Restaurant Style Kadaai Paneer

PREP TIME: 10 Minutes

COOKING TIME: 25 Minutes


Now that we are practicing social distancing, the privilege of eating out has become impossible. We are craving for dishes on the restaurant menu. So, I have been trying at least 2 new recipes every week. Before the quarantine, the only elaborate meal used to be dinner (mostly Idli, dosa, chapathi or the max would be noodles or pasta). Making dinner would be more like a chore after a long day at work. Now that there are no time constraints and with everyone at home, the ability to try out new, non-routine recipes is super exciting. Even though it is more work, I enjoy cooking as I feel it to be therapeutic (and of course the appreciation from family members is more brownie points 😊 and keeps me motivated)

This week I made 2 paneer dishes as we got a large pack of paneer from Costco before the lockdown and wanted to use it all up before it goes bad.


Paneer – 350 Grams

Onion – 2 cubed

Tomato – 1 roughly chopped

Bell Pepper – 1 cubed (I used Green but colored bell peppers should be okay too)

Garlic – 3 cloves

Ginger – 1/2-inch piece

Cashews – 10

Garam Masala Powder – ½ teaspoon (Store bought “Super garam masala”)

Garam Masala powder (optional – preparation process in step 1) – ½ teaspoon

Plain dry red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon

Turmeric Powder – ¼ teaspoon

Sugar – ½ teaspoon

Salt – As required

Kasoori Meethi – 1/4 teaspoon

Olive oil – 2 teaspoons

Butter – 1 teaspoon

Homemade garam masala powder recipe (my version of garam masala for kadaai paneer)

STEP 1: Dry roast 1/2 teaspoon each of peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds + 1 large bay leaf, 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick & 3 dry red chillies. This is an optional step so you could skip this process by just increasing the regular garam masala quantity to 1 teaspoon.


STEP 2: Cut the onions into cubes and separate the pieces as shown in the picture. Heat oil in a pan and add half the quantity of cut onion and cook till the onions turn translucent.

STEP 3: Add the cubed bell peppers and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on high heat. The bell peppers should still be crunchy. Transfer the onion and bell peppers to a plate.

STEP 4: In the left-over oil from cooking onion and bell pepper, add in the cubed paneer and fry for 5 minutes. Do not overcook as the paneer will turn chewy. This step can be skipped, and the paneer can be added directly to the gravy. I like it this way so fried the paneer in oil.

STEP 5: Add oil, cubed onion, chopped tomato, ginger, garlic and cashews and cook till the onion and tomato turns mushy and the oils starts to separate from the masala.

STEP 6: Add in the garam masala powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, sugar and salt. Cook on low heat till the raw flavours of the spice powders is completely gone. Let the mixture cool down and make a fine paste using a blender.

STEP 7: Once the masala is ready, add butter in a pan and pour in the masala paste with one 250 ml of water.

STEP 8: Once the gravy comes to a boil add in the fried onion, bell pepper and paneer. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. The gravy does not have to cook for too long as the masala is already well cooked.

STEP 9: Add some crushed kasoori meethi, saffron strands and broken cashews on top (for the aroma, color and the nutty crunch) and serve.

Tip: Garnish with fresh cream on top for restaurant style plating/serving.



Valor flat beans and Long beans Stir-fry


PREP TIME: 10 Mins

COOKING TIME: 12 – 15 Mins

This stir-fry is very quick, simple, easy to make yet tasty recipe. The ingredients are minimal. It can be served with sambar rice or variety rice but may not go well with yogurt rice as this is a non-spicy dish.


Valor flat beans/Avaraikai – 15

Long beans/Karamani – 15

Dry red chili – 2

Mustard – 1/2 teaspoon

Urad daal – 1/2 teaspoon

Curry Leaves – 10

Asefoetida – 1/4 teaspoon

Salt – per taste

Oil – ½ teaspoon


STEP 1: Wash the beans thoroughly and cut both the ends of the beans. Cut the beans into 1/2 inch pieces.

STEP 2: Heat oil in a pan, add mustard, wait to splutter. Add urad dal, curry leaves, asefoetida, and red chili.

STEP 3: Add the cut beans and salt. Mix well and cook in low heat for 5 minutes.

STEP 4: Add 200 ml of water, cover and cook on low heat for 7 minutes. The mixture should be dry and beans should be cooked soft. If not add, 1/4 cup of water and cook for 3 more minutes.

TIP: Add 2 teaspoons of grated coconut after turning off the heat for more flavor and texture😋


Bok Choy-Moong Dal Gravy (Kootu/Masiyal)

PREP TIME: 10 Mins

COOKING TIME: 15 Mins (10 Mins to pressure cook moong daal + 5 minutes)

Bok Choy is a type of Chinese cabbage typically added to stir-fried noodles, stir-fried vegetables, and soups. Here I have given a South Indian twist 😉 by replacing Bok Choy with Spinach.



Bok Choy – 1 bag (3 bunches)

Onion – 1 small onion finely chopped

Garlic – 2 cloves

Moong dal – 100 grams

Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Urad daal – ½ teaspoon

Dried red chili – 1

Salt – per taste

Oil – ½ teaspoon


STEP 1: Wash the moong dal, add peeled garlic, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, and 200- 250 ml of water. Pressure cook until the dal is soft and mushy. It took me 3 minutes in the instant pot to pressure cook the dal.

STEP 2: Cut-off the ends of the bok choy bulbs, separate the leaves, wash the leaves thoroughly as there will be dirt stuck in the bottom.

STEP 3: Finely chop the bok choy and onion.

STEP 4: Heat oil in a pan, add the remaining cumin seeds, urad daal, red chili, and chopped onion. Sauté till the onion turns translucent.

STEP 5:  Add in the chopped bok choy and salt. Cook for 4 minutes. The bok choy will reduce to 3/4 the quantity initially added and leave water on the sides.

STEP 6:  Now add the cooked moong dal, mix well, and let the mixture cook for about 3 minutes or depending on your desired consistency. Cook a little longer if you prefer a thick gravy.

TIP: Add a teaspoon of gee/clarified butter on top for added flavor and aroma😋



Vendaikai – Mochai Mandi/Okra-lima beans Gravy – Spicy – Tangy – Chettinad special

Processed with MOLDIV

“Vendaikai-Mochai Mandi” (Okra – dry lima beans gravy) is an easy to make, spicy & tangy gravy traditionally prepared in the chettinad household. To make this dish we need to prepare arisi mandi (Mandi is the water that is collected by washing any uncooked white rice). As this recipe requires 2 – 3 cups of arisi mandi it’s good to try this recipe when we soak rice to make Idly batter. Arisi mandi gives the dish a thick consistency and unique taste.

Arisi mandi preparation – First clean the rice by adding 3 cups water to 4 cups of rice, mix well using your hand, drain the water completely and discard. Add 2 cups water to the rice, mix well and save this water in a cup. Repeat the process again by adding 1 more cups of water to the rice to get more arisi mandi.

PREP TIME: 10 Mins



Mochai (Lima beans) – 1 cup

Vendaikai (Okra) – 20 (washed and cut into rondelle – I used 2 inch pieces)

Onion – 1 cup (you can also add shallots)

Mustard – 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dal – 1/2 teaspoon

Garlic – 3 – 5 pods

Curry leaves – 15 leaves

Green Chilli – 5

Arisi Mandi – 3 cups

Tamarind water – ½ cup

Salt – per taste

Oil – 2 teaspoons


STEP 1: Soak the mochai in hot water for 3 – 4 hours or in room temperature water overnight. Pressure cook the soaked mochai until it softens (usually I cook till I hear 4 whistles in my pressure cooker).

STEP 2: Take a ½ cup of the arisi mandi and soak the tamarind. Mix well and discard the tamarind pulp after few minutes.

STEP 3: Heat oil in a pan, add mustard, urad dal, chopped garlic, curry leaves and green chillies.

STEP 4: Add the chopped onion and cook till the onions turns golden brown.

STEP 5: Add okra and cook in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the pressure cooked mochai from “Step 1”.

STEP 6: Add the arisi mandi from “step 2” and the remaining 2.5 cups of arisi mandi to the pan. Mix well, cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes on high flame till the gravy condenses and the vegetables get cooked.






Romano Beans Kurma – Romano beans gravy

Final 3

PREP TIME: 15 Mins


Ingredients – to cook and grind

Green Chilli -2

Ginger – ½ inch piece

Garlic – 5 pods

Onion – 1 chopped

Tomato – 1 Chopped

Coconut – ¼ cup

Ingredients – for gravy

Romano Beans – 1 cup

Bay leaf – 1

Cloves – 2

Cinnamon stick – 1

Urad dal – ½ teaspoon

Fennel Seeds – ½ teaspoon

Turmeric powder – ¼ tea spoon

Oil – 2 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Chilli powder – 1 tea spoon

Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon

Roasted cumin powder – ½ teaspoon


STEP 1: Heat oil in pan, add ginger, garlic, green chilli, onion and tomatoes. Let it cool down to room temperature, add coconut and grind it a fine paste.

STEP 2: Heat oil in a pan, add bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, urad dal and fennel seeds.

STEP 3: Add the onion – tomato – coconut paste.

STEP 4: Cook for a minute and add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, roasted cumin powder and salt. Add little water if the mixture is dry. Cook for 5 minutes.

STEP 5: Add in the Romano beans and 2 cups of water. Cover the pan and cook till the gravy thickens and the beans are cooked.

STEP 6(Optional): Garnish with some curry leaves and serve.


TIP: This kurma can be served with chapathi, naan, poori or rice.






Aviyal – Mixed vegetable gravy with coconut – Spicy Kerala style gravy

Final 12



Ingredients – to grind

Green Chilli – 6

Grated Coconut – 3 tablespoons

Cumin Seeds – 2 teaspoons

Ingredients – for gravy

Mixed vegetables – 1 cup (carrot, potato, plantain, cauliflower, cucumber, drumstick, mango and beans cut into cubes/2 inch pieces)

Turmeric powder – ¼ tea spoon

Oil – 2 teaspoons (coconut oil or canola oil)

Curry leaves – 20 leaves

Salt – to taste


STEP 1: Heat water in a wok, add all the vegetables except cauliflower. Cover and cook until the vegetables are half cooked.

STEP 2: Add washed cauliflower to the half cooked vegetables.

STEP 3: In a blender jar add cumin seeds, green chillies and coconut. Add ¼ cup of water and make a coarse paste.

STEP 4: Now add the green chilli-cumin-coconut mixture to the vegetables along with turmeric powder, salt and curry leaves.

STEP 5: Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the gravy thickens. Turn off the heat and sprinkle some curry leaves on top of the gravy.

Final 11

TIP: Vegetables like pumpkin, eggplant, squash and yam can also be used along with the above mentioned vegetables to make aviyal.








Bagara Baingan -Spicy, sweet, flavourful sidedish

PREP TIME: 10 Mins


Final 1 edited

Ingredients – to roast and grind

Onion – 2

Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Coriander – 1 teaspoon

Fenugreek seeds – ¼ teaspoon

Poppy Seeds – ½ teaspoon

Peanuts – 2 teaspoons

Dry coconut – 5 teaspoons

Ingredients – for gravy

Turmeric powder – ¼ tea spoon

Chilli powder – 1 tea spoon

Salt – to taste

Jaggery – ½ teaspoon

Ginger & garlic paste – 1 teaspoon

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Tamarind extract – 100 ml

Eggplant – 4

Oil – 3 teaspoons



STEP 1: Dry roast all the ingredients (separately) given under “Ingredients – to roast & grind” until golden brown. Grind all the ingredients together making a smooth paste.

STEP 2: Take the eggplant and make some slits on the bottom of the eggplant(as shown on the picture above). This helps in faster cooking and also helps in absorbing the masala flavours.

STEP 3: Heat oil in a pan and add the slit eggplant. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat and then cover and cook for 5 more minutes until the eggplant turns slightly brown on the outside.

STEP 4: Now add the curry leaves and the roasted masala paste. Add 1 cup of water and cook for 5 minutes.

STEP 5: In a bowl mix together turmeric powder, chilli powder, jaggery and ginger-garlic paste with some water. Add this mixture to the boiling gravy along with the tamarind extract and required salt.

STEP 6: Cover and cook for 10 minutes and turn off the heat.

Final 2 Edited

TIP: Bagara baingan can be served with roti, naan, biriyani or plain rice.











Restaurant style sambar – Simple – Tasty – Breakfast sidedish

Sambar is the best side dish for idli, dosa, pongal and many more dishes. Most of them like the sambar served at the restaurant for its appetizing color and flavour. The flavour and the aroma in the restaurant sambar is achieved by following just one trick, by adding the sambar powder to the oil and then adding to the sambar instead of adding the sambar powder directly to the sambar. Sambar powder when added to the oil and cooked for a minute elevates the flavour of the sambar.

The below recipe is prepared without adding any vegetables but you can use the same recipe by adding the vegetables along with the onion and tomato and pressure cook for 5 whistles.

Final 1




Onion/Shallots – 1 cup

Tomato – ½ cup

Green chilli – 1

Toor dal – ½ cup

Mustard – 1/2 tea spoon

Urad dal – 1/2 tea spoon

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Asafoetida – 1 pinch

Sambar powder – 3 teaspoons

Tamarind water – ½ cup

Cilantro – 3 teaspoons finely chopped

Salt – per taste

Oil – 2 teaspoons


STEP 1: Wash the toor dal and pressure cook the dal for 5 whistles. Mash well and keep it aside.

STEP 2: Chop onion and tomato.

STEP 3: Soak the tamarind in water.

STEP 4: Add onion, tomato and the cooked dal along with some turmeric powder, curry leaves and 1 green chilli to the pressure cooker and cook covered for 10 minutes.

STEP 5: Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and wait till it splutters. Add urad dal, asafoetida and the sambar powder. Mix well. Make sure the color of the sambar powder doesn’t change to brown.

STEP 6: Pour the oil and sambar powder mixture over the sambar.

STEP 7: Add the tamarind water and salt. Mix well and let it cook for 10 minutes on high flame. Turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro.



TIP: This is a simple, no vegetable restaurant style sambar recipe. I have used homemade sambar powder but you can also use store bought sambar powder.

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Mealmaker Masala – Side dish for rice – Simple recipe

Final 1

PREP TIME: 10 Mins



Soya Chunks/Meal Maker– 1 Cup

Onion – 1

Tomato – 1

Mustard – 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dal – 1/2 teaspoon

Curry Leaves – 1 sprig

Salt – per taste

Masala powder – 3 teaspoons

Coriander powder – 1.5 teaspoon


STEP 1: Wash and soak the soya chunks in hot water for 10 minutes. The soya chunks will absorb the water and double up in size.

STEP 2: Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and wait till it splutters, add urad dal and curry leaves.

STEP 3: Add the chopped onion and tomato and cook till the oil is separated from the mixture.

STEP 4: Drain the water from the soya chunks. Squeeze the extra water and chop each piece into 4. Add this to the onion-tomato and mix well.

STEP 5: Add salt, masala powder, coriander powder and the ¼ cup of water.

STEP 6: Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Open the lid and cook on low heat for 15 minutes by stirring and mixing every 2 – 3 minutes.

TIP: As this is a dry side dish it can be served with rice.

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Final 3

Brussel Sprouts Gravy – Kalakose Kara Kuzhambu – Spicy – Tangy – Side Dish

Brussel sprouts gravy/Kalakose kara Kuzhambu is a spicy, tangy gravy that can be served with rice, idli or dosa. Brussel sprouts is green leafy vegetable that looks like miniature cabbage. It has some nutritional value but more than the nutritional value it is generally consumed for the taste. Brussel sprouts can be cooked in different ways. I usually stir fry the Brussel sprouts but wanted to try making a gravy and prepared the below recipe.

Final 1.jpg

PREP TIME: 10 Mins



Brussel sprouts – 10

Onion – 1

Tomato – 1

Mustard – 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dal – 1/2 teaspoon

Fennel seeds – ¼ tea spoon

Fenugreek seeds – 10

Curry Leaves – 1 sprig

Tamarind extract – ½ cup

Salt – per taste

Sambar powder – 3 teaspoons

Coriander powder – 1.5 teaspoon

Sesame Oil – 1 teaspoon


STEP 1: Heat oil in a pan, add mustard, urad dal, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.

STEP 2: Add finely chopped onion and tomato and cook till the gravy turns mushy.

STEP 3: Add the chilli powder, coriander powder and 1 cup water. Cook till the mixture starts boiling.

STEP 4: Cut the stems, remove the outer layers from the Brussel sprouts and cut them in quarters. Add it to the onion-tomato gravy.

STEP 5: Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Soak the tamarind in water, prepare the tamarind extract and add it to the cooking gravy.

STEP 6: Add the required salt, cover and cook for 10 minutes or till the Brussel sprouts turn soft and well cooked.

STEP 7: Drain the water from the soya chunks and squeeze the extra water. Add this to the onion tomato gravy and mix well.

TIP: Using sesame oil (nallennai in tamil) gives a wonderful and unique flavour to this gravy.

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