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 :)