Dilldaar Chicken

A chicken dish named as Dilldaar Chicken may sound somewhat Bollywood-ish. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity of showing off my love for Hindi movies and for food in one place 🙂

The other reason for this name is that this dish has English Dill in it. Dill is an ingredient that we Indians know as Soa, Savaa, Sheva or Soya. Dill is considered to have great anti-gas properties which makes this dish easier to digest.

In the list of ingredients I didn’t mention that I included my Hindi Dil (Heart) in my cooking as well. It’s the secret ingredient that everyone knows makes food taste tastier.


Oil, Whole spices (Cinnamon, Cumin, Cloves, Cardamon black & green,) Chicken, Onion, Ginger-garlic paste, Powdered spice (Turmeric, Garam masala, Chilli, Coriander, Cumin) Tomato, Tomato sauce, Some chicken masala (if you have it,) Yogurt, Kasuri Methi (dry Fenugreek leaves,) Finely chopped ginger.

Whole Garam Masala

Powdered Garam Masala

Let the party begin; In a heavy pan put about one-third cup of oil. Once hot put in the whole masala in the pan and let it splatter. Put chopped onions into the oil and cover it with the lid. After copule of minutes open it and stir. Add a tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste and let it cook until the mixture is light brown in color.

Duo of onions and whole spices

Caramelized onions with ginger-garlic paste

Once the onions are slightly caramelized add your chicken to it. Cover it and let the chicken cook until the chicken releases its water. It might take about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile dice tomatoes and get the tomato sauce. Once the chicken has released the water, add half a cup of water to your powdered spices and add it to your pan. Deglaze (It is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving caramelized bits of food from your pan) with the water that you have added in spice paste. If needed add more water. Mix it well and cook it for a minute or so and then add tomatoes and its sauce.

Main ingredient is in

Photo says it all

This chicken dish will be tender and soft if you cook it covered. Continue cooking this mixture for about 15-20 minutes. Wash and chop few sprigs of Dill. Once the chicken almost done add this cut and chopped dill to it.

Almost done chicken

Dill (SOYA, SOA...)

Open the lid and switch off the stove when chicken seems to be ready. Wait for a couple of minutes; once the liquid stops bubbling put one-third cup of yogurt and add Fenugreek leaves to it. Mix it well. Cover it up and light the burner again.

Chicken with Dill

Kasuri Methi/ Dry Fenugreek Leaves

When some oil appears on the surface of the gravy; the chicken is ready. Just before you are ready to switch off the stove garnish it with finely chopped ginger and put the lid back.

Dilldaar is ready to be served

Ginger is for garnishing


The Fiesta

“I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.”

Madam Benoit

The cook that resides in him is really admirable. For him it doesn’t matter if he is cooking for friends or my six years old. Even before Ashu puts on his chefs hat, he can see the color, feel the texture, smell the aroma, hear the sizzles and taste the spices in all his creations.He lives the dish, before he physically brings it to life. It stays in there for sometime, and then takes the shape. Like a mother nourishes and protects her baby before bringing into this world; Ashu caters to the needs of ‘his unborn baby’. The dishes he prepares, comes from his heart. And once they are out, he puts in all the effort to give them a personality that it stands on its own.

Today is Monday; like always Ashu is the Emcee of today’s fiesta. Everything is planned. Three groups of guests will be the part of this celebration today.  One is the Vegetable and Fruits batch. They are the most punctual ones. They come in first. Other two groups that show-up later are equally important in making this party successful. They are class apart. One is ‘Dressing’ and other is ‘Garnish’. They join at different time but when in the group they act and play together.

Music has started; Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomato, Avocado, Cabbage, and Mango have been cleaned and laid on the kitchen counter. Mango and Grapes are the only fruit that takes part in the fiesta and when they are busy ripening and stuff, then they can be replaced by Banana. All these fruits and vegetable are happy and cannot wait to be the part of this colorful, juicy night. They don’t even mind being chopped and diced into small pieces. They understand that finally they will end up together on one stage, tossing and turning with each other and also their other friends.

Garnish generally comes before its liquidy counterpart. It mostly comprises of roasted dry fruits like Almonds, Pecans, Peanuts, Cranberry, Raisin. Dry cheese like Cheddar and Mozzarella might also become a part of this group. Nothing is fixed it totally depends on what is available at that time and what the chef likes.  If you are the MC then do what suits you better.

Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic Clove, Basil (depending on the season,) Lemon juice, (sweetener like) Honey or Agave Nectar, Dijon Mustard, (cream cheese like) Goat Cheese, and salt and pepper in little quantities make the Dressing complete and tasteful.  Sometimes the MC invites this potent mix beforehand but doesn’t let them on the stage until everybody is in. It helps them to ‘meld’ into each other. It doesn’t matter when the dressing is ready; it always goes in last.

The MC comes in and invites ‘everybody’ on stage. Now the party gets its full swing. For once they are together. They have never felt so complete and their life was never so interesting when they were living it alone. This is their first and last time. They are having the best time of their life. They enjoy to the fullest and, so would you if you can have a bite of this a heavenly delight from Mr. Ashutosh Gaur.

What’s that flavor?

List of Herbs With Their Commonly Used Names And Uses

My husband is an avid lover of food. The love for food is not constrained to eating only. He is passionate about cooking as well. He is an amazing chef, who spends time to think about the presentation too. I recently noticed a pattern in his cooking process.  He thinks about a dish, backwards.  First, he visualizes the food or the dish and then thinks about its taste. Very discreetly he will then think about each ingredient, their flavor and their aroma. He pays special attention to the usage of herbs. To prop up his strong conviction about herbs, he says time and again, “These little green leaves although used in small quantities play a crucial role in defining the tastes and looks of the dish.”

He prepared a list of herbs, which comes in handy in all his cooking endeavors. He wishes to share this with other food lovers too. So, here it is, just for you




Common name: Angelica

Scientific name: Angelica archangelica

French call it: angélique

Italians call it: Angelica

They all use it for: Stems in salads, or raw; leaves in soups and stews; teas




Common name: Anise

Scientific name: Pimpinella anisum

French call it: anis

Indians call it: Choti Saunf, Suwa, Shopa

Italians call it: anise

Mexicans call it: anise

They all use it for: Leaves in soups, sauces, and salads; oil for flavoring; seeds for seasoning cakes, breads, and cookies.


Anise Hyssop


Common name: Anise hyssop

Scientific name: Agastache foeniculum

French call it: anis

Indians call it: Saunf, Vilaiti

Italians call it: Anice

They all use it for: edible flowers; leaves for flavoring or teas; seeds used in cookies, cakes, and muffins.



Sweet Basil

Common name: Basil (Sweet)

Scientific name: Ocimum basilicum

French call it: basilic

Indians call it: Tulsi

Italians call it: basilico

Mexicans call it: albahaca

They all use it for: Leaves in soups, stews, pasta sauce, poultry and meat dishes; flavors vinegar; teas; religious purpose.


Bee balm

Bee Balm

Common name: Bee balm

Scientific name: Monarda didyma

French call it: mélisse

Mexicans call it: bergamota

They all use it for: teas; flavor jellies, soups, stews, and fruit salads; edible flowers.




Common name: Borage

Scientific name: Borago officinalis

French call it: bourrache

Italians call it: borragine

They all use it for: Edible flower; leaves in salads, teas, and sandwiches


Calendula (Pot Marigold)


Common name: Calendula (Pot Marigold)

Scientific name: Calendula officinalis

Italian call it: calendola

Indians call it: Zergul

They all use it for: Flower petals give color to soups, custards, and rice; cookies; vinegars.




Common name: Caraway

Scientific name: Carum carvi

French call it: cumin

Indians call it: Shahijeera (seeds)

Italians call it: cumino

Mexicans call it: alcaravea

They all use it for: Leaves in salads, teas, stews, and soups; seeds for flavoring cookies, breads, salads, curries and cheeses; roots can be cooked.




Common name: Carnation

Scientific name: Dianthus caryophyllus

French call it: œillet

Italians call it: garofano

Mexicans call it: clavel

They all use it for: Carnations have a spicy, peppery, clove-like flavor.




Common name: Chamomile

Scientific name: Chamaemelum nobile

French call it: anthémis

Italians call it: camomilla

Mexicans call it: manzanilla

They all use it for: Dried flowers for tea; potpourris




Common name: Chervil

Scientific name: Anthriscus cerefolium

French call it: cerfeuil

Italians call it: cerfoglio

Mexicans call it: perifollo

They all use it for: Leaves in salads, soups, and sauces; teas; butters.




Common name: Chicory

Scientific name: Cichorium intybus

French call it: endive, chicorée

Italians call it: cicoria

Mexicans call it: achicoria

They all use it for: Chicory buds can be pickled.




Common name: Chives

Scientific name: Allium schoenoprasum

French call it: ciboulette

Italians call it: cipollina

Mexicans call it: cebollino

They all use it for: Edible flower; leaves for flavoring, eggs, soups, salads, butter, cheese, dips, spreads etc.




Common name: Chrysanthemum

Scientific name: Chrysanthemum coronarium

French call it: chrysanthème

Italians call it: crisantemo

Mexicans call it: crisantemo

They all use it for: Chrysanthemums have a slight to bitter flavor, pungent




Common name: Cilantro

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum

British call it: Coriander

French call it: coriandre

Indians call it: Dhaniya

Italians call it: cilantro

Mexicans call it: cilantro

They all use it for: Entire plant is edible; leaves in stews and sauces; stems flavor soups and beans; salsa; seeds in sauces and meat dishes, potpourris, and sachets.




Common name: Cornflower

Scientific name: Centaurea cynaus

French call it: bleuet

Italians call it: fiordaliso

Mexicans call it: aciano

They all use it for: Cornflower has a sweet to spicy, clove-like flavor.




Common name: Dandelion

Scientific name: Taraxacum officinalis

French call it: pissenlit

Mexicans call it: diente de león

They all use it for: Very young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Makes a potent wine.




Common name: Dill

Scientific name: Anethum graveolens

French call it: aneth

Indians call it: Soa

Italians call it: aneto

Mexicans call it: eneldo

They all use it for: Teas; seasoning for butter, cakes, bread, vinegars, soups, fish, pickles, salads, etc.




Common name: Fennel

Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare

French call it: fenouil

Indians call it: Moti Saunf, Saunf

Italians call it: finocchio

Mexicans call it: hinojo

They all use it for: Entire plant edible; seeds in sausage and baked goods; leaves used with fish, vegetables, cheese spreads, and soups.


Geranium (Scented)


Common name: Geranium (Scented)

Scientific name: Pelargonium spp.

French call it: géranium

Italians call it: geranio

Mexicans call it: geranio

They all use it for: Teas, potpourris, sachets, jellies, vinegars, desserts.




Common name: Lavender

Scientific name: Lavandula angustifolia

French call it: lavande

Italians call it: lavanda

Mexicans call it: lavanda, espliego

They all use it for: vinegars, jellies


Lemon balm

Lemon balm

Common name: Lemon balm

Scientific name: Melissa officinalis

French call it: mélisse officinale

Italians call it: melissa cetronella

They all use it for: Teas; flavor soups, stew, fish, poultry, vegetables, and meat dishes; garnish.


MarjoramCommon name: Marjoram

Scientific name: Majorana hortensis

French call it: marjolaine

Italians call it: maggiorana

Mexicans call it: mejorana

They all use it for: Flavoring for meats, salads, omeletes, vinegars; jellies; teas.




Common name: Oregano

Scientific name: Origanum vulgare

Italians call it: origano

Mexicans call it: oregano

They all use it for: Flavoring for tomato dishes, meat, poultry, and pork stuffings; vegetables, sauces, etc.




Common name: Parsley

Scientific name: Petroselinum crispum

French call it: persil

Italians call it: prezzemolo

Mexicans call it: perejil

They all use it for:  Garnish; flavoring for salads, stews, soups, sauces, and salad dressings.




Common name: Peppermint

Scientific name: Mentha x piperita

French call it: menthe

Italians call it: Menta piperita

Mexicans call it: menta

They all use it for: Teas, fragrance, salads




Common name: Rosemary

Scientific name: Rosemaryinus officinalis

French call it: romarin

Italians call it: rosmarino

Mexicans call it: romero

They all use it for: Teas; flavoring for vinegar, jam, bread, butters, stuffing, vegetables, stew, and meat dishes.




Common name: Sage

Scientific name: Salvia officinalis

French call it: sauge

Indians call it: Kamarkas

Italians call it: saggio, salvia

Mexicans call it: salvia blanca

They all use it for: Seasoning for meat, vegetable and egg dishes; stuffings.




Common name: Sorrel

Scientific name: Rumex spp.

French call it: oseille

Italians call it: acetosa

Mexicans call it: acedera

They all use it for: Flavoring of soups, butters, omelets.




Common name: Spearmint

Scientific name: Mentha spicata

French call it: menthe

Indians call it: Pudina

Italians call it: menta verde

Mexicans call it: menta verde

They all use it for: Teas; flavor teas, sauces, jellies, and vinegars; leaves in fruit salad, peas; marinating, etc




Common name: Tarragon

Scientific name: Artemisia dracunculus

French call it: Tagète, Estragon

Italians call it: dragoncello

Mexicans call it: Yauhtli, Pericón, Yerba Anis

They all use it for: Sauces, salads, soups, omelets, meat, vegetable, and fish dishes.


Thyme (Common)


Common name: Thyme (Common)

Scientific name: Thymus vulgaris

French call it: thym

Italians call it: timo

Mexicans call it: Tomillo

They all use it for: flavoring for poultry, fish, stews, soups, tomatoes, potatoes, cheese, eggs, and rice.




Common name: Wormwood

Scientific name: Artemisia absinthium

French call it: absinthe

Mexicans call it: ajenjo

They all use it for: Bitter flavor; toxic if consumed in large quantity.

Cooking Terminology

Food and drinks are one of the favorite topic in any party. Be on top of a situation when you are in a group of fairly good cooks. You don’t have to give up or recoil in your shell just because they are using terms like julienning, blanching or crumbing. Here’s a crash course in cooking terms and terminology. This is a collection of terms and techniques I’ve collected over a period of time from various sources. I have pasted the pictures so that you can relate to them and remember them. Include these terms in your vocabulary. Don’t take the back seat; be a part of the fiesta, enjoy and have fun.

ALLUMETTE- An allumette is a matchstick-sized cut, 3 mm x 3 mm x 5 to 6 cm (1/8 in. x 1/8 in. x 2 to 2½ in.) long, used for potatoes

Allumette Potato

Allumette Potato

BLANCHING or BLENCHING is a cooking term that describes a process of food preparation wherein the food substance, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocked) to halt the cooking process.

Blanching helps to improve the color, taste, texture and shelf life of the vegetable in use. For example Broccoli looks fresher and greener if its blanched.

Boiling & Shocking are the two steps involved in Blanching


BUTTERFLYING is a cutting technique used by butchers to transform a thick, compact piece of meat into a thinner, larger one. The piece of meat to be cut is laid out flat on a cutting board and cut in half parallel to the board from one side almost all the way to the other. A small “hinge” is left at the one side, which is used to fold the meat out like a book. The resemblance of this unfolding motion to the wings of a butterfly is what gives this cut its name.

Butterflying Steak


CHIFFONADE– is a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is generally accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons

Chiffonade like Chiffon clothing material


CRINKLE CUTTING- It means cutting so the result is corrugated (forms regular waves). One can do this with specialized knives or mandoline. It is frequently used for potato chips, and (in that context especially) is also referred to as ruffled

Crinkle Cutting like in  ruffles

Crinkle cutting

BREADING (also known as crumbing) is a dry grain-derived coating for a piece of food such as meat, vegetable, poultry, fish,shellfish, crustacean, seitan, or textured soy, etc., made from breadcrumbs or a breading mixture with seasonings. Breading can also refer to the process of applying a bread coating to a food. Breading is well suited for frying because it lends itself to creating a crispy coating around the food. Breading mixtures can be made of breadcrumb, flour, cornmeal, and seasoning that the item to be breaded is dredged in before cooking.

Breading chicken


DREDGING is a cooking technique used to coat wet or moist foods with a dry ingredient prior to cooking. Put most simply, dredging involves little more than pulling/rolling the wet food through the dry material to provide an even coating. The technique is particularly common with breaded foods, such as fried fish.

Dredged Meat


JULIENNING- It is a method of food preparation in which the food item is cut into long thin strips. Common items to be julienned are carrots and celery.

Julienned carrots


MARINATING, also known as marinating, is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking. The origins of the word allude to the use of brine (aqua marina) in the pickling process, which led to the technique of adding flavor by immersion in liquid. The liquid in question, the ‘marinade’ can be acidic with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine, or savory with soy sauce, brine or other prepared sauces. Along with these liquids, a marinade often contains oils, herbs, and spices to further flavor the food items.

Marinated chicken


If you have any suggestion, please let me know and help to make this list better and more helpful.

Paneer Pakoda with Mexican Twist

Paneer Pakoda with Mexican Twist

Paneer Pakoda- A cultural union

This dish is a “Matrimonio Mixto,” Spanish for Mixed marriage. Serve it hot and it’s something that you can definitely use to impress people with your culinary skills. The appetizer, I am talking about can be categorized as fritter, which are made of cheese, but it’s not just another Paneer Pakora. It is the scrumptious union of two amazing cultures. I bring to you “Queso Frito de la India” (The fried cheese from India;) or simply Paneer Pakoda with Mexican Twist. It’s a marriage of Mexican cheese (Queso Fresco) with special Indian ingredient Gram flour (or Besan.)

El Mexicano Queso fresco Casero

El Mexicano Queso fresco Casero

Now, you know these Paneer Pakoda (Cheese Fritters) is a combination of Queso fresco and gram flour and some other ingredients. Queso fresco, means fresh cheese and we will be using “Casero,” which stands for homemade. Homemade fresh cheese is our main ingredient, but this time not made in our homes. For now buy it from some local grocery outlet like Safeway or Costco.

The Hispanic Cheeses are in and there are many kinds with some differences. Interested in finding more about these Cheeses; Go to the links given;  http://www.specialcheese.com/queso.htm


Chickpea flour/Chickpea flour/ Besan

Chickpea flour/Chickpea flour/ Besan

The other main ingredient is Gram flour or Chickpea flour. It is frequently used in cooking in India and Bangladesh. It is also a good facial exfoliant. One can easily buy it in an Indian market. Now comes all the other ingredients and procedure for this dish.


1 Block Fresh Cheese “Casero” (Cut into 1 inch rectangular pieces)

For Crumbing

  • ½ Cup gram/ Chickpea flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ salt
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano seeds (Ajwain)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs (seasoned)

For Frying


• Sift Gram flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. To this crumbing mixture add chili powder and both oregano leaves and salt. Make sure that the mixture remains dry at all times.
• For coating, dip the cheese pieces in milk and then put in the gram flour mixture. Move the piece around so that a thin layer of gram flour is formed all around the cheese. Do not drip milk in the crumbing mixture. Coat all the cheese pieces and let them dry for about 30 mins.

Cheese left for drying

Cheese left for drying

• Once dry, Dip each piece in milk and apply breadcrumbs to it and put it in the hot oil for frying. Fry until brown. Serve hot with green cilantro chutney. And Enjoy!!!

Creme Caramel

Crème Caramel

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” — Ernestine Ulmer

If we are talking about a dessert like Crème Caramel, alternately known as Caramel Custard or Caramel Pudding or Flan then I won’t even regret skipping the main course. Crème Caramel is a heavenly sweet dish; one that guarantees to win you a lot of admirers. Believe me, it is easier to prepare this dish than repeating its name five times. Further down you’ll find an easy way of preparing this elegant dish.

I’m going to share with you the recipe of Caramel pudding as my dear dear friend Renju shared with me. She has helped me to make so many of my parties special. Her recipe has earned me respect and increased my worth in my Mother-in-law’s eyes. It will be unfair if do not stress on the fact that Renju and her recipe play a very important role in my life. Thanks again my friend. Oh! no, no, no… I am not getting over sentimental but you know what it is like to be appreciated by your mother-in-law. Okay, without further ado, I giveth you:

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. — Ernestine Ulmer

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." — Ernestine Ulmer



  • 2 Whole green cardamoms
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla essence
  • 1 Can Condensed Milk


  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • 3-4 tsp water


1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
2. Boil milk with cardamoms, keep stirring the milk to avoid scorching or burning. Once boiled, (bubbles start coming of its side) strain the milk and let it cool.
3. In a separate container beat the eggs and add vanilla essence to it.
4. Add condensed milk to the boiled (cooled down) milk. Keep stirring.
5. Finally add the egg mixture to the milk, slowly whisking the whole thing. (Optional) Add a tsp of orange zest to this mixture.
6. To Prepare the caramel, put sugar in a saucepan and keep it on fire. Keep stirring the sugar until it starts to melt and color changes to light brown. Once the color changes, take it off the stove and put water. Keep stirring it without stopping. If it get crusty add some more water and stir. If sugar burns, do it again.
7. Pour this caramel, spreading it evenly in the baking dish and then slowly pour the custard.
8. Prepare a water bath in dish bigger that the one in which you are going to bake your custard. To read more about water bath click or go to, http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/what-is-a-water-bath.htm
9. Bake it in the water bath for 40- 45mins.
10. Once baked, cool it in the refrigerator and just before serving run an knife along outside of the custard; put the serving dish on top; and invert. Let it stand for few minutes then remove the baking dish. Garnish it with few mint leaves or orange slices or strawberry and serve.
11. Relax and Enjoy the sweetness of your effort!!! (Or may be impress your mother-in-law.)

Foccacia (foh-KAH-chyah)

Answers.com describes Foccacia as a flat Italian bread traditionally flavored with olive oil and salt and often topped with herbs, onions, or other items.


Not only is this bread yummy and versatile, it is easy to prepare at home. I baked Onion Foccacia at home without even using a blender.  One can follow any recipe that one feels comfortable with, I followed the one from the amazing book called “The Around the World Cookbook” published by Hermes House. This book has great recipes from some exciting cuisines. I also looked for the recipes on allrecipes.com.  Whatever recipe  you follow but make sure that you keep following things in mind.

  • If possible mix the dough in a mixer, so that it is smooth and elastic. Recipes do not specify the use of a mixer. I kneaded the dough by hand and bread was harder than I would like it to be.
  • When keeping the dough to rise, cover it properly to avoid the hardening of the outer layer. To protect the moisture of the dough, cover it with wet  cloth, do not use a paper towel instead:-)
  • Finally use olive liberally before putting it in the oven for baking. The bread will come out nice and shiny.

Here are some ideas to prove the versatility of this bread;

  • Top it of Basil pesto, fresh diced tomato and olive oil, its yummy even my 14 months old loved it.
  • Use it for a sandwich.
  • As pizza base, you can top it of with whatever toppings you like.
  • Be creative and share your ideas.