One of my friends, who loves indian food, had came over for dinner recently. I just did not know what to make her when she came. I always want to make something special, or different, so I asked her what she wanted to eat and she replied parathas. As a result, for the evening, I created a menu around that, and instead of plain parathas I decided to make stuffed ones.
There are many different vegetarian options for making the stuffing, like mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, or just onions etc., but I decided to go with paneer. In the past I have made paneer parathas using different recipes from various books. However this time I thought I thought – let me make my own spice mix so I just created my own concoction. Sometimes it is good to experiment with different spices and tastes that you may like, it could just work well together, I was pleasantly surprised with these parathas.
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If you are trying to eat healthy and wish to have a filling meal then some pasta with vegetables is a good idea. When I was a student one of my staple diets was pasta, with a simple tomato sauce and sometimes the odd dollop of Greek yoghurt. Now I am much more adventurous with my concoctions of pasta sauces. This particular one was inspired by mixing Indian spices with Mediterranean vegetables, I was quite pleased with the outcome. I really felt like I was eating a healthy meal.
I used the vegetables that I already had and felt like experimenting with them, however as usual you can use what ever you like. You can add more tomatoes if you like your sauce to be more rich. I like to use tricolour pasta as it looks pretty and I also mix wholemeal pasta as my husband wants us to eat more healthy, so we are all happy. You can use penne or any other pasta for this recipe.
Preparation time:5 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 2
2 cups fusilli pasta (or what ever you are using)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each fennel (varyali) and nigella (kalonji) seeds
1 courgette chopped
1 red capsicum chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed
1/4 cup each green and black olives
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
salt and chilli flakes to taste
1) Heat some hot water in a large pan, once it starts to boil add the pasta and salt, cook until done (al dente). Drain and give it a quick rinse in cold water, keep aside.
2) Heat a large non stick pan, once hot add the oil and the vegetables and spices, and cook until tender.
3) Add the olives and chopped tomatoes, cook a further few minutes and add the salt and chilli flakes. Add the cooked pasta, mix and switch off the heat. After a few minutes of standing time you are ready to serve. Cheese is optional, as it tasted good with or without cheese. Let me know what you think of the taste if you make it.
I really enjoy the taste of fennel seeds (variali), it gives a wonderful fresh feel to the mouth, which is the reason why it is used as a after dinner mouth freshener in India. Also it retains its taste when mixed with other herbs and spices. When I was living in India for my placement year, I went on a little weekend break with my maternal uncle’s family and along the car journey we saw fields of variali and drying red chillies. When I asked my cousin what was growing in the fields he said variali, so we stopped the car and cheekily ran into the field and picked a bunch of variali, it is so refreshing and cool when eaten fresh and raw.
So when I saw the event of ‘Think Spice.. Think Twice‘ for this month which was for fennel, I thought I must take part and make these biscuits. This event is originally started off by Sunita of Sunita’s World, and I feel it is a wonderful event where we learn a lot about different spices, not to mention the vast array of recipes we get from it as everyone uses spices in different ways. This month the event is hosted by Ivy from Kopiaste, where she has given the option of two different spices, fennel and mastic gum.
I originally made these biscuits a couple of years back as one of my Diwali treats. I had them at one of my husband’s cousin sister’s place. She makes lovely biscuits, so I asked her for the recipe and made them a year or so later. However the biscuits had spread while baking, as I had beaten the butter and sugar mixture too much. So when I saw this event I thought I would make these biscuits, remembering not to over beat the mixture. However this time I cannot explain why it happened but once I had added the milk, the butter, and sugar, the mixture curdled slightly. I still carried on and the biscuits turned out to be a success. They are quite refreshing and a good treat and go wonderfully well with afternoon tea.
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