It’s no secret I love my desi food. In fact my ultimate comfort food is dal chawal (lentils and rice). I could eat that meal every day, and it is definitely my death bed choice – if I had to choose of course. However, with all the moving office business, and the crazy workload lately, Indian cooking has taken a back seat at my place for a few month. I’m pretty embarrassed to say how heavily we’ve been relying on drive-thru’s and grocery store deli’s to sustain us lately.

But enough is enough, so I’m getting serious and stocking my fridge and freezer this week. First up, a bulk tadka cooking session, and a few bags of these tadka cubes I used to use religiously.  This is a recipe I’m reviving from the archives, and is a life-saver for weeknight cooking.

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tadka cubes, punjabi tadka recipe{Two must haves for tadka making marathons; my Kitchenaid mini chopper, and ghee.}tadka cubes, punjabi tadka recipe

Before we get into the recipe specifics, a quick primer on tadka is in order. Tadka is basically a process of tempering certain spices and onions (among other things)  in a hot oil or ghee which then forms the basis of most Indian food. Different regions of India have different items they include in their tadka (also known as chaunk). What I’m sharing today is basically a Punjabi tadka with some of my own touches. If you’ve eaten any tomato based curries, this is probably the tempering that was used.

Having these tadka cubes on hand substantially reduces the amount of prep time it takes to cook Indian food. In a pinch, I just chop up whatever veggies I have the fridge and throw in a couple of these cubes for an Indian stir fry and serve over rice.

*Important note – do not use an ice cube tray that you plan to use for regular ice again for this recipe. By one exclusively for tadka use. 

Tadka Cubes – Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 tbs ghee (or a high heat oil)
1/2 tbs jeera
1 tsp salt (or too taste)
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
2 tsp garam masala
1 extra large onion
4 garlic cloves
2 Roma tomatoes (with the juice squeezed out)
1 inch piece of ginger

Yield: 12 Ice Cubes
I sometimes make up to 3 batches of this recipe in one large pot and just adjust the ingredients accordingly

Directions: 

  • Chop all of your vegetables into a fine dice, either by hand or machine. Keep them separated for now.
  • Warm the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds. Let them pop and sizzle for a minute or two and then add in the onions.
  • Sweat the onions out for 5-7 minutes on a medium high heat. Keep stirring them so they don’t stick to the bottom.
  • Add the ginger and tomatoes cook for 1 minute
  • Add the garlic and spices (keep stirring garlic will stick!)
  • Let the whole tadka come together on medium low heat for 8-10 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the stove and cool.
  • Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, you can scoop it into the individual ice cube trays and freeze until they hard. After that, I pop them into Ziploc bags.

quick indian cooking tadka cubes

The process of making the tadka is a bit tedious with all the chopping, and it stinks up the whole house, but it is so worth it. My mother says you can keep frozen tadka in the freezer for 4-6 months, but I usually use mine up within a month or two anyway!

Do you have any tips for speeding up your Indian meals – do share below in the comments.

 

 

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You guys…I’m one of the strangest people I know. Seriously, I have more weird quirks and habits than anyone I’ve ever met. One of my trademark habits – trying to cook/recreate foods I’ve never eaten or seen anyone make. Usually followed by lots of freaking out and cursing. Enter: baraf ka gola aka the Indian snow cone.

So I saw this video on YouTube and figured ‘I could do that’. Mistake number one; never assume you can do anything an Indian street vendor can do. Jokes apart, after much trial and error, I did finally create this delicious & refreshing beauty.

how to make baraf ka gola

how to make baraf ka gola pink chai

How to Make Baraf Ka Gola

Ingredients:
Shaved ice
Flavoured syrups (I used store bought, but you can make your own if you like)
Food colouring (Optional – see note below) 

Tools:
Small glasses for shaping and serving golas
Spoon
Popsicle stickshow to make baraf ka gola pink chai{These Monin syrups are delicious, but they were not bright like a traditional barf ka gola, so I did end up adding a 1/2 drop of food colouring to the golas. You can see the colour difference in the pics below}.

Procedure:
how to make baraf ka gola, pink chai

Start by packing the shaved ice into your glass about 3/4 of the way to the top. You need to work quickly and really pack the layers hard. Once the ice is packed in, add a popsicle stick to the centre and place in the freezer for 30-40 seconds.

how to make baraf ka gola
Remove your gola from the glass and add flavoured syrup in different layers and combinations. 

how to make baraf ka gola

how to make baraf ka gola

As you can see I wasn’t getting the vibrancy and intensity of a traditional gola so I did add a 1/2 drop of food colouring to each section. Be very careful (and stingy) when you do this or you will end up with a mess all over your lips and tongue! 

how to make baraf ka gola

Serve immediately – enjoy the chuski!how to make baraf ka gola

how to make baraf ka gola

Text: Raj Thandhi
Photography: Aziz Dhamani

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bread pakora recipeWhen we were kids, my sisters and I called these pakoras “Gurudware vali bread”, which basically means bread from the Gurudwara. My parents used to be very involved in a local Gurudwara and almost every weekend there would be three days of prayer they participated in. On those weekends we’d often sleep at the Gurudwara and on Sunday morning before the cooking for the day began, one of the Aunties would whip up a batch of these delicious bread fritters, aka bread pakoras.bread pakora recipe

My mom also makes these a lot when she can’t really think of anything to make for a quick snack or light lunch with chai. Over the years they’ve become one of my last minute dinner staples too! If I serve them for dinner I’ll usually cut up some fresh veggies to go along side them, and then we’ll spread out a blanket on the living room floor and eat picnic style from one plate. I love sharing favourites from my childhood with my kids, and I think this is a recipe your family will enjoy too, after all; fried bread + besan (chickpea flour) = love on a plate. That’s a little food math for you my friends!

Bread Pakora Recipe:bread pakora recipeIngredients:
6-8 slices of bread cut in half (I use plain brown bread)
2 cups besan/chickpea flour
1 teaspoon dhegi mirch/paprika (you can also use red chilli powder if you like)
1/2 teaspoon anardana/pomegranate seed powder
Salt to taste
3/4 cup to 1 cup water for mixing batter
Oil for frying

Directions:bread pakora recipeMix all your dry ingredients together. Make sure there are no large lumps in your chickpea flour and add water slowly to make a batter thin enough to move the bread slices around easily, but thick enough to coat the entire slice. 3/4 cup to 1 cup water for mixingOnce you are happy with the consistency of your batter (you can always add more water or chickpea flour if needed), heat up your oil for frying. The oil is ready when you drop a little batter into it and it floats right to the top instead of sinking. This is usually between 385 – 425 Farenheit depending on whether you are using new or re-used cooking oil. 

Now you can begin dipping the bread on both sides and carefully sliding it into the oil. I’m using my hand to make the drop here, but if you are not comfortable with that use a slotted spoon. Remember, the oil is very hot at this point, only do what you are comfortable with. how to make bread pakora, pink chai livingbread pakora recipe, pink chaibread pakora recipe, pink chai living

I usually fry the first side for about a minute and a half and the second side for a minute, but that depends on the oil temperature, and how crispy you like your bread pakora. That’s something you’ll have to experiment with.  bread pakora recipe, pink chai livingOnce you’ve fried the bread pakoras, take them out of the oil and let them sit on a paper towel for a few minutes to soak up some of the excess oil. Serve them warm with a green chutney, or ketchup (my favourite), and of course, chai is always welcome at the pakora party!

PS: The best chutney ever, and tips for speeding up your Indian cooking nights

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bhindi sabzi punjabi styleThere are very few Indian recipes that I just know by heart. You know the ones where you can move through the  motions and never have to think about how much coriander powder or onions to add – somewhere between your hands, mind, and taste buds, it just comes together. For me, bhindi sabzi, baingan bhartha, and masran di dal are my classic ‘by heart’ recipes.

A few months ago I posted a picture of bhindi prep to my Instagram feed which prompted a conversation with my friend Taslim where she mentioned that she was looking for bhindi (okra) recipes. I thought, that’s easy; I can whip up a recipe for you next week! Fast forward three months and I finally have it. For some reason, every time I’ve made this sabzi since that conversation (which is every other week), it’s been on a busy night and I’ve just gone through all the motions before realizing – I didn’t write down the amounts of ingredients I used!

I often get upset at my mom when I’m trying to break down a recipe she makes and she just gives me ‘andaza’ about how much of a spice to use. Sometimes it feels like she’s being difficult, but I realize now how hard it is to translate a recipe that you know by heart into tablespoons and measurements.

{Andaza = best guess, rough idea, or cooking intuition maybe? It’s that sense of just knowing how much salt the okra needs today compared to last time!}

Thank you Taslim for requesting okra – in a strange way, it gave me a better understanding of my mom’s cooking style, and probably bettered our relationship a little. Isn’t it interesting how food can do that for people? This one is for you my sweetest, kindest friend. bhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masala

Bhindi Sabzi Punjabi Style Recipe:

There are a lot of different ways to cook bhindi, but this is a traditional Punjabi sabzi (I think some people call it bhindi masala also). I use mustard oil in this recipe, and that is very common in Punjab, however, in Canada, many people argue that mustard oil shouldn’t be ingested. I’m not a medical doctor so I’ll leave the choice up to you, but personally I feel there are a lot of benefits to adding a little mustard oil to your diet. 

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped bhindi (please read notes on cleaning and prepping bhindi below before you chop!)
1 chopped red onion
2 finely chopped Roma tomatoes
3 cloves garlic chopped finely
1 inch piece of ginger chopped finely
1 green chili sliced finely (optional)
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp (optional)
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Amchur (dried mango) powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala powder – 1/8 tsp as a finishing spice
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Mustard oil (or any cooking oil) – 1 tbsp
Ghee or cooking oil – 1 tbsp

Fresh cilantro leaves – for garnish (optional)

Method:bhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masala

Start by cleaning and chopping the bhindi. Never wash bhindi directly in water – this will make it a slimy icky mess. Use a wet towel to wipe it down, chop it into whatever size pieces you like, and then let it sit for 15-20 minutes before cooking so it dries out a little on the inside. 

I have to tell you, I cut the bhindi into small circles because I find it easier to scoop up with a roti, but my mom recently told me it doesn’t look authentic that way and I should be chopping it into 1 inch pieces. Your call, you can do it the Pink Chai way, or the Pink Chai Mama way!bhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masalaFry the chopped bhindi in mustard oil, or the oil of your choice on medium to high heat, stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes. If you decide to use mustard oil, make sure it’s ‘smoked’ before you add the bhindi. (Heat the oil in the pan with no other ingredients until it reaches a temperature where the first wisps of smoke appear. Take it off the flame and allow it to cool a little before adding the food you are cooking.)bhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masalabhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masalaNext add ghee or cooking oil to the pan, once it’s hot add cumin seeds. Let them sputter for a minute and add the onions. Cook the onions down for 2-3 minutes and then add the green chillies, garlic, and ginger. Cook everything together for another 4-5 minutes on medium high heat and then add in turmeric, coriander powder, amchur (dried mango powder) and  red chill powder if you are using it. Mix everything together well. bhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masalaAdd the chopped tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes on a medium heat. It’s really important that you don’t rush this part of the process, raw tomato taste is not what you are going for. bhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masalaOnce the tomatoes are cooked down, add the okra, salt, and garam masala. Cook everything together on  medium heat for another 10 minutes, or until the bhindi is nice and tender. Do not put a lid on the pot at this point or the bhindi will turn into mush. bhindi sabzi punjabi style recipe, bhindi masalaFinally, plate it up, garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with hot roti {tutorial coming soon} and enjoy!

Images by: Aziz Dhamani Photography

 PS: A few of my other favourite recipes; jeera rice, masra di dal, makki di roti

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