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Cheese Chili
Cheese Chili
 
Being in the US has its drawbacks. I miss the tantalizing aromas arising from the roadside dhabas/stalls that mystically stop and turn you around towards them. Your mouth starts to drool gallons of saliva while waiting for your order (delay in the order and the waiting time makes it more desirable) and  just watching the chef tossing the ingredients in his huge wok adding sauces and masalas right in front of you makes you want to dig right in. And when you finally take that first spoon full in your mouth nothing else matters. The clock stops and all you feel is the joy and taste running like electricity through your body.

Of all cuisines I miss Indian Chinese the most. Many overseas Indian restaurants cater to the overseas Indians' nostalgic taste for Indian Chinese food but are hardly able to do justice to the taste and flavors. The spicy manchurian, hakka noodles, cheese chilly, fried rice, momos all prepared in oversized charred woks from repeated use topped with a lingering flavor and smell of kerosene from the burner it was prepared on. Usually the chef is a Nepalese Gorkha or a petite looking north-east Indian with squinty eyes (no offense please) giving the restaurant a more authentic “Chinese” look. I recently found that the Chinese cuisine ranks India's most favorite cuisine (after local food), growing at 9% annually. It is the most favored option when young people go out to eat and the second favorite (after South Indian cuisine) when families dine out. The cuisine is believed to have originated from the Chinese immigrants of Calcutta that spread to the rest of the country (and world).

My love of Indo-Chinese food inspired me to try out this recipe by Neeta Mehta. A traditional paneer recipe with Chinese twist makes it delicious and mouth watering. It involves few ingredients: paneer/cheese, capsicum and onion and is stir fried in sauce. Makes a great side dish or appetizer that will surely rock your taste buds and leave your guests complementing your cooking skills.

Recipe


 
 
 
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Crispy and tangy stuffed karela
Bitter gourd or karela not only has a warty looking exterior, it tastes bad as well. Its bitterness originates from a bitter compound called momordicin. Despite looks and taste its medicinal value cannot be ignored. It is said to tone the stomach, improving its function and increasing appetite. It also known to help prevent or counteract type-II diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity thus, lowering elevated blood sugar levels.

Like any other kid I too hated karela. But as I grew I cultivated a taste for it and now I simply adore making and eating it. It is stuffed with spices and then fried in oil, which is very popular in Punjabi cuisine. Another traditional way to cook bitter gourd is with onions, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, amchoor and a pinch of cumin seeds. I try to make my recipes as simple and healthy as possible. This is my stuffed version of karela but instead of frying I cook them in a pan with minimum oil. Both my husband and daughter love this recipe and they are gone within minutes.


Recipe