Easy Food Smith

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Never thought, baking these simple muffins would become so challenging. On one of the crazy Monday mornings I decided to make these muffins (wrong day I know!), when the daughter would be away to school and hubby off to his office. I find myself most relaxed on Monday mornings coz when these two are away, I am able to plan my day and the week ahead.

However, I also needed to re-stock my fridge and pantry. After my domestic help left, post cleaning the house, I soaked the saffron in milk (so that the flavours would steep in the milk & would attain beautiful colour by the time I was ready to bake these beauties) and make a dash for the market at noon. I was back home just in time before daughter arrived home from school. Post snacks and chit chatting I headed to the kitchen and opened the fridge and there were no eggs. Darn. Went again to the market and bought eggs.

Came back and took out the mixing bowl and measuring spoons and rest of the paraphernalia to start prepping the muffins. Out came the ingredients and there was half a cup flour. Like seriously!? What was I thinking when I went to the market!?! Aren’t these the basics that one checks when one is planning of baking something. In my enthusiastic endeavour to bake these muffins (I am a sucker for saffron), I forgot that I had, on my daughter’s demand, baked the Chocolate & Orange Cake couple of days back and was running low of flour. A visit again to the market for flour and back. I even ran out of caster sugar and compensated the balance amount with coconut sugar. (Honestly, by now I was exasperated with myself)

I finally made these muffins in the evening by seven (so much for planning my day) and my only consolation was that these muffins turned out really good. Beautiful texture and warm spicy flavors of saffron (although the saffron lay soaking in the milk for nearly eight hours) with subtle hints of cardamom and almond – almost felt like having a dessert.

¼ tsp crushed Saffron

1 tbsp Milk

1½ C All Purpose Flour (Maida)

¼ C Quick cooking Oats

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/3 C Oil

1 scant C Caster Sugar & Coconut Sugar (equal amount of each, to make one scant cup)

2 Eggs (Ones I used were 60 grams each)

¼ tsp Almonds Essence

175 grams Ricotta Cheese

Almonds flakes to sprinkle on the top (optional)

In a small bowl, heat milk and add crushed saffron to it. Mix and set aside for atleast 2 – 3 hours.

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, oats and baking powder.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil for two minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time and whisk till incorporated.

Add almonds essence and ricotta and whisk till just incorporated.

Add flour (I added whole of it in one go) and whisk till just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter in baking cups or muffin liners. Fill until each is a little less than ¾th full.

Sprinkle each cup/liner with almond flakes.

Bake in the oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or till the muffins are done (insert a skewer in the centre of a muffin and if it comes out clean, the muffins are done)

Note – I had to keep ricotta on a strainer lined with cheese cloth (for nearly an hour) to get rid of excess water.

Note – The amount of saffron will depend on the quality of saffron you use. I had used Kashmiri saffron and one fourth teaspoon of crushed saffron was sufficient. Any more, and it would have become over powering in the muffins.

Yield – 6

Thanks for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!


RODU / रोड़ु (Himachali Coconut Mawa Laddu) – GF

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It will be India’s 70th Independence Day on 15th August this year. And sorry to disappoint you in case you were looking forward to me posting some tricolour dish to celebrate it. Bloggers have over the year posted tricolored curry, rice, cake, cookies, rasgullas and what not. So basically nothing much is left to present the Indian tri-colour in the culinary world I think 😛 Okay, I am kidding 😀

India is all about its diversity; diversity in landscape, in food, in religion/ beliefs, culture, language, seasons, traditions and so much more. And I feel so blessed to be born in a family where this diversity is celebrated so beautifully. I was born in a Punjabi family. But in my family, I have close cousins married to Sindhi, Sikh, Muslim, Kashmiri, Parsi, Maharashtrian & Bengali. Oh yes, there is an Aunt who is a Christian and another who is from Himachal, not to forget that I am married to a Bihari. It is so wonderful that we get to celebrate the diversity of our great nation throughout the year on some occasion or the other.

Therefore, I am today sharing these Coconut Mawa Laddus called RODU from the northern hilly state of Himachal. These laddus are a taste of my childhood, one that I grew up eating and loving. These were my absolute favourite then. I hope you try them in your kitchen and enjoy them as much.

500 grams Khopa (whole dehydrated coconut)

250 grams Chhuhara (dried dates/ dry khajoor)

125 grams Almonds

125 grams Cashewnuts

500 grams Mawa (Khoya)

250 grams Sugar

1 tsp Cardamom Powder

1 Black Cardamom (seeds only, ground)

½ tsp Cinnamon Powder

½ tsp Mace powder

¼ tsp pinch Nutmeg powder

1 Scant C Water (i.e. more than 3/4 cup but less than 1 Cup)

Mix all the spices together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Grate the coconut. Set aside.

Deseed chhuhara and finely chop. If you find it difficult to chop them (since they can be sometimes really dry), bash them in mortar and pestle and then it is easier to handle them and chop them. Set aside.

Chop the nuts. (I lightly dry roasted the nuts before chopping them). Set them aside.

(I find the prep work a tad long and tiring, so I prep the ingredients a day before and store them in an air tight container and continue with the cooking process the next day)

In a heavy bottom wok (kadahi) roast the mawa on low heat till it changes to colour to a deeper shade (little more than golden) and becomes aromatic. (Took me approximately 20 minutes but the time will depend on the quality of mawa being used) Be carefully to not dry it out. Remove from the wok and set aside.

In a deep and big wok/ kadahi or pan/ pot, add water and make sugar syrup with one thread consistency. Once the desired consistency is achieved, remove the kadahi from heat. Stir in the spices and add roasted mawa. Swiftly but carefully mix the mawa in the hot syrup and ensure there are no lumps.

Add all other ingredients and by now the temperature of the syrupy mawa is pretty much easy to handle. (I used my hands to mix in all ingredients together.) Mix everything well and start making laddus the size of a walnut.

Press the mixture in your hands by pressing it between your palm and fingers, make round shape and then roll between your palms of both hands to make a perfect round. Keep the laddus on a plate covered with cling wrap or greased with ghee.

The laddus stay well for over a week in the northern Indian winters but I suggest you store it in fridge to avoid them from getting spoilt.

Feel free to halve the recipe since this quantity yields a huge batch.

Yield – 46 Laddus

Note: The sugar can be swapped with jaggery. (You can use approximately 350 grams Jaggery)

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LEHSUNI PANEER / लहसुनी पनीर (Garlicky Cottage Cheese Curry) – GF



Paneer is to vegetarians what eggs are to non vegetarians – a quick, easy, simple ingredient that can be turned into so many variety of dishes. In north India, if you are expecting a vegetarian at your house for a meal, paneer will invariably find its way to the menu (even more so, if it happens to be a Punjabi household). Paneer is a vegetarian delicacy of sorts. And its versatility makes it an easy ingredient to work with. You can turn it into tikka or bhurjee or kofta curry and even a cheesecake – it will never fail you. Use it with some spices and herbs to make filling for your jaffles or stuffed flatbread and there you have an excellent breakfast dish to be polished off with pickle and chai! You can find a post I had done during my initial blogging years on how to make paneer at home. The process is simple and you can use it for so many recipes or have it on its own with some sprinkle of chaat masala.

This recipe may seem to be using a lot of garlic but when it pairs with other ingredients, it mellow downs (you’ve got to trust me on that). The key here is not to compromise on the usage of tomatoes. I usually chop the tomatoes and blitz them in a grinder. For this recipe, I could obtain about one third cup tomato puree (without adding water) from one medium sized tomato. Also, do not hold yourself back from using milk. It helps bring a balance to the sourness of tomatoes, tones down the garlic and mellows the heat of chillies. This curry gets ready in under 15 minutes, what more can you ask for 😀

2 – 3 tbsp Oil

½ tsp Cumin Seeds

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

2 small Onions (thickly sliced)


4 fat cloves Garlic (grated) {approximately 1 tbsp}

1 medium Tomato

1/3 C Milk

300 grams Paneer, (cubed)

½ tsp Turmeric Powder

½ – ¾ tsp Chili Powder (adjust to taste)

2 tsp Coriander Powder

½ tsp Garam Masala

Salt to taste

2 whole Green Chilies

Fresh Coriander to garnish

This curry takes no time to cook. So be ready with all ingredients.


Wash, chop and blitz the tomato in a grinder. You should have at least 1/3 cup or more of tomato puree. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to crackle, add onions and fry them on medium heat till they turn translucent and just begin to turn golden.

Now add grated garlic and fry till the garlic changes color to golden and becomes aromatic. Add the tomatoes and along with the spices and salt.

Keep stirring the contents on medium heat till the masala begins to leave oil on the sides. Now add milk and lower the heat.

Split chilies in 3 or 4 pieces and throw them in the curry. Add the paneer and stir it in. Add more milk if required at this stage. (I do not like my curry loose and rather prefer the masala coating the paneer pieces well. Suit youself)

Cook for a minute and the curry is ready. (you do not need to cook the paneer much else it will turn rubbery)

Stir in some freshly coriander to the curry and garnish the rest before serving. Remove the contents in a serving bowl and serve with roti, paratha or naan. YUM!

Note: I have added split whole green chilies coz I just wanted some grassy flavors of the chili added to the curry. Feel free to add them chopped in case you wish to add some more heat to the curry.

Note: Also, you can tinker with the amount of ingredients you wish to use.

Serves 4 (as side dish)


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