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Entries in Recipes & how-to's (57)


Recipe: Kofta Pulao a-la-Instant Pot (Indian chicken meatballs + rice pilaf)

Photo credit: Rinku Bhattacharya

If you don't know, now you know: Indian cuisine slides in second after Mexican as my favorite.  And it wasn't until I purchased my Instant Pot AND came across the cookbook, Instant Indian, that I dipped my toe in to cooking Indian food at home.  While I've got Mexican recipes down pat, whipping together a homemade biryani or lamb curry has always just seemed...super intimidating.  

Upon skimming through the recipes in Instant Indian, the Kofta Pulao (which loosely translates to 'chicken meatballs and rice pilaf') really caught my attention: Its method read with ease - the ingredient list wasn't too long or overwhelming - and the dish just sounded incredibly flavorful, hearty and delicious.  An entree that I could plate alongside a colorful salad and enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine (or three).  

Since my initial attempt, I have made this recipe time and time again, though have amended the original/author's version my own twists (such as cutting down the amount of fat, and subbing water with chicken broth for more flavor).  It is a huge crowd pleaser and even receives high praise from my Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cronies!




  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (original recipe calls for freshly-ground, but I used the stuff in the jar)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (seeds and pith removed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil (separated, 1 tablespoon each)
  • 1 sweet white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 cup basmati rice, washed (<--- soak dry rice in cold water for 30 minutes and drain)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth 


1 day prior to eating: Make the meatballs

  1. To make the meatballs: Place the ground chicken, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, jalapeno and salt  in a bowl and mix together.  Add in the lemon juice, beaten egg and cornstarch.  Blend together.  On a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, form mixture in to 1" meatballs (mixture makes about 18 meatballs).  Store in fridge until you are ready to make the entire recipe the next day.


  1. Turn the IP (Instant Pot) to the Sauté mode and add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  When the oil warms, add in the onion and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Sauté for approximately 8 minutes, until the onion softens, wilts and turns pale golden.  When done, remove from IP and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. Add the other tablespoon of oil in to the IP.  Working in batches, gently add in the meatballs and let them cook for 2 minutes per side taking care not to stir them.  When all meatballs have been cooked, deglaze the IP with 2 tablespoons of chicken broth.
  3. Return the meatballs to the IP, lining the bottom of the pot.  
  4. Return the onions to the IP atop the meatballs.  Add in the rice, mint, cinnamon stick and bay leaves with 1 1/4 cups chicken broth.  
  5. Close the lid and turn on the Rice setting (it automatically will set for 14 minutes).  When cooking time is complete, allow natural pressure to release for 8 minutes, then use quick release for any residual pressure.  
  6. Open the lid and savor!

*This recipe freezes well, too!


Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle


Recipe: Salted Caramel Matzo Brittle

"You should sell this stuff at the farmer's market!"

"I don't even like sweets, and this shit is amazing!"

"You're my hero!"

"I cannot stop thinking about that Matzo Brittle!"

"It's a Passover miracle!"

"You're a mensch!"

I've heard it all, folks: From every compliment in the book - to more Matzo Brittle bribes than you can imagine. I'm here to tell you that this recipe will make you a hero amongst anyone lucky enough to sample this magical, deliciously life-altering, Passover-friendly treat. Recipe inspired by my dear friend, Meghan Coyne, and based on my amended version of Christine Gallary's.


  • 5 sheets matzo
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, cut in to large chunks
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Maldon sea salt flakes


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed, full-sized cookie sheet with enough foil that it overlaps and you have to fold it under the edges. Top with parchment paper.  Arrange as many matzo sheets that will fit in a single layer on the baking sheet (likely 2). Set aside.
  3. Place butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring occassionally. Remove from heat and add vanilla (pour slowly, as it may bubble up). Stir to combine.
  4. With care, "paint" the caramel over the matzo with a culinary brush, making sure to coat each piece with caramel.
  5. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, until small bubbles cover the entire surface of the matzo and the caramel is fragrant.
  6. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle each piece of matzo with chocolate chips and set aside for 3-5 minutes to allow chocolate to soften.
  7. Using a culinary brush, delicately spread the melting chocolate chips over the caramel. Sprinkle each piece of matzo with fleur de sel and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 until all 5 matzo sheets have been made!  Tip: Change the parchment paper between repetitions.
  9. Break in to pieces and serve and/or freeze for later use.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Recipe: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Photo credit: Green Valley Kitchen
*This gorgeous photo was found here*
Creamy and velvety, yet dotted with carrot nibs, this hearty bowl of goodness is diet-friendly, incredibly flavorful, and perfectly filling.  Pair it with a side salad and some crusty bread/pita for a colorful and waist-friendly meal that is guaranteed to please even the pickiest of palettes!
Serves four large bowls of soup; recipe adapted from the NY Times 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet white onion (Vidalia and Maui are my favorite sweet varieties), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of ground chile powder
  • 1 quart plus 2 cups chicken broth (Want to make it vegetarian?  Sub the chicken broth for vegetable broth!)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (cilantro or arugula will also do!)


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.  Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder; sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add broth, lentils and carrot.  Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low.  Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.  Taste and add salt if necessary.
  4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, puree half the soup then add it back to the pot.  Soup should be somewhat chunky.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and chopped greens.


Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle 


Recipe: Beef Bourguignon a-la-Instant Pot

The Instant Pot: Formerly known as the my "most intimidating kitchen appliance."  Truth be told, it took me almost a year to pull this pressure cooker-extraordinaire out of its box!  I guess I was afraid that I'd lose an eye from the steam function/somehow ignite my apartment on fire/receive third-degree burns.  Or something else disastrous and life-threatening along those lines... 

However, with the New Years resolution-fire lit under my ass to cook more homemade meals in 2019, I can proudly say that the IP (Instant Pot) and I have become quite friendly over the past month.  The blustery January temperatures here in New York were the inspiration behind my inaugural IP meal: Beef Bourguignon, a hearty French stew comprised of beef braised in red wine and stock and flavored with carrots, onions, garlic, pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon.  For this recipe, I substituted sweet white onions for the traditional pearl variety that it calls for (because they are a bitch to peel), and completely did away with the bacon (not because I don't love the stuff, but because omitting pork belly shaves off some serious calories).  The final result?  Dynamite!  And trust me when I say that you won't miss the bacon...or those annoying pearl onions!

This recipe is easy to prep and cook - takes approximately two hours from start to finish (including gathering ingredients, food prep, and cook time) - and is a huge crowd pleaser.  

*Tip: Make one day ahead of time for flavors to fully marry!  This stew is like a fine wine - I swear that it gets more delicious by the day!



Serves four large bowls of stew; loosely based on the recipe from My Food Story

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. stew meat (1.5" - 2" sized chunks)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup sweet white onions, chopped in 1" pieces (most recipes recommend using pearl onions, but they're a nightmare to peel, so I will spare you)
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, halved
  • 3 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 1 1/3 cups red wine, separated by 1 cup and 1/3 cup (make sure to use a wine that you actually enjoy drinking; NOT cooking wine.  For this recipe, I use a juicy California Merlot or Red Zinfandel)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1.5 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Turn on your Instant Pot (IP).  Set to Sauté function and select high (heat).  
  2. In a sauté pan, heat oil over medium/high heat.  Allow the pan to get hot.  Meanwhile, liberally season the beef with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, sear the meat on each side for 30 seconds and set aside.
  3. Pour the pan grease (from step 2) in to the IP.  Add the garlic, onions, mushrooms, and carrots and sauté, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, using the pan from Step 2, return to the stove.  Add 1/3 cup of wine and simmer for five minutes, making sure to scrape the delicious bits stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan (from searing the beef).
  5. Add the deglazed wine from the pan, seared beef, remaining wine (1 cup), broth, thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste to the IP.  Lock the lid in place and change the setting from "Sauté" to "Pressure Cook" and manually set the timer dial for 40-minutes.
  6. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup water.
  7. Once the 40-minutes has elapsed, release the pressure manually from the IP and carefully remove the lid.  Turn on the "Sauté" function and select low (heat).
  8. With a ladle, add a small amount (1/3 cup, approximately) of the hot stew to the flour mixture to temper, stirring constantly.  Once fully combined, slowly pour in to the stew and stir to incorporate.  Simmer for 5 minutes, until the stew thickens.
  9. Taste the stew and adjust the flavor by adding salt and pepper, according to your liking/preference (if need be).
  10. Serve immediately or store overnight and enjoy the next day for an even more flavorful and robust stew!  

Bon appetit!


Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle