them till well combined and slightly soft.
8. Add salt, about a pinch of turmeric, less than 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 3/4 tsp pav bhaji masala and less than 1/2 tsp garam masala. Add lemon juice. You can add about 1/4 cup or so water at this point and then cover up and let it cook for about 10 mins.
9. Add the remaining amount of spices into your gravy, and season as per your preference.
10. Dot with a little butter if you like and cover up and cook again.

For Serving
1. Cut the buns lengthwise
2. Heat a skillet with butter and let it melt a bit.
3. Add turmeric, pav bhaji masala etc to the butter
4. Toast your buns in that butter till golden brown.
5. Serve pav bhaji garnished with coriander, with buns and onions (as mentioned above)

TIPS- #'s 2 to 4 are by Courtesy of Jit

1. You can add your cumin seed after onion as well.
2. Adding 80% spices during cooking and 20% after helps it to be more aromatic and flavourful .
3. You can do the same with the peas, so that the peas added after last stages remain fresh and sweet.
4. Be careful you don't add too much carrot, capsicum, onion or peas, as it will be sweet.
5. Do not add too much salt if you have added salt whilst boiling potatoes.
6. If you want you can even add a little bit of eggplant and/or bottle gourd, but be careful it's not too much either as pav bhaji will be bitter otherwise.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Lunch Box Surprise: Sludgy Fudgy Brownies (Eggless)- The Most Basic & Best Brownie Recipe Of Mine

One of my signature recipes & my favourite ones too, would be the chocolate fudge brownie. I have been trying to develop a good recipe for this one and have had to consult so many websites on the Internet. One thing, I found is that it is very important to replace the egg in this recipe, because the egg and the sugar react to create a meringue of its own, and it becomes a crispy layer on top. In an eggless brownie, it is difficult to achieve that, and speaking from experience, we can actually achieve something not exactly the same, but similar. While it may not be so important to use melted chocolate in the original brownie (with egg), it is actually vital to do so in this one.

Also, an eggless brownie is a bit more crumbly and soft. I will post more about good eggless brownies in the tips below. Meanwhile, please see the Youtube video below:

Dry Ingredients:
100g (about less than 1/2 cup) all purpose flour
80g-90g (about 6-8 large tbsp) cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
100g icing sugar

Wet Ingredients
50g (about 1/2 cup) butter, melted
50g brown sugar
80g (about 1/3 cup) chocolate chips
100g (about 1/2 cup) yoghurt*
3/4 tsp vanilla essence
2-3 tbsp cold milk (to thin batter)

60g (about 1/4 cup) chocolate chips
45g (about 3 tbsp) walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to either of these temperatures:
Normal Oven (Celsius): 180 deg
Normal Oven (Fahrenheit): 350 deg
Gas Mark: 4
Fan oven (Celsius): 160 deg
Fan oven (Fahrenheit): 329 deg

Grease a square cake pan

2. In a mixing bowl, sift all your dry ingredients and blend together.

3. In a saucepan, add boiling water and place  a glass bowl or another small dish. Add your chocolate chips to the dish and melt it till sticky and smooth. Keep aside.

4. In another mixing bowl, beat together your butter, yoghurt, melted chocolate and brown sugar, till creamy and well combined.

5. Add your dry ingredients at once to the wet ingredients. Keep blending well. If too thick, then add your milk.

6.  Add vanilla essence and fold in your 60g chocolate chips and walnuts.

7. Pour batter into your prepared cake pan and bake for about 10-20 mins (KEEP AN EYE ON IT- remember, every oven differs).

8. Cool and cut into square pieces.

9. Ways to serve:
- Warm or sizzling with vanilla ice-cream & chocolate sauce (little melted chocolate/Nutella with milk)
- Frosted with M&M's
- Cold & plain with fresh milk, or hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate
- Naughty Brownies... See recipe below :P

1) Eggless brownies are generally more crumbly or moist compared to normal brownies. Remember not to overbake it. If you prefer a crispy layer on top only, then you need to have it cold.

2) When sizzling, take care not to overheat it.

3) Melted butter is best, as it becomes easier to incorporate with the wet ingredients.

4) Sift the dry ingredients only once, as it is not airiness we are looking for. Add them all at once, as it's not a cake, so we don't desire a soft consistency as much.

5) You can omit the nuts if you feel like. For gluten free & vegan brownies, head to this link:

6) Naughty Brownie Recipe:
- This is known by another name, but I can't use that since this blog is for families.

Brownie batter as per the above recipe
12-15 pcs Oreo cookies (or chocolate & cream filled cookies of your choice)
1 package Betty Crocker cookie mix (prepare this by adding 110g butter & replacement for 1 egg- 1 tbsp ground flax seed & 1 tbsp water)

All you have to do is press the cookie dough to the bottom of your cake pan, top with Oreo cookies and pour brownie batter on top. Bake this for about 15-20 mins & there you have it... Naughty Brownies :P

Lunch Box Surprise: Cheesy Burst Pizza

Pizza is a worldwide popular choice when it concerns food choices. Pizza has people's mouths watering at the very mention of it, and it's become something which adapts wherever you go, e.g. Japanese pizza with teriyaki sauce, Indian tandoori pizza, Mexican pizza on a corn tortilla etc.

This one is a special kind of pizza with another sauce inside, bursting with cheesy goodness. Today, you will learn how to make a cheesy burst pizza. Now, while the preparation may be tedious, it's so totally worth it because the taste is one of a kind. Watch the video in the link below & try it yourself today!

Part 1- The Dough-
Part 2- The Sauce & The Toppings-

And here's the recipe...


Yeast: 2 ¼ tsp

Bread flour: 2 ½ cups

Sugar: ½ tsp

Salt: to taste

Olive oil: 1-2 tbsp

Warm water: ¾ cup (about 150-180 ml)

Cornmeal + extra olive oil for dressing


Cheese Sauce:

Whole milk: 2-4 tbsp

Milk powder: 1-2 tsp

Cheese singles: Devondale 2, President 2

Butter: 1 ½ tsp

Hot sauce/cayenne pepper- ½ tsp

Salt and pepper to taste

Italian herbs



Tortilla wrap: 1

Pizza sauce (ready-made): 2-3 tbsp

Mozzarella cheese: ½ cup

Cheddar cheese- 3 tbsp

Fresh basil: 6 leaves
1. First of all, preheat your oven to about 200 deg C. (pls Google the right temp for your oven).
1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in your lukewarm water and let this stand for about 5 mins.
2. Mix flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add your lukewarm water to it gradually.
3. Bring your dough together first, by folding in the flour to the wet ingredients. If it's too dry, then you need to add more regular water, but gradually and keep mixing until you get a soft and well-combined dough as shown in the video.
4. Knead your dough until smooth. This should take about 5-10 minutes.
5. Rub a little olive oil on your dough and place it to proof in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until well risen.
How to Proceed:   
1. Knock back dough after it has risen and get all air out.
2. Stretch and roll to desired shape. Keep aside.
3. Grease the back of a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle cornmeal. Place this into the hot oven and let the tray get a bit hot. This should take about 5-10 mins.
1. Warm your milk in a saucepan or microwave and mix in your milk powder. Mix till a little thick.
2. Tear up your cheese slices and add them to the milk. Increase the heat a little and mix well until soft and well combined.
3. Add a little butter, hot sauce, salt, pepper and Italian herbs.
How to Assemble Pizza: 
1. Take your pizza base and spread your cheese sauce on it.
2. Top this with a flour tortilla and spread pizza sauce on the tortilla.
3. Top the tortilla and sauce with mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese and basil (or your fav toppings :P)
4. Bake pizza for about 5-10 mins or until cheese is melty.




Lunch Box Surprise: Vegetarian Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice & Other Goodies)- Part 1 & Part 2

Nasi lemak is a dish originating from Malaysia, and is also popular in Singapore, Brunei & Southern Thailand. It's a plate of pure deliciousness- fragrant coconut rice, spicy sambal (chilli sauce) and other components which differ from place to place. Your typical carnivores enjoy with ikan bilis (anchovies) and other types of seafood or chicken, especially cooked in rendang style (similar to curry). Nasi means 'rice' & lemak means 'oils' or 'fats'... total sin! ;-)

Here is the link: PART 1 PART 2

In this one, I have included only 4 components:

Part 1
Coconut rice
Sambal (Chilli sauce)

Part 2
Fried mock "fish"
Stir-fried water spinach (kangkong tumis)

So, here is the recipe!

1 1/2 cups Thai white rice, washed and soaked for 10 mins
1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk (as per video, 3/4 is a bit excessive)
Salt to taste
2-3 screwpine (pandan leaves)
1/4 cup water to dilute (or little more in case too hard)

2-3 dried red chillies, soaked in a little hot water
1 fresh red chilli
1/4 inch galangal
3 shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp tamarind soaked in 1-2 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp palm sugar (gula melaka)
1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce of your choice, otherwise, 1 tbsp soy sauce & pinch of mushroom seasoning
1-2 tbsp oil to fry sambal
Salt to taste (if you need)

About 3-4 fillets mock fish
3/4 cup all purpose flour
6-8 tbsp cornstarch
Salt to taste
Dash of black pepper
Enough water to make batter
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup or so breadcrumbs (Panko is a good choice)
Oil for frying

1-2 tbsp oil
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
3-4 shallots, sliced thinly
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 large bunch water spinach (kangkong)

Cucumber slices
Vegetarian Indonesian crackers or kerupuk
Your favourite recipe of fried peanuts or orek (sweet peanuts & potato chips, in place of ikan bilis, otherwise you can grab some vegetarian ikan bilis/anchovies)

Coconut Rice
1. To a rice cooker or a saucepan, add rice, coconut milk, pandan leaves and salt. Cook till rice is well done.

1. To a blender or food processor, add your chillies, garlic, shallot and galangal. Add tamarind water and oyster sauce.
2. Blend to a smooth consistency.
3. Season as per your taste with salt. Heat oil in a pan, and fry your paste till fragrant.

Fried Fish
1. Mix flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add water  gradually and beat well to a lump free consistency.
2. Add baking soda and mix well again.
3. Coat your fish with batter and coat again with breadcrumbs. For best results, you might wish to freeze the fish so that the mix sets on top.
4. Deep fry fish in hot oil till it gets crispy and golden brown.

Kangkong Tumis
1. Heat oil in a pan; add garlic and shallots. Fry till fragrant.
2. Add red chilli and water spinach. Cook till spinach reduces.
3. Add oyster sauce and season with salt, if you like.

Final Stages
1. De-mould your rice from a bowl onto your plate.
2. Place your sambal, fish and kangkong in the arrangement of your choice.
3. Serve with cucumbers, orek and kerupuk.

1. Be sure to keep an eye on the rice. Do not cook till too soft.
2. 1 plate is big enough for 2-3 people to share. This recipe is for 4 plates.
3. Shallots refers to the small red onions (same size as garlic), not the big shallots, which I refer to as "red onions"
4. You can Google the brand of 'mock fish' you might prefer to use, because brands differ by locality.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Lunch Box Surprise: Vegetarian Thai Green Curry

Thai Curry is a great dinner dish. It’s something different and exotic, coming from the central part of Thailand or close to Bangkok. It’s so flavoursome, combining umami, spicy and savoury, with a hint of sweetness.

In fact, the native word for this curry, which is “Kheong Gow Wan”, means “sweet curry”, indicating that the colour given off by this curry is a sweet and pastel green. This is made completely vegetarian as it’s not always easily available. 

To learn how to make it, watch the video on the link below:  

Curry Paste
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ cup coriander leaves and roots mixed, chopped roughly
3 green chillies, chopped roughly
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut roughly
3 shallots, peeled and cut roughly
½ inch galangal, peeled and cut roughly
½ stalk lemongrass, peeled and cut roughly
1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
½ tsp palm sugar
3-4 tbsp water

Main Curry
3 tbsp oil
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup or so water to thin
2 kaffir lime leaves
½ carrot, peeled, sliced and parboiled
2 small potatoes, peeled, sliced and boiled
4 French beans, cut lengthwise and parboiled
½ small eggplant, sliced
¼ cup capsicum, julienned
A small bunch of white fungus
Salt to taste
1 tsp coriander leaves, chopped
Pinch of red chillies, chopped
3-4 leaves Thai basil or sweet basil


1.      Prepare paste by adding the following to a blender or food processor: cumin seeds, garlic, shallots, galangal, lemongrass, coriander leaves and roots and green chillies. Add vegetarian oyster sauce, palm sugar and enough water to make a smooth paste.
2.      Sauté your eggplant in very little oil till soft. Add capsicum and only cook for few seconds till nice and crunchy.
3.      Heat oil, add paste and fry till fragrant and till the mixture becomes homogenous. Add coconut milk and all the vegetables. Season with salt and add in Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves. Cover it up and cook on a slow flame for at least 10 mins, so flavours get infused.
4.      Garnish with red chillies, and a little bit of coriander leaves and basil. Serve with steamed or fried rice. 

1)      If you can’t find vegetarian oyster sauce easily, then just use soy sauce.

2)      You can change the vegetables to whichever ones you like, but please note if you have to parboil or cook it first to suit your preferences.
3)      Garlic and shallot (small onion) can be omitted, and instead you can add more chilli or coconut milk to suit your preferences.


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Lunch Box Surprise: Penne In Basil Pesto Sauce (Penne con Pesto Genovese)

Pesto originates from the town of Genoa, located in Liguria, Italy. It is popular because of its strong herbal flavours of basil and pine nuts, which is complemented by spicy garlic and salty parmesan cheese. In America, butter and cream is added to make it richer, but I myself recommend you stick to this version because it's lighter and more authentic. Have it with a crusty bread and a lemonade or Sprite...

To watch my video, go to the link below:

1/2 cup penne
Water, salt and olive oil for boiling

1/2-1 cup basil leaves (fresh)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbsp pine nuts * <
3 tbsp walnuts *  <
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Dash of crushed black pepper
Parmesan or pecorino cheese, shaved or grated (vegetarian variety, e.g. Cowhead, Sargentos)
Cherry tomatoes, split in half for garnish

1. Boil the pasta with water, salt and olive oil until al dente (firm and tender enough- NOT TOO SOFT AND NOT TOO HARD)
2.  Toast your pine nuts and walnuts till fragrant if you like. This step is optional
3. Heat oil, add garlic and cook till fragrant. This step is also optional
4. In a blender, add basil, nuts, garlic and about 2-3 tbsp olive oil, and grind to a fine paste.
5. Heat a little olive oil, add pasta and basil pesto, and toss them together.
6. Add cherry tomatoes & toss again.
7. Top with parmesan cheese and serve hot with your favourite salad, roast vegetables and/or crusty bread.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Lunch Box Surprise: Street Style Potato Burger (Vada Pav)

Hey guys, this is yet another wonderful recipe to serve at Indian parties. Many people long for good vegetarian burgers. If you hate the meaty taste of the vegan barbeque burgers, then this one is for you. It is a spicy deep fried potato in burger buns with mint and tamarind chutney, topped with onion slices. This is enjoyed by the street folk in Mumbai.

Since it is so good, I also have included a special healthy version of this vada pav, and also a recipe for mint chutney. It is quite similar to Mcdonald's Aloo Tikki burger because it is grilled with breadcrumbs instead of deep fried, like a patty. This is better for heart patients or health conscious people.

Here's the video:
Part 1-
Part 2-

3 potatoes, boiled and mashed
1-2 tbsp oil
½ onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 inch ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Little asafoetida
5-6 curry leaves
½ tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp red chilli powder + extra for batter
½ cup chickpea flour
Water as required
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp baking soda

Grilled Vada Pav patty- (do not use ingredients in bold; instead add 1/2 cup beaten rice/poha to potato mixture and mix well. Shape the mixture into patties, flatten and coat with breadcrumbs. Grill with a little oil and serve as per below instructions)
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp red chilli flakes
Salt to taste

6-8 hamburger buns (mini), cut lengthwise (otherwise, use 2-3 normal size burger buns, and cut into quarters)
Butter for grilling buns
Mint chutney (see recipe for College Grilled Sandwich)  & sweet tamarind chutney for serving

Vada Pav
1. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida.
2. Add curry leaves and wait for the seeds to crackle. Add onions and cook till translucent.
3. Add ginger & garlic, and cook until fragrant and/or brown. You can add salt at this point to help cook faster.
4. Add green chilli and cook again for a few seconds, then add mashed-up potatoes, turmeric powder, roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder and salt. Add lemon juice. Mix well and keep aside.
5. Prepare batter for vada pav. Mix chickpea flour with salt and a little red chilli powder.
6. Gradually add water to the batter and beat until you get a lump-free batter with easy to pour consistency.
7. Prepare garlic chutney. Heat 1 tsp sesame oil, add garlic and cook till fragrant. Pound the mixture coarsely and then add salt and red chilli powder. Keep aside.
8. Shape the potato mixture into golf ball shapes & dip into batter. Deep fry until golden brown.
9. Grill the hamburger buns and butter. Place a potato vada in the centre and close.
10. Serve with your choice of chutney(s) and garnishes-see below.

1) Left over chickpea batter? Take little spoons full of batter and sprinkle all over a pan filled with hot oil.
Deep fry until crisp.

2) You can serve the vada pav with your fav garnishes: usually, I like to slice onion  and/or tomato and sprinkle some lemon juice, cumin powder, red chilli powder and black salt over it. I also like to serve green chilli and coriander leaves, both finely chopped.