Friday, December 25, 2009

Vazhaipoo Vadai

I consider myself lucky to have vazhaipoo a.k.a plaintain/banana flower readily available at the Asian grocery store we visit... however it is not something i've bought often mainly because it requires quite a bit of time and labor to seprate the flowers & the stamen from each. But my mom can process a vazhaipoo in no time and doesn't think it's such a big chore at all so we've been buying this rather regularly now that she's here. At home, vazhaipoo vadai or paruppu usli are amongst the favorite preparations. Amma makes two kinds of vadais - one with urad dhal (ulundhu) not unlike the medhu vadai and the other is this... with channa dhal/kadalai paruppu. The former yields a softer vadai while this is the crunchy counterpart - both delicious.

VAZHAIPOO VADAI



Ingredients:

Vazhaipoo - half of a big one
Channa dhal - half cup (soak for 2 to 3 hours)
Dried Red Chillies - 2 to 3
Ginger - half inch piece, minced
Asafoetida - a big pinch
Onion - half of a big one, chopped finely
Curry leaves - 1 stalk, chopped
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Salt - to taste
Oil - to deep fry

Method:
1) Prepare the vazhaipoo by peeling out the florets and removing the stamen (click here for detailed steps on how to do this). Chop the vazhaipoo into small pieces and put them in bowl of water to which a tbsp of yogurt has been mixed in. This will help maintain the colour of the vazhaipoo without blackening them.

2) Heat a pan and drain fistfuls of the vazhaipoo (from the above diluted yogurt water) and add to it with a pinch of salt and allow to cook for about 10-15 mins or until all the water has evaporated. This should be dry.

2) Grind the soaked the channa dhal & red chillies to a coarse texture (not too chunky either or it won't hold together well).

3) To the channa dhal, add the cooked vazhaipoo, chopped onions, curry leaves, coriander leaves, ginger, hing & salt to taste. Mix thoroughly.

4) Heat oil (to deep fry) in a pan on medium and when hot enough, make small vadais (flattened slightly) and deep fry till golden brown. Make sure the oil is not too hot or the insides won't cook through. Drain on a paper towel & serve.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Broccoli Kootu

This recipe is from my friend Latha and what I love about it is that it requires no grinding & no chopping either if you use the frozen one and incorporates broccoli in a very yummy, subtle way that it makes for a nice variation to make even for those who are not crazy about this veggie. Ever since I started making Roasted Broccoli, it has converted my once broccoli hating husband to one who actually buys a big bunch every time he goes shopping. My daughter has even gone on to declare it as her favorite veggie - so now I incorporate this in many more ways in our daily cooking.

BROCCOLI KOOTU


Ingredients:
Broccoli (Chopped) - 1 box (10 oz)
Mung dhal (yellow split) / paasiparuppu - 1/3 cup
Sambar powder (I use Shakthi) - 1 to 2 tsp
Coriander powder - half tsp
Turmeric powder - half tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - a small pinch
Salt - 2 tsp
Shredded Coconut - 1 to 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Seasoning:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad dhal - half tsp
Curry leaves - few
Red chillies - 1, broken (optional)
Onion - 1 small, chopped finely
Garlic - 1 clove, minced (optional)

Method:
1) In a deep pan, saute the mung dhal for a few minutes (it shouldn't change colour). Wash it once and return to the stove, then add 2 cups of water, hing, turmeric & 1 tsp of salt. Once it boils, reduce the flame to a simmer, cover and allow to cook.

2) Meanwhile, microwave the frozen broccoli for 5 minutes. When the dhal is cooked about 75% and is quite soft, add the broccoli into the mix followed by the cumin seeds, sambar & coriander powders & remaining salt. Cover and allow to cook till both, dhal & broccoli are cooked fully.

3) In a separate pan, heat oil and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, curry leaves & broken red chillies. Add the chopped onions & garlic and a bit of salt. Allow this to cook until it softens & browns a bit.

4) Add the onion-seasoning mix to the broccoli-dhal mix and stir in the coconut. Switch of the stove... and allow to rest covered for about 5 to 10 minutes - kootu is ready and tastes real good with rice.



We had nearly 2 feet of snow over the weekend and while it was (and still is to an extent) breathtaking to look at, the clean up was a lot of effort. I leave you with some pictures...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Choco-Toffee Crunch Cookies

I you are looking for crispy cookies studded with nuts, toffee bits and chocolate chips then this recipe is perfect. It was very satisfying and retained it's crunch for several days and was just great dipped in milk or plain. Making cookies with my daughter is always a pleasurable activity and she particularly loves chocolate chip cookies so I wanted to try this out with bits of toffee as well. The recipe below makes a LOT of cookies so I would recommend halving it if you want around 24 cookies.

CHOCO-TOFFEE CRUNCH COOKIES


Ingredients: (makes 4 dozen cookies)

Oats - half cup (I used old fashioned, plain)
All purpose Flour - 2.25 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Butter (unsalted) - 2 sticks (at room temperature)
Light Brown Sugar - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Eggs - 2
Vanilla - 1 tsp
English Toffee Bars (e.g. Heath/Skor) - abt 4 oz (chopped into small bits)
Walnuts - about 1 cup, chopped & lightly toasted
Semi sweet chocolate chips - 1 cup

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F & line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2) Run oats in a food processor and combine with flour, baking powder, soda & salt using a whisk.
3) Beat butter and sugars (white & brown) till fluffy, then beat in eggs and vanilla.
4) Add flour mixture and stir just till blended.
5) Stir in tofee bits, walnuts, choc chips.
6) Drop cookie by rounded tablespoons and bake for 13 to 15 mins. Cool for 5 mins in pan before removing them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pad Thai

I had made several versions of pad thai earlier but nothing gave as good results as this and I chanced upon this method and video at DelhiBelle's blog. Since then, I've made this quite a few times and it has always been very enjoyable - thanks DB. I rarely order Pad Thai in restaurants these days because some seem to have a very strong, fishy smell and it is such a turn off - so I just stick with my home-made version. A very useful tip I got from her blog was to do the frying in batches that will serve 1 to 2 at a time - this way, the noodles are fried evenly and do not get soggy.

PAD THAI (Vegetarian) - serves 4


Ingredients:

For the Sauce:
Tamarind extract - 1 cup (soak tamarind in water and extract juice)
Soy sauce -2 tbsp
Jaggery - about 1 to 2 tbsp (or to taste)
Salt - to taste

Method:

Combine the above in a pan and allow to boil together, then simmer until it thickens a bit. Keep aside to use when frying the noodles.

For the Noodles:
Flat rice noodles (used for pad thai) - about 100 to 150 gms
Tofu - 2 cups, cubed and pan fried with a wee bit of oil & a sprinkle of salt
Bean Sprouts - 1 cup
Mixed shredded veggies e.g carrots, cabbage, spinach (optional), shredded - 1 cup total
Garlic chives - to taste (I didn't have this so used spring onions)
Garlic - 1 tbsp, minced
Shallots - 4 tbsp, chopped
Eggs - 3, beaten with a bit of salt & pepper
Red Chilli Flakes - 1 tbsp or more to taste
Dry roasted peanuts - 1/4 cup or so, to taste, crushed
Oil - 3 to 4 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Lemon wedges - to serve
Method: (do the following in 2 batches to serve 3 to 4 pple)
1) Soak the pad thai noodles in some warm water for about 30 minutes or so (or follow package directions). Ensure they are not too soft or they will turn soggy when fried.
2) Heat about 1.5 tbsp of oil in a big wok and add half the garlic, shallots and red chilli flakes, then add in half cup of the veggies using and stir fry on high heat till tender crisp. Add a bit of salt when doing this.
3) Next add about a cup of the pan fried tofu (cut into cubes) and the half of the softened noodles (drained completely). Stir fry this with a tbsp of water, if necessary, until it is soft.
4) Now add half of the beaten egg mixture and continue cooking and stirring until the eggs get scrambled and cooked along with the noodles. The pan should be really hot.
5) Now add half of the bean sprouts & about 3 tbsp of the sauce (can be adjusted after tasting) and continue to stir fry.
6) Finally add the chives/spring onions & the crushed peanuts before removing the pad thai off the flame. Serve with lemon wedges & more chilli flakes if desired for a delicious pad thai.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bread Pudding

This may not be a great looking dessert but it's definitely a simple and comforting one and a great way to use leftover, dried up, hard, stale bread (which is what I had after making some paninis) . The cinnamon and vanilla flavours with the not overly sweet milk mixture combines to form a yummy dessert and biting into the raisins is such a sweet surprise

BREAD PUDDING w/ RAISINS



Ingredients:
Half of a sour dough loaf - cut into cubes (about 6 to 7 cups)
Eggs - 4 (I replaced 2 with half cup egg beaters)
Milk - 3 cups
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Cinnamon - 1 tsp

Vanilla - 1 tsp
Salt - half tsp

Raisins - about half cup
Butter, melted - 3 tbsp + half tbsp to grease pan


Method:
1) Toss together bread, raisins, cinnamon & melted butter.


2) Grease an oven proof (about 2.5 quart) casserole dish with half tbsp of melted butter and put the bread-raisin mixture in.

3) Heat the milk in a saucepan (shouldn't boil). Whisk together eggs, sugar & vanilla. Then add milk and whisk again. Pour this gradually over the bread mixture.

4) Slightly push down the bread on the top to dunk it slightly in the milk mixture.

5) Bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.


Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream and it also tastes good eaten cold by itself.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mixed Berry Jam

I was cleaning out my freezer recently and found a couple bags of berries - strawberries, raspberries & blueberries to be precise. I freeze these when we get them in abundance & typically use them to whip up smoothies... But now that the cold weather is upon us, smoothies are the last thing on my mind and so I decided to make a jam using them instead. It came together really easily and now i look forward to my breakfast of toasted whole wheat bread, jam & scrambled egg with a mug of ovaltine/boost. Btw, I owe the colour to the addition of blueberries - gave it a nice, deep & intense look.

MIXED BERRY JAM


Ingredients:

Strawberries - about 1.5 cups, chopped
Raspberries - about half cup
Blueberries - about half cup
Apple - half, peeled, cored & chopped into small cubes
Sugar - 1.5 cups (adjust based on sweetness of fruit)

Method:
1) In a fairly deep pot, combine the strawberries, raspberries & sugar and put it on the stove on medium heat until it comes to a boil.

2) Add the chopped apple & blueberries and continue boiling the mixture for about 20 minutes or so, stirring often until it reaches 220F on the candy thermometer. I like a bit of texture in the jam so mashed the fruit a bit with the back of the spoon and didn't make it smooth.

Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight (glass) container/bottle and refrigerating.

NOTE: I would highly recommend buying/using a candy thermometer because it's inexpensive (approx US$4) and takes out a lot of the guesswork about the right time to pull things off the stove.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday Supper

I can't remember the last time we all sat down and ate together... it must be atleast 6 months back. Last sunday however, we got an opportunity to do just that and the baby obliged as well and took a small 15 minute power nap during that time. Colder weather always makes me want to use the oven often because baking makes the kitchen and the house in general so much more warm and comforting so we had quite a few baked items.

On the menu were Sweet Potato Fries, Baked Potato Wedges, Hummus, Pita Bread, Roasted Broccoli, Pear Slices & Apple slices - a light and satisfying meal.


Baked Sweet Potato Fries:

Ingredients:
Sweet Potatoes - 3, cut into thick sticks
Chilli powder - to taste
Salt - to taste
Extra Virgin Olive oil - 1 tbsp

1) Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss the sweet potato with the seasonings and oil.

2) Spray a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil and lay the sweet potato as a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes or so, turning them over once in between until done.

They don't get super crisp but are very tasty and the spiciness from the chilli powder and sweetness of the potato go well together.

HUMMUS
Ingredients:Garbanzo/Chick peas - 1 (14 oz) can, drained and rinsed well
Garlic cloves - 1 medium or 2 small, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil - 1 to 2 tbsp
Tahini paste - 1 tbsp (I roasted sesame seeds and ground them with olive oil & salt with chilli powder)
Chilli powder - approx 1 tsp
Lemon juice - from half a lemon
Salt - to taste
Water - a few tbsp as required to get the right consistency

Method:1) Blend together the tahini, garlic, olive oil for a few seconds and then add the drained chickpeas, lemon juice, chilli powder, salt with water as required to make a paste.

This is a very versatile recipe and you can change the ingredients and texture to your preference. It will also be good to add some roasted red peppers or jalapenos for a spicy kick.
Serve with crudites or with toasted pita bread.
Finally, always a good sign at the end of the meal... :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deepavali 2009 Treats

I know this post is rather late, but better late than never... This Deepavali, with my mother's help, we churned out quite a few savouries and sweets but almost all of them were made in small quantities except for the thenkuzhal. I have this unfortunate luck where if some sweet turns out good and I try to double or triple the quantities the next time, then it usually flops. We made Asoka Halwa, 7 cups burfi, karasev, thenkuzhal , mysore pak (from Lata akka's blog - though mine was not perfect like hers it was still the best mysore pak I've made so far) & jangri (from Raks' blog). I also tried making gulab jamun using milk powder which according to me was a super flop texturewise but my daughter and husband loved the taste.

My mother's recipe for thenkuzhal came out smashingly well and it was crunchy and had the perfect texture. The Jangri was also fairly easy to make, much to our surprise (and thanks to Raks' detailed pictures), that my husband who was initially skeptic and was pushing for badusha instead, couldn't get enough of the jangri and finished the entire thing in 2 days after which he wanted us to make more.... but by then I was sick of seeing copious amounts of sugar and ghee that goes into the making of practically everything and decided to give a few months before our next indulgence.


THENKUZHAL (Murukku)
This is the plain, salted version and if you want to spicy one please check out the recipe for Chaklis.



Ingredients:
Rice Flour (I used store bought) - 2 cups
Urad dhal flour - 1/4 cup (procedure give below)
Cumin seeds - 1 to 2 tsp (based on preference)
Asafoetida powder (hing) - few pinches
Butter (unsalted) - 1 tbsp at room temperature (not melted)
Salt - to taste (I used about 3/4 to 1 tsp)
Water - sufficient amount to bind into a dough
Oil - enough to deep fry


Method:

1) Procedure for Urad Flour: Dry roast about 1/4 cup of whole, skinned (white), urad dhal in a pan until very light brown. Allow to cool and grind to a fine powder. Sieve this urad dhal flour and then measure out the required 1/4 cup flour for this recipe.

2) In a bowl combine the rice flour, urad dhal flour cumin seeds, salt, asafoetida. Then add the butter and mix well. Slowly add water and make into a soft dough. If it's too hard, then it'll be really hard to press out the thenkuzhal and if too soft/watery, it will absorb too much oil.


3) Heat oil in a wide pan, test with a small piece of the dough and if it sizzles and comes right back up then it's ready. Press out the thenkuzhal (you need special equipment for this) directly in the oil, if comfortable or onto a piece of foil or wrap before transferring them into the oil.

4) Fry until the bubbles around the murukku almost disappear but ensure that it doesn't become brown.. it should be an off white. Adjust the temperature of the oil accordingly. Drain on a paper towel and store in an air-tight container when it has cooled down.

----------------------------------------------------------------

JANGRI (south indian jilebis)


Ingredients:
For the dough:
Whole white urad dhal - 1/2 cup, soaked for 2 hours
Orange food colouring - a pinch
Salt - a pinch


Oil - to deep fry

A Ziploc bag

For the Sugar Syrup:

Sugar -1/2 cup
Water - as required to immerse the sugar
Orange colouring - a few pinches
Rose essence - if desired



Method:

1) For the Sugar Syrup: Boil water and sugar for a few minutes until the syrup thickens a bit. Add the orange colour and rose essence and keep this kind of hot and ready for the jangris.

2) For the Jangris: Grind the urad dhal with very little water to a smooth and fluffy dough (I used a wet grinder for this and followed the exact same procedure as for vadais). Add a wee bit of salt and food colouring and mix well.


3) Now spoon this into a ziploc bag and push it all to one of the lower corners and snip of the tip (a small one will do). Heat oil in a wide, but shallow pan - one inch depth of oil is sufficient - on a low flame. Oil should not be smoking hot.


4) Now squeeze the top of the ziploc while making circular motions directly in the oil to form the jangris (I know it sounds complicated but isn't all that bad when you actually give it a go). Please check out raks website for detailed pictures. I practised making a small one on a plate before trying it out in oil.

5) Flip them over and allow to cook on both sides & remove from oil (using chopsticks is recommended so as not to bruise them) and drop them in the hot sugar syrup for about 2 minutes or so before removing them onto a plate.
I would recommend letting them sit for a while before eating because they tasted better with time.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Kaara Vadai

My dad loves bajjis and always finds some reason or another to whip up a batch & enjoy. If it rains, it goes without saying that bajjis will most likely make it to the table :) So, one rainy evening we had bajjis on the mind but were out of kadalai maavu (besan). My mom decided to make these kara vadais (spicy vadais) instead which are pretty instant if you have idli/dosa batter on hand and we absolutely loved these spicy bites.

KAARA VADAI


Ingredients:
Idli/Dosai Batter - 1 cup
Rice Flour - 1/3 cup
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 medium to large, chopped
Green Chillies - 5, minced finely (reduce if you want make it less spicy)
Ginger - 1/2 inch, minced
Coriander leaves - few, chopped
Baking Soda - a pinch
Salt - to taste
water - as required to make a thick dough
Oil - to deep fry

Method:
1) Combine everything (except the water and oil) in a bowl and mix uniformly. Add water little by little (it doesn't require much) to make it pretty thick. It should NOT be too wet & watery.

2) Heat oil to deep fry (test to make sure it is the right temperature), add small bits of the batter and fry till golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving with some hot tea.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes and a Birthday celebration

Hello everyone... Thank you so much for your well wishes. I thought I would be able to get back into the blogging world in a few months but boy was I wrong.. it's been super hectic to say the least and before we even realize that a day has dawned it's drawing to a close. 2 kids are definitely a handful and they constantly keep us on our toes. That didn't stop us from having a small celebration at home in view of my daughter's 4th birthday on October 10th. She also had a small party and a Montessori ritual at her school so I baked some vanilla cupcakes for her friends and decorated it with a light pink icing and she put the sprinkles on top and was positively excited about it. For the 'cake cutting' at home, I baked a carrot cake and again enlisted Anushka's help to decorate it with her favorite candy - m&ms. She was all smiles and said that she loved the 'celebragens and decoragens' :)

SIMPLE VANILLA CUPCAKES - makes around 12 to 15 cupcakes


Ingredients:
All Purpose Flour - 1.5 cups
Butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick), at room temperature
Sugar - 1 cup (slightly more if you want it sweeter)
Eggs - 2
Milk - 3/4 cup
Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
Baking Powder - 1.75 tsp

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin tin with paper cups.
Sift together the flour & baking powder.

2) In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. I used a hand beater and kept at it for a good 6 to 8 minutes.

4) Beat in eggs one at a time, beating really well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract next and beat really well again.

5) Now stir in the sifted flour + baking powder until almost mixed. Add the milk and beat till the batter is smooth.

6) Spoon it into the paper cups - 3/4 full is good because they rise quite well. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes clean.

These are great plain or with an icing of your choice.. since my daughter likes Cream cheese I used that to make this icing and topped with some sprinkles. "

Here's a picture of the other carrot cake also topped with cream cheese icing


and also one of the birthday girl, the baby brother & my mom.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On a Break...

This is probably a late announcement since I've been away for quite a while already. There has been a new addition to our family last week - a little boy and so we've all gotten busier. I will be absconding from the blog world for a while and hope to get back in a month or two.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dum Aloo

I find baby potatoes so cute looking and adorable that I never miss a chance to buy them when I spot them. I usually make either dum aloo with them or a spicy, dry masala fry. I don't use the dum technique per se for cooking these but just let them simmer for a long time so the potatoes can absorb the masalas.

DUM ALOO


Ingredients:

Baby potatoes - 12, parboiled and peeled
Coriander leaves - chopped, for garnish
Thick yogurt - 2 tbsp
Milk / Cream - 2 tbsp
Oil - 4 tsp, divided
Cloves - 1
Cinnamon stick - half inch piece
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Salt - to taste

To Fry & Grind:
Onion - 1 large, peeled and cut into big pieces
Tomato - 1 medium, ripe
Garlic - 3 cloves
Ginger - half inch piece
Almonds/Cashews - about 8

Masala powders (to be mixed into a paste with some water)
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Kitchen King Masala - 1 to 2 tsp

Method:
1) Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan and fry the onion, ginger and garlic till browned on the edges. Add the tomatoes with a bit of salt and when they are mushy. Transfer out to a bowl and allow to cool a bit. Then grind this with almonds or cashews to a fine paste.

2) Return the same pan to the stove and add another tsp of oil, slightly prick the parboiled ( I used a microwave to do this), peeled potatoes and toss in the oil with a pinch or two of salt and allow them to get fried a bit.. They will just get a light brown colour. Take this out and keep aside.

3) Now add the remaining 2 tsp of oil and season with cloves, cinnamon and cumin seeds and add the ground onion-tomato paste, followed by the masala powder paste with some salt and allow this to cook on a medium flame till it is nice and thick and the raw smell is gone.

4) Now add about a cup of water and the fried potatoes, let this come to a boil, cover, reduce flame and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or till thick. You will see some oil splitting and floating on the top after this. The reason we want this thick now is so the curd and milk mixture will bring it back to the right consistency.

5) Blend the curd with milk/cream until smooth and add to the gravy. Switch off the stove and cover again and let it stay for about 10 to 15 minutes before garnishing with coriander leaves and serving. If desired more cream can be drizzled on top.
Serve with naan, rotis or pulaos.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Potstickers / Vegetable Dumplings

I love potstickers and find these just as satisfying (sometimes even more so) than the deep fried spring rolls. These have a crunchy coating from the pan frying and the steaming method makes them a bit chewy as well. I usually use wonton wrappers that one can find in the freezers at the supermarket and they really make life easy because one just makes the filling and encloses them in the wrappers. These can then be frozen for later or pan-fried immediately or even steamed.

The wonton wrappers that I had on hand weren't wrapped properly after the first time I took them out so turned rather brittle. I then resorted to making the outer covering myself similar to what is used for momos, just a dough of all purpose flour, salt and some water. These were time consuming but they still tasted good and were a lot chewier than the wonton wrappers. One could also just steam these and they are just as tasty.

POTSTICKERS / VEGETABLE DUMPLINGS


Ingredients:
For the dough: (or use store-bought wonton wrappers)
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Water - as required to make a stiff dough
Oil - 2 to 3 tsp to cook the dumplings

For the Filling:
Carrots - 2, cut into thin slivers
Cabbage - 1 cup, sliced thinly or chopped
Ginger - 1/2 inch, grated
Garlic - 1 to 2 cloves, chopped
Spring Onions - 3 to 4, chopped (I didn't have any this time)
Soy Sauce - 1 to 2 tsp
Sriracha chilli sauce - to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
(You could add other veggies as per your preference like mushrooms, beans etc.)

Method:

1) For homemade dough, mix the flour, salt and water to make a stiff dough.

2) For the filling, heat the 2 tsp of oil and add the whites of spring onions, ginger and garlic, after abt 20-30 seconds, add in the veggies and a pinch of salt and stir-fry till crisp-tender. Stir in the soy & chilli sauces with pepper to taste & spring onion tops (greens) and when done. Keep aside and allow to cool a bit.

3) Pinch small portions of the dough and roll out into circles of 3 to 4 inch diameters. Place the filling in the middle and close over to make a semi-circle. Pinch the edges together. If using the wonton wrappers, follow a similar procedure and fold over to form triangles, a bit of water along the edges will help seal the wrappers. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.


4) Heat a wide, shallow pan and spread a layer of oil... Place the potstickers/dumplings flat in a single layer (possibly in batches). Allow to cook for a few minutes until the bottoms of the pot stickers brown a bit and get crispy. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the hot pan, cover and allow the dumplings to get steam cooked.


5) Serve with dipping sauce of choice or even plain.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Spicy Cabbage Curry

This is a very simple, spicy, dry curry and something that a friend whipped up. I've only made poriyals/thorans with cabbage or a few kootu varieties and that usually involves coconut but this just needs a bit of chilli powder and the channa dhal lends a bit of bite and comes together very quickly... so I was sure to try this at home and liked it.

CABBAGE CURRY


Ingredients:
Cabbage - 3 to 4 cups, chopped into half inch pieces
Onion - half of a medium one, sliced thinly into 1 inch pieces
Ginger - 1/4 inch piece, grated
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp, or to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste

Seasonings:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad dhal - half tsp
Channa dhal - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Curry leaves - few

Method:
1) Heat the oil in a pan and add the seasonings, asafoetida and curry leaves.

2) Next add the ginger and onion and fry till transparent. Then add the chopped cabbage, chilli powder and salt.

3) Allow this to fry for a few minutes, sprinkle some water, cover and allow to cook on a medium flame, till done. I usually don't let it become too soft so there's a bit of crunch. Keep stirring every few minutes so it doesn't stick to the bottom.

4) When it's dry, remove from the stove and it's ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coconut Buns

I've always loved Coconut Buns that we get in Indian bakeries and was so happy when the Salara I tried from Cynthia's place was pretty close. They were my absolute favorite with soft buns (cut into triangular wedges) encasing a sweet, coconut-tutti frutti mixture. On those days my mom couldn't get these, she would buy the coconut puffs instead but that never quite stood up to the buns. Infact, since I loved it so much, my grandparents actually bought an entire round bun (which was not cut into wedges) from a bakery and I cut into that for one of my birthdays instead of a cake :)

So, a few weeks back, I decided to bake these coconut stuffed buns and we really enjoyed the treat. The buns were soft and the coconut filling was delicious. I had some tutti frutti leftover from this Plum Cake I had baked and so added that as well along with some dates and raisins. The next time however, I think I will use brown sugar instead of white so the filing can get that deep colour that the store bought ones have. I also didn't glaze the buns with egg whites or mik so they had a dull looking exterior but that didn't take away from the taste one bit.

COCONUT BUNS


Ingredients:
For the Buns:
Active dry yeast - 1 pack
Warm water - 1/4 cup
Warm milk - 1 cup
Butter - 3 tbsp, softened
Eggs - 1
Sugar - 3 to 4 tbsp
Salt - 0.5 tsp
Bread flour - 3.5 cups (bread flour is preferable, else All purpose flour is fine)


For the Filling: (Combine the following in a bowl)Coconut grated - 1.5 cups, run it through the mixie to make it softer if using frozen
Combination of Tutti Frutti, Raisins & Dates - 0.5 cups, chopped
Sugar - 1 cup or slighty lesser.
Cardamom, powdered - 1/4 tsp or more

Method:1) To the warm milk, add yeast and sugar and mix. Allow this to proof for about 10 minutes. It will become foamy.

2) Mix flour and salt and butter. Add the yeast-milk mixture and combine until you get a  sticky dough. Knead well until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 6 to 8 minutes).

3) Spray a bowl with some oil, place dough, cover with wrap and put in a warm place (e.g. oven with light on) and let it rise for an hour or so until it doubles.

4) Punch down the dough and knead lightly. Then take a piece of about 2.5 inches diameter and flatten it lightly to a circle, place about 2 tbsp of the filling in the middle. Pull the edges over the filling and enclose it. Seal it and place on a greased parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough. I got about 16 buns. 


5) Cover with wrap and allow to rise again till doubled about 45 minutes. Then, remove the cover and bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If preferred you can brush an egg white wash or milk over the buns before baking.


6) Allow to cool a bit and serve warm or at room temperature. Keeps well for a few days on the counter.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Egg Curry

I had several malayali neighbours growing up and thanks to them I tasted quite a few kerala dishes and one of my favorites was the delicious egg curry that they often whipped up. I love the results of the recipe below & use it often but I still feel that it doesn't stand up to the ones that Radha aunty and Usha aunty made. I even made them give me the egg masala powder that they use but I guess it needs their magic touch or something :)

What I like about this recipe is that it needs no grinding and I often use coconut milk powder mixed with warm water instead of opening an entire can since this needs just quarter cup of coconut milk. You could add a few chunks of boiled potatoes too if you want to extend this curry and add them right after the masala powders go in so they absorb the flavours.

EGG CURRY

Ingredients:
Eggs - 4, harboiled and peeled
Onion - 1 medium, thinly sliced and cut into half inch pieces
Tomatoes - 1 small, chopped
Coconut Milk - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Oil - 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp or so chopped, for garnish

Masala powders (to be mixed with water to form a thin paste)
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Egg Masala powder/Kitchen King Masala powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp or lesser

Method:
1) To Harboil eggs, place eggs in a bowl and cover with water. Bring this to a boil and after 2-3 minutes, switch off the stove, cover and let this sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The eggs can then be peeled and cut into 2 halves, with a few slits on the whites so the masala can steep in.

2) In a pan, heat oil and season with mustard seeds and add the curry leaves. Then add the sliced onions and fry till they are translucent. Next add the chopped tomatoes and some salt and cook till they are mushy.

3) Now add the masala paste and allow this to cook for about 3-5 minutes more. Add about a cup of water at this stage and let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the flame and allow to simmer on low heat till it thickens - around 10 to 15 minutes.

4) Add the halved eggs in and let it cook for 5 more minutes before stirring in the coconut milk. Let this heat through (low heat is best so the coconut milk doesn't split). Garnish with coriander leaves, cover and let rest for a few minutes before serving so the flavours mingle.

This is great with rice, rotis, aapams, idiyaapam or parottas.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tamarind-Date Chutney & a tasty snack

We all love chaats and most chaats are spiced up with a delicious array of chutneys of which the most popular ones are the green chutney and this tangy, sweet tamarind chutney which is my absolute favorite. It has a light spicy kick to it and is lip smackingly good and there have been so many occassions when I've just had this plain. After seeing how easy it is to whip this up, i've stopped buying it from the store and use it on so many items like bhel puri, ragda patties, dahi vadas etc.

TAMARIND DATE CHUTNEY


Ingredients:

Tamarind/Puli - 1/4 cup, soaked in warm water for 15-20 mins
Dates - 1/2 cup, seeds removed (I used seedless)
Jaggery (Vellam)/Brown sugar - 3/4 cup, powdered
Ginger - half inch piece, crushed/grated
Chilli powder, Cumin powder - half teaspoon each
Garam masala - a pinch
Salt - to taste

Method:
1) Extract juice from the soaked tamarind and keep aside.

2) In a pan, add the tamarind extract, coarsely chopped dates, jaggery and sufficient water. Allow to boil, then reduce flame and allow to cook for about 15 mins or so till the dates soften.
3) Allow this to cool a bit and blend together till smooth.
4) Return to the pan, add the masala powders and salt to taste and cook till it thickens sufficiently.
5) Cool and serve or store in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator.

Here's a quick snack that I put together with some leftover Punjabi Chole and some Aloo Tikkis... Top the tikkis with channa masala, freshly cut onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves and drizzle green chutney and this tamarind date chutney, topped with sev for a flavor explosion that is sure to tantalize your taste buds:


ALOO TIKKI CHANNA CHAAT

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Luscious Lemon Tart

I don't like lemon tarts, I can tolerate them but it's not something that I enjoy - so why did I bake this? For my husband who is a big fan. A month or so ago we were at a pastry shop which showcased (and sold) some very decadent looking cakes and tarts and we came home with a dark chocolate-raspberry ganache cake and a lemon tart.. tiny 2.5 inch diameter portions for a hefty price of $6 each. While my daughter and I devoured the chocolate cake, we wanted nothing more to do with the lemon tart after a customary taste - but my husband was so in love with it and kept raving about lemon tarts and how much he always loved them and so on. He hasn't really mentioned it before... so i casually looked up what making a lemon tart entails and was surprised to see that it was rather simple.

So, I set about making this over the weekend and I must say that it came together rather easily and I tasted a bit just out of curiosity and though it was lemony, fresh & nice, it really isn't my cup of tea but I loved the crust and so did my daughter. Had I known, how yummy the shortbread crust would've been, i'd have baked some of the dough separately. Anyways, I was happy that my husband loved it and in a way I'm glad that there's this dessert in the fridge but I'm not battling any temptation to eat it all up... :) So, this recipe is for all you lemon tart lovers out there...

LEMON TART


Ingredients for Shortbread Crust:
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Confectioners sugar (Powedered) - 1/3 cup
Cold, unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick) cut into abt 10 slices
Salt - 1/8 tsp

Method For Crust:
1) Prepare a 8 or 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom ( I used a pie pan lined with aluminium foil with some over-hang, so I could remove it easily later) by spraying with cooking oil/butter.

2) In a food processor (I used our indian mixie fitted with a medium jar), place flour, sugar and salt and process to combine. Then add the cold butter slices and pulse until the pastry starts to come together and looks clumpy - see picture.


3) Transfer this to the pie pan and evenly press the pastry onto bottom and sides of pan. My sides were thinner than the bottom so that is something you'll want to keep in mind and try to do this more evenly. Pierce the bottom of the crust with a tines of a fork (so it won't puff up while baking).


4) Cover this with cling wrap and freeze for about 15 minutes (which helps prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes). Meanwhile Pre-heat oven to 425F with rack in center of oven.

5) When pastry is chilled, place tarn pan on a larger baking pan and bake till the crust is golden brown (about 13-15 mins). Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing the filling. Also, reduce the ove temperature to 350F.

Ingredients for Filling:
Cream cheese (I used lower fat) - 5 oz, softened at room temperature
Sugar - 2/3 cup (1/2 cup was the original recipe but i increased it a bit)
Fresh lemon juice - 1/2 cup (I juiced 4 lemons to get this much, depends on the size)
Eggs - 2, large
Grated lemon zest - 1 tbsp (Zest the lemons before juicing them)

Method:
1) In a food processor (I used the same medium jar of the mixie not wanting more things to clean), put cream cheese and process till smooth. Next add the sugar and process so it is combined.

2) Now add the eggs one by one and process till well combined. Add the lemon juice, zest and process till smooth. Pour this in the tart shell and bake for 25-30 minutes (in the 350F) oven till filling is set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled.



Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or you could pipe the whipped cream over the entire tart.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hara Aloo

This is a curry that I first made almost 9 years ago and is a recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor. I remember my friend & me enjoying it quite a bit but unfortunately I lost the recipe and didn't make it after that. So I was thrilled to see this on Lakshmi's blog and was able to recreate it after all these years and it was really delicious. My family really liked it and I particularly relished this with curd rice - very satisfying. Hara Aloo translates to green potatoes and the coriander leaves lend such a bright, fresh burst of flavour and offers for a great varatiation to our ubiquitous potato fry. In her recipe, she's first baked them in the oven and though that's a fabulous idea, with the hot weather that prevails, I didn't want to switch on the oven, so instead tossed them on a wide pan in 2 batches.

HARA ALOO (Spiced Coriander Potatoes)


Ingredients:

Potatoes - 4 medium, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
Onion - 1/4 of a big red one, sliced thin into 1 inch pcs (optional)
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Water - couple tablespoons

To Grind:
Coriander (Cilantro) leaves & stems - about a cup, washed
Green chillies - 5
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 2 small cloves

Method:

1) You could toss the potato slices in some oil (the 2 tbsp) & salt and bake them in an oven until browned or pan fry them in a wide pan as a single layer until lightly browned. Flip over and cook the other side as well. I had to do 2 batches to finish all the potatoes. Remove them and keep aside.

2) Meanwhile grind coriander leaves, green chillies, garlic & ginger to a slightly coarse paste.

3) Heat a tsp of oil in the same pan and add cumin seeds, then add the ground coriander paste and cook this for a few minutes (so the raw smell goes away). Rinse the jar of the mixie with a few tbsp of water and add this to the fried paste and a bit of salt to taste.

4) Toss in the potatoes at this juncture and stir gently (with a spatula) so they are coated with the coriander masala. Keep the flame on a medium high until all the water is absorbed, which only takes a few minutes.

5) After that, reduce the flame to medium and keep tossing the potatoes until browned and dry. Serve with rice and rasam or my favorite combination curd rice and this - bliss.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bread Upma

I tried this bread upma recipe from Menu Today's blog and absolutely loved it and now this has become a standard method of preparation at our place. My MIL makes this differently where she first makes coarse bread crumbs and even adds eggs sometimes - my husband likes that version a lot too. This one just uses chunks of bread and has a slight tang from the yogurt and is quite spicy too. I've made a few variations to include more veggies, depending on what I have on hand but otherwise follow her recipe pretty much.

BREAD UPMA


Ingredients:

Bread slices - 12 to 15
Yogurt/Curd (thick) - 2 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp, or to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala / Curry Masala powder - 1/4 tsp
Onions - 1 large, sliced thinly and then into 1 inch pieces
Tomato - 1 small to medium, chopped
Green chillies - 4 to 5, slit in two
Ginger - half inch piece, chopped finely/grated
Carrot - 1 or 2, grated
Green bell peppers/Capsicum - 1 small, cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sombu (Fennel seeds) - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a twig
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Oil - 2 to 3 tbsp

Method:
1) Cut each slice of bread into about 16 cubes (depends on the size of the bread slices and how big you want the chunks to be).

2) In a large bowl, combine the yogurt with the chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and some salt... add the bread cubes to this, mix gently until the mixture coats the bread pieces and allow to marinate for about 15 to 20 mins.

3) In a big, wide pan, heat oil and season with mustard seeds and sombu. Next add the green chillies, onion, ginger and fry till they wilt. Then add the capsicum pieces & grated carrot and cook till they soften.

4) Now the tomatoes go in with a bit of salt so it helps them turn mushy . Now add the marinated bread pieces and stir gently so it's evenly coated. Cook this on a medium flame, tossing every once in a while until the bread pieces get roasted.

5) Finally switch off the stove and toss in the coriander leaves. Yummy bread upma is ready to serve as is or with some ketchup.


This makes for a delicious breakfast and I would like to send this to Divya's Show me your breakfast event.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Falafel

Falafels are yummy, fried chickpea patties and when stuffed in a pita bread with some cucumber, tomato, onions and lettuce - it makes for a delightful & tasty sandwich. I had quite a few extra and though they are delicious all by themselves as a snack, I froze the leftovers and heated them up and used them like burger patties - worked great. Though this is a middle-eastern snack it has a lot of the indian spices going in and so really appeals to our palate.

UPDATE: 7/Aug/2012 - Instead of deep frying the patties,  bake at 375F for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping over once in between and then shallow fry with a few tsp of oil on a tawa or shallow pan.

FALAFELS (Chickpea/Channa Patties) - makes 20 1.5 to 2 inch patties


Ingredients:White Channa / Chickpeas (dry) - 1 cup, soaked overnight in plenty of water
Onion - 1 medium
Garlic cloves - 2 to 3
Chilli powder - about a tsp (or to taste)
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt & Black Pepper - to taste
Sesame seeds - 1 to 2 tbsp (optional)
Oil - sufficient to fry the patties

Method:1) Rinse the well-soaked chickpeas. Puree the onion and garlic in a blender and add the soaked chickpeas (in batches, depending on your blender) & puree it all together. It will be a little grainy & pasty (not chunky) for most part. Preferably no water should be added but if you absolutely must, add the bare minimum.

2) Add the masala powders, sesame seeds, coriander leaves , baking powder & salt & pepper to taste to the chickpea paste. Mix well and refrigerate for a while ( a couple of hours if you can).

3) Heat the oil for deep frying and make patties of this mixture and drop in hot oil & fry till golden. Ensure that the flame isn't too high because they will brown without cooking well on the inside. Drain on paper towels and eat by themselves or as a sandwich/burger.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Coconut Pineapple Cake

This is a simple, easy to make cake which is so summery, moist and light and has tropical flavours like pineapple & coconut. I've made this several times and it's great to take on picnics as well... it's one that we enjoy at home and I had fun making this with my daughter too. It starts off with a boxed cake mix but the additions to the cake take this to another level.

COCONUT PINEAPPLE CAKE


Ingredients:
Yellow cake mix - 1 box (18.25 oz)
Evaporated Milk - 1 can (12 oz) - I used low fat
Eggs - 2 large
Crushed Pineapple in Juice - 1 can (20 oz), drained & juice reserved
Almonds/Walnuts - half cup, chopped
Powdered Sugar - 3/4 cup
Flaked Sweetened Coconut - 1 cup, lightly toasted

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 13x9 inch pan (or two 9 inch round pans)

2) In a big bowl, combine cake mix, evaporated milk, eggs and beat on low speed for 2 mins. It will become thick and creamy. Stir in 1 cup of the drained crushed pineapple.

3) Pour the above batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with nuts on the top.

4) Bake this for 30 to 35 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for about 15 mins or so.

5) In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar with 2 tbsp of the pineapple juice (that was drained from the can). Stir until smooth.

6) Poke a few holes (about 2 inches apart) with a toothpick and spread the sugar+juice mixture on the top of the baked warm cake.



7) Sprinkle with coconut and remaining drained pineapple. Slice and serve as-is or with whipped cream for a delicious treat.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beetroot Halwa

I can't remember when I had beetroot halwa... but in my mind I've always held a fascination for it and was sure that I'd prefer it over carrot halwa. I don't cook much with beets, except when making cutlets or some vegetable kurmas, or add to biryani... but I like quite a few preparations of this veggie. The last time I tried my hand at making this beetroot halwa, i added too much sugar and in an effort to get a thick halwa, overcooked it to the point that after 15 mins or so, the entire mixture had turned rock hard and stuck to the bowl to which i transferred it! No amount of poking and prodding could release it from the bowl and it was a total flop (taste & texture wise) to say the least. So, this time, i played with the proportions a bit and was more watchful of the sugar and the time it cooked so i could get the consistency right.... I just love the colour - ain't it pretty?

BEETROOT HALWA

Ingredients:
Beetroot - 1 big, peeled and grated (measured 2 cups total)
Sugar - 2/3 cups (depends on your sweet preference and the beetroot)
Milk - 2 cups
Cardamom Powder - a couple pinches
Ghee - 2 tbsp, divided

Method:
1) Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add the grated beetroot. Stir on medium flame for about 5-7 mins till beetroot is dry and softens a bit.

2) Add the milk at this point and once it begins to boil, reduce flame low-medium and allow to cook, stirring occasionally. This step is a time consuming process (took about 30 mins or more for me) but the good thing is that it doesn't require constant attention and there's no fear of the milk boiling over or the mixture getting stuck to the bottom. I just stirred it every now and then until most of the milk evaporated and the beets were cooked.

3) I had about a tbsp of milk left in the pan when I added the sugar. Stir this mixture until it thickens a bit - i was wary of it getting too thick and turning hard like the previous time i tried making this halwa so i didn't let it become very thick. Add the remaining tbsp of ghee and sprinkle cardamom powder. Stir until the mixture comes together and switch off the stove. Serve warm for a tasty, colorful treat.


Today is my thaatha's birthday so it's only fitting that I celebrate it with this tasty treat.