Dig-In Meals – A column highlighting Indian spices in recipes that take traditional Indian food and add a western twist!

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and most of us are busy planning on making it special for our loved ones. However, with rising Covid cases due to the Omicron variant and continued restrictions on indoor dining, many of us are swapping a romantic evening out for an at-home meal once again. 

No celebration is complete without a sumptuous meal, and as the saying goes…the way to a (wo)man’s heart is through the stomach. So, go ahead and whip up these showstoppers for a dinner and Netflix date.

Start with an appetizer of some store-bought fondue (I use this Swiss Castle Fondue or this one from Trader Joe’s) or burrata with some crackers or Acme bread will round things off nicely!

Burrata and bread (Image Credit: Mona Shah)

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with my Chocolate Pani Puri’s with paan pani shots! The main can be my easy beetroot patty that you can make into rounds or cut into heart-shaped goodness. 

Chocolate Pani Puri w/Paan Pani Shots


  • 1/2 cup chocolate (I used Valrhona semi-sweet chocolate, you can also use Tcho or Ghirardelli)
  • Puri 
  • 7-8 paan (betel) leaves 
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds (saunf) 
  • 5/6 scoops vanilla ice cream 
  • Fillings are whatever you want: peanut chikki, gummy bears, and paan masalas.


  1. Double boiler method: Set a pan and boil water in it, take another bowl, and place it over the pan 
  2. Add chocolate to the bowl and melt it 
  3. Thoroughly dip pre-holed golagappa in melted chocolate – refrigerate until set (For easy removal use a foil sheet to set.)
    • TIP: Alternatively, you can freeze them too. Don’t freeze the puris for too long. 15 mins or so then take it out and let it stand for 5 mins. This will make lifting them up easier.
  4. Take grinder jar, churn the paan (betel) leaves, fennel seeds and, vanilla ice cream 
  5. Pour this betel milkshake in hot glasses and place chocolate puris over these glasses 
  6. Serve with  your choice of fillings Pann masalas, gummies, nutties, tooty fruity, peanut chikki

Beetroot-Potato Patty

Beetroot patties (Image Credit: Mona Shah)

This makes about 6, you can double or triple the amounts to make more. They can be eaten alone with sweet tamarind and green cilantro chutney’s or for something a bit heartier, make beetroot patty burgers.


  • 2 cup beetroot (grated)
  • 1 potato (boiled & mashed)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric / haldi
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder 
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder / jeera powder
  • ¼ tsp coriander powder / dhaniya powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander (finely chopped)
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp aamchur / dry mango powder
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • ½ tsp ginger-green chili paste
  • salt to taste
  •  ¼ cup panko or bread crumbs


  1. Grate or smash cooked beetroot, squeeze off any excess juice.
  2. Add in 1 boiled and mashed potato and all spices, bread crumbs, and coriander leaves.
  3. Combine well making sure all the spices are mixed well and the dough is formed.
  4. Prepare the patties from beetroot dough. You can make them in the traditional round shape or use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make hearts.
  5. Roll in the panko/bread crumbs on both sides. I usually just mix the panko in the dough, it tends to work well and eliminates one step.

To Air Fry: Brush the patties with oil on both sides. Air-fry at 400F for 10-15 mins flipping halfway through.

To Bake: Preheat the oven to 375F-400F. Line baking tray with parchment paper. Spray with cooking oil to evenly coat the parchment paper.  Place the breaded cutlets on it and spray the cutlets too. Cook for about 20-30 mins or until done and golden brown flipping them halfway through.

To Fry: If you are deep frying them, I would roll them in the panko/breadcrumb mixture, freeze them for 15/20 minutes. Heat sufficient oil in a deep wok. Once hot, add the patty two or three at a time. Do not overcrowd. Fry until golden brown and keep flipping in between. 

Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: mona@indiacurrents.com

Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor,...