Tuna Wraps – A healthy lunch box filler

tuna wrap These wraps are perfect  for kids’ lunch boxes as they contain healthy oily fish in the middle of a juicy and creamy  tomato and cucumber salad.  It is great for picnic lunches too.  No need of packing any extra  ketchup or sauces, because the filling has it all.

You need the following items to wrap this up:

  • Soft warps , preferably wholemeal
  • Tuna in brine (squeezed away the brine water)
  • Cucumber, red onion and tomato  (All chopped into tiny pieces (remove the seed part from                                                                              tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ketchup and mayonnaise

redwrap_wholemeal1  tuna-chunks-

Let’s wrap it:

  • Place chopped cucumber, red onion and tomato in a bowl and mix salt and pepper.  Using your fingers mix all thoroughly and keep aside for a few mins.
  • Add tuna flakes and mix with a flat butter knife.

tuna wrap6

  • Add a large dollop of mayonnaise and mix all together.
  • Adjust the taste at this point.
  • Now on a hot flat pan warm  up a wrap , both sides for a few seconds.
  • Lay it on the kitchen top and spread ketchup liberally.

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  • Place a mound of tuna filler in the middle of the wrap.
  • Bring one side forward and fold from sides.

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  • Roll up.
  • Cut in an angular shape from the middle and insert a lattice leaf. tuna wrap5
  • Now let both rolls sit primly in the lunch box side by side.

tuna wrap2

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Sri Lankan Coconut Roti – Pol Roti

Sri Lankan Roti

These creamy coconut rotis are everybody’s favourite in Sri Lanka as well as tourists who visit there from abroad to enjoy the picturesque scenaries in the country  and explore the country’s authentic cuisine.

Some love a plain creamy version of rotis by just mixing flour and scraped coconut together with salt, but I make it much more flavourful , by tossing onions and curry leaves into the dough as it gives a mouthwatering aroma while baking.

They go deliciously well with a mutton, fish or chicken curry,  simple lunu miris – a tongue burning mixture of chili and red onion chopped together with a dash of lemon juice.  I serve these rotis cut into stripes to my little son  with just a knob of butter which tastes creamy and buttery in every mouthful.

It’s not so difficult to find fresh coconut even in the West these days,  as the Asian supermarkets store fresh frozen grated-coconut.  You just have to defrost the pack in the microwave for 5-10 mins to turn it into fresh aromatic coconut for any of your culinary needs.  Desiccated coconut also could be used if softened by adding some hot water into it which gives a unique taste.

You need the following few items to make these:

Fresh coconut 1 cup
Plain flour 2 cups
Onion 1 chopped into very small pieces
Green chili 1 chopped
Curry leaves A handful cut into thin pieces
Salt 1tsp or to taste
Red chili powder 1/4 tsp
Butter / coconut oil 1 tbsp
Lukewarm water to kneed the dough 1 cup or a little more

 images (2)  IMG_1364

Let’s make it:

  • Mix well chopped onion, green chili , red chili powder, curry leaves, salt and butter/oil with scraped coconut using your fingers.

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  • Now add flour into it and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour lukewarm water gradually while kneading until everything comes together and not sticking onto  your fingers.  Check the taste and adjust salt at this point.
  • Let it rest for 20 mins so that all flavours binds together.

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  • From the dough, make equal size balls and place them on a foil sheet.

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  • On a another foil sheet flatten one ball and cut into disc shape using a round lid or a cookie cutter.

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  • Heat up a flat pan, tawa or a non-stick flat pan. Brush little oil.
  •  Place on the hot pan taking care not to damage the shape.  The easiest way is to bring the foil itself near the pan and slowly lower the disc shaped roti onto the pan.
  • Bake both sides until it turns golden colour.  If you pan has space you can place two or three rotis at the same time. Press gently and if a whoosh sound emits then it has to bake further few mins as the water has not evaporated fully.

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  • Once out of the pan, let them release steam by placing  on a wire rack.
  • Serve hot with a spicy chicken or mutton curry or just with a blob of butter.
  • yummy !!

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Mango Lollies – A cool summer delight

mango lolli3

 These easy-to-make, yummy mango lollies will make this summer a very special one for your kids.

 Pakistani honey mangoes , Indian Badami,  Kesari or Alponso,  make the  taste of these  lollies heavenly.  But, there is always tinned mango pulp available in supermarkets with the same quality intact all year around which will not let you down in taste. No preservatives or unhealthy ingredients, these will be a creamy, sweet treat for kids and for everyone in hot balmy summer days!!!

  • Simply cut the mango and drop the pieces to the blender. (makes 6 lollies)
  • Add 4 tbsp of full-fat yogurt.
  • 3 tbsp of semi  or full fat milk.
  • 2 tbsp of sugar or a bit more
  • Whiz all until a thick pulp forms.  If it is too thick. add an extra glug of  milk. Adjust the taste.
  • Pour into molds. Adjust the stick, close the cap.

mango popsicles

  • Into the freezer for several hours.

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  • Dip the lollies in lukewarm water for a min or two to loosen them so that you can take them out easily.

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  • Lick , Yum !!!

mano lollie

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Hard Chicken curry – (Fowl/Free range chicken/Curry chicken/Gam Kukulu mas/Desi chicken)

hard chicken

Hard chicken is actually fowl or free range old chicken, available only at ethnic butches.  It is more chewy and hard as the bird lives longer  than its’ peers’, after they stop laying eggs.  So, the meat has hardly any fat in it, making it a healthier version of chicken for those who tend to avoid poultry for the same matter.

You need to cook it low and slow to get the right texture, which only comes from following the techniques as well as the ingredients that go into it.  For instance, vinegar and potatoes help in a great deal in softening the meat.

As the bird doesn’t have much fat or flavours, you need to add an extra amount of curry powder to enhance the taste.   Once cooked, adding just a tbsp of coconut milk will give it a surprising levels of flavours.

If you taste it once, you will make it again as it will not let you down in taste.  Try it with rice, rotis, noodles, pasta or bread, which will complement the dish.

What you need to make this dish: Get full hard chicken from the butchers  – Skin out and cut into small pieces to make it easier for cooking.   



 

 

 

Onion 1 big
Ginger and garlic 2 tbsp freshly grated
Whole spices 3 cloves, a cinnamon stick, 3 cardamoms
Maggi coconut milk powder/

or fresh coconut milk

2 tbsp or a bit more
Vinegar 1 tbsp
Small new potatoes 5 peeled and cut into chunks
Roasted curry powder 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Green chili 1 slit
 Salt  1 & 1/2 tsp
Chili powder 2 tsp or more if you desire a spicier taste

Let’s make it:

  • Marinate the chicken pieces with vinegar, salt,  turmeric, chili powder and roasted curry powder, grated ginger, crushed garlic and curry leaves.
  • Cover and keep aside for 30 min.
  • Heat up 2 tbsp of any oil in a wide pan
  • Add the whole spices; cloves, cinnamon, cardamom
  • Add the sliced onion and let it brown
  • Now drop the marinated chicken
  • Stir fry the chicken for nearly 10 mins in Mmdium flame.  This will allow the excess water to evaporate.

hard chicken

  • Close the lid and lower the flame to the minimum.  Splash a little water if the pan is too dry. Let it sit like this for 5 mins. This will let all the juices to ooze out.
  • Open the lid again stir fry for a 5 more mins gathering juices with chicken pieces.
  • Pour water a little above chicken

  • Close and cook for 1/2 hr.
  • Open, give a good stir, check salt and drop the potatoes. If the water level has gone too low, add a little more to bring it just above chicken

  • Close and cook for another 1/2 hr under medium flame
  • Finally, add 2 tbsps of coconut milk, a handful of curry leaves , a slit green chili and cover and cook another 10 mins under very low flame.  This final therapy will give the curry it’s tempting colour and make it more juicier.
  • Let it rest for 20 mins
  • Ready to serve now!
  • Delicious!

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Chocolate cake – with butter icing

choc cake1

 Easy to make, delicious with every mouthful, this chocolate cake is everyone’s favourite because of its unique soft texture and the creamy butter icing on the top, which in turn play the major role in enhancing the overall taste.

Even for an absolute novice, making this cake, metaphorically speaking, is a ‘piece of cake’. It is perfect for birthday parties or as the birthday cake itself  for the event.  You will proudly present  this as your kid’s birthday cake and see all the infectiously-beaming smiles around.

Also, once you get the confidence of making this, you will never go for ready-made chocolate cakes on supermarket shelves. Even if you buy one and bring home, your kids will spot the difference between this and the one you buy and demand the latter. They will be your fiercely-loyal fans and will be hooked on to your homemade heavenly chocolate cake for ever.

Get the right ingredients  to make it:

Self raising flour 300 g
Stork spread/Butter/ Magerine 300 g
Caster sugar 300 g
Eggs 5 medium
Lemon 1 tsp
Vanila essence 1 tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp
Cocoa powder 4 g
Plain full fat yogurt 1 tbsp
 Milk  1/4 cup

Let’s make it:

Set the oven to 180 C . (Temperature conversion chart  is given under Tips)

  •  Beat butter and sugar together until creamy,  using an electric hand mixer.  This will take approximately  3 mins. Make sure you beat clockwise.
  • Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
  • Add vanilla essence,  lemon juice, salt and beat for two rounds.
  • Mix baking powder,  flour and cocoa powder and sieve onto the cake batter, holding the sieve well above it, allowing the air to escape.
  • Do not use the electric mixer at this point.  Fold the flour gently with a wooden spoon until everything turns into a creamy batter.
  • Mix milk and yogurt and add.  Give a good mix with a wooden spoon going clockwise.
  • Line up a baking tray with parchment paper and spoon the batter into the baking tray and flatten with a spatula.
  • Lift up the tray and drop it twice onto your kitchen-top gently, allowing the batter to spread and settle evenly on the try.
  • Pop it in the oven and bake for 20 – 25 mins. In the first 10 min do not open the oven door.
  • Insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and if it comes clean,  your cake is ready.
  • Take it out from the oven and let it rest for 10 mins.
  • Slowly remove from the tray and place it on a cooling rack to cool off completely. This will take 2 -3 hrs.
  • Your cake is ready to ice now.

To make the butter icing you need :

Icing sugar 300 g
Stork spread or butter 125 g
Cocoa powder 5 tbsp
Milk 2 – 3 tbsps
Lemon 1 tsp
vanilla  a few drops
 Sprinklers to decorate
  • Sieve icing sugar from a sieve to get rid of hard bits or lumps.
  • Beat icing sugar and butter together until creamy.
  • Add milk, vanilla and lemon.
  • Your chocolate icing is ready.

Now Ice the cake :

  • Cut the cake into four squares. Remove the top crust slowly without damaging the cake.
  • Slice them  from the middle with a long knife, dipped in hot water.
  • Spread icing on the bottom layer.
  • Place the top layer, press softly.
  • Spread icing on top, throw a handful of sprinklers.
  • Let the iced cake rest for an hour for juices and moisture to settle.
  • Done !!!
  • Your yummy treat is ready to serve !!!

 

Chocolate cakes as a Christmas treat !!

nfd

nfd

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Golden battered Fish and Chips with sparkling water batter – The best home-made kids friendly fish and chips

fish n chip
cod fish

Fish and chips, a much loved take away meal of working class in England, originally served in a wrapping of old newspapers.  During the time, when working class diets were bleak and unvaried, fish and chips were a tasty break from the norm and a pay-day treat at the end of the working week.  Over the years, it has won the hearts of the rich and poor alike and now one of the most sorted dishes in upmarket restaurant chains too.

My several attempts to produce something reasonably closer to what the PUBS in England serve,  turned out to be a mouthwatering success !  And that too kids friendly because instead of beer, I use sparkling water to produce a beautiful bubbly batter for fish.   Also, make sure you store the bottle of sparkling water in the fridge,  as chilled water helps bring out the best bubbly batter.

For best results,  I recommend Cod fish with its natural flavours and flaky texture.  Plaice or Haddock could also be used in place of Cod but with a less flavourful outcome of course!

Most importantly,  make sure that you serve it just out of the frying pan in order to retain the best taste, flavour and texture.

You will need :

Cod/Haddock/Plaice 4 fillets (defrosted or fresh)
Plain flour 1 cup and 1/2 more to dust the fish
Salt 1 tsp
Ground pepper powder 1 tsp
Baking powder 1/2 tsp
Sparkling water
Oil to deep fry

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Let’s make it:

  • Defrost fish, pat dry with a kitchen towel, sprinkle salt and pepper  and keep aside.

fish

  • Place the cup of plain flour in a bowl and add a little salt, pepper and baking powder.
  • Then, gradually pour sparkling water onto it, while whisking the flour until it becomes a thick runny batter.

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  • Next, place the other 1/2 cup of plain flour on a flat plate and season it with salt and pepper.
  • Heat enough oil, well up to the brim in a wide frying pan.  I use a wide wok which serves the purpose just right.
  • Now, take a piece of fish, drop it on the plate of flour and wrap it all over with flour.

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  • Next, using tongs,  dip in the batter and shake off the excess.

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  • Deep fry immediately turning both sides under medium flame.

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  • Remove from oil when the fish turns into golden brown.
  • fish n chips

 

  •  Place on a kitchen towel briefly to drip off the excess oil and serve immediately with ketchup, oven baked chips and boiled green peas.  ( Some like a mushy green peas mound with it.  Mash the peas with a glug of warm milk and serve along with fish and chips)
  • Enjoy the best ever Fish and Chips!!

nfd

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Creamy Ribbon Jelly

jelly4 Kids will love this jelly dessert as it is much more yummier than the  plain jelly with custard that they usually served with.  The creamier top,  combined with smooth but firmer texture of the jelly, will surely make it their favourite dessert the moment they taste it !!

You need only these ingredients : 

  • Two packs of Hartley’s strawberry jelly or any strawberry jelly
  • Condensed milk 1/2 cup
  • gelatin 1 tsp
  • water 3 tbsps

jelly

It is easy to make and the procedure is as follows:

  • Make Strawberry  jelly as instructed in the pack and  remember to sprinkle  1/4 tsp of gelatin when it is boiling away in the pan so that the  jelly  will set firmer  than the usual.
  • Place in the fridge in a Pyrex dish to set fully.

jelly

  • Pour 1/2 cup of condensed milk in a pan and add 2 tbsp of water.
  • Heat it up in a low flame while running through a spoon until the  bubbles start foaming.  Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of gelatin and quickly stir through to desolve it.  Switch off  the flame and stir until cool, otherwise little lumps might foam and spoil it’s smooth texture.
  • Once it is cooled off completely,  pour evenly on the already  set jelly and place the dish back in the fridge.

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  • After 2-3 hrs you will see the condensed milk layer has set firmly on top of the strawberry jelly.
  • Cut into equal size squares and serve.
  • Yummy !!!

jelly3 Tips :

  • Gelatin powder should be added to hot water not the other way around.  The best method is to sprinkle it holding above hot water.
  • I use Hatley’s brand which is very reliable. Boil  500 ml of water and drop the whole cube of jelly into it, continue boiling for a few more mins and sprinkle gelatin powder onto it.  The gelatin powder immediately dissolves.
  • Before pouring jelly from the pan to the Pyrex dish, wash it with cold water.  The cool water droplets in the surface will let you cut the jelly in perfect squares once it is properly set.
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Pizza – Homemade best Pizza ever!

piz2

I am proud of giving out this particular recipe for what I call, the best home-made Pizza ever!! The good news about this Pizza is that you are fully aware of the ingredients that go into it and you can enjoy making toppings to satisfy everybody’s taste buds at home.

The second good news is that all the ingredients are widely available in supermarkets; In addition, no unhealthy MSG/Chinese salt is a part  of it; instead, it is an interesting blend of vegetables, meats or fish.

The special Italian style sauce in this recipe is the secret to give this pizza it’s own unique and  delicious taste.  You can make it in the previous day and store it in the fridge to make the process quicker and easier.

Finally, do not hesitate to throw as much as cheese you would like on top to make it more cheesy!! Grate some Parmesan cheese and mix it with Mozzarella cheese to make it more yummier and bubblier!!

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What you need : (For two large size pizzas)

My bread machine makes the dough so there is no hassle  in sweating over kneading the flour.  If  you do not have a bread machine to handle this task you can simply buy the frozen pizza base from supermarkets.  However, I always feel making this from scratch gives you the best of flavours and full credit to the glory of the outcome !!

So, let’s make the dough as follows:

What you need for the dough:

 Plain flour 500 g
Sugar 1 tsp
Eggs 1
Butter 50g
Milk 1/2 cup
Water 1/2 cup warm
Dry yeast 2tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp

 Let’s make the dough :

  • Pour 1/2 cup of warm water gradually onto dry yeast and mix thoroughly.  Keep aside.
  • Break the egg into the 1/2 cup of milk and whisk.
  • Add sugar, butter and salt to the milk and egg and combine all together.
  • Now pour over the flour.   Kneed until all come together as a ball and no longer sticking onto your fingers.  If  you need a bit more water to get the right texture of the flour , add a little more warm water.
  • Cover with a cling film and keep at a warm place for 2 – 3 hrs until it’s ready to roll out for pizza.

In the meantime, make the sauce as follows:

Pasata 1 packet (300 g)
Onion granulates 1 tsp
Runny honey 1tsp
Oregano (dried) 2tbsp
Majoram (dried) 1/2 tsp
Paprika powder 1tsp
Black pepper 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
 Grated Padano cheese  4 tbsp (grated)
 Mozzarella cheese  500 g (grated)

oregano paprika majo onion gracheese2cheese23KP-PASATA-CIRIO-500GR_675x472

  • Mix them all together properly , cover and store in the fridge for 1/2 hr.

Now prepare the toppings:
veg  chichen tandoori

  • Slice mushrooms, red onions, red, green and orange  bell peppers. I personally do not like to add tomatoes as it gives a bit of a watery taste to the flavours.  But, if you are a fan of sweet and sour taste of tomatoes, thinly slice them, remove the seeds and add to the topping.
  • Halve green and black olives.
  • Open a can of tuna and squeeze the brine out.
  • Prepare the chicken.

Chicken tandoori topping : 

Mix chicken breast bite size pieces with olive oil, a little chili powder, cumin powder, lemon juice, orange food powder colour and  salt , keep aside a few minutes and bake under 200 C oven.

Now dress your pizza up:  Have fun doing this with  kids.  

  • Take the Pizza sauce out of the fridge, give a gentle stir and pour evenly on your two pizzas.
  • Toss veggies.  You can add a thinly sliced green chili for a fiery taste!!
  • Sprinkle tuna for a fishy taste.
  • Spread tandoori chicken pieces on the other pizza.
  • Spread all bell peppers.
  • Toss olives green and black both and sliced onions.
  • On top sprinkle lots and lots of  grated Mozzarella and Parmesan  cheese.
  • Finally sprinkle Padano grated cheese for an enhanced flavour.
  • Done!!

Bake in pre-heated oven under 200 C in the middle of the oven for 15 min or until the top of the  pizza gets golden brown.  A mouth-watering aroma will give you the signal that it is ready!!

  • Once, taken out of the oven, let the pizza rest for a while before running the pizza cutting roller through.
  • Enjoy !!

piz3

 

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Mutton curry – Juicy, spicy and aromatic

Mutton curry

Good quality mutton, bought from a reliable butcher,  has its own juicy flavour stored in it; we do not have to make a big effort to make it delicious.

The only secret that makes all the juices run – and stimulate your tasted buds, of course – is the use of good quality spices. In my case, as shown on my website under tips, I always use my homemade curry powder, a sure taste enhancer. (Please see how to make it under Tips)

I adopted the  technique of making this curry from Thilini, a long standing family friend of mine who now lives in Canberra, Australia with whom I often discuss about various dishes, their unique tastes and methods of making them to perfection.

Remember to  buy the shoulder joints, from your butcher which has less fat content and a few bones, as some bones should be there to enhance the flavour.  The meat should stand at least 20 mins in the marinade before cooking.  And, remember that this curry tastes even better, the next day .

What you need to make it:

 Good quality mutton from shoulder -medium size 300 g
Onion and green chili – slit in the middle 1 each
Ginger and garlic – freshly grated 2 tbsp
Roasted curry powder 2 tbsp
Chili powder 1 tbsp
Vinegar 2 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp or more to taste
Pepper powder 1 tsp
Olive oil for cooking 2 tbsp
 Whole spices- a Cinnamon quill , a few cardamoms, 3 cloves

Let’s make it:

Marinade it

  • Marinade the mutton pieces with :   Roasted curry powder, chili powder, grated ginger and garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper powder.  Leave it aside for 20 – 30 mins.

Fry it

  • Fry the onion until golden and add some freshly grated ginger and garlic. Brown them.
  • Toss some crushed curry leaves, a few cloves, a cinnamon stick, 3,4 cardamoms and fry.
  • Add the green chili.
  • Now add the marinated mutton pieces and stir fry them for 5 – 10 mins under medium heat until all the pieces turn light brown and the pan gets a bit dry.

mutton

Simmer it

  • Immediately cover, lower the flame to the minimum and leave the pan alone for about 10-15 mins.  This will allow all the natural juices of mutton pieces to run out.  Open after 10 mins and see if the process has been done. If not, cover for another 5 mins.  Scrape the juices and mix thoroughly until all come together.  Check the taste.  Add more salt or pepper if needed.

Cook it

  • Now pour warm water a little above the mutton pieces.
  • Cover and cook under very low flame, about 1/2 hr while string from time to time.
  • Cook until the mutton pieces are tender when bite.
  • Add 1 tsp of Maggi coconut milk if you need a bit creamier flavour.
  • Toss some fresh curry leaves on top, switch the flame off , cover and let the pan rest.
  • Your juicy mutton curry is ready to devour!!!
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Paneer Paratha – Healthy, homemade paratha

paneer4paneer5

This delicious paratha recipe that I share with you,  was passed on to me by my beloved friend, Aliya, from Hyderabad, India. The creamy paneer and the sweetness of carrots blend so well and the combination turns these parathas a real winner out of all other paratha varieties.

You can be quite generous with grated carrots but do not add green chilies if you are serving these for kids.  Let them enjoy the creaminess of parathas without having to burn their little tongues.

Let’s start making:

  • Grate 1/2 of the paneer and 2 or 3 big carrots.

download (1)paneer1-1-300x243 download (2)

  •  Add the following to the carrots and paneer and mix thoroughly.
Chaart masala 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Garam masala 1/4 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Cummin powder 1/4 tsp
Green chilies (optional) 1 thinly sliced
 Pepper powder  1/4 tsp
  • Make balls and keep aside.

paneer2

  •  Now it’ s time to make the chapathi dough.  In 2 cups of Atta flour  add a little salt and olive oil.  Mix well.  Add lukewarm water gradually and kneed it until it won’t stick to your fingers .     download (4)        IMG_2955
  • Take a little from the atta flour and roll it  into a ball.  Dust the kitchen top with flour and roll it to a flat round shaped disk with a rolling pin.

IMG_2957

  • Place a ball of panner  in the middle .

paneer3

  • Fold , roll in to a ball again, flatten on your palm and roll on the kitchen top into a round shaped roti with the help of a rolling pin. You must dust the kitchen top liberally with flour to make it easier.
  • Bake both sides on a hot, flat frying pan or thawa.

images (1)IMG_2961-300x225

  •   Place on a foil and let the steam escape.
  • Serve with pickles and raita. Roll up when serving kids. My favourite is Mitchel’s lime pickle which is delicious with its subtle sourness to enhance the taste of any kind of paratha.

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 Delicious Raita, the unquestionable accompaniment for parathas.

Raita

Make this easy raita : 

Serve Parathas with this Raita and kids will love it.

  • Take two dollops of full fat plain yogurt, mix a tablespoon or two water and whisk until smooth and creamy.
  • Cut red onions, a juicy tomato (deseeded) into small chunky pieces.
  • Cut cucumber into tiny pieces.
  • Mix them in yogurt.
  • Add some salt and pepper powder.
  • Now, heat up a pan and sprinkle some cumin seeds. Dry roast them until golden. Take out of the pan and crush them, using a pestle and mortar or  a spice grinder.
  • Sprinkle the crushed cumin seeds.
  • Mix all well and adjust the taste.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Yummy !!
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