Thursday, 31 October 2013

Chickpea flour masala powder for stir-fry

Almost every regional cuisine of India uses protein rich chickpea flour to make stir fry, snacks and sweets. This Chickpea flour masala can be used to make tasty spicy instant stir-fry of many root vegetables, gourds, leafy vegetables. It gives taste to bland boiled roots and gives life to stir-fried gourds and leafy greens which otherwise becomes soggy.

You can mix this with equal quantity of peanut masala pd  and use them as stuffing while preparing stuffed okra (lady finger), bellpepper (capsicum), aubergine or eggplant (brinjal), ridge gourd (turai/ heerekaayi) etc.

In Maharastra people love to prepare chick pea flour based spicy sauce called Pitla which goes well with steaming hot rice and Indian rotis. You can make this using this masala.

You can also make a stiff hard dough out of this masala and divide it into tiny rounds called Muthia in Gujarati and add to vegetable stir fry or boil them in yoghurt based soup to make Pakodi Kadhi.

This masala can be used to coat eggplant (brinjal), potato slices before frying them.

There are immense possibilities as wide as your imagination.

I will keep posting recipes using this masala and you can try out your own too.

Chickpea flour masala powder for stir-fry

  • 200ml- Chickpea flour (besan / chane ka atta/ kadale hittu
  • 3 tbsp- Oil
  • 1 tbsp- Mustard
  • 2 tbsp- Cumin seeds/ Jeera
  • 2 tbsp- Aniseed (saunf) or 2 tsp Thymol seeds (ajwain)
  • 1-1.5 tsp- Asafoetida/ hing
  • 2 tsp- Turmeric / haldi
  • 3-4 tsp- Chilli pd
  • 1 tbsp- Dried mango powdered/ amchur (optional) OR you can add tomato or lemon juice when preparing the stir-fry later.
  • 3 tbsp- Coriander seeds (roast till warm and powder when it cools down)
  • 2 tsp- garam masala pd

  • Heat a heavy bottom pan or a non-stick pan. 
  • Put oil in it and when the oil is hot add mustard and cumin seeds.
  • When they start jumping add aniseed and stir for a second.
  • Add all the spices kept ready in the bowl. Stir for a few seconds.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Next add chickpea flour and stir thoroughly, with the help of a flat wooden spoon keep smashing any lumps formed.

  • Add salt. Mix again well so that all spices are well blended.
  • Put the pan back over the stove and roast this masala for 5 mins over gentle heat. Keep stirring frequently so that the masala does not burn. Burnt masala will completely spoil your stir-fry as it is becomes bitter.
  • Cool the masala in the pan.

  • Store in an airtight container.

Here are some recipes I have posted using this masala-

1.Indian Mashed potato -Tariwale alu tamatar and Alu shorba/soup

2. French beans stir-fry

3. Egg / Paneer Masala, Green peas masala, Alu Mutter, Paneer Mutter, sandwich filling

4. Okra with instant stir-fry masala / Bharli Bhindi  This uses both chickpea pd and peanut masala to create a new taste.

5.French beans and green pea stir-fry with bishop's weed

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Get to know about your microwave

Cooking in a microwave oven is quick and amazingly easy.
Microwave cooking has many advantages. Of course, like all cooking methods there are a few guidelines we should follow.
You can cook, steam, bake cakes and pie cases, defrost, dry herbs, remove skins of nuts by (roasting or blanching) etc in a simple microwave. 
If you buy a microwave with convection and grill there are more possibilities but a simple one is also no less.

Food that can be cooked well
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fish and poultry
  • Sauces and custards (that means thickening pastes of many types of flour to make various Indian snacks). 
  • Baking pie shells for making apple pie, taco shells,cakes and other quick breads etc.

 Foods to be avoided
  • Don’t hard boil eggs or cook shellfish. They explode from their shells when the steam builds up.
  • Pancakes become soggy.
  • Do not cook large pieces of anything as they cook unevenly. 
  • Do not deep fry as you will not be able to control the oil temperature.

Microwave is very useful if you use it correctly-
  • Never turn it on when it is empty. At least keep a bowl of water when you want switch it on to check something.
  • Never use it to dry papers or clothes or anything other than food.
  • Do not allow small children to open the microwave door when it is placed on a high table, undue strain on the lower side of the door damages the door.
  • If your oven starts sparking, switch it off immediately, this might be due to any metal like spoon or foil or metal engravings on the utensil you have put inside.
  • Don’t cook store brought food in its packaging, they might have foil and the microwaves cannot pass through it.

You will love to cook in a microwave if you follow these-

  • Food should be cut to same size because smaller ones cooks faster.
  • If you want your eggs or cheese to cook slowly place a bowl of water, it will attract microwave energy and slows down the cooking.
  • Thinner parts of food such as carrot should be placed in the centre as food on the outer parts get cooked fast.
  • If your food gets cooked unevenlyplace the food dish on top of a bowl, as raising it helps the waves to reach the bottom of the dish .
  • Some plastic dishes may melt when food rich in sugar or fat is heated in it. Also avoid melamine and polystyrene as they may get overheated and break.
  • Food cooks evenly when kept in a round dish or arranged in a circle.
  • To check whether a dish is microwave proof, place 200 ml of water in it and heat on high for 1 minute. If the dish stays cool and only the water is hot, the dish used is microwave safe.
  • Covering the food like gravy, vegetables and soup while cooking …avoids it getting spattered, also helps the food to cook fast due to production of steam and also the food does not become dry.
  • Standing time is the time when the food is still cooking after coming out of the microwave. This standing time is part of the microwave cooking process.The food in the inner most region part of the dish gets cooked during this time.
  • Line bottom of the dishes with baking paper or parchment paper to prevent the cakes from sticking. Remove the paper after standing time to avoid it sticking to the cake.
  • Pierce food such as potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum, egg yolks any thing that is covered by a membrane, but do not pierce fish …just slash it across the big parts.  Or it will burst due to steam build up.
  • Microwaves penetrate food to about 5 cm or 2 " from outside, so denser food and food in the centre cooks slowly. You should stir it frequently during cooking so that the food from centre gets shifted to edges.
  • Defrost food in containers in which it fits properly, if the container is big the food melts and spreads to far corners and gets cooked fast at the edges.

Microwave can be used for cooking all your meals or used as an assistant you in otherwise difficult or slow cooking process.

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Cucumber carrot onion semolina pancakes

Cucumber carrot pancakes smell nice and tastes yummy too. It's a cross between roti and dosa. Eat them hot for breakfast or as a snack. These pancakes remain soft even when cold so you can pack them for lunch. 

Servings: Makes 4 pancakes / halve the quantity if you need 2 pancakes.

Cooking time: 6 mins per pancake in rice cooker
                         3 mins per pancake on a griddle

Rice cooker / Stovetop 
Non-stick pan /griddle


Dry ingredients-

  • 1/2 cup- 1 cup (semolina + 2 green chillies cut into small pieces) or ( Instant semolina idli mix) or (Instant upma mix = ?... Don't search for this recipe. I haven't posted it yet) )
  • 1/2 cup (wheat flour+ 1/4 tsp dry ginger powder +1/2 tsp jeera) or (Instant dhokli mix-1)
  • 3/4 tsp salt (If you are adding instant mix, reduce the salt to 1/4 tsp ...the instant mix already has salt)
Wet ingredients- 

  • 1/2 cup cucumber, grated
  • 1/2 cup carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/2- 1 cup buttermilk (quantity depends on how much semolina you have added)
  • Butter or oil- 4 tsp

Making the pancakes in the ricecooker-

  • Mix all together to make a thick batter.
  • Divide into 4 parts.
  • Apply little butter or oil to the base of the rice cooker.
  • Place 1 part of the pancake mixture into it and pat it to form a thin pancake.
  • Cover with the lid and press 'cook' button.
  • After 2 mins you will hear sizzling sound.
  • The pan cake will cook for 4 mins. Do not open the lid during this time. If you open the cooker will come back to 'warm' method.
  • Put some oil or butter on it.
  • Flip the pan cake carefully with a wooden spoon. (If you are unable to do it then it means, you will have to cook it for another 2 mins.)
  • After you have finished flipping the pancake to other side, cover the pan with the lid, the cooker will go to 'warm' mode.
  • After 1- 1.5 min  press the 'cook' button.
  • Cook for 2 mins. The cooker might go back to warm mode after 2 mins.
  • These pancakes turn golden brown. Color depends on how much butter you have used to cook it.

Cooking on the stovetop- 
Make these pancakes on non-stick skillet or griddle on a slow heat. 
Burnt pancakes aren't tasty.
You can make small pancakes and fry them in batches of 3 or 4 like shown in the picture below.
If you poke some holes in the pancakes, it cooks faster.
It takes 1.5 min on each side. 
Cover the pan with a lid while cooking the first side. 
After you flip the pancake you need not cover it while cooking.

It does not matter whether the Instant semolina cake/ rava idli mix contains baking soda or not.

Eat it plain or with butter/ chutney powder

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Microwave or Rice-Cooker Chocolate cake

Need a quick snack or a desert for celebrations? ... this Soft spongy Chocolate cake is the right thing for you. This includes egg. I will post Egg-free cake next time. I have updated a low sugar version at the bottom of this post. Don't forget to check it.
You can make this in Microwave or Rice cooker in few minutes. Both methods give soft, moist and fluffy cakes. Make this cake mix and store it in an airtight container in a cool and dry cupboard or refrigerator. When you plan to make a cake,  just beat eggs and oil and add cake mix (270 ml) and milk into it.
Zap it in the microwave for 3 mins or steam in rice cooker for 5-8 mins.

Appliance, tools, utensils-
  • Rice cooker/ Microwave
  • Electric hand held beater OR a whisk and an egg-beater
  • 500 ml capacity bowl for mixing
You can make a single cake or few cup cakes, so take-
1- steel / aluminium flat bottomed bowl which is 1/2" less in radius than the rice cooker
or 10-12 small steel or aluminium cups
If you are making it in microwave you will need-
1- microwave safe plastic box round (8") is best but rectangle or square box is also fine.


Making the Cake mix-

  • All purpose flour/ Maida- 1/2 cup (100ml)
  • Cocoa powder- 1 tbsp (15ml)
  • Baking powder- 1 tsp (5 ml)
  • Sugar powder or icing sugar- 3/4 cup (150 ml) you can reduce it to 120 ml

Sieve them together so that all these get mixed properly. This mix is for one 8''cake or few cupcakes (about 10-12). Multiply the ingredients if you want to make cake mix for more batches.  Pack each batch in a separate plastic bags or boxes or you will find it difficult to decide how much you have to take out each time.


Making the cake batter

You will also need 1/4 cup oil -Use sunflower, ricebran etc which are odour-less, avoid peanut oil
                               2 eggs
                               1/2 cup milk 
                               1 tsp grated orange rind / 2 tsp instant coffee powder / 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • See that all the ingredients are at room temperature.
  • Place the oil and eggs in the bowl and beat them together with an egg-beater.
  • Add grated orange rind / instant coffee powder / vanilla essence/ 1/4 tsp vanilla pd. This removes the smell of the egg and also increases the flavor.
  • Mentally divide the cake mix and 1/2 cup milk into 3 parts.
  • You have to add cake-mix in batches alternating with milk.
  • First add 1 part cake-mix and mix with the whisk till smooth.
  • Next add milk and mix in with the whisk.
  • Repeat this step twice ( i.e., till you finish the cake mix and milk)
  • The batter will be thinner than the regular cake batter. It almost looks like a chocolate drink.

If you want to make the batter with a handheld blender-
  • You can beat the egg and oil with the handheld blender.
  • Next add orange rind/ coffee/ vanilla and beat a little.
  • Tip on how to mix-  First stir the cake mix and the liquid with a spoon and then start mixing with the blender. (If you don't mix the cake mix with the spoon, the dry flour will fly all over when you beat it with the blender)


Making the cake in the microwave-

  • Pour this cake batter into a microwave safe plastic bowl. You don't have to grease it.
  • Batter should reach half way, as the cake doubles up while cooking. 
  • Cook on high uncovered for 3 mins.
  • Remove and keep aside of 5 mins and the loosen it with the back of a spoon or fork.
  • Don't cook it for more time even if you find the cake wet in the centre. Usually you encounter this problem when you use a rectangle or square box. If this happens then cover the cake for 5 mins and you will find the cake is still cooking outside the microwave.

Making the cake in the rice cooker-
Take a flat bottomed cake pan or small cups. Grease these pan or cups with oil, you can sprinkle 1/2 tsp flour or dry cake mix after greasing and shake it - the flour will coat the cups, all these helps the cake to come out of the pan easily. Pour the cake batter into these greased cups( fill 2/3 rd, I filled it only 1/2 way so my cakes are smaller ) and steam in the steamer basket of the rice cooker just like Savory semolina cakes

Steaming time depends on the size of the cups. See that you leave 1/2 inch space all around the cake pan while it is inside the rice cooker, for the steam to move around.]

After the cake has cooked -
Cool the cake for 5- 10 mins and then invert it. The cake will crumble if you invert it immediately.
You can eat it plain or with ice cream or spread nutella.

For a celebration-

1. Spread it with Nutella and sprinkle m&m's, Chocolate chips, Hundreds and thousands etc.
2. You can arrange the cup cakes on a tray in the shape of a flower or anything you can imagine. 

 Low sugar version-

I make this cake often as it is a favorite cake of my daughters and their friends.
On one such day I prepared the  cake and I put it in the microwave and after 1 min ....discovered that I had not added sugar. Immediately I opened the microwave to see whether it was possible to add. The cake was already half cooked. I put it back into the microwave and let it cook. After that I mixed 5 tbsp sugar powder with 1/3 cup water and poured evenly over the hot cake and covered it with a lid and let it stand for sometime.
After 30 mins the cake had absorbed the sugar and tasted very delicious. Good thing was this cake had only 5 tbsp sugar pd instead of 10 tbsp.

I am sending these off to the very first Love Cake Challenge with Ness over at JibberJabberUK who has chosen the February theme of Baking with Passion. Even non-bloggers can participate in this.

Check out the some recipes from my other blog- sameveggiemanyways.
You can cook these in rice cooker too.

Easy Kolhapuri masala -Kaanda lasun masala
This masala is used in various gravies and stir-fry.

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Cabbage peanut masala stirfry (Kobi nu shaak)

You must have tasted this Cabbage stir-fry with peanuts in Gujarati thali. 
This is the second in the Stir- fry series made using Instant Peanut Stir-fry powder. Peanut masala powder must be already in your pantry by now, if not click here for the recipe
This stir-fry is very easy to make, takes about 10 mins and uses minimal ingredients. 
You can add Tomatoes and raisins OR  replace them by 3 tbsp onion. Onions have to stir fried till soft (takes about 2 mins).

Cooking time: 8-10 mins
Appliance: Rice cooker/ Microwave/ Stove top
Yield: 1 cup / 1 serving

Optional Ingredients
  • Raisins- 2 tsp
  • Tomatoes- 3 tbsp (1 small -thinly sliced)
  • Salt - 1/8 tsp
  • Onion- 3 tbsp thinly sliced ( instead of tomatoes and raisins)

  • Heat oil in rice cooker or nonstick pan or microwave proof glass bowl.
  • Add the cabbage and stir well so that cabbage is coated with oil.
  • Cover and cook for 2 mins.
  • If you are adding tomatoes and raisins, mix them now. Mix well.
  • Cover and cook for 2-3 mins till tomatoes are slightly soft.
  • Sprinkle peanut masala powder evenly over this and cover and cook for 1-2 mins.
  • Do not mix the masala with vegetables, it will get burnt during this stage.

  • After 2-3 mins mix them all well to blend all the flavors together. Check and add salt if needed.
  • Switch off the rice cooker (if you are frying in it ) when you reach this stage, as the cooker is still hot.
  • Continue to stir fry for 1 minute.
  • It is ready. Eat with Indian rotis or filled in sandwiches or rolled inside tortilla. 
  • If you are using onions they are the first one to go into the hot oil. Stir fry the onions for 2 mins till soft and next add cabbage and continue as above.
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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Makai Mirchi - Bellpepper Corn Peanut masala

This colorful stir-fry needs only 3 ingredients and 15 mins of your time. You can eat them with any Indian bread, you can place it on tortillas and make a roll up or use them as a filling in your sandwiches with or without cheese.
You can make this stir fry with only capsicum or corn or both mixed. Onion is an optional ingredient too. See that the total vegetable quantity is 2 cups.

Appliance- Rice cooker/ Microwave/ Stove top and nonstick pan
Cooking time - 15 mins
Chopping time- nil if using cut or frozen veggies OR 5- 10 mins depending on your speed

See this pin to learn how to cut bell pepper easily.

Capsicum/ Bell pepper of any color -1 large (about 1 cup/ 200 ml chopped pieces)
Frozen or fresh corn- 1 cup (optional)
Onion- 1 small size (about 1/2 cup/100 ml) (optional)
Instant Peanut masala pd for stir-fry- 2 tbsp
Oil/ Butter or both taken in half quantity- 1 tbsp
Salt -1/4 tsp- 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice- 1 tsp (optional)

  1. Heat oil or butter in your appliance or nonstick pan.
  2. Fry onion if using for 3 mins.
  3. Add corn and capsicum/ bell pepper, mix them all together. 
  4. Cover and cook for 10 mins stirring time to time. Keep the heat low if making on stove.
  5. Sprinkle the masala powder over it and stir it. Cover and cook for 3 mins if you are using ricecooker switch off the cooker for these 3 mins as it is already hot. Check for salt and add if necessary during this period.
  6. Add 1 tsp of lime juice if you have not added amchur (raw mango powder) in your instant stir-fry mix.
Click here to see how to fry in a Rice cooker.

If using Microwave it takes 5 mins  to fry the vegetables (as it cooks very fast).  
And it takes one more minute after the masala is added. 
Remember to cover the glass bowl while cooking.

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Peanut masala powder for stir-fry

In many parts of India,  peanut is widely used with other nut or seeds like dried coconut, white poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, mustard in stir-fry's, gravies, salads and raita. This not only gives it a sweet and nutty taste but also increases the protein, essential oil and vitamins content of these vegetarian dishes.

You can use this masala along with variety of cut or frozen vegetables to make tasty meals in very less time. The taste and color of the dish depends on the vegetable you use. So getting bored with the same kind of food is ruled out. If allergic to peanut ... lightly roast any seeds and nuts mentioned above (either one or in combination, avoid adding too much of poppy seeds or mustard) and continue with the recipe.

In few weeks I will be posting some more stir-fry and gravy masala powders. You can also use the Vangi Bhath powder and Za'atar mix which we had used in preparing the Bisi Bele Bhath and Za'atar toast.

Dry chutney powders make an excellent stir-fry masala too. You can buy them in any South Indian stores or make them using the links I have provided in Instant savory Semolina cakes (Rava idli).

Peanut Stir-fry masala requires roasted and peeled peanuts. You can make this quickly using the Microwave as I had shown you earlier. These peanuts are then coarsely or finely ground into a powder and mixed with other spices and herbs to make this nice tasting masala powder which I know you will also start sprinkling on buttered toasts and yoghurt.

Tip- While grinding the peanuts don't grind continuously, as the peanuts will become a fine paste and oily. Stop the grinder several times in between so that you will get a coarse powder.

 Peanut Stir-fry Masala Powder

Ingredients to be put in a bowl
  • Peanut roasted and peeled-  2 cups (400 ml)
  • Coriander seeds-                   2 tsp to 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds -                        1 tsp to 2 tsp
  • Turmeric pd -                        2 tsp
  • Red chilli pd-                         2 tsp to 3 tsp
  • Sugar /brown sugar-             1.5 tsp to 2 tsp
  • Salt   -                                     1.5 tsp to 2.5 tsp

For tempering: 

  • Oil- 2 tbsp/ 3 tbsp  (You need so much because you are going to use it in several recipes)
  • Mustard- 2 tsp
  • Cumin- 2 tsp
  • Semi dried green chillies- 3-5  ( depends on how much degree of hot level you enjoy)
  • Hing (asafoetida) 3/4 tsp-1 tsp
  • Dry ginger powder -1 tsp
  • Amchur powder (dry mango pd)- 1 tsp (You can omit it and squeeze in lemon juice into the stir-fry/salads)

Method -
Dry roast coriander and cumin seeds on slow heat till it is warm. Cool and grind together into a powder. Add peeled peanuts into it and continue grinding it to get a coarse powder. You can grind it into fine powder too. If you grind it coarsely you can enjoy its crunch in the stir- fry.

Take all the ingredients (except the tempering ingredients) in a big bowl.
Heat a pan and put oil into it.
When the oil is hot put in mustard seeds and when they start popping throw in the cumin seeds.
While they start jumping add in semi dried green chillies.
The green chillies should become crisp (not burnt) in few seconds.
Add asafoetida, dry ginger pd and amchur pd and switch off the heat immediately to prevent the spices getting burnt.

Pour these over the powders taken in the bowl.
Stir well.

Cool completely and store in an airtight labelled container.

 Note- You can add green coriander leaves dried in Microwave into this mixture.

 Try some of these stir- fry's using this powder. I will be posting some more in few months.
1. Bell pepper & corn stir-fry

2. Cabbage stir-fry

3. French beans stir-fry 

4. Crunchy Indian Cucumber salad (Koshambir)

 5. Okra with instant stir-fry masala / Bharli Bhindi  This uses both  peanut masala and chickpea pd to create a new taste.

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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Za'atar and Butter pepper Toasts and sandwich in rice cooker/ toaster/ non-stick pan)

Here are a few snacks made from bread slices ready in 5 minutes in your rice cooker/ toaster-grill/ non-stick pan.

Toasted sandwich tastes better with thick sliced wheat bread. Try to buy them instead of thinly sliced white  bread.
The above bread is Buttermilk wheat bread. I baked this in my bread machine yesterday.

Pepper butter toast-

Salt (omit it if salted butter is used)
Black Pepper pd

Let's start-

  • Mix the sugar,salt and ground pepper (pepper powder) with the butter.
  • Apply this on the bread slices.

  • Place the bread slice in the non stick pan of rice cooker with buttered side down. Cover with lid. Press 'cook' button. 
  • The button may go back to 'warm' mode after sometime, no problem- the cooker is already heated.

  • Turn the bread to the other side and cover and keep on 'warm'  or 'cook' mode (whichever mode your cooker wants to be in) for few mins.
  • Eat it when it is still warm. I know you will love it.
  • If you want to make another toast place it in the pan, the cooker might remain in 'warm' mode even after you cover it with the lid. After 2 mins try pushing the cooker back to 'cook' mode.

Whenever you remove the lid the cooker might go to 'warm' mode. It will come back to cook mode if the pan cools down a bit.

Za'atar toast-

Za'atar mix *-1 tbsp
Olive oil or Butter 
Salt (check if Za'atar or butter has salt)
Chilli pd or black pepper pd (Optional)
Pita bread/ Pizza base/ Bread slice

  • Make a paste of oil and Za'atar.
  • Apply this on one side of the bread slice.  (if it doesn't spread with a spoon or a knife use your fingers)
  • Fry like the above Pepper toast.

Za'atar sandwich/pizza-

  • Arrange slices of tomato, cucumber, scallions (spring onion/onion slices), mint leaves (sprinkle dry mint powder) and olives on this to make pizza. Use whatever is available.
  • You can spread feta cheese or labneh or cheese spread.This is optional.
  • You can toast 2 bread slices this way and sandwich these vegetables in-between.

*Make and store this Za'atar mix-
Za'atar- (This is available in any middle eastern store)

If your ready made Za'atar does not have sumac or sesame seeds then for every tablespoon of Za'atar add-
1/2 tsp Sumac - gives sourness (omit it if you don't have)
1-2 tsp-Toasted sesame (til) seeds

You can make your own Za'atar by mixing-
1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted)
2 tsp sumac
1 tbsp thyme (dried)
2-3 tsp salt

Mix all the above and keep in an airtight container inside a cupboard away from sunlight. 

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