Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bharathi Aunty's Mochai Kuzhambu

This is a special kuzhambu that a close family friend of ours makes and it's so tasty and creamy. I tasted this about 3 years ago and loved it... so when she visited us a while ago, I was sure to get this recipe from her. This uses dry mochai beans and so I made it a point to get a pack during our recent trip to India.

This recipe can be made with white channa, rajma beans & dried green peas as well besides mochai. You may have to lower the amount of tamarind accordingly for these however.

MOCHAKOTTAI KUZHAMBU


Ingredients:
Dried mochai beans - 1 cup
Tamarind - small lemon sized (lesser than what is used for puli kuzhambu), soaked
Garlic cloves (whole) - 6 to 8, peeled
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Brinjals - 1 or 2, small (optional, I didn't use)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 2 pinches
Coconut milk - 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp

Grind to a fine paste (with water as required):
Chilli powder - 2.5 tsp
Coriander powder - half tsp
Cumin powder - 2.5 tsp
Coconut - 2 tbsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp

Method:
1) Dry roast the mochai for a few mins and soak for 3 hours atleast or overnight. Pressure cook the soaked mochai beans with a bit of salt, till soft - about 3 whistles. Extract tamarind juice from the soaked tamarind piece.


2) Heat the oil, season with cumin seeds, mustard seeds and asafoetida, toss in the garlic cloves and chopped onion. Fry this till golden brown. Also add brinjal and fry (if using)

3) Now add the ground paste and fry this for a minute. Next add the tamarind extract and salt. When this boils, add the cooked beans and allow this to boil for another 5 minutes.

4) Add the coconut milk and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or till oil separates.

Serve this delicious curry with rice.

I would like to send this to JFI-Tamarind hosted by Sig and also to AFAM-Coconut event hosted by Suganya. JFI was started by Indira and AFAM by Maheshwari.

Also check out
1) Seema's version of the same recipe (from the same source) and
2) My mom's version of Mochai Kuzhambu.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tiramisu

This famous Italian Dessert is one of my favourites... I particularly love how light and wonderful the mascarpone cheese tastes and also the flavour of coffee coming through. The first time I had this was at a small pastry shop which served it in cute cups with saucers. I didn't know what to expect when I first dug in but it was love at first bite. I almost always order this when we go to an Italian restaurant and sometimes give the panna cotta a chance too.. :)

Imagine my joy when I found out that this is really easy to put-together at home and can be eggless too. It takes less than 30 minutes to whip this up, once refrigerated for the flavours to blend, it's ready to enjoy... I made this for a friend's birthday and it's best to make this when you have company because it's so easy to indulge a bit more than you should...

TIRAMISU


Ingredients:
Mascarpone Cheese - 8 oz
Heavy Whipping Cream - 10 oz
Icing (Powdered) Sugar - 5 tbsp
Espresso / Strong Coffee - about 8 ounces
Kahlua (Coffee Liquer) - 2 to 3 tsp (I didn't use this)
Lady Fingers / Sponge cake / Angel Food Cake - as required to form 2 layers.
Dark chocolate curls / grated - for garnish
Cocoa Powder - 1 tsp (for coffee mixture above) + 2 tsp for garnish

Method:
1) For the coffee mixture, boil 8 ounces of water, switch off the flame and add 2 tsp of instant coffee powder and 1 tsp of plain cocoa powder. If using kahlua add it to the coffee mixture when slightly cooled. The Coffee mixture should be lukewarm, not hot, when the cakes are dipped.

2) I used mini angel food cake that I had on hand this time but have used ladyfingers previously. If using angel food cake, cut them into small slices.

3) Beat the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream , the icing sugar and 2 to 3 tsp of the coffee mixture on medium till thick and creamy (from a liquid state it will thicken up in a few minutes).



4) Dip each piece of the cake in the coffee mixture on both sides, just for a few seconds and place them as a single layer in the serving bowl. (You can make individual desserts or put them all in one bowl like I have).


5) Top with half of the mascarpone mixture - smoothen it out.

6) Repeat by doing a second layer of coffee dipped cake and top again with the remaining mascarpone cheese.


7) Dust with cocoa powder (Take 2 tsp of cocoa in a wire-mesh sieve and sprinkle over the tiramisu). Top with chocolate curls (if using), refrigerate for atleast 5 to 6 hours or overnight.


8) Slice and dig in!


5 minutes and 4 people later:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nupur's Pav Bhaji

This is probably the very first recipe of Nupur's that I've tried. Her description of the perfect Mumbai Pav Bhaji was just too tempting to pass and the results did leave us dazzled. This is something I make quite often and is particularly great when we have company because it is something that can be done in a jiffy with not much effort, and is sure to impress.

The passion with which she writes is very impressive and I admire her amazing collection of recipes - from authentic Indian fare to exotic dishes from different parts of the world. Her energy and exuberance never fail to inspire me. Thanks Nupur for having such a brilliant blog and for sharing it with us.

PAV BHAAJI


Ingredients:
Cauliflower Florets - 2 to 3 cups
Potatoes - 3 big

Green bell peppers (Capsicum) - 1 big or 2 small, chopped finely
Carrots - 2 medium, chopped into 1 inch pieces
Beans - approx 20, chopped
Peas - half a cup
Tomatoes - 2, chopped
Ginger - 1 inch, minced
Garlic - 3 to 4 cloves, minced
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Pav Bhaji masala - 1 to 2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Butter - 1 tbsp + more to spread on Pavs
Coriander leaves - for garnish, chopped
Lemon wedges & Chopped raw onions - to serve
Salt - to taste

Method:
1) Pressure cook the vegetables (cauliflower, carrot, beans and peas) with some water. Also pressure cook the potatoes separately. Peel and mash the potatoes. Also mash the veggies when cooked soft.

2) Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, once they sizzle add the chopped capsicum and ginger-garlic paste and saute this till it gets tender.

3) Next add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric and cook till they are mushy. Now add the chilli powder and pav bhaji masala powder, to taste, along with all the veggies and little water if it's too thick.

4) Keep stirring this thick mixture and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes. Be careful since this usually splatters quite a bit.

5) Add the butter to this and keep roasting till the gravy thickens and is well cooked. We like ours a bit on the thick side. Don't skip the butter.. it definitely increases the flavour of the bhaji.

6) Spread some butter/margarine on the pavs (or buns) and sprinkle some of the pav bhaji masala and toast till golden on a pan.

7) To serve, arrange buns and gravy on a plate and sprinkle the gravy with some chopped onions, coriander leaves and with a wedge of lemon on the side... You could also add a pat of butter on the gravy, if you wish. Pure bliss.

Other 'Tried and Tasted dishes' from One hot stove:

1) Microwave Sabudhana Khichdi with onions instead of potatoes.


2) Undhiyu

3) Ragda Patties


4) Chocolate Bread with walnuts and chocolate chips instead of pecans.


Well this post is off to a few events :

Zlamushka's Tried & Tasted - this month features One Hot Stove
Sia's Monthly Blog Patrol - Street Food

Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Indoor Picnic

We spent a fair amount of time planning for a picnic and what originally seemed like a 30% chance of rain (according to the weather.com website) on Saturday soon turned into a full-fledged shower just as we (6 families in all) were getting ready to leave... much to our disappointment. All our plans of watching the kids play in the carousel, take rides in the minature train, head for a walk along the lake, play some frisbee or chase a ball were shattered with dark, gloomy skies, strong gusts of wind and pouring rain.

Several phone calls later, we decided to just all meet in our home and bring the food in and make an evening of it, so all wasn't lost. Here's a picture of the goodies we were planning to take for the picnic.


The Menu: Paapdi Chaat, Dhoklas, Idlis smeared with milagai podi, plain idlis, sambhar, Tortilla chips with a jalapeno cheese dip and a mango salsa, Cucumber-mint chutney sandwiches, Jam sandwiches, Tortilla pinwheels, curd-rice and to finish it all some watermelon and grapes along with juice boxes for the kids and coke and iced lemon tea for the adults.

I made the Tortilla pinwheels and the sandwiches. The cucumber sandwiches were nice and moist and didn't turn soggy thanks to the cream cheese I incorporated with. I normally add sliced tomatoes but didn't this time because of the salmonella scare.

GREEN CHUTNEY


Mint leaves - half bunch, remove stems and wash
Coriander leaves - half bunch, washed
Green chillies - 7 or 8
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Lemon juice / Tamarind paste - 1 to 2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method:
Grind all of the above ingredients with as little water as possible to a smooth paste.
This chutney, when watered down a bit, doubles up as a great accompaniment to several chaat items.

CUCUMBER-MINT TEA SANDWICHES
Ingredients:
Cucumber - 1, sliced very thin
Tomato - 1, sliced very thin
Light Cream cheese - 3 ounces (softened)
Green Chutney - about 3 to 4 tbsp
Ketchup - to taste
Salt and pepper - to taste
Butter or Margarine - to spread on the slices
Bread slices, edges trimmed if you want to be fancy! :)

Method:
1) Blend the cream cheese and chutney till smooth.
2) Butter one slice of the bread, spread the chutney-cheese mixture on the other.
3) Dot some ketchup on the buttered side, spread lightly and layer with slices of cucumber, followed by tomato slices. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.
4) Cover with the other slice and cut into triangles.

It's perfect for lunches too and you can also add sliced roundels of boiled potatoes if you wish.


Update: It just occurred to me that I could send this sandwich to Raaga's WBB - Express Breakfasts. WBB is the brainchild of Nandita.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rasmalai

As a result of the disaster I had while setting my yogurt, I had a mass which was in between paneer and curd states. Not having the heart to throw it away, I wondered what to do with it and the first thought was Rasamalai. I have been meaning to give it a try for sometime now and this presented itself as a perfect opportunity. So, I put the entire milk + yoghurt mixture into a colander, lined with a muslin cloth and let it drain for an hour or so to get the soft paneer (it was a lot more softer than usual paneer but still workable).

RASMALAI


Ingredients:

For Chenna/Soft Paneer
Milk - 3 to 4 cups (about 1 litre)
Vinegar/Lime Juice - quarter cup

For Sugar Syrup:
Water - 3 to 4 cups
Sugar - 1 cup


For the Flavoured Milk:
Milk - 600 ml
Saffron - 2 pinches
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Nuts (Cashew, almond, pistachios) - 1 to 2 tbsp, powdered or minced finely


Method:

1) I skipped this step for my rasamalais... but if I were to make this from scratch, I would've followed my method of making paneer: Boil the milk in a heavy pan and when boiling add the vinegar or lime juice and stir until the whey and paneer separate. Switch off the flame and once slightly cooled, pour into a colander lined with a thin muslin cloth and allow to stand until all the whey has drained out. Tie this up and let it dry out well.

2) Pat this chenna (while still in the muslin cloth) with another absorbent kitchen towel in a mashing kind of motion. This will ensure that it gets kneaded and is as dry as possible. I had to do quite a bit of it since i had a pasty mixture.

3) Once kneaded, make tiny (1 inch diameter) balls and roll them as smoothly as possible. Flatten lightly.

4) Meanwhile, heat the water and sugar and let it come to a rolling boil. Drop the chenna balls in (without overcrowding them - do them in batches if you have too many) and cover with a tight fitting lid. Let this boil for about 10 minutes or so till they float and have increased in size. Ladle them out into a pan along with some of the sugar syrup. Keep aside and let rest for atleast a few hours, preferably longer. You can stop here if you want rasagullas.

5) I then let the remaining sugar syrup boil vigorously once the chenna was cooked and reduced it to a thick, sugary syrup. Keep this aside.

6) For the flavoured milk, boil the milk with saffron strands and allow to simmer stirring constantly until it reduces to slightly less then half. Now sweeten with the reduced sugar syrup above to taste. Boil more if it's diluted. Finally add the cardamom and the powdered nuts, reserving some pieces for garnish.

7) Take the rasagullas and press lightly to squeeze out the sugar syrup in them, add to the flavoured milk and allow to boil for about 4-5 minutes.

8) Allow this to cool completely and refrigerate overnight or for atleast 5 hours so the flavours come together. Serve with chopped nuts on top as a garnish and enjoy.


Seema has given me the Yummy Blog Award - Thank you !


"Yummy blog award is the award given to the blog with most yummy recipes/photos". This award has been started by Roopa of My Kitchen treats.

Four Desserts/Sweets that I like are:
1) Tiramisu
2) Most Bengali sweets but rasmalai does kind of top the list amongst them.
3) Cheesecake
4) Paal Payasam / Chakka Pradhaman

I think almost everyone has already received this award.. so not sure who I can pass this onto specifically... so am sending this onto all you wonderful bloggers out there who tempt me with your beautiful recipes every single day - Thank you!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Idli Manchurian

Inspired by this post by Shankari, I wanted to try my hand at making Idli manchurian and it came out really well. It's also guilt-free unlike it's deep-fried counterpart: Gobi Manchurian, but still satisfies manchurian-cravings. Shankari mentioned that she baked the idlis and that is what initially drew me to the recipe. I cut the idlis into smaller pieces and tossed them with some chilli powder before spraying some oil and baking them. They are yummy just out of the oven, even before I proceed to make a manchurian of them... I tossed some of the pieces with idli milagai podi and ate them just like that...

There was a little disaster associated with this - I had set some yogurt that afternoon and had it in the oven so it would be warm but totally forgot about it being in when I preheated the oven to bake these idli pieces. When I was ready to pop the idli in I was so horrified to see the vessel with the milk + curd concoction!! I quickly pulled it out but damage had already been done. It hadn't set sufficient but there was some whey that separated out and it was at an intermediary stage of paneer... or so I concluded. In an effort to salvage it, I proceeded to start on a slightly laborious process and something sweet and delectable came out of this disaster :) Will post that later.

Coming back to the Idli manchurian recipe, I did it pretty much like the cauliflower manchurian.

IDLI MANCHURIAN


Ingredients:
Idlis - 8
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Onions - 1 small or half medium, chopped into 1 inch pieces
Green & Red Bell pepper - about 1/2 cup, cut into 1 inch cubes
Spring Onions - 3, chopped with white and green parts separated
Green Chillies - 3, chopped finely
Ginger - 1 tsp, minced
Garlic - 1-2 tsp, minced
Light Sodium Soysauce - 1 tbsp
(Sriracha) Chilli sauce - 1 tsp, or to taste
Ketchup - 1 to 2 tsp
Cornflour - 1 tbsp (mixed with 1/4 cup water)
Oil - 2 tsp + enough to spray on idlis.
Salt & Pepper - to taste

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 375F. Cut idlis into small pieces (I made about 9 pieces with each idli). Toss with some chilli powder and spread on a baking sheet, coat with some oil spray. Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or till golden and crispy.


2) Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and add the chopped green chillies, ginger, garlic, spring onion white and onions. Cook till they are translucent.
3) Add the bell peppers and little salt and sauté till they are crisp-tender.
4) Push the veggies to the edges of the pan and in the middle pour the remaining 1 tsp oil. In this oil, toss in the sauces (soy, chilli & Ketchup) with a sprinkle of pepper and salt, as required. When they are heated through, toss with the veggies and add the baked idli pieces.
5) Now add the cornflour mixed with water to this and toss for a few more minutes till it all comes together and gets a slight glaze.
6) Garnish with spring onion tops and serve hot!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Aloo Paratha

Who doesn't love aloo parathas? They are truly the yummiest and I remember walking long distances on quite a few Saturday nights, while in University, to have these at a hawker stall nearby where auntyji and her daughter in law made such thick, tasty parathas. With some spiced yogurt on the side, it was utterly blissful and was a treat for my tongue which had to contend with flavourless food for dinner most nights (e.g. Rice with soy sauce and some steamed veggies with almost no salt, or steamed bittergourd - pitiful vegetarian fare we got at the canteen) .

This is another dish, like idlis, whose preparation I took for granted until I actually tried my hand at making these.. it was never good enough - there was always something missing, either the filling oozed out or it wasn't enough, was too thick or too thin and so on. When a good friend, who is an expert at stuffed parathas, was visiting us, she obliged to demonstrate and also make a stackful of these yummy aloo parathas.

Armed with these new-found techniques, I went about trying my hand at making these and have documented the steps with some pictures for the benefit of those who are struggling like me. They turned out quite satisfactory this time - Thank you Seema.

ALOO PARATHAS

Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour - 2.5 cups + about quarter cup for dusting
Milk - half cup, lukewarm
Water - about 3/4 cup, lukewarm
For Filling:
Potatoes - 3 large or 4 medium
Onion - half, chopped finely
Ginger - 1 tsp, minced
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, minced
Mint Leaves - 1 tbsp, minced (optional)
Chilli powder - 2 to 3 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp + enough to shallow-fry parathas

Method:
1) For the dough, first mix whole wheat flour and some salt. To this, gradually add lukewarm milk little by little and knead as you go and once that is used up, use the lukewarm water and make a soft, pliable dough. I normally end this with a tsp of oil and rub it over the dough. Let it sit aside for a few hours to rest.

2) Meanwhile, cook potatoes (I use a microwave, but a pressure cooker would work too) till soft. Peel and mash them to a smooth consistency.

3) Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan and fry the chopped onions and ginger till golden. Now add the chopped coriander and mint leaves and saute for a minute or two extra. Add the masala powders & salt and after a minute of frying them, toss in the mashed potatoes. Fry this till it's well incorporated and completely dry. Allow this to cool, this ensures that the stuffing doesn't ooze out when rolling out the parathas.

(Alternately, you could skip the onions, ginger, mint and coriander leaves and just mix the masala powders and salt with the mashed potatoes and make a raw stuffing with no cooking - perfect when you are running short on time and tasty as well).

4) With the chapathi dough make equal sized smooth balls, about 2 inches in diameter. I got 12 with the above measurements. Roll the cooled, potato mixure into balls of the same size as the chapathi dough (2 inches in this case)


5) Roll out the dough ball into a small chapathi (about 4 to 5 inches in diameter) I usually make the edges a little thinner than the middle so it's more uniform when I fold it over - but that's just me... :) Place the potato ball in the middle and enclose it by folding the chapathi dough around it.


6) Dust in flour and place it back seam side down. Roll this out to a bigger paratha.

7) Heat a griddle on medium-high and fry the paratha on both sides.


Normally I flip over the first side in about 20 to 30 seconds and let the other side cook until it starts puffing up a bit, at which point, I brush the top with some oil and flip over. Pressing down gently on the chapathi ensures that it puffs up. Brush this side with some oil too before flipping over one last time. This does require a bit more oil than the usual chapathis.

8) Serve with some Yogurt and Pickle of choice. I spiced up the yogurt by adding half a teaspoon each of chilli powder and cumin powder alongwith salt to taste.




and you guessed right - this stack of Aloo parathas is going on right on over to dear Srivalli for her Roti Mela.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bhindi Masala

You know ladiesfinger / okra / bhindi / vendakkai - it can turn slimy if a few precautionary steps aren't taken... but is still a very popular vegetable, if prepared the right away. My husband likes only a drier version of this vegetable, not the gravy kind. The recipe below can be made semi solid, instead of the dry version I have here, so it pairs well with rotis. I also found out that the microwave offers a great option to get rid of the stickiness. So, here's my method...

BHINDI MASALA

Ingredients:
Bhindi/Vendakkai - 30 to 40, make sure they are tender
Onion - 1 big, cut into 1 inch slices
Tomato - 1, chopped
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp + a few sprays of oil
Method
1) Wash Bhindi and let them dry completely. Cut bhindi and lay them out as a single layer on a microwaveable plate. Microwave them for 5 to 7 mins. This will ensure that they do not get sticky and retain their green colour. Do this in batches.
2) Heat oil in a wide, shallow pan and toast some cumin seeds, then add the onions and fry till translucent and slightly browned.
3) Now add in the tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, chilli, coriander and cumin powder and cook till the tomatoes turn a bit mushy.
4) Now the previously microwaved Bhindi goes in and gets tossed around in a medium heat till well cooked.
5) I sometimes shift the entire thing into a microwaveable bowl and complete this in the microwave instead of on the stove-top. That works well too but definitely yields in a drier version.

We had this with Dhal Fry and Chapathis.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rajma

Rajma needs no introduction and is quite a favorite dish at home. I usually serve it with chapathis but I've read many a blog that tells me that rice is the best combination. However it may be enjoyed, this is a recipe that I almost always use because my husband loves this version the best.

RAJMA


Ingredients
Rajmah – 225g dry or 1 can (drained and rinsed)
Baking Soda – 1tsp (optional, but soaking with it makes the beans soft when cooking)
Onion –1 peeled and chopped
Tomatoes - 2, chopped
Cinnamon – 2 cm
Bayleaf – 1
Cardamom – 1
Ginger and garlic pastes –1 tsp each
G. Chillies – 2, slit
Chilli powder – 1tsp
Coriander – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Salt - to taste
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
Oil and Ghee - 1 tsp each

Method:
1) Soak rajma (red kidney beans) overnight with baking soda. Wash and pressure cook with sufficient water till soft. Alternately use canned beans (drained and rinsed) and skip the step above.
2) Heat oil and ghee together and toss in the cinnamon, bay leaf & cardamom, then fry onion for 2-3 minutes along with green chillies, ginger and garlic.
3) Toss in the tomatoes and add salt. Once they turn mushy, add the chilli powder, coriander, turmeric and garam masala.
4) Add the kidney beans with the cooking liquid (if using canned beans, add sufficient water) and coriander leaves. Once it boils, cover, lower the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes and serve.

I would also like to thank two friends, Madhavi and Uma
for giving me the 'Rocking Girl 'Award and the 'You make my day' Award (respectively). Thank you ladies for making my day... :D