Wednesday, 17 February 2016





#Edited- This recipe was featured here on 29th February 2016, Check here

For the past few months, I have been thinking and planning to write some posts on spices. Now I have decided that every month, I will write one post on a spice or a herb, so this is my second post in the series of writing about spices. The first one was on a root called- Ratan Jot, which I posted together with orange lentil and carrot curry. This post is about the famous ‘Garam masala’, which is actually a blend of spices.

The reason behind writing on a spice/herb is that in Indian cuisine many spices and herbs are used, not only because of the fact that they impart aroma and taste to a dish but also because of their medicinal properties. Many of these spices and herbs are still used in Ayurveda, which is a traditional healing system of India, as a medicine to treat many diseases. It is good, that many of these herbs have already been acknowledged by the western world as medicine. That is the reason we see some new health products in the shops, e g. Garlic capsules, fenugreek capsules and clove oil etc. So I wanted to share my knowledge about these spices and herbs, on how to use and make them (blend ones) with my readers.

These days, not only because of a busy lifestyle but also because of the lack of knowledge, people prefer buying ready-made spices from shops. But there are many problems associated with these ready-made ones. They may not be of the highest quality, and we do not know the proportion of these spices used in the blend. Actually, no one can match the aroma and quality of homemade ground spices.

Garam masala is a very common blend of spices, which is used in Indian and South Asian cuisine; it is also used in Mughlai dishes. As garam masala is a mixture of few spices, in different states of India, different versions of garam masala are made. Garam masala is a Hindi word, in which garam means hot and masala means spice, garam word is used here, because some spices used in this, are hot like cloves and black pepper. This is a mixture of whole spices, mixed in a certain proportion, lightly roasted and then ground. In some recipes like biryani/pilaf, whole spices of this blend are added to the dish, but we will have to remove them before serving.

This is a mixture of 5 main spices i.e. - cumin seeds, black pepper, coriander seeds, cardamom and clove. Some people also add cinnamon and bay leaves. I normally do not add cinnamon and bay leaves when I grind this garam masala, because these two spices can be added, whole as it is separately in the dish and can be removed from the dish before the dish is served. I personally like cinnamon flavour in cakes, cookies or other sweets compared to savory dishes.

Garam masala can be prepared and can be kept in advance as it can last many months (8-10 months) on the shelf. It can also be made then and there on a small scale for a particular dish. The mixture of these spices gives a distinct flavour in curries and stews and dry lentil salads as well as in many vegetables. When this garam masala is used in different dishes, on one side we are adding the flavours to the dish, on the other side getting the benefits of their medicinal values.

The proportion I use to mix it is-100 grams coriander seeds, 100 grams cumin seeds, 50 grams black peppercorns, 10 grams cardamom (Green and black) and 10 grams cloves. Combine all the spices and lightly roast in a fry pan, on a low heat. Grind in a dry spice grinder and store in a clean and dry glass jar. Garam masala is a must spice in an Indian kitchen, it is used almost every day. For better aroma and taste, this should be added after the dish is cooked, before serving.

Coming to the recipe, this is a very tasty, healthy and nutritious dish of dry black chickpeas, which is full of protein. This is a side dish, which can be enjoyed with chapatti, naan, dinner bread and even with rice. If you want to enjoy this with rice, it can go very well with some yoghurt raita. This can be cooked in a pressure cooker, which can take 15 minutes after the whistle because these beans take longer time in cooking than other beans. They can also be cooked in a slow cooker. Garam masala is used in this dish for its optimum flavour and taste.


  • 200 grams black chickpeas
  • 1 onion (200 grams), finely chopped
  • 1 tomato (200 grams)finely chopped
  • 2 tbs tomato puree
  • 1 tsp garlic and ginger paste
  • Salt and chilli powder to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbs dry mint for garnishing.
  • 2 tbs oil


  • Wash thoroughly, and soak black chickpeas overnight or 7-8 hours in double water
  • Boil in a pressure cooker with little salt and turmeric powder for 15 minutes after the whistle, till they are soft and done well.
  • If some water is still there in beans, let it evaporate on medium high heat.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and add cumin seeds, as soon as they change the colour, add onion, ginger-garlic paste and sauté for few minutes till they are light brown.
  • Now add tomatoes with little salt, pepper. When tomatoes are done, add tomato puree with 1/4 cup water and let it boil.
  • Add this mixture in dried, boiled chickpeas and mix well.
  • Cook for another 5-10 minutes on low heat then add garam masala and garnish with dry mint.
  • Serve hot as a side dish with roti, naan, dinner bun or rice.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016



#Edited-This recipe was featured at Real food Friday blog hop on 18th February 2016. check here.

Happy Valentine's day!

Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life”-Leo Buscaglia.

Wow. What a nice quote on love, it is true that we cannot live without love; love is as important as other basic necessities of life like food, shelter and clothing. Am I right?

I remember, I discussed this issue of basic necessities, with my secondary school students, many times in the classroom, when I was teaching economics to them. In those lessons, the major point of discussion for the students was to accept love as a basic necessity or not.

In economics, there is a topic on necessities, comforts and luxuries which students have to understand with examples. In their textbooks it was mentioned that, in necessities, after food, shelter and clothing comes- love, affection, health, education etc. Students used to enjoy this topic, because their input was also considered a lot, in allocating different things under these three categories of necessities, comforts and luxuries. The problem, we teachers had, was that these type of topics were taking much longer than the other ones. Students were debating a lot - some would agree on accepting love, affection, health, education etc as a basic necessity, while others would disagree.

You know, teaching secondary school students on one side is a challenge, but on the other side is a lot of fun and enjoyment. If a teacher is confident on the topic, what she/he is teaching in a class, then there is no problem, she/he can really enjoy teaching it. Secondary school students like to challenge teachers a lot, for them it is fun, but as a teacher, we should be patient enough to answer them and our duty is to satisfy their questions. I personally think that when an effort is made to answer and convince them to the fullest, they develop respect and admiration towards us as a teacher.

I have really enjoyed this profession and my long years of teaching in a secondary school. I think teaching is a noble profession, where we teachers get a lot of respect and love from our clients (students), as compared to other professions.

Coming to the recipe, this trifle, I made for a friend of mine who was visiting me, last Saturday evening. She informed me about her visit only one day before, and by chance, Saturday was also her birthday. On that morning, I went to the nearby shops to get Madeira cake, I could not get it, I tried in three shops, then I gave up. I had no choice but to buy the soft cake, that is the reason cake is not visible in the serving glass. I enjoy Madeira cake in trifle because when we eat, we can enjoy a bite of the cake but if the cake is too soft or spongy you do not really enjoy that bite of the cake.

In this recipe, I did not use any custard and wanted to make it fruitier. I had some frozen cherries with me, which I used to give a layer after the cake.



  • 500 grams fresh/whipping cream
  • 100 grams icing sugar
  • 500 grams cherries, some more for garnishing
  • 1 small madeira cake or any plain cake ( I used eggless cake)
  • 1 packet of vegetarian pomegranate jelly
  • 50 grams walnuts
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils

  • Read the instructions on the packet and make jelly and put it in the fridge beforehand.
  • Mix sugar in cream and whip it for 5 minutes.
  • Thaw cherries and make a puree in a food processor.
  • Slice cake thinly.
  • Start layering all items in serving glasses, start with the first layer of cake.
  • Then next layer is a cherry puree, then cream on top of it.
  • Next is the layer of jelly, the top is the thin layer of cream.
  • Decorate it with pomegranate arils, some cherries and walnuts.
  • Serve cold as a dessert.

This can be made few hours in advance and can be kept in a fridge. 6 glasses can be made as shown in the pics above.

I am sending this recipe as my blog post entry for Meatless Monday and what'd you do this weekend,
with Happy, healthy and green party and Tasty Tuesday C.Kids, with Hearth and soul blog hop and Cook Blog share, with Way wow link party, and with Food Year linkup party, and with yum yum linky, and my two fav things on Thursday, and with Fiesta Friday, and with Read Food Friday and with Food and Fitness Friday, and with Sunday Fitness and Food linkup. and with Cook once and eat Twice