Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Zucchini Chutney

I've been trying to make veggie chutneys of late for my daughter - similar to this... When I mentioned this to a friend a few days back she told me about a Zucchini chutney that she had tasted from a colleague's lunchbox and said that she would be asking for the recipe soon. So, when I saw this post on Madhu's blog, it sounded very similar to what my friend had described so I chopped the lone zucchini in my fridge, followed her recipe and turned it into a bright, green, inviting & delicious chutney. The following measurements make a rather mild chutney so increase the chillies if you want it spicier. Thank you Madhu. This pairs well with idlis, dosais and also with chapathi.

ZUCCHINI CHUTNEY


Ingredients:
Zucchini - 1, cut into chunks
Onion - 1/4 of a large one, chopped
Channa dhal - 1tbsp
Coconut grated - 1tbsp
Cilantro leaves- few springs
Green Chillies / Red Chillies - 3
Tamarind - 1 small piece or 1/4 tsp thick tamarind paste.
Oil - 1tsp + few drops

Method:
1) Heat a few drops of oil, add Channa dhal and fry for few minutes until golden. Remove & keep aside.
2) Heat the 1 tsp of oil and fry the onions till transparent and then add the g. chillies & zucchini & fry until tender & dry.
3) Allow to cool a bit. In a mixie, first grind channa dhal and then add veggies, tamarind, coriander leaves, coconut and salt with water as required to make a smooth paste.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Aloo Gobi (Dry)

This combination is a popular favorite and quite ubiquitous in Indian restaurants. We prefer the dry version and so I do not add any tomatoes when making this... but there are some versions that include it.

ALOO GOBI


Ingredients:
Cauliflower - 1, cut into florets & washed.
Potatoes - 2 to 3, medium, cut into medium cubes
Onion - 1, sliced thinly
Red Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala - half to 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Oil - 1 to 2 tbsp, as required


Method:
1) In a wide pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, followed by onions and fry till brown.
2) Mix all the masala powders & salt with a bit of oil to make a paste and add this to the onions and saute for a few seconds.
3) Add the cauliflower and potato pieces and stir until uniformly coated with spices.
4) Sprinkle a few drops of water, cover and allow to cook on a medium flame until they are tender, stirring occassionally / tossing until golden brown.
5) Garnish with coriander leaves, if desired, and serve with warm rotis.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sorakkai Kadalai Paruppu Kootu

This spicy curry is a perfect way to mask the rather bland taste of Sorakkai (Lauki / Bottlegourd)... the channa dhal adds a nutty flavour and offers a bite to the texture. I've made this several times and is a recipe I got from here.

This curry can be made on the stovetop or using the pressure cooker. I prefer the latter method since it's less involved and requires no pre-soaking of channa dhal. So, remember to soak the channa dhal for a few hours if using the stove top method. Also, I go easy on the tomatoes because my husband doesn't like an overtly tomatoey taste but go ahead and double the quantity if you like.

LAUKI CHANNA DHAL CURRY


Ingredients:
Sorakkai - 1 small, about 5 cups when peeled & chopped
Channa dhal - 3/4 cup
Tomato - 1 medium
Turmeric powder - half tsp
Red chilli powder - half tsp
Sambar powder - half tsp
Coriander powder - half tsp
Cumin powder - half tsp
Kitchen King / Garam Masala - half tsp
Extracted Tamarind water - 1 to 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves - for garnish
Salt - to taste

Seasonings:
Mustard - half tsp
Urad dhal - half tsp
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Asafoetida - a couple pinches
Red Chillies - 1, broken
Curry leaves - few

Method:
1) Heat oil directly in a pressure cooker and add the seasoning ingredients. Then add the washed channa dhal and cubed sorakkai.. Saute this for a couple of minutes before adding in the chopped tomatoes.


2) Next add all the masala powders & salt. After a minute, add about a cup & a half of water. Close the lid and allow this to pressure cook for 3 whistles or till done.

3) When the pressure has subsided, remove the lid and add the tamarind water. Allow this to cool till the raw smell goes away and the curry thickens to the right consistency. Remove from the stove and stir in the chopped coriander leaves.

This goes great with rice and rotis.

For more recipes using this veggie:
Lauki Kofta
Sorakkai Channa Dhal Poriyal

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vegan Date Cake

This recipe for Date cake is from Shilpa's blog and is widely popular. I wanted to make something for my daughter who is off dairy products this month and chose this recipe and just made a few alterations. I substituted the milk with the vanilla soy milk that she drinks now and since that is already sweetened, i reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe. I also replaced half of the All purpose flour with white whole wheat. It was very easy, came together rather quickly and tasted good.

DATE CAKE


Ingredients:
Seedless Dates - 25 to 30
Vanilla Soy Milk - 1 cup
All purpose Flour - 3/4 cup
White Whole wheat flour - 3/4 cup (or substitute with equal amt of AP flour)
Sugar - 1/2 to 3/4 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup
Baking Soda - 1 tsp

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Warm the soy milk and add chopped dates in it and let soak for atleast 30 mins.

2) Blend the soy milk, dates & sugar to a smooth paste. Transfer to a big bowl & whisk in the oil until combined.

3) Sift flour & baking soda and add spoonfuls of this into the batter and mix thoroughly after each addition.

4) Pour batter into a greased tin (I used a 9 inch square pan) and bake for 30 mins or till done (i.e. a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

I would like to send this as my entry to Santa's Holiday Challenge event hosted by JZ. Thanks JZ for the suggestion.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Buttermilk Corn Bread

I made this cornbread to go with the black bean soup and this is probably the only corn bread version (of the many i've tried) that my husband actually enjoyed.... I quite like corn breads especially the chewy ones but my husband is not a big fan but this one was an exception. I've made this in a loaf pan and also in muffin tins but prefer the loaf pan version better.. had more crust to it that way.. but I only took pics of the muffins.

BUTTERMILK CORN BREAD


Ingredients:

Yellow cornmeal - 1/2 cup
White whole wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Buttermilk - 3/4 cup
Butter/Margarine - 3 tbsp
Egg - 1 medium
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp

Method:
1) Melt margarine/butter in a pan over low heat. Use a bit of the margarine to coat the loaf pan. Allow it to cool just a bit. Add sugar, buttermilk, eggs and salt. Using a whisk, mix it up well.

2) Finally add cornmeal, flour & Baking soda. Whisk till there are no big lumps and is mostly smooth.

3) Pour this into the greased loaf pan and allow to bake in a 375F oven for 20 minutes or till done.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thayir vadai (Dahi Vadas)

No-Fry Dahi Vadas


After having success with the no-fry Malai Koftas, the next item on my agenda was the no-fry dahi (thayir) vadas. In short, the kuzhipaniyaram pan is my new best friend and I use that as a substitute for deep frying everytime something requires frying followed by dunking in a gravy. Thayir vadais are my favorite and my grandmother would make them every Diwali... I also tasted the North Indian version when visiting relatives in Jhansi and loved the tangy tamarind chutney addition so what I present here is a recipe that combines the flavours of south & north india - just the way I love it. My grandmother makes the usual Ulundhu vadai and dunks them in flavoured yogurt but I used a slightly different recipe for the vadai this time and it was pretty good.

DAHI VADAS / THAYIR VADAI

Ingredients:
Urad dhal - 1 cup
Mung dhal (yellow split) - half cup
Ginger - 1 inch piece, chopped

Green chillies - 3, chopped finely
Curry leaves - few, chopped
Salt, Pepper - to taste

Yogurt sauce:
Yogurt - 2 cups, thick
Milk - half cup (approx)
Water - as required for the consistency
Green chillies - 2

Coconut - 2 tbsp, shredded
Salt - to taste

Cumin powder, Chilli powder - to sprinkle on top
Tamarind-date chutney (optional)
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped


Method:
1) Wash & soak both dhals together for about 2 hours and grind to a thick paste with as little water as possible till light and fluffy. Add some salt towards the end so it gets mixed uniformly. I use a grinder for this.

2) Add in the chopped ginger, g. chillies & curry leaves with pepper and mix thoroughly. One could deep fry the batter after forming them into patties similar to this. I used the kuzhipaniyaram/appe pan instead following RedChillies' fabulous method. I add about a drop of oil in each depression on medium-low flame and once the batter is filled, cover with a lid and allow to cook till light brown. Flip over and cook the other side as well.

4) Keep some hot water on the side and dunk the vadais once they are cooked into this. This will enable them to get soft and will remain that way when put in the yogurt sauce later. Take them out after a few minutes, squeeze gently to remove excess water.


3) Grind g. chillies & coconut to a smooth paste and blend with milk, yogurt, water as required & salt to form a smooth, thick liquid. Soak the vadais in this blend for atleast 2-3 hours - the longer the better.

4) Just before serving, sprinkle the top with chilli powder, cumin powder, tamarind-date chutney and coriander leaves and enjoy this tasty treat.


Since this is high in protein and low in fat and combines the goodness of lentils and yogurt, I think this will make for a healthy & tasty dish for pregnant women and would like to send to Sangeeth's event Eat Healthy - During Pregnancy.
.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Honey Roasted Almonds

I had a big pack of whole almonds on hand and in an effort to get my husband interested in those, I tried making a honey roasted version that he could snack on while at work. This recipe comes together in no time and requires no fancy ingredients. I also think that these would make for a nice holiday gift and would like to send it as my entry to Home-made Christmas Gifts event hosted by My Kitchen Treasures.

HONEY ROASTED ALMONDS


Ingredients:
Whole almonds (with skin) - 2 cups
Sugar - 1/4 cup
Honey - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Water - 2 tbsp
Vegetable/Canola oil - 2 tsp

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminium foil (with the dull side up and shiny side down). Spread the almonds on this as a single layer and bake for 12 to 15 minutes stirring once or twice in between to ensure that it's roasted uniformly. Remove from oven and set aside.

2) Mix sugar and salt in a bowl. Heat a wide pan on medium and add honey, water, oil & stir. Allow to boil and add the roasted almonds and keep stirring and cooking till all the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts.

3) Immediately transfer to a bowl and sprinkle the sugar-salt mixture over it and toss so it's uniformly coated.

4) Spread this almond mixture on the foil covered baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
Tasty honey roasted nuts are ready to devour or pack and gift.


To see my last year's entry for this event check out : Cranberry Almond Biscottis

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stir-fried Long Beans

My husband really enjoys the stir-fried beans served at Chinese restaurants and so I tried this with a bunch of yard long beans and it turned out pretty good - had a spicy, garlicky kick and my 3 year old liked it too... :)

STIR-FRIED YARD LONG BEANS


Ingredients:
Long Beans - cut into 2 inch pieces, about 2 heaped cups total
Garlic - 3 to 4 cloves, minced
Sriracha chilli sauce - 2 to 3 tsp
Soy Sauce - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 to 3 tsp


Method:
1) Heat oil in a pan on medium and add the garlic and a bit of salt... make sure they don't burn or turn too brown.
2) While they are sizzling and still pale, stir in the chilli sauce & soy sauce and after about 30 seconds or so, toss in the beans and stir-fry on medium high for about 3 minutes or so. Adjust salt at this stage.
3) Add about 2-3 tbsp of water, cover and allow to cook on medium (don't lower the flame too much). Open the lid after about 4 to 5 minutes or when all the water is almost evaporated and check for doneness. It should be still a little bit crunchy but cooked. If not, add a sprinkle more of water and let it stay for a few minutes longer.

4) When done, open the lid and let most of the remaining water (if any) evaporate. It's now ready to serve and is wonderful on it's own or with some rice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Malai Kofta

After seeing RedChillies post on her lower fat Malai Kofta, I simply had to try my hand at making these in the kuzhipaniyaram pan. Usually, i'm not capable of frying 7 pieces of anything at one go... so the fact that the kuzhipaniyaram/appe pan could churn out 7 in a couple of minutes was such a time saver as well. So, this would make for a great party dish because it's mild, quick, creamy & a crowd pleaser. I changed the recipe for the filling and the gravy to my usual malai kofta recipe and the resultant dish was perfect and everything i wanted it to be. Thanks RC for this fabulous idea.

LOW FAT MALAI KOFTAS


Ingredients:
For Koftas
Potatoes - 2 medium, pressure cooked or microwaved till soft, peeled & mashed
Paneer - 150 to 200 gms, crumbled
Green Peas - half cup, microwaved with little water & mashed
Raisins - 2 tbsp, chopped a bit
G. chillies - 4, chopped finely
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Kasuri Methi - 2 tsp, crushed
Coriander leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala/Kitchen King Masala - half tsp to 1 tsp
Salt - to taste


For Creamy Gravy
Onion - 1 large, chopped into cubes
Tomato puree - quarter cup OR Tomato - 1, chopped
Garlic - 5 cloves, peeled & cut into bits

Ginger - 1 inch piece, peeled and cut into bits
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - half tsp
Garam Masala / Kitchen King Masala - 1 tsp
Cashews - 2 tbsp, soaked in warm water
Almonds - 12 to 15, soaked & peeled

Poppy seeds (khus khus) - 2 tsp, soaked in warm water
Low fat Cream cheese - 2 oz
Milk - 1 cup (I used 1 % since that's what I had)
Salt - to taste
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Butter/Ghee - 1 tbsp

Method
1) In a bowl, combine all the ingredients under the Koftas list. I had no trouble binding them and forming little balls with the given proportions, if you can't you may want to add an extra mashed potato. Make small balls (keep in mind the size of your pan)

2) Heat an aapam pan on medium (mine is non-stick) and add a drop or two of oil in each depression and place the balls... turn them over every 30 to 45 seconds so they brown uniformly all over. Drizzle another drop of oil, if preferred and it looks too dry. Once they are done, move them to a plate and keep aside. Proceed with the next batch until you've made them all. Alternatively you could deep fry these in oil.

3) In a deep pot, heat oil and add some cumin seeds, once they sizzle, add the onions, ginger, garlic and fry till transparent and edges are slightly brown. Now add the tomatoes or puree and some salt. Continue to cook till they turn a bit mushy.

4) Add the masala powders (chilli, coriander, g. masala & turmeric) and saute for a few more minutes. Switch off the stove and allow this to cool a bit.

5) Grind the above onion-tomato masala with cashews, almonds, poppy seeds and the 2 oz of cream cheese to a smooth paste.

6) Heat the butter/ghee now and return this pureed masala to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the 1 cup of milk and water as required to make a gravy... it should be on the thin side.

7) Allow this to cook on a medium flame or simmer till the flavours meld and the gravy thickens a bit (but not too much)

8) Add the kofta balls into this, cover and allow to simmer for a minute more before switching off the stove.

9) Garnish with chopped coriander leaves or crushed kasuri methi, you can also drizzle some cream on the top (I didn't have any) and enjoy with pulaos/rotis/naans.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Apple Empanadas

My daughter's class is learning about North America this month and I had volunteered to bring in a snack that reflects this continent.... After some thought I decided on these Apple Empanadas and decided to make my job easier by using puffy pastry sheets instead of making the pastry from scratch. I also filled and formed the empanadas the night before & froze them. So, come wednesday morning, all i had to do was let them thaw out for an hour before popping them in an oven and taking them to school when I dropped her off. The teacher told me that the class really enjoyed it and my husband and I managed to sneak a few to taste and we loved it too. The pictures were taken in a hurry so aren't that clear.

APPLE EMPANADAS


Ingredients:
Apples - 3, peeled, cored and cubed into small pieces
Sugar - 2/3 cup
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Cinnamon powder - half tsp
Lemon juice - half tsp
Cornflour - approx 1 heaped tsp
Puff pastry sheets - as required

Method:
1) Heat water in a pan and add the cubed apples. Simmer, cover and and allow to cook for about 3 minutes.

2) Add the cinnamon powder, mix, cover again and cook till the apples are tender. Add the raisins now. If there is water still remaining, open the lid, increase the flame and allow it to evaporate..

3) When almost dry, add in the sugar and lemon juice and cook till it melts and thickens a bit (about 3-5 minutes)
4) Dissolve the cornflour in little water to make a paste and add this to the apple mixture... It will thicken rapidly - so keep stirring. Allow to cool a bit.


5) Meanwhile, thaw pastry sheet & roll out to make it thinner.. I kept it pretty thin and managed to get 20 small squares from that 1 sheet.

6) In each square.. place about 2-3 tsp of filling (don't over stuff it) in the middle, fold over to form either a triangle or rectangle. If you want it to look more like the traditional empanadas.. cut out circles and fold over to form semi-circles instead. Crimp the edges with a fork (it helps form a good seal).

7) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425F for about 15 minutes.. till golden brown on top. Allow to cool a bit, because the filling will be extremely hot, before digging in.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Black Bean Soup

To say it's been cold the past few days is an understatement... I'm already dreading the winter! More than the temperature itself, it's the gusty winds that make it all the more unbearable regardless of how well I am bundled.


Here's a snap taken in our neighbourhood - just before the trees turned bare...



Well, this soup is a recipe that my friend Latha shared and is a satisfying way to help beat the weather... You could use storebought salsa to make this but I almost never have a jar on hand and since it's so easy to whip up salsa at home and I usually have all the ingredients, i make it fresh when I want to make this soup.

Black Bean Soup (Serves 4 to 6)



Ingredients:

Black Beans - Two 16 Oz Cans
Salsa (Thick & Chunky) - 16 Oz
Red Chilli Flakes - 1/4 tsp or more to make it spicier
Low sodium Vegetable broth - 1 can (approx 2 cups)
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Lime Juice - 2 to 3 tsps
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves, chopped
Oil - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves & Sour Cream/Yogurt - for Garnish

Method:
1) Blend 1 can black beans (do not drain before blending) and broth. Reseve the other can as-is.

2) In a deep pot, heat oil, saute onion, red chilli flakes and garlic until tender. If using home-made salsa, add it soon after. If using the bottled ones from the store add them along with the beans.

3) Mix the blended mixture, 1 can undrained black beans, cumin powder, lime juice and simmer for 25 -30 minutes

4) Scoop out into bowl and garnish with yogurt/sourcream and cilantro.


Tip: For a crunchy topping, cut thin strips of a flour tortilla, spread as a single layer on a wide plate, spray some oil on top and MW for about a minute or so till crisp.

Fresh Home-made SALSA
Tomatoes - 3, chopped
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
G. Chillies - 5, finely chopped
Garlic - 1 clove, minced
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup chopped
Salt - 1 tsp
Lime Juice - 1 to 2 tsp

1) Combine all of the above in a bowl, toss and refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to come together.

For another version of this soup, check out : Spicy Black Bean Soup

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I made these a while ago and it has been languishing in my drafts folder for too long. I had some pretty red & yellow bell peppers and played around with the stuffing a bit and used Boca Meatless Ground Burger to make this more hearty and filling. The crispy bread crumbs balanced the filling really well & it made for an enjoyable meal.

STUFFED BELL PEPPERS


Ingredients:
Bell peppers / Capsicum - 2, halved lengthwise
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Carrot - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 3 to 4 cloves, chopped
Boca Meatless Ground Burger - 1 cup, thawed
Frozen Spinach - 1 cup
Bread Crumbs - about 1.5 cups
Parmesan Cheese - half cup
Olive oil - 2 tbsp + more to drizzle
Red pepper flakes - 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper - to taste

Method:
1) Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add in the garlic and onions with the red pepper flakes.. Cook till they soften. Next, add the chopped carrots and stir with a pinch of salt.

2) Once carrots are tender, add in the chopped spinach, boca crumbles and cook this mixture till it comes through. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

3) In the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, saute the bread crumbs till pale golden & crisp. Stir in the cheese and season with salt & pepper as desired.

4) Reserve about half cup of the bread crumbs and mix the remaining 1 cup with the veggie mixture.

5) Preheat oven to 375F. Spoon the veggie mixture into the pepper halves and top with the reserved bread crumbs. Place the peppers in a pan coated with oil and drizzle the tops with more olive oil.

6) Bake for about 45 minutes or until the tops are browned and peppers are tender. Serve warm.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rava / Semiya Upma

Upmas are not normally a favorite dish for most people... and I wasn't a fan either but nowadays I really like them and i find that they are quite convenient, tasty and make for a quick, one pot dish. I normally add quite a bit of veggies or sometimes make a tomatoey khichdi with chopped coriander leaves for a bright flavour - also makes for a yummy breakfast for my daughter. I find chutney or lime pickle to be perfect accompaniments to this.

RAVA UPPUMA (KICHDI)




Ingredients:
Fine Rava (Semolina) - 1 cup, roasted in little ghee
Carrot, Beans, Peas - 1 cup, chopped (microwaved for 5 mins with a bit of salt)

Onion - 1, chopped
Tomato - 1 small, chopped (optional)
Ginger - 1 inch, chopped finely

Green Chillies - 5, slit in two (or use Red Chillies, maybe fewer)
Curry leaves - few
Coriander leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds, urad dhal, channa dhal - half tsp each
Asafoetida - a pinch
Water - 2 cups
Salt - to taste

Method:

1) Heat oil and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, channa dhal, asafoetida & curry leaves.

2) Add the chopped onions, ginger, g. chillies and when transparent and edges have browned, add the tomatoes (if using) and salt. Cook till slightly mushy. Now add the cooked veggies.

3) Pour the 2 cups of water, check for seasonings, cover and keep on medium-low heat until it boils for a few mins.. Now reduce the flame further.

4) While constantly stirring, pour in the roasted rava and also the chopped coriander leaves and ensure there are no lumps. Cover again and let it cook on very low heat for about 5 minutes or so till the rava has absorbed all the water and is completely cooked.

SEMIYA UPMA
For Semia (or Vermicelli) upma, use the same procedure as above except the proportion of water is 1:1 (Semia : water). I don't add tomatoes though.


This is my absolute favorite when it comes to upmas ever since I was a child.. unfortunately since my dad isn't a big fan, my mom hardly made these so we indulged in this only when he was away on business trips :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thengai Paal Kuzhambu

My mother made this on Sundays when she and my dad would cook up an elaborate brunch - their one opportunity to eat a hot lunch as opposed to packed lunch on other days they carried to work... so they would go the whole nine yards and make atleast 3 to 4 different vegetable curries, appalam & a more induldgent kuzhambu like this one.

This kuzhambu's base starts off like a puli kuzhambu with a tangy tamarind base but the creamy coconut milk that is added at the end takes it to a whole new level along with the flavours of garam masala. It tastes divine with rice and is even better when served the next day, with spongy, soft dosais.
Today marks my parents' 31st Wedding Anniversary so wanted to post this special kuzhambu as a tribute to them :)
THENGAI PAAL (COCONUT MILK) KUZHAMBU


Ingredients:
Drumstick (Murungakkai) - 1, cut into 2 inch pieces (I use frozen instead)
Potato - 1 medium, boiled & peeled

Small purple brinjal - 2 or 3, cut into 6 segments
Shallots/Pearl onions (chinna vengayam) - half cup, peeled
Garlic - 6 to 8 cloves, peeled
Coconut milk - 1/3 to 1/2 cup, thick
Tamarind - big gooseberry sized, soaked in warm water & juice extracted
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad Dhal - half tsp
Aniseed (Sombu) - a pinch
Curry leaves - 10 to 12
Coriander leaves - for garnish

Method:
1) Heat oil in a thick pot and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, sombu - once the mustard splutters, add curry leaves, garlic and onion and saute till golden.


2) Then add the veggies (drumstick, potato, brinjal) and fry for another 3-5 minutes. To this add salt, chilli & coriander powders and after a minute add water and allow the veggies to cook till almost done.

3) Now add the tamarind water and allow to boil well till the raw smell disappears and the veggies are soft.

4) Add the garam masala and the coconut milk and simmer on low heat till heated through. Remove from the stove and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chocolate Fudge Balls

The original intention was to duplicate the chocolate burfis that my friend Latha made since she mentioned what a hit they were, but in my eagerness I may have pulled them off the stove a little bit sooner than I should have so their consistency was more fudge-like and chewy and soon I was rolling them up into tiny balls and renaming them :)

CHOCOLATE FUDGE BALLS


Ingredients:
Condensed Milk (e.g. Milkmaid) - 1 can (400g)
Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/4 cup (more if you want it sweeter, we liked it this way)
Butter - 4 tbsp / 50 g/ Half stick
CashewNuts & Raisins - half cup (optional - i didn't use this)

Method:
1) In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the condensed milk, cocoa powder, sugar, butter, nuts & raisins too, if using, on medium.

2) Keep stirring and cooking until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.

3) Pour the mixture onto a buttered pan, smoothen out and allow to cool completely. It can be cut into squares or rolled into balls depending on the consistency. Tastes good either way.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Capsicum Rice 'n Raitha

I first tasted Capsicum rice when having a group study session with my friends S & K. It's funny how that worked out because we were all from different faculties - Engg, Comp Science & Business Administration - but for quite some time our group studying worked out really well and we had such enjoyable times together. They weren't living in a hostel like me and so would bring in such delicious home cooked lunches that we would share. During one such delicious lunch, I tasted and loved the capsicum rice and went on to recreate it at home later.

I decided to make this yesterday, wanting a quick and easy recipe for the lunchbox... and it was just as satisfying with a Capsicum Cabbage raitha and chips to round it off.


CAPSICUM RICE


Ingredients:
Basmati Rice - 1 cup, dry
Onions - 2 small, sliced thinly into 1 inch pieces
Bell Peppers (Red/Green) - 2 medium, sliced thinly into 1 inch pieces
Tomato - half of a small one, chopped
Ginger - garlic paste - 1 to 2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tsp


Method:
1) Cook Basmati Rice with 1.75 cups of water and a few pinches of salt till done. Transfer to a wide plate and allow to cool.

2) Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, once they sizzle, add the chopped onions and the ginger-garlic paste. Allow to fry till the onions are translucent before adding the bell pepper slices & salt (the salt helps the bell pepper cook a bit faster). When they are tender (yet a bit crunchy), add the tomatoes, chilli powder, sambar powder and cook till they turn a bit mushy and the raw masala smell is gone.

3) Stir in the cooked rice and the tsp of ghee until the masala coats the rice uniformly and keep on a medium flame, stir every now and then for about 5 to 10 minutes before removing from the stove.

I would like to send this capsicum rice onto Srivalli for the Rice Mela that she is hosting.

CAPSICUM CABBAGE RAITHA
This raitha may sound strange but believe me, it's yummy. I love how the crunchy texture of the cabbage and capsicum pair well with the creaminess of the yogurt.


Ingredients:
Capsicum (Bell Pepper) - half cup, minced
Cabbage - half cup, minced
Yogurt - half to 1 cup, thick
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp chopped
Salt - to taste
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Oil - 1 tsp

Method:
1) Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, once they sizzle, add the chopped capsicum and cabbage with a bit of salt and saute with some sambar powder till slightly crunchy yet done.

2) Allow to cool and transfer to serving bowl. Stir in the yogurt, cumin powder, coriander leaves. Tasty raitha is now ready to serve.

The picture isn't much but it really tastes good and is a lovely alternative to the usual onion-tomato-cucumber one.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Kiddie Pasta

Barilla has introduced new, smaller pasta (Piccolini) in shapes that appeals to kids and I picked a pack of wheel shaped pasta for my daughter who adores it. As far as she is concerned she can eat it just plain, with absolutely no seasoning or sauce. However, as a mom, I'm always trying to get in the veggies and make it more of a wholesome meal. Though she used to be such a spice lover once upon a time and used to lick up idli podi or spicy onion chutney all by itself, nowadays, either she doesn't like it so much or uses it as a ploy to get out of eating and sometimes even declares yogurt as 'kaaram' (spicy) - the brat!

I just made a mild vegetable base and tossed the pasta in it and she quite liked the combination. I have also varied the vegetables with some chopped capsicum or spinach and it has proved out to be pretty good.

KIDDIE PASTA


Ingredients:
Pasta (any shape) - 2 oz, dry
Onion - half of a small one, chopped

Tomato - half of a medium one, chopped
Carrot - 1, medium, peeled and cut into small cubes
Peas - a small handful (I used frozen)
Sambar powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Butter - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper - to taste

Method:


1) Cook pasta in plenty of salted water according to directions on box. Drain and keep aside. Combine carrot & peas in a bowl, sprinkle a bit of salt and add about a tbsp of water. Microwave this for 4 to 5 minutes till cooked.

2) Heat oil & butter in a pan and toss in the chopped onions.. when they turn transparent, add the tomatoes and salt, once they are mushy, add the microwaved vegetables.

3) Cook this till the flavours come together and add the pasta. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and remove from the stove. Hope this dish makes your kids happy :)


Friday, October 31, 2008

Keerai (Spinach) Kootu

We love this Keerai Kootu and is a sure fire way to get anyone eat their greens. It's rather mild and so goes over well with kids too... I love the heat that it gets from the ginger, pepper and green chillies and if using frozen spinach, then it comes together in no time.

KEERAI (SPINACH) KOOTU


Ingredients:
Spinach - 4 to 6 cups chopped (I used 1 bag of frozen cut leaf spinach)
Yellow split mung dhal - 1 cup, dry roasted till golden
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

To Grind:
Green Chillies - 8
Black pepper (whole) - 8 to 10
Ginger - half inch piece
Coconut - 3 to 4 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Seasonings:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad Dhal - half tsp
Red Chillies - 1 or 2, broken in half
Asafoetida - a pinch

Method:
1) Pressure cook the mung dhal with sufficient water, turmeric & asafoetida till soft. Mash this.


2) Meanwhile cook spinach in a pot with little water and a bit of salt till done.

3) Grind the coconut, ginger, pepper, cumin seeds & g. chillies to a paste with some water and add this paste to the cooked spinach along with mung dhal. Add enough water to adjust the consistency.

4) Let this boil for about 5 to 10 minutes. Heat oil, add the seasoning ingredients and once they splutter, top the spinach mixture with this and remove from the stove. Keerai kootu is ready to serve.

I packed it for lunch along with a dry potato curry (without the lima beans) and rice - Yum.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bean Burgers

I've been wanting to make something for the Legume Love Affair Event that Sra is hosting this month, that originated at Susan's, but the soup recipe I had in mind didn't work out. Looking for a bean burger recipe, I chanced upon this and it was super simple & easy so I set about making it and incorporated a few changes along the way. The chopped capsicum lent some crunch and I added some soy granules and some bread crumbs to improve the texture since I made it a bit too pasty. The resultant burger was very satisfying and I felt good about it being healthy too. The following measurements make 10 decent size patties and these can also be frozen for use later. I used chickpeas but quite a few beans will work... you can refer to the original site for more variations.

CHICKPEA (Channa) BURGERS


Ingredients:
Chickpeas/Garbanzo - 1 (15oz) can, drained completely
Onion - 1 medium, quartered
Garlic powder - quarter to half tsp
Rolled Oats - half cup
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Egg - 1 (optional)
Soy Granules - 1/3 cup, dry
Green bell pepper - half cup, minced
Soft Bread Crumbs - 1/3 to 1/2 cup
Salt & Pepper - to taste
Oil - 2 to 3 tsp

Burger Fixings:
Burger Buns
Tomato slices
Onion Slices,
Cheese,
Lettuce or Spinach
Ketchup, Sriracha chilli sauce, Mayonnaise

Method:
1) In a food processor, add the onions and pulse for a few seconds before adding the drained chickpeas, oats, egg, chilli powder & garlic powder. Grind this to a coarse paste.


2) While the mixture rests, add the dried soy granules to boiling water and let stay for about 10 minutes before draining completely. Add the salt, pepper, soy mixture, bread crumbs and capsicum. Combine and allow to rest for a few minutes.

3) With slightly wet hands, form patties - i got 10 of them.

4) Heat a wide pan on medium and coat with a thin layer of oil... place a few and allow to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side till done completely & golden. I may consider baking them next time to get a uniform colouring.


6) Now they are ready to layer with the other ingredients onto burger buns and enjoyed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

7 Cups Burfi

Wishing everyone a very Happy Deepavali ! :)

I made Chaklis/Murukku, Oma Podi, Coconut Burfis, Badam Halwa and this 7 cups Burfi this year. This is a very popular and easy sweet and gets its name from the fact that 7 cups of ingredients go into this mix. Possibly because of the high sugar content, it results in quite a huge quantity even when a really small cup is used... so though my measure below says 1 cup, I wouldn't recommend using the standard 8oz cup when making this, unless you want a LOT of burfis :)

SEVEN CUPS BURFI



Ingredients:
Besan - 1 cup
Coconut or Almonds or Cashews - 1 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 cup
Sugar - 3 cups

Method:
1) If using coconut, grind it so it's softer and fine. If using Badam (Almonds) or Cashews, soak in boiling water for an hour, (peel the badams) and grind with the 1 cup of milk to a paste.
Also, grease a plate with a few drops of melted ghee and set aside.

2) First sieve, then fry besan in abt 1 tbsp of ghee till fragrant - stirring constantly, taking care to not burn.

3) Combine sugar, ghee, milk, almond/coconut with besan in a heavy bottomed pan and heat on medium. I would recommend wearing oven mitts, once the mixture starts boiling (and is yet to become thick), because the mixture splatters a lot.

4) Cook until it thickens, leaves the sides of pans and kind of bubbles up (about 20 minutes). Immediately remove from the stove and pour onto a greased plate.

5) When it cools a bit (not completely) score with a knife into desired shape. This is just downright delicious when warm and literally melts in your mouth.


I would like to send this as well to Srivalli for JFI - Festival treats this month.. JFI is the brainchild of Indira.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chaklis

This Chakli or Murukku recipe is a bit different from the thenkuzhal that I normally make. I got this from Seema's blog and we loved the end result... it had the right amount of spices and was perfectly crunchy - an absolute treat and one of our many indulgences for this year's Diwali.

CHAKLI / MURUKKU


Ingredients:
Rice Flour - 2 cups
Urad Dhal - 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
Butter - 3 tbsp
Jeera - half tbsp
Black Sesame seeds - half tsp
Chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp
Oil - sufficient to deep fry


Method:
1) Dry roast urad dal in a pan until it turns light brown. Allow to cool and grind to a fine powder.

2) Sieve rice flour+ above urad dal powder + salt + chili powder.

3) Add melted hot butter to this mixture and the remaining ingredients.

4) M
ake a soft dough adding water gradually. It shouldn't be too stiff or too watery.

5) Fill the murukku maker/press with this dough using the star shaped nozzle and make round chaklis on a sheet of cling wrap.

6) Meanwhile heat oil and deep fry (several at a time) till golden on either side. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

Thank you Srivalli for reminding me about JFI - Festival treats this month.. I have one more post lined up for you... besides this and will mail you the details together.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Paneer Jalfrezie

This is a quick dish that can be tossed together in no time and I love the combination of crunchy capsicum (Bell peppers) with paneer. I used home-made paneer this time which hadn't set fully and so it was more crumbly than usual but still was creamy and delicious. I love eating this plain and it is also great when wrapped in a warm roti.

PANEER JALFREZIE


Ingredients:
Paneer - 250 grams, cubed
Bell Peppers (Green or Red) - 1 large or 2 medium, cut into 1 inch cubes
Onion - 1 medium, cut into 1 inch cubes
Tomato - 1 small, chopped

Ginger - 1 inch piece, chopped
Green Chillies - 2, chopped
Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp

Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala - half tsp
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Dried Red chilli - 1
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

Method:
1) Heat oil in a pan, toss cumin seeds and broken red chilli, once they sizzle, add the ginger, green chillies and onions. Sauté for a few minutes.

2) Now add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes more before adding the chilli powder & turmeric powder. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and allow this to cool till the tomatoes are a bit mushy.

3) Now toss in the paneer pieces (which can be pan fried previously if desired, I didn't) along with garam masala and cook a while longer until the flavours meld.


4) Finally toss the coriander leaves and remove from the stove for a delicious side-dish.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pepper-Parmesan Breadsticks

I found this recipe rather interesting, had all the ingredients on hand, found the quantity mentioned to be small enough to sample this and figured that it would make for a fun afternoon with my 3 year old who loves to "help" me in the kitchen. She always pulls up a chair to the island and wants to peel or cut veggies for me (of course, i don't allow that).. but she will help me measure, pour ingredients & stir or transfer contents from a bowl to a bag that is headed for the freezer. It's quite fun and I hope she'll be just as interested when she grows up.

This is from a Cooking Light magazine and I would have to say that I was not totally bowled over by it but it was quite easy, fast and tasted pretty okay. I dipped it in some marinara and it was quite good... was also good with a hot bowl of soup. However, it doesn't keep well.. I noticed that it lost it's crispness when I stored a few of the leftovers in an air-tight container. The original recipe calls for Pecorino Romano cheese while I used Parmesan since that's what I had.


PEPPER - PARMESAN BREADSTICKS


Ingredients:
All purpose Flour - 1/3 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1/4 cup
Fresh Parmesan/Pecornino cheese - 1/4 cup, grated
Baking powder - 3/4 tsp
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp, powdered
Water - 5 tbsp
Extra virgin Olive Oil - 1 tsp

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 450F
2) Combine flours, cheese, baking powder and pepper. Add water and oil. Stir until dough forms.
3) Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly 4/5 times.
4) Divide into 18 equal portions and shape each into a 8 inch rope.
5) Place ropes on baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 10 mins or until bottoms are golden brown. Serve with a dip of choice.


Note: 3 breadsticks = 64 cals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spicy Thengai Aval

I had mentioned this aval when I posted the version made with jaggery... My MIL usually makes these two together and is one of my husband's favorite breakfast. During my recent trip home, I managed to pick up a pack of aval made with rosematta rice. These, beside having the earthy colour, also had the flavour of that rice that I love and were quite plump and yummy after soaking. I've used a combination of red and green chillies but it could be made with just one variety. This is very quick because it just requires a ground paste, tossed with poha and seasoned.

SPICY THENGAI (Coconut) AVAL


Ingredients:
Aval / Poha (thick) - 1 cup
Onion - half of a small one, chopped (optional)
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
Oil - 2 tsp

To Grind: (with a sprinkle of water)
Coconut - 3 to 4 tbsp, grated
Red Chillies - 2 to 3
Green Chillies - 2
Garlic clove - 1 small
Tamarind - a small piece
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Curry leaves - few
Salt - to taste

Method:
1) If using plain poha (not the one with rose matta), just wash the poha, drain the water and set it aside for about 15 minutes and fluff. Rose matta however required more soaking.. so I let the water stay for about 5 minutes or so before draining and setting aside.


2) Mix the ground coconut paste with the fluffed poha, gently but uniformly.

3)Heat oil in a pan and add the seasonings : mustard, urad dhal, hing, curry leaves, once they splutter, add the onion (if using), and saute till browned. Then add the poha + paste mixture and saute on a low flame for a few minutes. Switch off, cover for a while for the flavours to come together, before serving.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Milagai Chutney

This fiery chutney is my paati's specialty and almost all of us would have extra idlis on those days this featured. It gets its special taste when made using an 'ammi' (traditional stone grinder that is now replaced by a mixie in most homes)... I used to help my grandmother make this and would often end up with a burning right hand (because of the contact with the red chillies) but the taste was well worth the effort. However, I just resort to the mixie these days and sometimes pulse the onions using a mortar & pestle, in an effort to get the exact texture.


MILAGAI CHUTNEY


Ingredients:
Dried Red Chillies - 4 to 6 (depending on how spicy you want it)
Curry leaves - 6
Tamarind - small piece
Shallots - 1/3 cup (chop into pcs if too big)
Salt - to taste
Nallennai (Gingelly oil) - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp

Method:

1) In 1 tsp oil, fry the shallots till light brown. Keep aside.

2) Add another tsp of oil and fry the red chillies and curry leaves... till roasted, with a small pc of tamarind.

3) Grind the red chillies, curry leaves, salt and tamarind first with just a sprinkle of water if necessary.

4) Finally add the shallots and pulse so they are a bit coarse and not completely smooth. Alternatively you could use the mortar and pestle to process the shallots to the desired consistency and mix with the red chilli paste.

5) Heat the remaining tsp of oil, season with mustard seeds and a few curry leaves. When the mustard seeds splutter, add to the chutney, mix and serve.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dry Mushroom Curry

My husband likes curries that have coconut in them and this is no exception. The mushrooms lend a chewy texture and it's quite spicy too. This can be made in a jiffy and tastes great with rice or rotis. After we enjoyed Nupur's Chettinad Mushrooms, I gave these a try and these were a hit too.

DRY MUSHROOM CURRY



Ingredients:
White Mushrooms - 1 pk (8 oz), cleaned & quartered
Baby portobello mushrooms - 1 pk (8 oz), cleaned & quartered
Onion - 1, chopped
Ginger - 1 inch, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
Coconut - 3 to 4 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 to 1.5 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Tamarind paste - little
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp


Method:
1) Grind the coconut with chilli powder, coriander powder and tamarind paste to a smooth paste with a splash of water.


2) Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped ginger, garlic and onions and fry them till golden.


3) The mushrooms go in next and are sauteed until they soften a bit.


4) Before the moisture in the mushrooms dry out completely, add the salt and the ground paste and cook till dry and done.