Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mochai Kuzhambu

Mochai (in Tamil) is made very often at home when in season. My dad simply loves it and my mom makes poriyal, kootu and kuzhambu with it... I don't find these here in the US but the closest looking thing here is the 'Surti Papdi Lilva' in the freezer section of Indian grocery stores. When my mom was visiting us, she made a kuzhambu using this and we loved it so I wrote down the recipe then... and have made it many times since then.


MOCHAI KUZHAMBU

Ingredients:

Mochai (Surti Papdi Lilva) - 1 to 1.5 cups
Onion - 1 small to medium sized one, chopped finely
Garlic - 2-3 cloves, chopped
Tamarind - small lemon sized, soaked in warm water and juice extracted
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt, to taste

To Grind to a smooth paste:
Coconut - 1/2 cup
Jeera (Cumin seeds) - 1 tsp
Splash of water, if needed.

Seasonings:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Jeera (Cumin seeds) - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Asafoetida (hing) - pinch


Method:

1) Cook the mochai with some salt and about 1/2 cup water in the microwave for about 10 minutes (Covered).

2) Heat 2 tsp of oil and season with mustard, urad dhal, jeera and curry leaves. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Saute this until golden.

3) Now add the chilli and coriander powders (ratio of 1:3), stir for about a minute or less and immediately add the tamarind juice. Next add the turmeric powder. Allow this to boil for about 5 minutes before adding the cooked mochai. Add salt to taste, if necessary.

4) Let this cook until the raw smell goes away and then add the ground coconut-jeera paste. Let this boil for about 5 more minutes. This goes really well with rice.


For another version of mochai kuzhambu with dried beans check out this recipe.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Black Bean Omelette

I had some leftover black beans after using part of the can to make Quesadillas so the following morning I decided to incorporate them into my omelette and it made a wonderful, filling breakfast.

BLACK BEAN OMELETTES

Ingredients:

Egg Beaters (or Eggs) - 1/2 cup (or 2 eggs)
Bell Peppers (Red and/or Green) - 1/4 cup, chopped
Green Chillies - 3, chopped
Onion - 1/4, chopped
Tomato - 1/4, chopped
Spinach - a handful, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For Filling:

Canned black beans - 1/4 cup or to taste, drained
Salsa - about 1 tbsp (or a mixture of onions + tomatoes + g.chillies)
Cilantro - few, chopped
Cheese - 1 tbsp

Method:

1) Combine the ingredients for the omelette and pour into a non-stick pan, sprayed with some oil. Cook on low heat, covered until done on one side. Flip over and cook the other side, uncovered this time. When done, flip over once again.

2) Spread the filling ingredients on one half of the omelette and fold over. Press down lightly and cook for a few more minutes before gently sliding onto a serving plate. Serve with Ketchup, Salsa or a hot-chilli sauce.

I'm sending this as my entry to WBB-16 : Omelettes hosted by Kanchana . This event is the brainchild of Nandita.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Potato - Lima Beans Fry

Who doesn't love Potato Fry? It's a simple yet classic dish. Normally I wouldn't want to change it too much except for maybe adding some sliced onion or some ginger garlic paste to it, if at all I get bored with it. But this time, I decided to add some baby lima beans to add some protein and fiber to this hot favorite.

POTATO - LIMA BEANS FRY

Ingredients:

Potatoes - 2, boiled, peeled and cut into chunks
Baby Lima Beans - 1 cup
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Sambar Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt, to taste

Method:

1) I prefer to refrigerate the boiled potatoes before cutting them. They hold their shape better that way. Microwave the Lima beans with 1/4 cup water and salt for about 10-15 minutes till soft.

2) In a deep skillet, add the oil and immediately add the powders. Seconds later, add the potato cubes and mix well. Add the Lima beans as well and let the spices coat everything. Cover and keep on medium flame for about 10-15 minutes. Remove the cover and let it cook until it browns and gets crispy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Minestrone Soup & A Meme

With the nippy, windy fall weather that is so prevalent these days I was craving a big bowl of hot soup with hearty vegetables. This is a perfect fit : absolutely filling and satisfying in every way and it's very healthy and low-fat to boot. It's easy to make too and it develops it's flavor by slow simmering so it doesn't need a lot of tending to, just some stirring occasionally.

I got this recipe from the Allrecipes website and followed it pretty closely except for the amount of tomato sauce since I only had tomato puree on hand... The amounts in the recipe makes a ton of soup... of which I froze half and we were still left with a big pot of yummy soup.

I'd also like to send this as my entry to WYF: Diet Food hosted by Hima.

MINESTRONE SOUP

Ingredients:

Onions - 2 medium, chopped
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Celery - 2 cups, chopped
Carrots - 4 to 5, peeled and cut into small cubes
Zucchini - 2, cut into cubes
Yellow Squash - 1, cut into cubes
Vegetable Broth - 2 cups
Water - 3 cups
Tomato Puree - 1 can
Kidey Beans - 1 can, drained and rinsed
Small Pasta - abt 3 to 4 tbsp (dry)
Green Beans - 1 can, drained and rinsed
Baby Spinach - 3 cups, rinsed and coarsely chopped
Italian seasoning - 1/2 tsp
Dried Oregano and Basil - 1/4 tsp each
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 1.5 tbsp
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese - to serve (optional)

Method:
1) In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and add onions, garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped celery, carrots and chilli powder. Saute this for another 5 minutes or so.

2) Next, add the zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, kidney beans, spinach leaves, tomato puree, water and vegetable stock. Add the dried herbs and salt.

3) Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes. Next, add the dried pasta and let it simmer another 20-25 minutes until the pasta is cooked.

4) Drizzle the remaining 1/2 tbsp of olive oil on top of the soup and serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.


I've been tagged for the Fantastic Four Meme by sweet Richa ... so here goes:

4 places I've lived:
Madurai
Singapore
Georgia, USA
Washington D.C., USA

4 Jobs I've had:
CBLC Supervisor - This was at the Computer Based Learning Center in the University.
Gave Tuitions - for a brother and sister on Saturdays for math and science (8th and 11th std). Systems Analyst
and now a Business Process Analyst.

4 Favorite places I've holidayed:
Every trip that I took with my family: the long train rides, the bargaining with limited Hindi words, learning numbers in Gujarathi so we could figure out which bus to take back to my cousin's place, the many adventures (some good, some bad), seeing all the places that one reads in the history books, eating at roadside dhabas etc.

Phuket - loved the beaches, water sports and food.

Florida - just carefree driving and we visited so many places: Key West, Orlando, Kennedy Space Center and Daytona beach

Ashville, NC - A cozy bed and breakfast with breath-taking nature walks and the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

4 Favorite foods :
Gobi Manchurian
Pav Bhaji & all Chaats
Parottas and all their variations
Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu
(It's a pity that I've got to stop at 4... there's just too many on this list)

4 Places I would rather be:
At home with my husband and daughter OR
My parents' home (madurai) - i just automatically relax when I'm there.

4 Bloggers I'd like to tag:
Tee
Padma
Viji
Kribha

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ven Pongal

Fond memories of the Pongal festival, for me, were mostly set at my grandparents' place (after my mom makes pongals as well) where paati would have prepared it the old-fashioned way, using a stove lit by coal and wood with vengala paanais (bronze vessels) adorned with turmeric and kumkum. Besides rice, ven pongal and chakkarai (sweet) pongal, she would also make a huge pot of aviyal and yummy sambhar. We all have a nice get-together as well since everyone from my mother's side visits my grandparents' during this festival.

Recently I observed my mother making Ven Pongal in a slightly different manner than it's usually done, she added the seasonings to the rice and mung dhal before cooking them instead of after she said that it helped to flavour the rice more uniformly and I liked it because it required a lot less ghee than the other method to season the pongal well. So, now I do follow this method too. We also like the grains to be a bit separate instead of the mushy consistency that ven pongals normally have. The water measurements given below are in accordance with our preference, please feel free to increase the water if you so prefer.

This is my 3rd and final entry to Viji's RCI-Tamil Festivals.

VEN PONGAL



Ingredients:
Rice - 1 cup
Split Yellow Mung Dhal - 1/3 cup
Water - 3 cups
Ghee - 3 tsp
Ginger - 2 inch piece, peeled and chopped finely
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1 tsp powdered/whole, or to taste
Curry leaves - few
Salt, to taste
Cashews - 2 tbsp, broken into bits

Method:
1) Toast Mung dhal in a pan till fragrant (don't let it brown). Add to the rice and wash both together.

2) Heat 2 tsp ghee in the pan, and add cumin seeds and curry leaves. Once they sizzle, add the chopped ginger and pepper. Toss for a minute or two before emptying this into the rice and dhal mixture. Add required amount of salt and the 3 cups of water. Pressure cook this (like you would rice).

3) Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tsp of ghee and fry the cashews. Once the pressure is released, remove the pongal and mix gently, garnish with the roasted cashews.

I normally serve it with Chidambaram Gothsu but this time I served this with Padma's Udipi Sambhar :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Coconut Burfi

This was the first sweet I ever tried making (for my first Deepavali after getting married) and it definitely did not let me down. This is far easier in comparison to the other complicated ones that require the exact stage of sugar syrup, or have to be removed at a particular moment in order to get the perfect consistency. This is more forgiving and is pretty easy to put together.

This is my 2nd entry to Viji's RCI-Tamil Festivals.

COCONUT BURFI



Ingredients:

Coconut - 1 cup, finely shredded
Sugar - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 tsp + few drops
Cardamom powder - a couple pinches

Method:

1) It's best if the coconut is very finely shredded, I run it through the mixie if it's a bit coarse.

2) In a heavy bottomed pan, combine the coconut and sugar on medium heat. The sugar will start melting... Keep stirring.

3) Meanwhile, grease a plate with a few drops of ghee. When the coconut sugar mixture thickens and comes together as a thick mass, add the ghee and cardamom powder. Stir for a few minutes more.

4) Pour onto the greased plate and allow to cool. It will set quite well in about 10-15 minutes after which you cut into desired shapes.

NOTE: In case the coconut mixture is still soft after 10-15 minutes, you can return it to the pan for a few more minutes before letting it set again or roll them into balls with greased hands.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mangai (Raw Mango) Pachadi

This is a dish that my mother makes on Tamizh Varusha Pirappu (Tamil New Year). She also taught me that this has 5 different flavors to reflect that life, similarly, is a mix of happiness, success, disappointment, sadness etc. This pachadi therefore has sweetness from the jaggery, sourness from the mangoes, spiciness from the chillies, a bittter taste from the neem flowers and finally the saltiness. I just love this pachadi and can eat bowlfuls by itself and I never knew this was so easy to make until I first made it a few years ago. I skipped the neemflowers because I don't get them here and also 'coz I'm not a big fan :)

This is also one of my entries (finally) to Viji's RCI-Tamil Festivals.

MANGAI PACHADI


Ingredients:

Raw Mango - 1, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes
Green Chillies - 5, slit vertically (or 3 dried red chillies)
Jaggery - 4 - 5 tbsps, (crushed)
Water - approx 3/4 cup
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece, chopped finely (optional)
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/3 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/3 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Salt, to taste
Oil - 1/2 tsp

Method:

1) Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Add ginger and green chillies. After a minute add the cut mango pieces and saute.

2) After about 3-4 minutes or so, add 3/4 cup of water, salt and turmeric. Cover and allow to cook until the mango pieces soften.

3) Add the crushed jaggery and mix until it dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pan-Fried Tofu with Peanut Dipping Sauce

I made some Thai food the other day and decided to make some Pan-fried Tofu with a Peanut Dipping Sauce as an appetizer to tie-in with the rest of the meal. It was really easy to make and tasted good too. I came across this recipe by Ellie Krieger for the Peanut dipping sauce.. it was a bit sharp because of the fresh ginger-garlic and shallot combo but it paired well with the blander tofu.

Pan-Fried Tofu with Peanut Dipping Sauce


Ingredients:

For the Tofu:
Extra-firm Tofu - 1/2 lb
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt
Oil - upto 2 tbsp

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
Creamy Peanut Butter - 1/2 cup
Vegetable Broth or hot water - 1/4 cup
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece, minced
Garlic - 1/2 tsp, minced
Chilli flakes - 1/2 tsp
Thai Red curry paste - 1 tsp
Brown Sugar - to taste
Lime Juice - a splash
Salt, to taste
Shallot - 1/2 of a small one, minced (optional)
Method:

1) Drain the tofu, wrap with towels and place a weight on top so all the water drains away. Cut tofu into 1.5 inch pieces and toss with chilli powder and salt.

2) Heat a tbsp of oil in a skillet, put half the tofu pieces and fry on both sides till golden brown. Repeat this with another batch of tofu.

3) For the Peanut dipping sauce, blend all the ingredients until smooth to a thick dipping sauce consistency.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Smiley (?!) Egg-Face

My intention was to create and capture a smiley face that would really brighten up one's day but when I looked at the face staring back at me after I placed the peppers, it looked more spooky and scary ... Possibly the fact that it's October (Halloween month), played a part :)

I would like to thank my friend Vidya, who inspired me... I, however, am not completely happy about entering this for the competition, especially when I know how good the other entries are but still, it's the participating spirit that matters right ? So, here goes folks....

This is my entry to the event organized by the Jugalbandi duo - Click:Eggs (In case I find the time to come up with a better one then I will replace this with that... )

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Aapam

On Sundays, my mom would normally skip making breakfast and instead we would have an elaborate, early lunch... This routine was changed only when she made Aapams ... she would serve them with sweetened coconut milk and it was really tasty. As much as I liked the sweet accompaniment to the Aapams, I preferred to pair them with savoury stews (potato or mixed vegetable). My mom would therefore make some potato stew just to make me happy... :) Anyway... I'm giving the recipe here for Aapam and the stew recipe will follow when I manage to get a picture of it.

AAPAM

Ingredients:

Boiled Rice - 1 cup
Raw Rice - 1 cup
Aval (Poha) - 1/3 cup
Urad Dhal - 1/4 cup
Methi (fenugreek) seeds - 1 tsp
Coconut Milk - 1/3 cup
Sugar - 1 tsp or more to taste
Salt - to taste
Baking Soda - 2 pinches

Method:

1) Soak the boiled rice, raw rice and aval with methi seeds for atleast 4 hours. Soak the Urad dhal separately for atleast 2 hours. Drain them.

2) First grind urad dhal for about 15-20 minutes till soft. To this add the soaked rice and grind to a smooth paste.

3) Add required salt and allow to ferment (like idli batter).

4) When ready to make aapams, add baking soda, sugar and coconut milk diluted with some water and mix well to a consistency of dosa batter (thinner than idli batter).

5) Heat an aapam pan (I have a non-stick one and it makes life so much easier and requires no oil at all). Pour about 2 scoops of the batter and swirl the aapam pan in a clockwise manner so the batter spreads to the edges of the pan. If the pan is hot enough, the batter will coat and hug the sides of the pan. The middle of the aapam is usually thicker and spongy while the edges are thin and crispy.


6) Cover and let cook on a medium to med-high flame until the middle portion is done. Remove from pan. (Aapams are not flipped over like dosais).

7) Serve with sweetened coconut milk or a savoury Vegetable stew.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Cooking from Other Blogs # 3

I managed to try a few of the dishes that I had bookmarked from other beautiful blogs and wanted to list them here...

Viji's Oats Upma - I prefer savoury preparations to sweet ones so this was just perfect as breakfast and was loaded with vegetables.


Viji's Gulab Jamun - This was very soft and delicious but I still have to perfect the frying method though. I didn't prepare the stuffing however, just made them plain.


Paati's Carrot Kurma - We enjoyed this with Chapathis


Jugalbandi's Theeyati Chaaru - though I was skeptical about adding jaggery to the rasam, i didn't regret it one bit after tasting it. I used tamarind paste instead so didn't get the beautiful yellow rasam that Bee had.. I also blended in about half a tomato and added to the rasam. My daughter loved this as well, she drank bowlfuls of it and clamored for more. Perfect rasam to drink...


Bindiya's Butter Cake - The recipe looked a lot like the Chocolate chip muffin recipe I normally use so gave this a try without a second thought but without nuts. The quantity ensured that we didn't overindulge and it resulted in 4 mini cakes. This was also super quick to make.



Asha's Coleslaw - this was so easy to make and tasted wonderful.. crunchy and creamy (Sorry but I didn't manage to get a picture of this).

Sharmi's Sorakkai Paal Kootu - we loved this delicate curry


After making Salara and sending off the Amish Friendship Starter onto 2 other bloggers, I still had a pack on hand so decided to keep it and try baking some other tempting creations that I had come across. This time however, I added only a third of a cup of flour, milk and sugar on the 6th and 10th days and the result was 2 cups of starter using which I made:

1) Nupur's Chocolate Bread - but used walnuts and chocolate chips instead of pecans. My daughter, who recently got hooked on chocolate, liked these and my husband who doesn't usually like very chocolatey cakes actually loved these much to my surprise and delight. I think the starter lent it a different taste and texture that normal chocolate cakes lack...


2) Jugalbandi's Chelsea Buns - I halved the recipe and doubled on the black raisins since I didn't have any golden ones on hand. These were wonderful, especially the next day after warming them in the microwave.


I would like to thank each and everyone of you for inspiring me to try these wonderful recipes. I still have many more that on my list of "To Cook" - will keep updating my space...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Spinach Chapathis

This is a perfect way of incorporating a good amount of spinach in the chapathi flour itself and requires no chopping. For the amount of spinach you add, you don't really get a predominant spinach taste and it gives the dough a vibrant green colour so it's great even for people who don't like spinach! :)

SPINACH CHAPATHIS

Ingredients:

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Spinach leaves - 3 cups or more (I use the pre-packaged, washed ones)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 6 or 7
Yogurt - 3 to 4 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Warm water - as required to bind the dough

Method:

1) Blend spinach leaves with cumin seeds, green chillies and yogurt in a mixie to a paste.

2) Mix wheat flour with salt and add the spinach paste... combine well and add warm water as required to make a smooth, pliable dough. Cover with a damp cloth/tissue and a plate and let rest for about 30 mins atleast.

3) Divide into small balls and roll them out into chapathis of 1/4 inch thickness. Cook on a pan with a few drops of oil till done on either side. Nutritious and tasty chapathis are ready.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Olan

We love Olan and infact I can eat it like a stew, by itself. It is extremely easy to make and has such a wonderful flavour. I first wrote down the recipe when my parents visited me in Singapore and cooked up a feast everyday for my friends and me. At that point, I just had very few kitchen utensils and no blender or mixie, so I particularly liked the fact that this required no grinding of any kind.

OLAN

Ingredients:
White Pumpkin - 1.5 lbs (approx), peeled and cubed
Red Chori Beans or Black eyed Peas - 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup, soaked for a few hours
Green Chillies - 8 to 10, slit into two
Coconut milk - 1/3 cup (I use coconut milk powder + water)
Salt - to taste

For Seasoning:
Coconut Oil - 1 tsp (any other oil will work too)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - few
Asafoetida (hing) - a pinch

Method:
1) In a bowl that will fit into a pressure cooker, combine soaked beans, pumpkin pieces, green chillies and salt. Add about 2/3 cup of water and pressure cook this till beans are soft (3 to 4 whistles).

2) Heat a pan with coconut oil and season with mustard seeds, curry leaves and hing. Add the cooked pumpkin + beans mixture and the coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes and it's ready to serve.

TIP: If you have forgotten to soak the beans, fret not. Just dry-rost them in a pan for a few minutes and pressure cook them separately for a few more minutes than usual. When I do this, I just cook the pumpkin with some water separately in a pan and add the cooked beans when done.

I served it with Long Beans Thoran and Samba (Red) Rice.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Mushroom Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I had some wonton wrappers in my freezer after using part of it to make Suganya's Vegetarian Dumplings so I decided to make Mushroom Ravioli with them. I got my inspiration from this recipe but made some modifications and served it with a store bought Bertolli Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Pasta Sauce to which I added some cream and jazzed it up with some home-grown basil. Since the ravioli filling was home-made, I could spice it up a bit more and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought I made quite a lot and even made plans to freeze some but we finished the entire batch over dinner and the next day's lunch... :)

MUSHROOM RAVIOLI with CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients

Wonton Wrappers
White Mushrooms - 6 to 8 oz, chopped
Baby Bella Mushrooms - 6 oz, chopped
Garlic - 6 cloves, chopped
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Mixed Italian Herbs - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Flakes - 1/2 tsp or more
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Cream cheese - 1 to 2 oz softened
Parmesan cheese - 1/3 cup + 3 tbsp to serve
Salt and pepper to taste
Pasta Sauce of your choice
Heavy Cream - 2 to 3 tbsp (optional)
Basil leaves - few (optional)

Method:

1) Heat olive oil in a pan and saute onions and garlic till lightly brown. Add in the mushrooms, red chilli flakes, herbs and let them cook down considerably until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Switch of stove and stir in the cream cheese and parmesan . Since i chopped everything very finely I didn't have to puree it. Let this cool a bit.



2) Lay the wonton wrappers and brush with water. Place some filling in the middle and cover with another wrapper. I used a fork to press down on all sides. At this point, you can freeze them for later use.



3) When ready to cook, heat a big pot with water ( I didn't salt it because the wonton wrappers were salty enough) and when boiling.. add about 4 raviolis at a time and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes and carefully remove them before adding the next batch or raviolis.

4) Meanwhile.. warm the pasta sauce with a few tbsps of cream (optional). Serve the Ravioli with the pasta sauce and top with some parmesan cheese. Enjoy.