Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Paasiparuppu Thogayal

This was among the very first recipes I got from my MIL, soon after I was married. She told me that my husband loves this thovaiyal and I wrote it down rapidly in my little notebook along with Poli and Paruppu Paayasam which are his other favorites. This is very simple and uses Mung dhal (paasi paruppu) as opposed to the ones made with toor dhal. Goes great with rice & vathal kuzhambu.

Paasi Paruppu (Mung Dhal) Thogayal



Ingredients:
Yellow (Split) Mung Dhal - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 2 small cloves
Dried Red Chillies - 3
Grated Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp
Curry leaves - few

Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt, to taste
Oil - 1 tsp


Method:
1) Heat oil and toast mung dhal, curry leaves, asafoetida, dried red chillies and garlic cloves till golden.

2) Grind this with coconut and salt with as little water as possible to a thick paste. Mix this with rice and ghee for a comforting meal.

Also, It definitely seems to be award season here in the blogging world and I've been given the Nice matters award by sweet Easy Crafts. Thank you so much EC - it really made my day.


I would like to pass this onto:

TBC of The Budding Cook
Rajitha of Hunger Pangs (who is on a break now)
Seema of My Randap
Richa of As Dear As Salt &
Viji of Vcuisine

for their sweet words of encouragement and support ! :)


I would also like to pass this onto the many people who have left comments on my blog after trying out my recipes - it really gives me a boost and serves as an immense encouragement to continue blogging. Thank you all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Adai

I love the crispy taste of adais and find them very nutritious too. They just need a few hours of soaking and I usually grind them in a mixie (no need for a grinder) and they don't need any fermenting either so they are perfect when you need something on short notice (in comparison to idlis/dosas). At home, my mom would normally make a chutney to go with this or for a sweet touch, some butter and sugar. I make aviyal and find that these two pair quite well too.

ADAI

Ingredients:

Brown Rice - 3/4 cup
Raw Rice - 1/4 cup
Green Mung - 1/4 cup
Channa Dhal - 1/4 cup
Toor Dhal - 1/4 cup
Urad Dhal - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 10
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Asafoetida - a couple pinches
Spinach/Methi - 1.5 cup, chopped
Onion - 1 medium red onion, chopped fine
Cabbage - 1/2 cup, chopped
Carrot - 1, grated
Coconut - 2 inch piece, chopped into small pieces Curry leaves - few, chopped
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil to cook adais.


Method:
1) Soak the rices and dhals together for about 3-4 hours. (Add some warm water if you want to soak them faster). I have used different dhals like masoor, chori etc... most dhals work.



2) Grind this with the red chillies, ginger, asafoetida and some salt to a paste. It should be slightly grainy and not too smooth.

3) To this paste, add the chopped onion, methi/spinach, cabbage, carrot, curry leaves, coconut, chilli powder. Add some water if it's too thick. The batter consistency should be thicker than dosa batter but not too thick to make spreading impossible.


4) Heat a wide pan (dosakal) and rub some oil. Pour a spoonful of batter and slowly spread it out by making concentric circles as thin as you can. My mom would always take away a little of the batter from the middle of this circle so she can pour some oil there and make it crispy, so I do that too. Pour some oil around the edges too.



5) Let this cook until golden brown on one side, flip over and let the other side cook as well. Serve hot for a filling and tasty meal.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Spinach Pinwheels

I had a pack of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls on hand and was thinking of what to make with them. There were several options and I remember that I once made a yummy mushroom filling but wanted something different this time. Then, I eyed the big pack of spinach in the fridge and decided to make these. These can be made and rolled out ahead of time and sliced and baked just before guests arrive and make cute hors d'ouevres. The cream cheese in the filling gives a nice tang.

SPINACH & CHEESE PINWHEELS


Ingredients:
Crescent Rolls - 1 package (or Puff Pastry sheet would work too)
Spinach leaves - 3 cups chopped
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves, chopped or Garlic powder
Red Chilli flakes - 1/2 to 1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil - 1 tsp
Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Cream Cheese - about 3 oz [I used low fat]
Mixed herbs - a couple pinches
Pepper Jack Cheese - 2 oz, shredded

Method:
1) Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic and onion. Saute this till light brown. Now add the red chilli flakes and chopped spinach with little salt. Cook till the leaves wilt and the mixture is dry.

2) Soften the cream cheese and blend in the mixed herbs and black pepper. I didn't find the need to add salt to this mixture.

3) Roll out the crescent dough after splitting along the first perforation and sealing the triangles to make 2 rectangles. Roll out each rectangle a bit and spread the cream cheese mixture on them. Top with the cooked spinach, spread this out into an even thin layer and finally top each rectangle with an ounce of shredded cheese.

4) Roll up the rectangles like jelly roll from the longest side and refrigerate covered for a few hours or until ready to use.

5) Slice each roll into 1 inch wide pieces and lay them flat on a baking tray. Bake in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes or till golden brown.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Idli Upma

Though I was not a fan of idlis as a kid, I simply loved idli upma. There was something about this crumbly, seasoned delicacy that got my attention. There are a couple of variations to this and was primarily used as a method to use up leftover idlis. My paati (grandmother) would just mix the crumbled idlis with idli milagai podi and do a quick seasoning and saute this mixture. Other times she would toss in some chopped onion, g. chillies and skip the podis. What I do is like the best of both worlds... i have everything in my version.. the onion, g. chillies and the Idli Milagai podi :)

What I've observed is that, it's extremely easy to crumble the idlis if they are refrigerated and cold. Do not reheat them before crumbling.

IDLI UPMA

Ingredients:
Idlis - 6, crumbled
Onion - 1 medium or preferably Shallots - 7 or 8, chopped finely
G. Chillies - 2 or 3, slit
Idli Milagai podi - to taste (optional)
Carrot - 1 small, cut into small cubes or shredded (optional)
Oil - 2 to 3 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/4 tsp
Curry Leaves - few
Asafoetida - a pinch (optional)
Salt - to taste

Method:
1) Heat oil in a pan and season with mustrd seeds, urad dhal, curry leaves and the asofoetida.

2) Toss in the chopped onions, g. chillies and the carrot if using and saute till the onions turn a light brown.

3) Now add the crumbled idlis, salt and idli milagai podi and stir this mixture for a few minutes, till they combine well and the idlis get bit fried in the process.

Tasty Idli upma is now ready... it's hit at home, always.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tandoori Paneer Pizza

I love the tandoori paneer pizzas (or Paneer Tikka Pizzas) you get in India... In a way I'm glad that fast food joints here don't offer a good variety for vegetarians unlike India or I'd have a tough time controlling myself. The paneer burgers, wraps and pizzas are sure to throw me off track :) Nevertheless I was craving these pizzas and so set about making them.

These are great for entertaining because you can make each of the components ahead of time and just assemble and pop into the oven for about 15-20 minutes just before your guests arrive and hot pizza is ready to eat in no time.
TANDOORI PANEER PIZZA
Ingredients:
For Tandoori Paneer:
Paneer - 250gm, cubed (I used the one made at home with 2% milk)
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Garlic - 2-3 cloves, peeled
Green Chillies - 2-3
Thick Yogurt - 1 to 2 tbsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Tandoori Masala - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Orange food colouring - 2 drops (I didn't use it)
Salt to taste
For Tomato Sauce: [or use Store bought Pasta Sauce]
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Diced Tomatoes (canned) - 1/2 cup with some of the juice
Italian herbs - a pinch
Chilli powder or red chilli flakes - about 1/2 tsp or more to taste
Salt

For the Pizza:
Pizza Crust - 2 (storebought or home-made)
Red Onion - 1 big, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
Green Bell Pepper - 1, cut into 1 inch cubes
Red Bell Pepper - 1 medium, cut into 1 inch pieces
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
Mozzarella cheese - 1 cup, shredded (I used part-skim)

Method:

1) For the Tandoori Paneer: Grind all the ingredients except Paneer and mix it well with the paneer pieces so it coats well. Now let this marinate overnight in the fridge or atleast for a few hours.

2) For the Tomato Sauce: Heat the olive oil and add the chopped garlic and onions. When the onions soften and brown a bit, add the diced tomatoes, herbs, chilli powder and salt. Add little water, if needed and let this simmer until thick.

3) For the Other Toppings: Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan and add the onions and bell peppers with some salt and chilli powder. Saute this on for a few minutes till the vegetables are tender-crisp.

4) For the Final Assembly: Brush the crust with some olive oil. Spread the thick Tomato sauce. Now place the marinated paneer pieces and sprinkle the onion-bell pepper mixture over the crust. Finally top with the shredded cheese and pop into the oven at 400F for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the type of pizza crust used).

5) When done, top with some of the chopped coriander leaves, wait 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cabbage Dhal Kootu

This is a recipe I tried from Mallika Badrinath's cookbook and really liked. It has a nice flavour and is slightly different from the usual kootu recipes and pairs really well with Chapathis. It's also super easy to whip up and something I make very often.

CABBAGE DHAL KOOTU

Ingredients:
Cabbage - 2 cups, chopped
Whole Green Mung Dhal - 1/3 to 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 1, small or half of a big one, chopped
G. Chillies - 3, slit
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

To Grind: (with a splash of water)
Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp, shredded
Cumin - 1/2 tsp
Sombu (Ani seeds/Saunf) - 1/4 tsp

Method:
1) Pressure cook the green mung dhal for about 3 whistles or till soft.

2) Meanwhile cook cabbage with some salt on the stove. When done, add the cooked mung dhal.

3) In a separate pan, heat oil and saute onions, g. chillies till light brown and then stir in the tomato, chilli powder and salt. After a few minutes when the tomatoes turn mushy, add this mixture to the cabbage + dhal mixture along with the ground coconut mixture.

4) When this boils, simmer, cover and allow to cook for about 5 to 10 minutes or till desired consistency. Serve with chapathis or rice.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fried Bee Hoon

Fried Bee Hoon (Rice vermicelli) is a popular breakfast or tea-time snack in Singapore and one of the few vegetarian items that I got to eat everytime there was some party at my university. At that time, I was the least bit interested in cooking and made rasam or carrot curry just once in a blue moon. Most days dinner would be Rice, Dhal and some veggies cooked together in the microwave and then had with pickle and yogurt. Only when I started working did I develop an interest in cooking and started trying out recipes... but even then it was mostly Indian food. In Singapore, cooking is hardly a necessity because there are so many eateries and all very nominally priced.. infact one of my Singaporean colleagues said that in the 7 yrs of his married life, his wife and him had never cooked anything at all!! So, I never ventured to try stuff that was so readily available.

However, now that I'm here in the US, I crave Bee Hoon, curry puffs, the vegetarian laksa, the kaya sandwiches, roti paratas, clay pot Tofu, nasi goreng and mee goreng... I tried my hand at making Bee Hoon and was quite happy with the results. I wish I had bean sprouts on hand... next time I will be sure to add them.

BEE HOON GORENG (Fried Bee Hoon)

Ingredients:
Rice Vermicelli - 150-200 gms
Carrot - 1 big, julienned into thin matchsticks
Cabbage - half small, chopped
Bell pepper - half, julienned
Mung (bean) sprouts - half cup
White Mushrooms - 10, sliced
Red Onion - 1, sliced thinly
Garlic Cloves - 3, chopped
Soy Sauce - 2tbsp
Chilli sauce - 1 tbsp
Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Oil - 1 to 2 tbsp

Method:
1) Cook Rice vermicelli according to package directions. I used a Chinese Brand which required me to soak the noodles in hot water for 5 minutes.

2) Heat oil and saute garlic and onion till fragrant and sligtly browned. Now add the mushrooms, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage and bean sprouts. Stir-fry till tender-crisp with little salt.

3) Mix the soy sauce, chill sauce, pepper together. When the vegetables are cooked sufficiently, push them to the sides of the pan and add 1 tsp of oil to the middle. It will become hot in seconds.. add the sauce mixture into the oil in the middle and let that sizzle for a few seconds before mixing it with the vegetables on the side.

4) Now add the rice vermicelli and toss well till coated completely. Allow to cook for a few minutes more and adjust seasonings. Bee hoon is now ready to serve.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pound Cake

I landed on this recipe when a friend of ours managed to crack about 6 eggs in the process of buying and bringing them home during which course he dropped the bag ... :) So, i had these 6 whole eggs sitting in a bowl waiting to be used right away, they couldn't be boiled and I had no intention of making a huge omelette then, so I started looking for cake recipes. This recipe from Paula Deen caught my eye and now my husband always votes for this cake and is quite unhappy when I want to try something new. Whenever I ask him what he wants for his birthday or our anniversary, I pretty much know these days what his answer is going to be.

The reason this is such a hit at home is because it reminds us the cakes we've had as kids back in india... For him, his mom made something similar for his birthdays and for me, it reminds me of the cake that my neighbour made every Christmas. Add to the fact that this is very fuss free recipe and can be whipped up in minutes. The only drawback is that it's loaded in calories and in the course of time I have tried to make healthier substitutions but it always compromised on the texture or taste so I just stick to the original recipe but halve it and just make it for special occassions.

PERFECT POUND CAKE

Ingredients:Unsalted Butter - 1 stick, softened
All Purpose Flour - 1.5 cups
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Eggs - 3
Baking Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
Heavy Cream - 1/2 cup

Method:

1) Grease an 8 inch square pan and dust with flour. Do NOT pre-heat oven.

2) Using a hand-held beater, cream the butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

3) Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4) Alternately add flour mixture and heavy cream to the egg mixture, beating after each addition... beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract. Batter is now ready.

5) Pour this into the prepared pan and put into a cold oven. Now turn on the heat to 325 degrees F. Bake for an hour without opening the oven door. After one hour, check with a toothpick and if the cake is still not done bake for another 5 to 15 minutes.

6) Remove from oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before inverting and cooling completely. Slice and Serve.

I made for this for our 6th anniversary last week and hence the candle on top

This is also my entry to Bindiya's My Favorite things event: Cakes and Muffins.