Hummus


A smooth and creamy mixture of mashed chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.


Yields: 1 big bowl, Prep Time: 8-10 hours, Cooking Time: 15-20 mins


WHAT YOU NEED:

2 cups chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1/4 cup sesame seeds

3-4 tbsp canola oil

1 lemon, juiced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp paprika 

2 tsp salt


WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO:

1. Soak chickpeas overnight or for up to 8 hours at least.

2. In a large saucepan heat 4 cups of water over a medium flame. Add the chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt, and boil it for around 1 1/2 hours or until it softens. Drain but don't throw away the water. Save it in a bowl and set it aside. 

3. To prepare tahini, roast the sesame seeds over a pan on a medium-low flame for about 2 minutes or till it turns golden brown. Add the sesame seeds in a grinder. Grind the roasted seeds to form a smooth powder. Add the canola oil and grind it till it forms a smooth paste.

4. Add the boiled chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin powder, paprika, 1 tsp salt, and 1 cup of chickpea water in a food processor/mixer and grind to form a smooth paste. Add more water if required. 

5. Transfer to a bowl. Add a dash of olive oil and paprika and serve with pita bread/chips.


TIPS:

  • Chickpeas that haven't been soaked overnight would need to be cooked for about 4 hours. A quicker way would be to pressure cook them. 

  • You can use regular vegetable oil in place of canola oil for the tahini.

  • Hummus is best served with pita bread or pita chips, but do try them with some veggies like baby carrots, broccoli, celery, red/green bell peppers, etc. 




Guacamole


Creamy mashed avocado mixed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, chili, lime juice and seasonings. Best served as a dip.


Yields: 6-8 servings, Total Time: 25 mins


WHAT YOU NEED:

4 ripe avocados

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 jalapeño pepper, deseeded and chopped 

1 lime, juiced

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp black pepper powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper or chili pepper powder

A handful of cilantro leaves, chopped


WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO:

1. Cut the avocados into half, vertically, and pull them apart from each other. 

2. Take out the seed, and scoop out the pulp of the fruit with a spoon.

3. Roughly chop the avocado pulp and transfer them into a bowl. Add half the lime juice and mash. 

4. Then add the chopped onions, tomato, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, lemon juice and mash again. Finally add remaining lime juice and mix well.

5. Serve with tortilla chips.


TIPS:

  • Before mixing all ingredients, taste the avocados to make sure it's not spoilt ( I once accidentally added a spoilt one which needless to say spoilt the entire guacamole).
  • Ideally use a mortar and pestle to mash all the ingredients, but if you don't have one you can use a bowl and a potato masher or the convex end of a spoon to get the job done.

Mac & Cheese with Bacon


Elbow macaroni covered in cheese sauce and fried bacon


Yields: 4 servings, Total Time: 35-40 mins


WHAT YOU NEED:

2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked

2 cups warm milk

1 cup sharp cheddar, grated

1/2 cup parmesan, grated

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp all purpose flour

4 strips of bacon

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 cup bread crumbs


WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F / 200 C. Grease a baking pan, and add the macaroni in it. Set aside. 

2. Fry bacon in a pan till it turns crispy. Once done, take out the bacon and chop it roughly. Don’t throw away the bacon fat in the pan yet. Instead, fry the onion slices in the fat till it turns golden brown. Set aside the onion for later, and add a few pieces of bacon over the macaroni.

3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over a medium - low flame. As soon as it melts, add flour, and stir continuously for about a minute.
 
4. Pour in warm milk, whisking continuously for about a minute or two. Add the cheddar, parmesan, salt and pepper and give it a good stir. Let it simmer for 5 mins, over a medium flame, till it becomes thick.

5. Remove from heat, and pour the mixture over the macaroni. Top it off with the remaining bacon, and crispy onion slices. Finally, sprinkle some bread crumbs over it.

6. Heat it in the oven for 20 minutes. Let it cool down for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Mashed Potatoes


Creamy mashed potatoes garnished with chives


Yields: 4-6 servings, Total Time: 15-20 mins


WHAT YOU NEED:

4 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled

1 cup heavy cream

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cheddar, grated

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

3 - 4 sprigs of chive, chopped (optional)


WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO:

1. Grate the boiled potatoes and keep aside.

2. In a saucepan, pour 1/2 cup heavy cream, and heat it over a medium - low flame. Add the grated potatoes and stir continuously. Slowly add the rest of the heavy cream.

3. Now add garlic, and mix well. Let it cook for a minute or two, while stirring occasionally. Add cheddar cheese, butter, and stir. 

4. Add salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a low flame, and cook for about 5 minutes. 

5. Garnish with chopped chives, or add a small slab of butter before serving. 

 

 

Cream of Spinach Soup


A rich and creamy spinach soup based on a Martha Stewart recipe.


Yields: 6-8 servings, Total Time: 45 mins


WHAT YOU NEED:

1 bowl of fresh spinach, trimmed

1 bowl of baby spinach

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

5 tbsp unsalted butter 

1/3 cup all purpose flour

3 cups chicken/vegetable stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp salt

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO:

1. Blanch spinach - Boil the fresh spinach, and the baby spinach in a pot of water for 5 minutes, or until the spinach wilts. Remove the spinach, and immerse it in cold water for a few seconds. Squeeze it to drain out excess water. Set aside.

2. In another pot, melt the butter over a low flame. Add the onions, and increase the heat to a medium - low flame. Heat until the onions turn translucent in color.

3. Slowly add flour, while continuously stirring for a minute. Now add the stock, and keep stirring. Reduce the heat to a low flame, and let it simmer for 10 mins, occasionally stirring to avoid the formation of lumps.

4. In a blender or a food processor, add the blanched spinach and the flour mixture in batches, and puree until smooth. Pass the pureed mixture through a sieve into a pot.

5. Heat the pot over a low flame. Add  heavy cream, and stir well. Add salt and pepper. Let it heat for about 2-3 minutes.

6. Garnish with heavy cream before serving.


TIP:

If you can’t get ready made chicken stock, don’t fret, you can just make it at home. It’s really simple. Follow this recipe - In a huge vessel add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and on a medium flame fry 2 medium chopped onions, 2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped celery along with the leaves, and one small chopped cauliflower. After 10 mins, add leftover raw pieces of the chicken leg and wings (cut into 2). Mix well and after 5 mins add approximately 7-8 glasses of water. Add 2 cubes of chicken maggi cubes, and salt to taste. Stir well. Cover and let it simmer on a medium slow flame for about an hour. After an hour, strain the water out of this mixture and set aside. Lo and behold! You've home-made chicken stock. Save the excess stock in containers for future use.


Cream of Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons


Creamy tomato soup seasoned with basil and homemade croutons. Based on an Ina Garten recipe.


Yields: 4-6 servings, Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins


What you need For the tomato soup:

2 medium red onions, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 large tomatoes, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 1/2 cups chicken/ vegetable stock

1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped 

1/4 cup heavy cream

What you need for the homemade Croutons:

3 slices of old bread, toasted and cubed

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp basil powder

4 tbsp olive oil

Salt, Pepper

 


What you have to do for the tomato soup:

1.  In a large pot, heat olive oil over a medium flame. Add onions and carrots, and sauté for about 10 mins. Add garlic, and let it cook for a minute. 

2.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped basil leavesstock, 1 tbsp salt, and 2 tsp pepper. Stir well.

3.  Bring the soup to a boil. Then lower the flame, and let it simmer for around 30 - 40 minutes.

4.  Pour the soup into a blender/food processor, and blend till you get a smooth mixture. Pass this mixture through a sieve to drain out the liquid. Don’t get rid of the pulp yet. It makes a good sauce/chutney.

5.  Heat the liquid in a smaller pot over low heat. Add the cream, and stir well. Cook for 2 - 3 mins. Garnish with julienned basil leaves, and croutons.

What you have to do for the homemade croutons:

1.  In a pan, heat a few teaspoons of olive oil, over a low flame. 

2.  Add the toasted cubed bread. Sprinkle garlic powderbasil powder, and mix well. Let it heat for a minute or two. Finally, add a dash of salt and pepper, and serve it with the soup.


TIP:

If you can’t get ready made chicken stock, don’t fret, you can just make it at home. It’s really simple. Follow this recipe - In a huge vessel add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and on a medium flame fry 2 medium chopped onions, 2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped celery along with the leaves, and one small chopped cauliflower. After 10 mins, add leftover raw pieces of the chicken leg and wings (cut into 2). Mix well and after 5 mins add approximately 7-8 glasses of water. Add 2 cubes of chicken maggi cubes, and salt to taste. Stir well. Cover and let it simmer on a medium slow flame for about an hour. After an hour, strain the water out of this mixture and set aside. Lo and behold! You've home-made chicken stock. Save the excess stock in containers for future use.