Lebanese Style Grilled Spicy Lamb Chops

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Lebanese food has a perfect blend of herbs and spices none of either overpowering the flavor of the main ingredient. In fact, it helps and enhances its taste and texture . This is what is the uniqueness of Lebanese cuisine and I am a huge fan of it!

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The role of marinade is very important in Meditaranean cuisine  to tenderise the meat, and the longer the meat is left to marinate, the better the ate the resuresults usually.

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TIPS & TRICKS

  • Yogurt and lemon works really well as a marinade
  • Arabic & Lebanese cuisine is all about spices. Adding  plenty of spices; minced garlic, Sumac, mint leaves, extra virgin olive oil, and seasoning to build the taste further.  Mediterranean spice rub, lemon juice and olive oil, and a few hours to marinate
  •  infuse your meat with the marinade or spice rub and your meat will turn out to be with hard-to-resist flavor.

BBQ OR Gas grills works wonderfully and takes less time. About 10 minutes each on the gas grill.

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Lamb and I haven’t had such a great relationship, until I had the Arabic and Lebanese style grilled lambs and Kababs. They are absolutely juicy and just fabulous.

This recipe is one that will be repeated over and over because my family devoured it!

TIPS: A wonderful meat marinade makes the ultimate grilled meat. Marinated Lamb Chops are packed with delicious flavor and perfect for summer grilling and even during winters  too in case you live in the Middle East. It is impossible to have BBQ’s at the temperature of 40-50 degrees during summer

During the summer months, I go for minimum fuss and maximum flavor with my lamb which means an intense herb and garlic marinade, a few hours to soak up the flavors and a good sear on stove top.  Nothing better than that!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 mutton (goat)/lamb chops
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or any regular cooking oil you use
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or paste
  • 1 tbsp. All spices or Garam masala
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced/ paste
  • Fresh mint chopped- a handful
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTION

  1. In a large bowl, combine the mint, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Mix to combine. Add the lamb chunks and toss until well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight
  2. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Cook the mutton chops in their own juices in the oven at medium heat for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Heat a grill pan ( or a regular pan), add 1 tsp of cooking or olive oil and grill each chop for 2 minutes on each side or until a nice brown color.

 

* NOTE: Cooking time depends on the freshness of the meat too. Fresh meat grilled, results to be soft, succulent and juicy.

5 Ways to have a Healthy Family Time

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How to have a HEALTHY FAMILY TIME?

Transform your weekends from Mall visits to healthy family time in       5 FUN WAYS your family would love!

Daily grind through the week makes you look forward to the weekend bringing you much-needed relief in the form of relaxation and chill out time. But, the mall culture taking a firm root all over the world, many of us tend to while away our precious weekends at various malls. What was supposed to rejuvenate us for the next week, ends up wreaking us in the form junk food, mindless spending, very little physical activity and disconnect from nature, of which, we are a part.

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SHOULD WE AVOID MALLS?

Of course, we can’t and shouldn’t avoid malls for they offer us the convenience of one stop shop for everything that we need. Moderation is the key to taking benefits of everything without falling prey to overindulgence.

SO, WHAT ELSE IF NOT MALL!

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That precisely is the subject matter of this post and you will be spoilt for choices apart from malls to utilize your weekend time. 

5 WAYS TO HAVE A HEALTHY FAMILY TIME

Consider tracking how your family spends time over a typical week to give you perspective on all the little time wasters that are not productive or beneficial.

Cheerful extended family playing board game on the floor.

Too much television or shopping could signal neglect in relationships. It is always a good idea to do things your child/children and your spouse loves to do. This certainly sends a message of love and affection towards each other.

  1. Schedule one day – Plan at least for one day every week for special family activities. In this way, you will not feel the urge to visit a shopping mall.
  2. Prepare a scene –  Plan out a picnic and invite few friends to join in. Do not bother to make an elaborate meal, instead make some quick sandwiches like spinach corn sandwich, Rajma Biryani(kidney bean rice) or some wraps/ rolls, fruits and drink. The idea is to have some quality outdoor time with your family.
  3. Get active – Go to a park, play some sport like badminton, football, cycling etc. You can even pack your breakfast or a snack and simply have a fun outing at a park, at the beach, by the river bank, or even going on a hiking. Again, this results in family bonding, keeping everyone in your family active and fit, quality family time spent.
  4. Walk and talk – Go for a walk and talk on a daily basis if time permits. This will not only increase the bonding with each other but will also help you to keep fit. For example, this has been a regular activity in my family over the years.                   Even My mother who is here in Bahrain for a visit looks forward to the evening walks along with her grand daughters and of course me. She says, “Even walking at a temperature of 38-40 degree Celsius is refreshing!”.
  5. Someone wise had said “A family that dines together stays together”
  • No gadgets – Turn off the television, do not entertain checking the phone as the smart phones and gadgets have no role to play here, no to play station and video games.
  • Be an active listener – Start with enjoyable talks and conversations, listen to each other’s stories, especially your children’s.
  • How was your day – Encourage your spouse and children to discuss what they plan to do, what problems they may be having or whatever is on their minds. Do not come up with negative talks, share positive talks.
  • Helping hand – Helping your spouse in the daily chores is certainly stress relieving and quite romantic too. Ask your family members to help you in preparing the meal; simple tasks like cutting and arranging salad, preparing the table etc. Trust me! it is so much fun to do that.

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Eating meals together, talking about the events of the day, sharing moments of joy and sorrow, doing household chores together, going for walks, exercising together, playing board games with family or friends and planning a popcorn and movie night at home are examples of our favorite shared activities.

Rich Creamy Pistachio Phirni

RICH CREAMY PISTACHIO PHIRNI IN 3 SIMPLE STEPSI hate the fact that I am back to blogging after a long gap. Vacation in India is never relaxing for me. With lots of travel to fulfill social commitments with family and friends, all my energy gets drained out and I am left with hardly any once I return to Bahrain after more than a month long summer break. When I am in India, I automatically get adjusted with the environment, may be because my soul feels loved in the place where I was born and brought up.

It’s hard to keep the same routine of blogging and workout regime going when one is on vacation. However, it is imperative to catch up with whatever precious little can be managed. During this break, my workouts would mostly be jogging by the bank of river Brahmaputra. Amidst the beauty of the perennially flowing river and fresh air, I feel energized and motivated. I also do try and chip in with a blog or two in between travel, shopping, social visits. Nonetheless, this leaves me with long gaps in between.

RICH CREAMY PISTACHIO PHIRNI IN 3 SIMPLE STEPS

The weather was damn hot and humid this year during our stay in Assam. Yes! we did experience a lot of rain though, but how could one escape from the humidity. In this hot weather, how cool was it to end the sumptuous lunch arranged for one of our uncle’s family with the newly wedded couple and the long day with my quick Chilled Creamy Phirni with the rich flavor of pistachios, cardamom and rose water was the best amongst the entire spread for lunch.

RICH CREAMY PISTACHIO PHIRNI IN 3 SIMPLE STEPS

WHAT DOES BHAGAVAD GITA SAY

“Karmaney vadhika rastey, maa phalesu kadachana”- ( In Sanskrit)

“Do not let the fruit be the purpose of your actions” – ( In English)

With Krishna Janmashtami due next week and other festivals lined up, most of them falling on a weekday and you barely have any time with work and family. Simple and easy and quick recipes like this classic Phirni, Sesame coconut and dates laddoo, Atta laddoo, Kaju gulkand rolls, Mohanthal, Jalebi, Payox( rice pudding) etc goes perfectly without letting down the festival spirit and your spirit of devotion.

For the uninitiated, Janmashtami is the auspicious day of arrival of Lord Krishna, celebrated with fervour in India and many parts of the world, courtesy the efforts of ISKCON. My husband is an ardent believer of Lord Krishna and was actively involved with Iskon Bengaluru.

The very purpose of ISKCON is to bring people to Krishna consciousness and the basis of this movement is to deliver the message of Lord Krishna as it is, as received by his very first devotee Arjun and handed down to generations through Guru and disciple tradition. This process, they say, has a profound effect on people in general. I and my husband too are positively impacted by this message of Krishna consciousness.

BHAGAVAD GITA, or the song of God, is full of eternal life lessons with the central theme being “Rain or shine, do your work diligently as an offering unto God without getting attached to the result”. BHAGAVAD GITA and its lessons can be the perfect companion for everyone through thick and thins of life. Amongst the many translations and versions of Bhagavad Gita, my favorites are, Bhagavad-gita As It Is and The Bhagavad-Gita For Children and Beginners in simple English.

RICH CREAMY PISTACHIO PHIRNI IN 3 SIMPLE STEPS

Rich Creamy Pistachio Phirni in 3 simple steps

PREP TIME: 30 minutes     COOK TIME: 15-20 minutes                                 SERVERS 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 200 ml full cream milk (4 cups)
  • 150 gm soaked rice
  • 2 tbsp soaked pistachios
  • 1 tin of condensed milk ( 400 gm)
  • Green cardamom powder of 5-6 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp rose water
  •  Few roasted chopped pistachios for garnish

DIRECTION

  1. Take the soaked rice and drain the water well and put it into a grinder along with the soaked pistachios. Grind it al together into a grity to fine texture( i prefer my grounded rice-nut mixture to be a little coarse so that you get a nice nutty texture in every mouth full)
  2. Pour the milk into a sauce pan over medium heat. Once the milk is hot enough add the rice- nut paste and stir well. Keep stirring constantly so that the paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan. It should take around 6-8 minutes to cook or until it turns into a nice creamy thick mixture. Now, to this add the tin of condensed milk and mix well, then add the cardamom powder and rose water. Mix it up all well. The cardamom and rose water gives a nice flavor and aroma to the phirni.
  3. Pour the phirni into your ready individual bowls or earthen cups ( as per the classic way of serving). Refrigerate each portion for 2 hours to allow them to cool and set. Take the portions of phirni out of the refrigerator and garnish with some roasted and crushed pistachios.

Chilled phirni is an absolutely devine and refreshing dessert to end a sumptious meal or a perfect classic dessert for any festival or celebration.

 

10 SMART WAYS TO HAVE A HEALTHY​ LIFESTYLE

10 Smart Ways to Have a Healthy​ Lifestyle

I took my tentative steps towards upgrading my mental and physical health three years ago. Through my blog, I would love to share the experience of my fitness journey, my routine, workouts, tips, nutrition plan and help you get started on your own.

 

KNOW YOUR GOALS – KNOW YOUR “WHY”

Many a time we see our will power fading down, so it is very important to know why do you want to achieve your fitness goal. Going back to the reason for starting your fitness journey will spur you again.

For example, in my case, the most telling motivating factor was my great affinity towards dressing up and be in a presentable state even at home. After I had my second child I decided to get back in shape as soon as possible and be able to wear not only the same old dresses I used to wear before but also fit into all of those dresses which I was longing for, from quite some time.

Secondly, to have more energy to run around managing the busy life of a mum of a child and an infant. With reasons like these, you are more likely to achieve your goal.

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MAKE SMART GOALS

  • Make your goals ACHIEVABLE:  Set your goals to be measurable which will make it easier to achieve. For example, Exercise thrice a week to start with. I started with only walking, five days a week, sometimes even four days a week.
  • Be SPECIFIC with your goals: Be very clear what you want to achieve. For me, my main goal initially was to lose weight.
  • TIME bound: It is very important to set a deadline to your goal. For example, in my case, I had set a goal of reducing at least 6kgs of weight by my younger daughter’s 1st Birthday.

10 SMART WAYS TO HAVE A HEALTHY​ LIFESTYLE

 RATE yourself : Rate yourself on a scale of 0-10(10 being definitely). Ask yourself, how much you believe you can achieve your goal. Your answer should be at least 8 or above. Psychology suggests if your rating is below 8, your goal is less likely to be achieved.

SMALLER TARGETS : Break down your goals into smaller targets which are achievable. For example, you have a goal of exercising 5 days a week, which may have a tendency to become too stretchy.  Try to exercise regularly thrice a week initially, and then gradually up your game to four days, and then to five days.

PLAN YOUR WORKOUT GRADUALLY

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Build your training or a normal workout whatever it maybe. Do not rush to achieve your target and eventually hurting, yourself or falling sick. Either way, it is always better to build up your body to a sustainable regime. For example, from the third month of the delivery of my child, I started with just walking that too not regularly, then gradually light workouts in the gym, followed by regular training when I felt my body can do more and hence can be pushed towards tougher targets. I repeat this exercise of setting higher goals myself, at regular intervals, so as not to stagnate at or fall down from my current level.

This builds up your sense of achievement and makes you feel ” yes! I can do it”. Hence, it builds up your positivity of moving forward setting up goals for each time.

MAKE YOUR HEALTH AND FITNESS A LIFESTYLE

Health and fitness are not just a goal but a lifestyle. It is much easier to achieve when you have people around you to support and appreciate your new lifestyle. Tell people what you are doing, make your lifestyle noticeable. Catch up with friends, go for a good workout session and have a great time for a healthy meal afterwards. This also helps in boosting up your motivation.

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MAKING EXERCISES A HABIT

Just like eating, sleeping, going for work etc, exercising just for 30minutes is enough for the day. No matter how busy your day is, plan out a 30minute physical activity which is achievable. It does not matter if there is no time for gym, go for a run or a walk, even that will count.

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TRAINING WITHOUT A DIET RUINS YOUR EFFORT

It is extremely important to follow a good diet to get an effective result from your exercise. Exercising without a good diet ruins your hardwork. It is similar to watching a movie with fabulous actors but a poor script. Do a research, make a diet plan with the help of a trainer or dietician or someone who has knowledge in this field. 

Below are the pictures of some healthy yet delicious recipes like, Falafel Wrap, Zero oil mustard cilantro grill fish, Haloumi egg open sandwich, Sophisticated chicken curry( with chicken breast)

For example, I started with controlling my portions, including more of fruits, salads, reducing snacking habits, inculcating munching on plain nuts, dried fruits and seeds.

Limiting your eating out to may be once a week or once in two weeks.

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Motivation  gets you going and habit gets you there

A good training program and a good eating plan will do wonders.

 

8 Tips on how to make NRI children get ready for vacation in India

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He is a fool who praises the fruit of a tree and forgets its roots.  The roots of a tree say how good is the tree and how good fruit it bears.

Here I share my experiences and the ” tried and tested” tips  in how I handled the challenge and that you may want to try out on your next trip to India or even if you are currently on a vacation in India so that the transition is less uncomfortable and your children will have more happy memories to cherish.

Living in a foreign land I always have the fear of, my children not getting rooted to their own culture and values, the culture of their homeland and instead of getting carried away with the Western culture. I try to leave no stones unturned in getting these values from my girls. Inakshi and Ayona have grown up in Bahrain, with a wide influence of a mixed culture Middle eastern and western culture. They have a very limited knowledge of their hometown Guwahati,  Assam, in the northeast of India.

Where is my country?

Well, I was born and grew up in the city of Guwahati, Assam, a northeastern state of a large country India. Well, I would love to give you give you a little glimpse of the country where I live now. Bahrain is a small country. In fact, so small that you will find difficulty in locating it, the Middle East approximately the size of Singapore. Tucked between Saudi Arabia and Qatar this group of islands is a nice place to stay. In fact, if one has a choice it is the best place to stay on the Middle East.  a general overview people have over the middle eastern countries about social restrictions. Here, I would say the social atmosphere is the real strength of Bahrain. There are no social restrictions, visitors face no restriction in visiting night clubs, pubs, no dress code until and unless they don’t wear anything… hahaha! unlike other middle eastern countries, Bahrain is a safe and relaxed place to live. to give an idea, we celebrate all kinds of festivals irrespective of any nationality and religion. There are several temples, churches, gurudwaras all over Bahrain.

Bahrain is a cosmopolitan country like any other modern cities of the world and English is widely spoken and so it is termed one amongst the friendliest nations in the world. All in all, Bahrain is never boring.

Like any other kid, they too have a fascination for pizzas, burgers, fries, shawarma, and grills. But I tried to develop a habit of loving our Traditional food, rice is a staple, fish, khar, tenga, payox, laru, pitha, jolpanand not to forget the Assam tea. It has been an exciting experience for them to know about ASSAM, from past two years and they look forward to the yearly visit to Assam during their summer break. The hot and humid weather turns them down for the first three to four days since they are used to air conditioned homes, schools, offices, public places etc but do not take a long time to get adjusted to the local life and its weather.

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“Within sight within the mind” could be the perfect antidote to “out of sight out of mind” syndrome. If you are living away from someone or someplace dear to you, you need to keep in regular touch to keep the bridge intact.

A personal visit is still the best way to keep that invisible thread of bonding alive, technological advances in communication notwithstanding.

Tips on making NRI children get adjusted to the Indian environment when on vacation

  • Health is Happiness. Give your child/children a clear picture of how the place is going to be. Keeping that in mind, not only travelling to India but to any other country, it is always best to stick to hot food, if possible home cooked food.  Avoid eating out, unless the restaurant/place seems hygienic. I would always prefer purified or Bottled water or any hot liquids like tea/coffee than sodas ,shakes and smoothies, until they were grown enough to develop body resistance.
  • Though they are used to a different lifestyle with your cleanest surroundings, prepare kids in such a manner that they not to crib about the weather, dirt, mosquitoes, flies, pot holes, muds, Indian toilets, bucket and mugs and so on. I used to tell Renee to jot down the names and number of insects, creepy crawlies( named given to the insects by my girls) and share the information with her friends and teachers back in school. In this way, they will take these rather as new and exciting facts and experiences to know of a different place.
  • To make them aware of the traditional food habits at an early stage of life in order to order to get them accustomed to the same each time they visit.
  •  To make your kids learn your mother tongue because this helps to make them as well as other people in India feel more comfortable.
  • Reading them out with books and tales by Indian writers with which you grew up. To name a few Tenali Rama, Malgudi days, Jataka tales, tales from Ramayana, Indian comics etc.
  • If your child has a hobby explore it further. Keeping children occupied is another good option which is beneficial in two ways, learning and adding more to their hobby, and there is no chance for complaints. My elder daughter Inakshi has a keen interest in art. Even during this summer holidays, I got her enrolled in private lessons in a reputed art school. What’s better when passion and learning go along with holidays.
  • Compassion is an important life lesson that parents have an opportunity to teach by action and support right from the very beginning. Talking and explaining about the hardships of many underprivileged children they see in India make children understand the scenario. My children find joy in sharing some of their belongings with other children and this has been going on from a long time that now when they buy anything small to give their cousins in India, they will never forget to buy the share of their underprivileged friends in India.
  • Spending time and talking to the old people, spending time, taking pictures of any small or big moments with people in your extended family spreads love which reciprocates in lots of love and affection from them. Children will not value it then but will cherish those moments when they see the pictures back home.

As you can tell from these suggestions, it is next to impossible to raise your children as true Indians while living outside, but can always make a little effort so that they can proudly represent their motherland.

 

 

Tapas- Nachos with peppers and cheese

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HOLA AMIGOS!!

It has been a dream come true for me as I always wanted to visit Spain and know about wonderful spanish culture and experience their delightful cusine. I am absolutely in love with the tapas bars.

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I am totally an appetizer kind of a person. With a wide spread of apetizers that I can gorge on, I don’t feel the urge to have a full meal. Hopping on and off at different touristic places, I never missed a chance to have chouros with some piping hot chocolate sauce and a cup of coffee. Now thats so me…hahaaha!

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As I said, I hardly ate any full meal for lunch and mostly survived on tapas(appetizers) during my entire trip. Though my girls were fussy about trying new things, I indulged myself in the amazing spanish cuisine.

However, the thing, which became a hot favourite amongst my family and friends is this plate of Nachos with cheese and peppera.

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Super easy and yummy as appetizer for any party, ball game, a movie night, or even for your kids’ play dates. This has become hot favourite in my home.

INGREDIENTS

  • A pack of regular salted Nachos
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers red and green
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp ketchup

DIRECTION

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. Spread the Nachos on a oven proof large dish or a plate
  3. In a large bowl, mix both the cheese, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Now, spread a generous amount of the cheese mix over the Nachos. Top it with the chopped peppers and onions
  5. Put the Nachos into the oven for 15mins or till the cheese melts.

Enjoy the crispy cheesy nachos with your favorite cocktail or some chilled beer.

 

Easy Chatpata Bhindi! Okara with sesame and peanut masala

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Weekends are meant to relax, sleep, eat, clean, party, outings etc. Some times things do not workout as you plan. Every year I make loads of plan before coming to India during vacations but, with either kids falling ill or other unforeseen emergencies coming up  oops! your plans take a back seat.

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It’s 11am here and every one at my mum’s place is in a rush to reach to one of our relative’s home for a funeral. Not news of the news paper but a sad news of one of my maternal uncle’s demise came up with our morning tea. Now at this point I chose to stay back home and take care of my kids and my brother’s kids, while others left for the last rituals.

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Ting-tong.. the door bell rings, I opened the door and was glad to see two of our family friends after ages who came to meet me. Here’s a situation now, it’s almost lunch time, I have guests at home,  have to cook, and  don’t have the luxury to go or send someone to the market. Alas my mind says, ” lady cook a palatable lunch with whatever you have”.

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With few fish pieces in the fridge and some boring veggies I had to create a decent lunch. I don’t want to bug you by narrating the whole story, but yes! it is indeed worth mentioning how a regular Bhindi became the STAR BHINDI(star oakra). This bhindi masala was relished by kids just as how the Minions relished their bananas.

MAKEOVER FOR YOUR REGULAR STIR FRY VEGGIES IN 15 MINUTES

The secret here is the peanut and sesame masala mix

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 kg okra( bhindi)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • Dry red chilies 2
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds for tempering
  • Few curry leaves for tempering (optional)

For the peanut and sesame masala mix

  • 4 tbsp peanuts
  • 2-3 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 dry red chili
  •  A pinch of hing( optional)
  • 1/2 tsp black/pink salt

Secret ingredient : To enhance the flavor of the masala mix add a tsp of mustard seeds along with the above ingredients in the grinder 

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DIRECTION ( For the masala mix)

  1. Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds with the red chili separately in a pan on a low flame. Just be careful not to burn it. Keep it aside and allow it to cool down.
  2. Transfer the roasted peanuts, sesame seeds and the chili into a grinder jar. Now add the hing( asafoetida), black salt and grind them all together into a coarse masala powder.
  3. Store it in air tight container

TIPS: *Add 1-2 tsp of gram flour( besan) along with the masala powder to your                          bhindi. This will prevent your bhindi from getting soggy.

Add a tsp of jaggery and tamarind paste each after adding the masala mix                    and the gram flour to give chatpata flavor.

DIRECTION ( For the okra/bhindi masala)

  1. Wash the okra/ bhindi, pat it dry with a kitchen towel and slit it lengthwise.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the dry red chilies and mustard seeds. Now once the mustard starts crackling, add the okra and fry it uncovered on a medium to high heat for a 3-4 minutes. When you see the okra/bhindi roasting, lower the flame a little, cover and let it cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Don’t let the bhindi cook completely, just a 70 percent would be fine. Now add 2 tbsp of the peanut sesame masala, season it with salt and toss it well so that all your bhindi is coated with the masala. Leave it on the pan and allow it roast on a low flame for 2-3 minutes more.

Relish your bhindi masala with rice or roti

Note: Always season with salt at last as the masala contains salt too.