Sunday Masala Meal Prep

April 8, 2018

I may need a second Instapot. And if the second one can be the adorable little 3 quart Instapot then all the better.

It sounds a little over the top but when you really think about it, it’s very practical. The number of times I’ve found myself thinking, “If only I had another Instapot, right now I could start the…” But it would probably take relocating to the suburbs to gain enough storage space so we’re a one Instapot only household.

I’ve really been loving 101 Cookbook’s Instapot recipes. While I was making her Brown Rice Turmeric Congee, I prepped all of the ingredients for My Heart Beet’s Indian Onion Masala.

I went a little over the top and also made these spicy green beans from Dakshin Vegetarian Cuisine from South India. The title is pretty self-explanatory. It took me about a year since my dad gave it to me for me to get over my fear of cooking South Indian food. More to come on that front.

Onion-ginger-garlic-tomato masala forms the base of many North Indian curries. A few weeks ago, I made a vat of it in my Instapot and froze it in a silicone muffin tray.

I’ve used it to make Paneer Makhani, Yellow Split Pea Lentils (Toor Daal) and Spinach with Chickpeas. It reduces cooking time to under 20 minutes.


Crispy Spinach Chaat

March 3, 2018

I’ve always thought of zucchini flowers as an excuse to eat fried ricotta cheese. Spinach chaat is a similar excuse to enjoy crunchy, spicy chickpea flour with tangy spices, minty chutney plus cool creamy yogurt. It’s a mix of textures, temperatures and tastes that all come together in one bite. That mouthful pleasure is what makes chaat – or Indian street food snacks – so finger licking good. Literally.

We first had Spinach Chaat at Rasika Roi in Washington, DC. The first time we ate there, we were both dying to understand how you could batter and fry something as delicate as a spinach leaf. Spoiler alert – not only is it possible but it is also amazing.

Crispy Spinach Chaat


  • Coconut oil for cooking
  • 2 cups of spinach leaves
  • 1 cup besan or chickpea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water or more as needed
  • Toppings:
  • Yogurt
  • Mint or Coriander Chutney
  • Tamarind Chutney


  1. Heat coconut oil in a deep and wide skillet.
  2. In a big mixing boil, mix the besan and spices. Add the water and create a thick pancake like batter.
  3. Dip each spinach leaf into the batter then fry in oil. I do this in batches to make it easier.
  4. Drain fried leaves on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
  5. To serve, plate a handful of spinach leaves then top with yogurt, mint (or coriander) chutney and tamarind chutney. Serve hot.

Rasika just came out with this cookbook, and while I haven’t bought it yet (but probably will soon!), I heard it has the recipe for their Spinach Chaat, which is their most popular dish.


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Crumbled Paneer and Peas

February 25, 2018

Not all Indian cooking takes forever. In fact, most Indian cooking doesn’t take forever. But this paneer bhurji is particularly fast and satisfying weeknight Indian main dish. It calls for ingredients you most likely have on hand – peas, a tomato, onions and a dash of milk – plus basic Indian spices of garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder and turmeric. And of course, paneer.

I must admit that I used fresh paneer which I made over the weekend prior. Don’t hate me for that. I’ve not gone Martha Stewart. It’s just that t’s actually super easy. But I’ve also made it with store bought Amul paneer and it’s really good with that too.

If you decide that you want to make your own paneer, here are the basic steps:  bring about a half gallon of whole milk to a high simmer around 200 degrees (the milk will look foamy although I use this infrared thermometer) then add 1/4 cup lemon juice. Let it sit for 10 minutes so the curds separate. Then strain it through a cheese cloth collecting the liquid – or whey – in a pot. Squeeze the curds in the cheesecloth to remove any extra whey. Pat the curds into the shape of a block then wrap the cheesecloth around the block. Put it between two plates and place in fridge with a heavy object on top of it.

This is the curds separating after I added the lemon juice…

And this is the fresh paneer after the whey was strained out…

Paneer Bhurji


  • 1 block paneer, crumbled by hand or shred in food processor)
  • 1 small red or yellow onion
  • 1 roma tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup milk


  1. Boil the peas until cooked.
  2. Heat a tablespoon oil in a wide skillet. Add the onions and saute until glassy about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the peas, paneer and spices. Stir well.
  5. Add the milk, reduce heat and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Whey has a buttery, milky golden taste to it. Imagine drinking the remnants of a can of condensed milk, sneaking the last bit of heavy whipping cream, licking up the browned left behind bits of browning butter….all things I’ve never (ever) done but (imagine) would be delicious. I used all of my whey in this soup which means we enjoyed every last bit of paneer making quite a few times.

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Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup

This simple vegetarian version of a chicken noodle soup has become of my favorite Instant creations. The broth is super simple but gives you the comforting feeling of what I imagine drinking warm, liquid butter would be like. I spice it up with white pepper and add a healthy squeeze of lemon juice to round it […]

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Coconut Ladoo – Fudgy and Sweet Indian Dessert

Recipe can be found here. Being different when I was a kid growing up in the South was not, it felt, a thing to be celebrated. And showcasing your differences felt like an even worse idea. It was bound to be met with teasing and exclusion. So when one of Surya’s 2nd grade classmate’s moms […]

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Crunchy Zucchini Koftas

Crunchy on the outside. Melty on the inside. Light all around. That’s the best description for these zucchini koftas. This is an oldy but goody from May 2011. The last time I made these, we dunked them in a zaatar sumac spiked yogurt dip. This time around, they disappeared so quickly from the counter that […]

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Blizzard Recipe Roundup

My first thought when I heard of the impending blizzard bearing down upon the Northeast was to consider what I would cook. Not in a practical what-will-I-cook-that-can-sustain-a-loss-of-electricity way. More in a what-deliciousness-can-I-make-then-curl-up-on-my-sofa-and-eat way. My plans for tomorrow include making a creamy, crunchy mac n cheese. Here are some of my favorite recipes that might warm […]

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Toasted Coconut Lentils


Because I get excited about odd things, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this salty, nutty mixture of coconut, crunchy spices, little nuggets of garlic and strands of spicy ginger. Simple ways to create comfort food with that perfect balance of salt and spice and nutty-hug-yourself goodness. It’s one of my favorite […]

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