Easy Eggless Christmas Fruit Cake

Fruit Cake is served during the Christmas season. It is made with dried fruits, nuts and spices. The dried fruits and nuts are soaked in alcohol for several weeks and then used in the cake preparation. It does require some planning ahead. It tastes absolutely delicious. That is all I knew about the Christmas fruit cake. I had never baked it before but I decided to make a fruit cake in the last minute, just a day  before Christmas. I wanted to make a non-alcoholic and eggless fruit cake. I started searching for an interesting recipe that doesn’t require pre-soaked dry  fruits and nuts. I liked the boiled fruit cake recipe from ‘joyofbaking.com’ but eggs were used in the recipe. I continued my search to find if any blogger had successfully made an eggless version of the same recipe. I could finally find the recipe here. I adapted my recipe from both these recipes. I made the cake with fruits and nuts that were available at home because I was a last minute baker and all the stores were closed for Christmas. I was very happy  with the results. The cake was soft, moist and full of flavor. We loved it.

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Let’s begin the process of making this easy eggless, non-alcoholic, boiled fruit cake that doesn’t require any pre-soaking of fruits and nuts.

Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 250ml

All purpose flour – 1&1/2 cups

Dark brown sugar – 1 cup(loosely packed)(Fill the measuring cup with dark brown sugar and use a spatula to remove the mound)

Golden Raisins – 1/2 cup

Dark/Black Raisins – 1/2 cup

Chopped Walnuts – 1/2 cup

Chopped/Sliced Almonds –  1/2 cup

Chopped Dates – 1/2 cup(I used organic Dates from Costco)

Baking soda – 1 Tsp.

Salt – 1/2 Tsp.

Water – 1 cup

Cinnamon powder – 1 Tsp.

Ginger Powder – 1 Tsp.

Grated Nutmeg – 1/4 Tsp.

Unsalted Butter – 1/4 cup.

Yogurt – 1/2 cup(I used well beaten homemade yogurt)

I used 8 x 4 inch aluminum round baking pan. You can use a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. You do not need a stand mixer to make this cake.

Procedure:

Step 1:

Place the baking pan on a  parchment paper. Draw an outline around the bottom of the baking pan with a pencil. Using a scissors, cut the circle out of the parchment paper as shown below. Line the baking pan with this parchment paper circle.

Step 2:

Spray the pan with a non stick cooking spray. Spread it evenly using a pastry brush. You can use butter if you do not have a non stick cooking spray.

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Step 3:

Measure 1&1/2 cups all purpose flour as shown below. Scoop the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a spatula. Put the flour into the sifter.

Step 4:

Add baking soda and salt into the sifter. Mix it well with a spatula. Sift them together into a separate bowl. Dust the chopped nuts with 1 tsp. of sifted flour mixture(we need to do this to stop nuts from sinking in the cake).

Step 5:

Add ginger powder, cinnamon powder and grated nutmeg in a sauce pan. Add brown sugar and butter. Add raisins and chopped dates. Add water. Mix it well.

Step 6:

Bring it to a boil on medium heat and simmer for five minutes. Turn off the heat. The fruits will absorb the flavors of the spices and also become plumpy . Let it cool until luke warm.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

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Step 7:

Add yogurt to the boiled fruits mixture in the sauce pan and mix it well.

Step 8:

Transfer the ingredients in the sauce pan to a mixing bowl. You do not have to do this if your sauce pan is big enough to mix the flour. (My sauce pan was not big enough). Add flour and mix it well gently.

 

Step 9:

Add the dusted walnuts and almonds. Mix it well. Transfer the cake batter to the prepared baking pan. Gently tap the pan on the kitchen counter. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 50-65 minutes until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. (I baked for 60 minutes).

Step 10:

Turn off the oven. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan.

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Step 11:

Loosen the edges and remove the cake from the pan by turning it upside down.  Let it cool. Cut and enjoy your cake.

Step 12:

I wrapped the cake in a plastic wrap and stored at room temperature. The cake tasted even better on the second day.

Notes:

Variations that can be used in this recipe.

1.  You can reduce the quantity of nuts in this recipe. You can replace 1/2 cup walnuts with 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Quantity of dark brown sugar remains the same.

2. You can replace 1/2 cup dates with 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Use 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar.

 

This is one of my new favorite cakes to make for my family. I hope you enjoy this delicious cake. Happy Holidays!!!!!

Cranberry Tomato Rasam/ Spicy & Tangy Cranberry Soup- Instant Pot Method

Rasam is a spicy and tangy south Indian dish that can be prepared instantly. It is a staple dish in most South Indian homes.  Though the recipe is very simple, making a tasty rasam with the right balance of tangy and spicy flavors is a skillful task. In the initial days of my cooking I could never get the right flavor. It used to be too sour or too bland. I learnt to make perfect rasam with practice. Rasam is a South Indian soup traditionally prepared with tamarind pulp, tomatoes and fresh homemade rasam powder. I used cranberries for sourness as I had some cranberries lying in my refrigerator after preparing Cranberry pickle yesterday. I used store bought rasam powder in this recipe. I will share the traditional method of preparing rasam and homemade rasam powder in a separate post.

Today I am sharing a quick Cranberry Tomato Rasam recipe. It can be made in no time with very little effort and also without any baby sitting as it is made in an Instant Pot pressure cooker. This rasam can be prepared with tomatoes and tamarind paste when the cranberries are not available in the season. Please refer to the notes.

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Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 250ml

Tomato – 1(medium size)

Cranberries – 1/2 cup

Mustard seeds – 1/2 Tsp.

Cumin seeds – 1/2 Tsp.

Green chilli – 1(slit in half)

Turmeric powder – 1/2 Tsp.

Jaggery – 2 inch piece(1/2 Tbsp.)

Asafoetida – 1/8 Tsp.(optional)

Turmeric powder – 1/2 Tsp.

Rasam powder – 2 Tsp.(I used MTR rasam powder)

Vegetable oil/Ghee – 2 Tsp.

Curry leaves – 15

Cilantro – 1/4 cup(chopped)

Salt – as needed(1&1/4 Tsp. approximately)

Procedure:

Step 1:

Rinse the cranberries and tomato. Add chopped tomato and cranberries into a blender jar. Puree them.

Step 2:

Turn on the instant pot in ‘Saute’ mode. Just press the ‘Saute’ button.  Add oil in the instant pot insert. Once the oil is hot(after few seconds), add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green chilli and curry leaves. After you hear the crackling sound of the mustard seeds, add asafoetida.

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Step 3:

Add the prepared tomato and cranberry puree. Saute for few seconds.

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Step 4:

Add 4&1/2 cups water in the blender and pour it in the instant pot insert.

Step 6:

Add rasam powder, turmeric powder, salt and jaggery. Mix it well. Press’ Cancel’ button. Close the lid. Make sure that the sealing ring in placed under the lid and the anti block shield under the lid is placed and pressed in its position correctly. Turn the steam releasing valve on top of the lid to the ‘Sealing’ position. Pressure cook in manual high pressure setting for 10 minutes. To do this, Hit ‘Manual’ button. The default pressure setting will be high. Do not change this.  Press on minus ‘-‘  button and set it to 10 minutes.

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Step 7:

Open the lid when the pressure is naturally released(NR). Instant pot has a indicator pin next to the steam releasing valve to indicate if the steam is released or not. The pin drops down when the steam is completely released. Remove the lid when the pin drops down.

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Step 8:

Cook on ‘Saute’ mode for two minutes. Add chopped cilantro. Turn off the instant pot.

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Step 9:

Transfer the prepared rasam into a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve hot.

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Notes: There are so many ways rasam can be made. If you do not want to add cranberries substitute 1/2 cup cranberries in this recipe with 2 medium size tomatoes and  add 1 Tsp. tamarind concentrate. Below are the pictures of Tomato rasam(without cranberries) I prepared sometime back.

 

Serve Cranberry  Tomato rasam with hot steaming rice or serve as a soup in the cold winter evenings.

 

Super hot rasam is just perfect for this winter season and also has amazing health benefits!!!!!

 

Idli-Dosa Batter – Fermenting batter using Instant Pot

Idli or Dosa is a staple breakfast in any South Indian home. Idli-Dosa batter is a multi-purpose batter that can be found in almost every South Indian refrigerator. The list of breakfast foods/snacks that can be prepared using this batter is too long – Idli, Dosa, Uthappam, Guntha Ponganalu/Appe, and the list goes on and on.

Making Idli-Dosa batter is very simple. It is difficult to make the perfect Idli-Dosa batter for soft and fluffy Idlis. It took a while to learn that, at least for me. The key to get soft and fluffy Idlis is making a perfectly fermented batter.

The key points to remember are:

  1. Knowing the right proportions of rice and urad dal
  2. Washing rice and urad dal thoroughly before soaking
  3. Grinding the batter to a perfect consistency (I use a wet grinder). Batter should not be too runny or too thick
  4. Using ice cold water to grind the batter so that batter does not get warm while grinding
  5. Using non- iodized salt
  6. Mixing the batter with clean hands before fermenting
  7. Placing the batter in a warm place for a nice and fast fermentation

Fermenting batter is difficult (especially in winter) in colder places like the US. The Instant Pot yogurt function maintains a good fermentation temperature and is helpful (to a certain extent) to achieve nice fermentation of the batter. If you do not have an Instant Pot, you can place the batter in a preheated oven (Just heat the oven to 175 F and turn it off when it reaches that temperature). Make sure the batter container is oven safe. It is tricky to get perfectly fermented batter in the first attempt, but you can get it right with a few attempts. It is not just the recipe that gives the best results, but a little practice and following the key points will definitely give you perfect results. The idlis will turn hard if the batter is not fermented well, but you can still use the batter to prepare dosas.

There are many recipes to make Idli-Dosa batter. My Mom and MIL use different recipes to prepare Idli batter and Dosa batter. They both use Urad dal-Idli Rava to make Idlis and Urad dal-Rice for Dosas. Both of them use different proportions. The use of Idli rava to prepare Idli batter results in coarse textured Idlis, and I like it.  For many years, I used to make the batter following my Mom and MIL’s recipes but whenever I prepared Idli batter my kids used to ask me, if they can have Dosa for breakfast and vice versa. Then I came to know about this all-in-one batter recipe from a Tamilian neighbor in the US. I liked this recipe because I can prepare Idli and Dosa using the same batter. I can make Idli or Dosa, whatever my kids ask for. Happy Kids = Happy Mom 🙂 🙂 . I thought my problem was resolved now. Suddenly, my kids started asking me if I can prepare coarse textured idlis  using my mom/MIL’s recipe. Sigh! 🙂 🙂

I am sharing a step by step pictorial recipe for the all-in-one/multi-purpose Idli-Dosa batter recipe in this post.

Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 160ml (Rice cooker cup)

Whole Urad Gota (whole urad without skin) – 1 cup

Idli Rice – 4 cups

Fenugreek/Methi seeds – 1 Tsp.

(Actual recipe shared by my neighbor uses 2 Tsp. Fenugreek/Methi seeds. I always use only 1 Tsp. Methi seeds)

Crushed non-iodized salt – 1 Tsp.

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Procedure:

Step 1:

In a bowl, add urad dal and fenugreek/methi seeds. Rinse them 3-4 times, until the water runs clear. Soak in enough water. Wash rice until water runs clear. Soak separately in enough water. I usually soak them overnight and prepare the batter in the early morning.

Step 2:

Drain the water from the urad dal. Add 1/4 cup ice cold water in the wet grinder and turn it on. While it is running add the urad dal and grind it for 30 minutes. Add very little ice cold water as needed, while grinding the batter. The batter should not be runny. It should be fluffy. Turn off the wet grinder and transfer the batter to the instant pot insert. It should be around 2 cups (2 cup mark in the insert) after grinding.

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Step 3:

Drain the water from the soaked rice. Add 1 cup ice cold water to the wet grinder and turn it on. While it is running add the rice and grind it for 20-30 minutes(I usually grind it for 20 minutes). The batter might need additional 1-2 cups of ice cold water. Add ice cold water gradually, as needed. Transfer the batter to instant pot insert. The batter should be around 7 cup mark in the insert. If it is less than that, add more water in the wet grinder and run it for few seconds. Add this water to the insert.

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Step 4:

Add crushed sea salt and mix the batter with clean hand for at least 4-5 minutes. Mixing with hand helps the fermentation process.

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 Step 5:

Place the insert in the instant pot. Close the instant pot lid. I remove the sealing ring. Steam releasing position can be venting or sealing (it does not matter). Press the ‘Yogurt’ button on instant pot. The default time is 8 hours. Press the ‘+’ button and adjust it to 9 hours. After 9 hours the batter will be fermented. Sometimes it is around 10 cup mark and sometimes it is even more. Unplug the instant pot. I leave the insert in the instant pot for few more hours if I feel that batter needs to ferment more (especially in winter). If the batter has fermented well, I remove the insert. Gently mix the top layer of the batter and the batter is ready to use. Cover it and store it in the refrigerator for later use.

Update(03/24/2017): The batter can be fermented in two ways:

‘Yogurt’ mode on ‘normal’ setting

‘Yogurt’ mode’ on low’ setting.

I experimented with ‘normal’ setting and ‘low’ setting.  The batter was successfully fermented with both the settings. I feel that I am getting better results with ‘Yogurt’ mode on ‘low’ setting. You can navigate to ‘low’ setting by pressing ‘Adjust’ button. Press the Plus and Minus button  to set the fermentation time.

Few readers who tried this recipe mentioned that,  it took longer than 9 hours (around  12-14 hours) for the batter to ferment. If the batter hasn’t fermented in 9 hours, leave it in ‘Yogurt’ (low mode) for few more hours.

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Notes:

To prepare the Idlis, there is no need to add additional water if you have prepared the batter exactly as shown in my recipe.

Idlis come out really soft when prepared with the fresh batter. Usually, Idlis are prepared on the first two days (after fermenting the batter) and the rest of the batter is used to prepare Dosas.

Do not mix the whole batter after fermenting. The top half portion is good to make idlis and the bottom half portion is good to make Dosas. Take the required amount of batter into a separate bowl and add few spoons of water to make Dosas. Dosa batter needs to be slightly thinner than Idli batter.

You can also use a glass lid to close the instant pot in yogurt mode. I have read few Facebook posts, where some people faced the trouble of overflowing fermented batter and the lid getting locked. It never happened to me though.

Here is the  procedure to steam Idlis:

Grease Idli plates with oil. Pour the batter in the greased Idli plates. Add 1 cup(250ml) water in the IP insert and let the water come to a boil on saute mode. Cancel saute mode and place the Idli stand and close the lid with sealing ring. Turn the valve in venting position. Steam for 7-8 minutes. Use an external timer. Turn off the IP. Open the lid after 7-8 minutes. Remove the Idli stand and let it cool for 3-4 minutes. Run a butter knife(dipped in water) around the edges of Idlis and use a spoon to remove the Idlis from the Idli plates.

I will share a detailed step by step procedure to make Idlis and Dosas in a separate post.

Enjoy soft and fluffy Idlis, thin and crispy Dosas with your favorite chutney!!!

Rajma Masala – Instant Pot Method

Rajma Masala is a very popular Punjabi dish. Red kidney beans are soaked overnight, boiled and cooked in an onion tomato masala along with other spices. It is usually served with rice. This is a very comforting dish. I made Rajma Chawal for our weekend meal. This recipe was shared by Millie Chawla Pahwa. She shared the stove top pressure cooker version of the recipe. I tried this recipe in my Instant Pot and it turned out absolutely delicious when I tried it. I loved this recipe. I am sharing the instant pot version of the recipe.

This is what she said  ‘Rajma Chawal’ is a signature dish of all “Punjabi” weekends. Eat it with a spoon or for utter life pleasure indulge with hands, Bliss. 🙂

Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 160ml(Rice cooker cup)

Red Kidney beans/Rajma – 2 cups(Use good quality organic beans for excellent taste)

Onion – 1(big size)(finely chopped)

Tomatoes – 3(Medium size)

Turmeric Powder – 1/2 Tsp. + 1/4 Tsp.

Cinnamon stick – 3″ long

Cloves – 2

Bay leaf – 1

Cumin seeds – 1/2 Tbsp.

Freshly ground ginger garlic paste – 1 Tbsp.

Roasted Coriander powder – 3/4 Tbsp.(Dry roast coriander seeds and grind them)

Red chilli powder – 1 Tsp.(You can add more or less  as per desired spiciness)

Kasuri Methi/ Dried fenugreek leaves – 1/2 Tbsp.

Garam masala powder – 1/3 tsp.

Vegetable oil – 2 Tbsp.

Salt – as needed

Procedure:

I am sharing the traditional method of making Rajma, where the beans are cooked first and then simmered in an onion tomato gravy.

I am also sharing another method, where Rajma is cooked as a one pot meal. The procedure is almost similar except that the onion tomato gravy is prepared first and then beans are pressure cooked in the prepared gravy. Please refer to the notes for the procedure to cook Rajma Masala as a one pot dish.

Step 1:

Soak Rajma for 12-16 hours.

Wash and soak 2 cups of red kidney beans/Rajma overnight in a bowl of water.

Step 2:

Pressure cook the beans.

Discard the soaking water from beans/Rajma. Add Rajma in the instant pot insert. Add 3&1/2 cups water(You can add 4 cups water for a thinner gravy). Add 1/2 Tsp. salt and 1/4 Tsp. turmeric. Close the lid. Make sure that the sealing ring in placed under the lid and the anti block shield under the lid is placed and pressed in its position correctly. Turn the steam releasing valve on top of the lid to the ‘Sealing’ position. Turn on the Bean/Chili mode. Just press ‘Bean/Chili’ button. The ‘Bean/Chili’ mode is a fully automated program to cook beans. The default display(cooking time) will be 30 minutes. The high pressure setting is selected by default in the ‘Bean/Chili’ mode. You will hear a beep when the beans is done. Let the pressure release naturally. Instant pot has a indicator pin next to the steam releasing valve to indicate if the steam is released or not. The pin drops down when the steam is completely released. Unplug the instant pot and open the lid when the pin drops down. Rajma should be soft and tender.

Step 3:

Blanch the tomatoes and prepare tomato puree.

Procedure to blanch the tomatoes.Take a sauce pan. Add 4 cups water and let it come to a boil. Wash the tomatoes and make a slit on them. This will help to peel the skin easily, after blanching the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes in the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes just until the skin starts to peel off. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and let them cool. (You can place them in a bowl of ice cold water to stop them from cooking any further). Remove the skin. Chop the tomatoes into half. Add them to a blender and puree them into a smooth paste.

Step 4:

Prepare the onion tomato gravy.

I have two inserts for instant pot. So I used the second insert to prepare the gravy. If you have only one insert, transfer the cooked beans and the bean stock to a different container. Rinse the insert and use it to prepare the onion tomato gravy.

Turn on the instant pot in ‘Saute’ mode. Just press ‘Saute’ button.  Add oil in the instant pot insert. Once the oil is hot(after few seconds), add cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin seeds, bay leaf and stir. After you hear the crackling sound of cumin seeds, add the ginger garlic paste. Add the chopped onion. Add 1/4 Tsp. salt and saute until onion they turn translucent and slightly brown in color. Then add the tomato puree. Cook for a minute. Add turmeric powder(1/2 Tsp.),  coriander powder and red chilli powder. Mix it well. Cook until the onion tomato masala starts leaving the sides of the pan. Add crushed kasuri methi and mix.

Step 5:

Add the boiled Rajma and cook in the onion tomato gravy.

This step can be done in ‘saute’ mode or ‘low saute’ mode or ‘slow cook’ mode. I cooked in ‘saute’ mode. Add the boiled rajma and the bean stock. Add garam masala powder. Add salt as needed. Let it cook for few minutes until the desired consistency is reached. Turn off the instant pot.

Step 6:

Transfer the prepared gravy to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with a hot bowl of cooked rice and enjoy!

Notes:

To prepare Rajma as a one pot dish:

Soak Rajma overnight in water. You can skip the process of blanching the tomatoes. Prepare the tomato puree with raw tomatoes in a high powered blender(I use Vitamix blender). Prepare the onion tomato gravy as mentioned in step 4. Add soaked beans and water. Pressure cook them as mentioned in step 2. Finally cook on ‘Saute’ mode for few minutes to get the desired consistency and garnish with chopped cilantro. Here is the picture of Rajma when I prepared it as a one pot dish.

I love to do fun and cute food presentation. I tried to make Easter Bunny  with cooked rice, when I prepared Rajma on Easter weekend. 🙂

 

Rajma Masala is a healthy and nutritious dish to pack in the lunch box along with Rotis/Phulkas/Jeera Rice. Perfect to indulge on any day!!

Vegetable Pulao – Instant Pot Method

Vegetable Pulao is an easy one pot comfort meal made with rice(Basmati Rice), vegetables and Indian spices. I usually prepare it on weekdays and pack this rice for my kids’ school lunch box and  for my husband’s work lunch box. Sometimes, I make this delicious one pot meal on weekends for our weekend lunch(late lunch/early dinner). Last week, I made Puri and Instant Pot-Potato curry for our Sunday brunch. I drafted and published the recipe in my blog on the same day. After doing all that work, I was not in a mood to cook an elaborate meal for our lunch and I decided to make this easy one pot meal. I made this pulao in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. I took pictures while preparing this instant pot vegetable pulao to share the recipe in my blog for all the readers who bought their instant pot recently, during this year’s thanksgiving sale.

This was the first dish that I made in my instant pot, when I bought my first instant pot  last year. I posted the recipe in an instant pot group. I did not have my own blog at that time. It was tried and tested by many people and everyone who tried this recipe have shared a wonderful feedback. I learnt this recipe from my mom. I have been making vegetable pulao with this recipe for more than 25 years. When we moved to US some of my  friends(who were then newly married) learnt this recipe from me.  The recipe is very simple and it does not have any special ingredients but the taste is very comforting and special.  I am sharing a detailed step by step recipe and pictures with instant pot instructions to make it easy for the first time users of the instant pot.

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Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 160ml(Rice cooker cup)

Basmati rice – 2 cups(I used Royal brand basmati rice from Costco)

Wash and soak basmati rice in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes.

Chopped mixed  vegetables(carrots, Green peas and string beans) – 4 cups

(I used frozen organic mixed vegetables from Costco. I placed them in a colander and rinsed them under tap water. The taste will be much better if you can use fresh vegetables. My mom never recommends frozen vegetables).

Potato – 1(medium size, chopped into medium size cubes)

Onion – 1/2(medium size, chopped into thin and long slices)

Turmeric powder – 1/3 Tsp.(optional, I always add it)

Chopped fresh mint leaves – 1/4 cup(I used 1/8 cup dried mint leaves as I did not have fresh leaves at home)

Freshly ground garam masala powder(recommended) – 1/3 Tsp.

Freshly ground ginger garlic paste – 3/4 Tbsp.

Green chillies – 1-2(slit in half)(I used only one. You can add more according to your taste)

Salt – as needed(approximately 1 Tsp.)

Raw Cashew nuts(optional) – 10-15(chopped or split in half)

Vegetable oil  – 2 Tbsp.

Whole Garam Masala:

Cinnamon stick – 3″ long

Cloves – 3

Cardamom – 3

Bay leaf – 1

Caraway seeds(Shahjeera) – 1/3 Tsp.(I did not add)(My mom recommends adding them)

Procedure: 

If you are a first time user of the instant pot refer to the page 6 and page 7 of the instant pot manual to understand the instant pot terminology(only few words) that I used to explain the recipe. Do the ‘Initial Test Run’ specified on page 14 of the instant pot manual.

Step 1:

Connect the instant pot to the power outlet. Turn on the instant pot in ‘Saute’ mode. Just press ‘Saute’ button.  Add oil in the instant pot insert. Once the oil is hot(after few seconds), add all the ingredients listed under whole garam masala and stir. Add cashew nuts. Saute for few seconds. Add thinly sliced onions and saute until they turn translucent and slightly brown in color.

Step 2:

Add fresh homemade ginger garlic paste, green chillies and turmeric powder. Once the raw smell is gone, add the chopped vegetables except potatoes. Saute for a minute.

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Step 3:

Add the chopped potatoes and saute for a minute.

As I have used frozen vegetables, I added the potatoes after a minute to remove the moisture from frozen vegetables. If you are using fresh vegetables, you can add the potatoes and other vegetables at the same time.

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Step 4:

Add the chopped mint leaves and garam masala powder. image

Step 5:

Add the 3 cups of water(in which rice was soaked) and also add salt. Mix it well.

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Step 6:

Add the rice and mix it carefully. The rice tends to break easily, so mix it gently. Turn off the saute mode. To do this press’Cancel’ button.

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Step 7:

Close the lid. Make sure that the sealing ring in placed under the lid and the anti block shield under the lid is placed and pressed in its position correctly. Turn the steam releasing valve on top of the lid to the ‘Sealing’ position. Turn on the rice mode. Just press ‘Rice’ button. The ‘Rice’ mode is a fully automated program to cook rice. The default display  (cooking time) will be 12 minutes. The low pressure setting is selected by default in the ‘Rice’ mode. You will hear a beep when the rice is done. Let the pressure release naturally. Instant pot has a indicator pin next to the steam releasing valve to indicate if the steam is released or not. The pin drops down when the steam is completely released. Unplug the instant pot and open the lid when the pin drops down.

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Step 8:

Gently fluff the rice with a fork or spoon. Be gentle so that you do not break the long grains. Transfer to a wide serving bowl and serve with Raita!

Notes:

My mom also recommends to add 1/2 cup chopped cabbage along with the other vegetables.

You can skip adding the cashew nuts or You can fry the cashew nuts separately in the oil and garnish the prepared pulao with fried/roasted cashew nuts.

To prepare fresh garam masala powder, fry cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and very few black pepper seeds in oil and let them cool. Powder them using a mortar and pestle.

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This quick one pot  delicious pulao is perfect for a busy weekday meal or a lazy weekend meal and can be packed in the Lunch Box too!!!!

Simple Potato and Tomato Curry – Instant Pot Method

Potato and Tomato Curry is an easy to make Indian curry that is usually served with Puris(Puffed whole wheat bread) and Chapathis(whole wheat tortillas). Pooris served with this tangy and tasty curry is a favorite weekend breakfast/brunch at our home. My kids love this combo. It is a very simple, comforting and flavorful curry. I made this delicious breakfast for our weekend brunch. I prepared this curry in Instant Pot and sharing the recipe with my readers.

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Ingredients:

Measuring cup used 1 Cup = 250ml

Onion – 1/2 cup(chopped)

Tomatoes(Medium size) – 2(I used plum tomatoes)(chopped)

Potatoes(Medium sized) – 4(chopped)

Cilantro(chopped) – 1/4 cup

curry leaves – 8-10

Mustard seeds – 3/4 Tsp.

Cumin seeds – 1/2 Tsp.

Green chillies – 1-2(slit in half)

Red chilli powder – 1/2 Tsp.

Turmeric powder – 1/2 Tsp.

Salt – as needed(approximately 1 Tsp.)

Vegetable Oil – 1.5 Tbsp.

Green Peas(fresh/frozen) – 1/2 cup(I used frozen green peas, rinsed under tap water)

Procedure:

Step 1:

Turn on the Instant Pot in ‘Saute’ mode. Add oil. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Let them crackle. Add curry leaves, green chillies and chopped onion and little salt. Saute for a minute. Add turmeric powder and mix.

Step 2:

Add green peas. Saute for a minute. Add chopped potatoes and saute for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder and salt. Saute for few seconds. image

Step 3:

Add 3/4 cup water. Close the lid. Turn the steam releasing valve in sealing position. Pressure cook the vegetables in manual high pressure setting for 5 minutes. To do this, turn off the instant pot. Press cancel button. Hit manual button. The default pressure setting will be high. Do not change this.  Press on minus ‘-‘  button and set it to 5 minutes.

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Step 4:

Open the lid when the pressure is naturally released(NR). You can also do a quick release(QR) after 8 minutes. To do the quick release after 8 minutes, turn the steam releasing valve in the venting position. Instant pot has a indicator pin next to the steam releasing valve to indicate if the steam is released or not. The pin drops down when the steam is completely released. Remove the lid when the pin drops down. The below picture shows how the curry looks, after doing a quick release after 8 minutes.

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Step 5:

Cook on ‘Saute’ mode for few seconds. Turn off the instant pot and transfer the prepared curry to a serving bowl. Finally garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with puris.

Enjoy this delicious  and classic combo!!!!!

 

 

Cheesy Veg Squares

Cheesy Veg Squares is a healthy, nutritious and delicious baked bread appetizer. This appetizer is not only attractive but also tastes great. Cheesy Veg Squares are healthy and perfect for a lunch box or an after school snack. This recipe is adapted from a YouTube video by Ruchi Bharani. This is something I’ve always wanted to make. I finally made it last night,after bookmarking it for so long. My kids loved it!!!!

 

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Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Bread – 1 packet

Paneer(chopped into small cubes) – 200gms

Green Pepper/Capsicum(chopped) – 1/3 cup(you can use any color)

Onion(finely chopped) – 1/4 cup

Sweet corn – 3/4 cup(steam for 10 minutes)

Grated cheese(I used Amul cheese) –  100 gm(Add more or less as per your preference)

Dried Oregano – 1/2 Tsp.

Dried Parsley – 1/4 Tsp.

Dried Basil – 1/2 Tsp.

Tomato Ketchup – 1 -2 Tbsp.

Crushed red pepper – 1/2  Tsp.

Red chilli powder – 1/3 Tsp.

Garlic powder – 1/3 Tsp.

Salt – as needed

Butter – 1 Tbsp

Melted butter – 1 Tbsp(to brush on top of the bread)

Square Cookie cutters  – 2 (1 big size and  1 medium size)

If you do not have cookie cutters at home, you can use round bowls of two different sizes and use them to cut the bread.

Procedure:

Step 1:

Prepare the bread squares.

Take a bread slice and cut it into two squares with the help of the big size cookie cutter. Take one square piece of bread and cut it in the middle with the help of the medium size cookie cutter. Place this  on top of the other square piece of bread. Repeat this process with all the slices.

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Step 2:

Prepare the stuffing:

Add butter in a wide thick bottomed pan. Place the pan on medium heat and add chopped onions. Saute for a minute. Add chopped green pepper and saute for a minute. Add steamed corn. Again saute for a minute. Add parsley, basil, oregano, red chilli flakes, red chilli powder, garlic powder and salt. Mix and saute for few seconds. Add paneer cubes. saute for few seconds and remove the pan from heat. Transfer it into a  bowl and let it cool.

Step 3:

Add tomato ketchup and 2 Tbsp. grated cheese in the prepared stuffing and mix.

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Step 4:

Preheat the oven to 350F . Add the stuffing in the prepared bread squares.

Remove the top bread slice(with hole) and add some grated cheese on the bottom bread slice. Place the bread slice(with hole) on top. Brush it on top with melted butter. Fill the hole with the prepared stuffing. Repeat this process with all the prepared bread squares. Arrange them in a baking tray.

Step 5:

Add cheese on top.

Add grated cheese on top. I did not add much. You can add more cheese as per your preference.

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Step 6:

Bake them.

Place the baking tray in the oven and bake them for 12 minutes until the top turns golden brown. Serve hot!

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Notes:

You can add any vegetable of your choice in the stuffing. I used paneer and corn because my kids love them.

You can cut the bread in any desired shape(circles, squares, rectangles or hearts).

You can use white bread. I used whole wheat bread as it is more healthy.

I baked all the left over pieces of unused bread in the oven at 350F for 10-12 minutes.  I will grind them in a food processor and prepare bread crumbs. Bread crumbs can be in other recipes.

The stuffing can be prepared in Instant Pot in ‘Saute’ mode.

 

Kids and adults will love these Cheesy Veg Squares!!!