Panchkuta - An Entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging.


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I came to know about the weekend herb blogging from Srivalli's  Cooking 4 All Seasons blog, which is an event started by Kalyan of kalynskitchen. Being from the state of Rajasthan, I took this opportunity to introduce the quintessential Rajasthani dish of all times - The Panchkuta.
This dish is essentially made up of 5 ingredients found widely across the Great Thar Desert. For ages, this has been the mainstay food of travellers across the desert. It has long shelf life after being cooked and does not require refrigeration unlike other foods. In case you are travelling through Rajasthan, don't be amused if you find your fellow traveller pulling up a box of Panchkuta with pooris/rotis and enjoying his lunch/dinner.

The five ingredients of Panchkuta are sangri, kair, Kumat, Goonda and dry red chillies.

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 Sangri ( Prosopis cineraria ) - Sangri ki phali (pods of the khejari tree) grows in Rajasthan. This is the protein powerhouse of the desert with 53 per cent protein. Linky

Kair ( Capparis decidua ) - This is a wild berry which grows on the shrubs in the Thar. Linky
Kumat ( Acacia Senegal ) - Seeds from the pods of this small deciduous tree. Linky

Other ingredient which form part of the Panchkuta is goonda (Cordia mixa) Linky. With the current place I am in, I couldn't get this.The taste of this dish is slightly different and has to be developed. If you taste it after soaking/boiling them, it might not be that agreeable, but once the dish is ready, the taste comes out really well.


  • 1 cup sangri
  • 1/4 cup kair
  • 1/4 cup kumat
  • 4 dry red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tea spoon haldi (turmeric) powder
  • 2 tea spoon red chilli powder
  • 2 tea spoon dhaniya (coriander) powder
  • 2 tea spoon amchur(dry mango) powder
  • 1/2 teas spoon cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing (afsofedia)
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • salt to taste.


  • Soak sangri, kair and kumatia in water overnight.

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  • Drain the water. Add 2 cups of fresh water,1 tea spoon salt and 1/2 tea spoon haldi and boil for 10 minutes.
  • Drain the water.
  • Heat oil in the pan. Add cumin seeds, hing and red chillies.
  • Add sangri, kair and kumat.
  • Add all spices and amchur powder. cook for 2 minutes.
  • Serve with poori or bajri (millet) roti.

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I made sattu on the occasion of Festival Bade (Kajari) Teej, which is celebrated among us marwaris in Rajasthan on the third day after Raksha bandhan. On this day maidens keep fast for their prospective groom's and married ladies for their husband's long and prosperous life. Ladies decorate there hands with Henna & swings are put on trees. In the evening, women gather to perform pooja of the neem. Once the moon is sighted, then the wife breaks her fast by taking bite of the Sattu sweet offered by her husband. Read more about teej  here.

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Until the 20th century, Sattu was the staple food packed along with travelers proceeding on long journeys. Not only it has long shelf life, it also gives instant a filling feeling. Sattu can be made from various flours like rice flour, wheat flour and gram flour. I made it with roasted gram flour.


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  • 3 cup roasted dalia powder
  • 1.5 cup ghee(clarified butter)
  • 2.5 cup powdered sugar(confectionery sugar)
  • 1/4 cup almond accents
  • 1 tea spoon cardamom powder

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  • Warm the ghee.
  • Mix all the ingredients and make a soft dough.
  • Divide it into 15 portions.
  • Make a boll of each portion, slightly press between the palms and give the shape of patties or any other shape you like.

Paneer Manchurian with Gravy/Paneer chilli


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IMG_0103_edit (Large) (Small) During my college days in Jodhpur, Rajasthan there was only one restaurant - Gypsy who served Chinese dishes. Earlier noodles were the only known Chinese food to me. I can say Gypsy introduced me to the Chinese cuisine. It was my favourite place to hangout with friends...now there are so many restaurants which serve Chinese dishes.. BUT still you will not see street vendors selling Chinese. After my marriage when I came to Hyderabad I was surprised to see many bandi's (street vendors) selling Chinese.... Some how I was hesitate to eat street side food...but so many friends of mine praised about one particular bandi (near Gandhi statue,MG Road Secunderabad) who dishes out delicious Chinese fast food. I tried and found it delicious...so whenever I go there for shopping I made sure to pay a visit to that Chinese food bandi. Besides street vendors there are some fine Chinese restaurants also, like Mainland china. I learnt making ghobi manchurian from my Urmila masiji. After that there was no looking back & I learnt many Chinese dishes from books and friends....Here is one of them.

Ingredients (serves-2)

  • 200gm Paneer(cottage cheese) cubes, regular or marinated
  • Oil for frying

For Batter

  • 3 tablespoon maida(all purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoon corn starch)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tea spoon tandoori powder
  • salt to taste

For gravy

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  • 1 onion cut into sguare pieces
  • 1 cup capsicum cut into square pieces
    of any colour
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 green chilli chopped
  • 2 tea spoon minced garlic
  • 1 tea spoon minced ginger
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 1 tea spoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon tomato chilly sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chilly sauce
  • 1 tea spoon black pepper powder.
  • 1 tea spoon sugar
  • 2 tea spoon corn starch
  • 2 table spoon oil
  • salt to taste


  • Mix all the batter ingredients and make thick batter by adding little water.

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  • Heat the oil in the pan.
  • Dip the paneer cubes in the batter and fry them in oil till they become golden in colour.Spread them out on an absorbent paper and keep aside.

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  • Make thin paste of corn starch by adding cold water. keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in the pan. Keep the gas on high. Add ginger, garlic and green chilly fry them for a min. Add remaining vegetables one by one and fry them.
  • Add salt, sugar, black pepper, , chilly sauce, tomato-chilly sauce, soya sauce, vinegar and 2 cup of water.Bring it to boil.
  • Add corn starch paste and boil for a minute.

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  • Add paneer cubes and serve hot with noodles or rice.

Panner will get soggy if you keep it too long in the gravy ,if you are preparing well ahead of time add paneer in the gravy 10 min before serving.

Dry Paneer Manchurian
Some like Manchurian in dry form.The process is similar to wet Paneer Manchurian preparation. Don't add water and corn starch.

How to marinade Paneer?


  • 1 cup curd
  • 2tea spoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tea spoon tandoori powder
  • 1 tea spoon chat masala
  • 1/2 tea spoon red chilly powder
  • salt to taste


  • Hang the curd in a muslin cloth for 3-4 hours.

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  • Take it in a bowl.It will look exactly like sour cream,mix other ingredients and make a thick paste.
  • Brush the panner cubes with the marinade mix and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours.

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Short Cut

  • If marination seems to be a long process ,you can use masala paneer.IMG_1660 (Small)
  • However the marinated paneer cubes are not required for the 'Wet Paneer Manchurian 'as wet gravy made with sauces, gives flavour to the paneer but if you are making 'Dry Paneer Manchurian', without gravy. I would suggest you to marinade paneer.

Almond Chocolate


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As Rakhi day approaches near, the feeling to be with my brother grows more and more. The festival of Rakhi, also known as Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of August.
The Rakhi thread is a symbol of bond of love and care between brothers & sisters. On this day sisters tie Rakhi(beaded or normal thread) on the wrist of their brothers and pray for their well being and long life; the brothers promise to protect their sisters from harm. My brother is 12 years younger to me, and I love him like a small kid and after tying rakhi, instead of mithai (sweets), I offer him Dairy milk chocolate. I am not with him during this year and what should I do? I decided to make the chocolate bar at home because my brother loves it. This almond chocolate is my brother-in-law favourite too; the last time when he came to US, he took a big jar of these chocolate with him back home.

These videos are for you my beloved brother.


  • 1 cup dark chocolate
  • 1 cup milk chocolate
  • 1 cup roasted almonds
  • 1 tea spoon butter


  • Mix milk and dark chocolate in a microwavable bowl.

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  • Microwave on high for 30 sec and stir, again keep it for 30 sec and stir and then for another 30 sec and stir.

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  • Mix roasted almonds into the liquid chocolate.
  • Grease the aluminum foil with butter and pour the mixture into it.

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  • Keep it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Make the marks on the chocolate ,in the way you like to cut your chocolate.
  • Keep it in the refrigerator for 1 hour to set.
  • Take it out .break it into pieces and enjoy.....

How to roast almonds?

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Keep it in the oven for 5-7 minutes on 350F.

Food Event


This is my entry for the -MEC: Potluck Party event being hosted by Srivalli of Cooking For All Season.

Bharva Karela /Stuffed Bitter Gourd


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This is my mom's recipe. She had learnt from someone that if we cut and immediately cook the karela with its tail, it is less bitter in taste. She tried and found it correct, She has shared this recipe with many of her friends and they also felt the difference in the taste. I never have had problem in eating karela since my childhood. I think that because of my mom only, I have always cherished the karela's sabji.

  • 3-4 bitter gourd
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 tablespoon besan(gram flour)
  • 2 tea spoon minced garlic
  • 1 tea spoon minced ginger
  • 1 tea spoon red chilly powder
  • 2 teas spoon dhaniya(coriander) powder
  • 1/2 tea spoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tea spoon amchur (dry mango) powder
  • 1/2 tea spoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • salt to taste


  • Make stuffing mix by mixing all the ingredients in the bowl, except oil,cumin seeds and karelas.
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  • Make a slit in each karela, scoop out the seeds.
  • Stuff the karelas with half of the stuffing mix. keep the remaining mix aside.
  • Heat the oil, add cumin seeds, when they pop add karela one by one.
  • Simmer the heat, keep it on the gas for about 20-25 minutes, keep turning them after every 5 minutes.
  • Now add remaining stuffing  mix, cook for another 5 minutes.
    Serve hot with chapatis.

Fruit Carving



I've always enjoyed watching and creating fruit and vegetable carvings. After knowing the Vegetable carving event at Roma's blog. I was inspired to do something different, so I took up fruit carving based on the famous Thai style.

Thailand's fruit and vegetable carvings are one of the best in the world. The photo below is an attempt to do one of the designs on a watermelon.

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Since I did not have any carving tools with me, I used the pairing knife found commonly in any kitchen. This was my first attempt at carving out a watermelon so it took some time but I really enjoyed carving this. Below are the step by step photos to provide an idea of how to create a watermelon carving.

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Fun Time during Tea Time



A couple of friends had come over during evening and we were having tea. Suddenly my husband engaged others in rural Indian style of tea drinking, which is using your saucer to drink tea . To make it funny they started making a slurping noises. This snap captures one of those moments. I like the way the ripples are forming in this photo.

This is my entry for the Coffee and Tea Click Event

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Sweet Corn Veg Soup


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This recipe was a great hit among my friends in Rochester. I miss Rochester a lot. All of our friends and their families used to live inside the same community. It was a great fun. How to spend 6 long months of winter? We used to have frequent potluck parties. We started our parties with this soup and bread sticks. Generally we don't get this soup in restaurants here as compared to India, so people used to enjoy this soup a lot whenever I prepared it for the parties. Its very simple in cooking and appetizing.

(serves 2)


  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 4 cup water
  • 2 green chilles
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 table spoon finely chopped carrot
  • 1 table spoon finely chopped beans
  • 1 table spoon finely chopped capsicum
  • 1 table spoon finely chopped spring onion
  • 1 tea spoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tea spoon minced ginger
  • 1 tea spoon vinegar
  • 4 tea spoon corn starch
  • black pepper powder to sprinkle
  • salt to taste

Microwavable Method

  • In a microwavable container, pour water,add corn kernels and chillies.


  • Microwave on high for 8-10 minutes, remove chillies, keep aside.
  • Take butter a microwavable bowl, microwave it for 30 sec.

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  • Add ginger and garlic in the butter and microwave it for 1 min.
  • Add all vegetables in the above butter mixture and microwave it for 2 minutes.


  • Mix these vegetables and salt in the soup.Microwave it for 2 minutes.
  • Dissolve corn starch in cold 1/2 cup water. Add to the soup.


  • Microwave it for 2 minutes or till it gets thickened.
  • Add vinegar, sprinkle black pepper powder.
  • Serve hot with garlic bread or any appetizer of your choice.


This recipe I am submitting for MEC: Soups / Stews

Microwave Ovens and Food Safety


Normal Method

  • In a pressure cooker pour water,add corn kernels and chillies. Take 1 whistle.Remove chillies and keep aside.
  • Heat butter in a pan add ginger and garlic. Fry it for 30 seconds.
  • Add all vegetables. Fry for 1 min.
  • Add salt and soup.Boil it for 2 -3 minutes.
  • Dissolve corn starch in cold 1/2 cup water. Add to the soup.
  • Boil for 2 minutes or till it gets thickened.
  • Add vinegar, sprinkle black pepper powder.
  • Serve hot.

Garlic Bread


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A nice appetizer, quick to make and goes well with any type of soup.

(4 pieces)

  • 2 hot dog rolls
  • 2 table spoon crushed or minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese


  • Mix butter and garlic in the bowl.
  • Separate the hod dog roll.


  • Apply the garlic butter on the top of the roll.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese on the top of the roll.


  • Keep it in the pre heated oven(350F) for 8-10 min, depending upon the crispiness you want.
  • Serve hot.

Khaman Dhokla


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Khaman Dhokla is a famous dish from Gujarat. You can say Khaman is to Gujarat is as Idly & Dosa to south India, Poha to M.P, Vada Pav to Maharashtra, parathas to Punjab. Many of my friends, complain that their Khaman Dhoklas are not spongy as mine so I thought to put its recipe step by step, with photos. Whenever I have unexpected guests at home I use the Khaman Dhokla ready mix. It's quick and easy to make with instant mix but whenever I have time I make mix at home.


  • 1 cup khaman dhokla mix
  • 2 table spoon oil
  • 2 green chillies 
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1 tea spoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tea spoon til (sesame seeds)
  • pinch of hing (afsofedia)
  • water as required
  • coriander for garnishing


  • In a large vessel,pour 3 cups of water and keep it on the  gas to boil.

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  • In a khaman dhokla mix, add water to make a thick paste like very thick ice cream shake, start with half cup of water then slowly add more as required.
  • Add one tablespoon of oil to the paste.
  • Pour batter into greased round container.

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  • Keep a steel ring in the center of a vessel as shown in the picture. Now put the round container on it. Idea is to keep the container above the water so that water doesn't get inside the container, containing dhokla paste. Cover the vessel with the lid.

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  • If you are using Dhokla maker then it is fine. If you are making in pressure cooker don't put the whistle.
  • Steam on high flame for 15 minutes.
  • Remove and allow to cool for 5 min and cut it into square pieces.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds,when it splutters add hing,til, curry leaves and green chilles. Fry for 30 seconds. Add 2 table spoon of water and immediately put the lid on the pan. Turn off the gas and pour this seasoning over dhoklas.
  • Garnish with coriander chutney and serve hot.

How to test dhoklas are ready?

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  • Test it with knife or toothpick, poke the dhokla in the middle if it comes up with some wet batter, keep it on the gas for another 5 minutes.
  • If it comes out clean and dry dhoklas are ready.There should be a nice sponge in the dhokla.

khaman dhokla mix at home

If you want to make khaman dhokla mix at home, ingredients are
1 cup besan (gram flour)
1 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon sugar
2 table spoon lemon juice or 1 tea spoon nimbu ka sat(citric acid)
1 tea spoon fruit salt (eno)

Mix besan, salt, sugar,  lemon juice, and oil and then add  water enough to make a thick paste.Then add soda or eno and stir it well. then follow the stemming and seasoning process as written above.