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 - 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

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.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mango Rice

My (Shobana) periamma was visiting our home and so I got to have a little chat with her a few weekends back. She's quite the food enthusiast and always has many new recipes up her sleeve and used to bake a lot of cakes, pastries, make fruit squashes and concentrates, even wine when I was young and used to visit them during the holidays. She's also the one who introduced me to masala curries, theeyal etc.

Anyway, she was telling me about this mango rice that she made and even as she started to describe it, i was salivating at the idea of a tangy, raw mango rice and quickly noted down the ingredients and method. On my next trip to the grocery store, i picked a raw mango and set about making this - very satisfying and tasty - thank you periamma! :)

Raw Mango Rice

Basmati Rice - half cup, uncooked
Mango - 1 cup heaped, peeled & grated
Oil - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds/Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp each
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste

To Dry Roast & Grind:
Methi/Fenugreek seeds - 4 or 5
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Channa Dhal - 1 tbsp
Dried Copra (Dessicated Coconut or shredded fresh coconut) - 1 tbsp
Dried Red Chillies - 3 to 4
Garlic - 3 to 4 small cloves

1) First dry roast the methi seeds, mustard, cumin & channa dhal. Add dried copra towards the end and remove from the stove. Next dry roast the red chillies and garlic. Grind the above mixtures together to a powder when it has cooled a bit.

2) Cook Basmati Rice separately with about 1 cup of water till done. Allow to cool so the grains are separate.

3) Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard, cumin seeds & curry leaves. Add the ground spice mixture, turmeric and saute for a few seconds before adding the grated mango & salt. Cook this till the mixture is a bit dry (about 5 - 7 minutes).

4) Finally toss in the rice and stir gently so the mango mixture coats it evenly. Tangy, tasty mango rice is now ready.

I would like to send this as my entry to the event that Nags is hosting - Monthly Mingle #33 : Ravishing Rice Recipes which is an event conceived by Meeta.

I noticed that Srivalli is hosting a Mango Mela so off this goes to her Mango Mela as well :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Broccoli Rajma Poriyal

I know that sounds like a weird, unusual combination but it definitely results in a very tasty dish. We first tasted this when we ordered the meals at the Saravana Bhavan in NJ and I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised by how good this dish tasted. Simple masalas but very tasty. My attempt at re-creating it at home was a success and I just went based on what I thought must've gone into the dish. I use canned rajma since it's ready and available but you could just soak and pressure cook some at home (with a bit of salt) and use that too. It shouldn't be too mushy though.


Broccoli - 1 medium head, cut into small florets (about 2 heaped cups)
Rajma (Dark red kidney beans) - 1 can (15 oz) drained & rinsed well
Onion - 1/3 of a medium onion, cut into half inch slices
Tomato - half, chopped
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Coconut - 1 to 2 tbsp, shredded
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad dhal - half tsp
Curry leaves - few
Asafoetida - a pinch

1) Heat the oil in a pan and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, asafoetida & curry leaves. Toss in the onions and fry them till transparent.

2) Next the broccoli florets go in and get sauteed for a few minutes. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the can of kidney beans completely.

3) Add the tomato to the broccoli and after a quick stir, sprinkle salt, turmeric powder & sambar powder followed by the rajma (ensure there's no liquid). Cover and allow to cook on medium flame or low-medium, stirring every couple of minutes so it doesn't stick to the bottom. I didn't add any water since the broccoli & tomatoes generated enough but if you feel that it's very dry, then by all means, sprinkle a few drops.

4) Meanwhile coarsely pound together the coconut and cumin seeds (I used a mortar and pestle) but a a mixie would work too. If you are not upto grinding then just sprinkle them directly on the curry.

5) When the broccoli is tender enough (to your liking and preference - a little bite is preferable so it doesn't become too mushy) and the masala has been absorbed, sprinkle the coconut-cumin mixture, switch off the stove and cover for a few minutes, before transferring to a serving dish.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garlic White Sauce Pizza

After eating a white sauce pizza a while ago, I was craving for it recently and set about making the entire thing from scratch upon a whim. It was a Friday evening and that's usually when I want to experiment and am willing to do something a little more elaborate than usual - of course it depends on my mood and hunger levels as well :)

The pizza crust was really easy to put together and didn't require a whole lot of effort or kneading... i won't say it was the best crust ever but it was pretty decent and i loved the sauce and toppings and so did the others in the family. I only used part of the dough and wrapped and refrigerated the rest using which we made another pizza the following day.

Also, the pictures taken here were done on Day 1 when I first placed the toppings and then added the pepperjack cheese so they are not that visible - the 2nd day however, i first sprinkled the cheese and then placed the toppings which resulted in a prettier looking pizza but there was no time to click pictures then.


For Pizza Crust:

All purpose Flour - 2.5 cups to 3 cups
Active Dry Yeast - 1 pouch (2.25 tsp)
Sugar - 1 to 2 tsp
Honey - 2 tsp
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Warm water - 1 cup
Salt - 1 tsp
Dried Italian herbs (Mixed) - 1 tbsp
Garlic powder (not salt) - 1 to 2 tsp
Dried Red Chilli Flakes - 1 to 2 tsp

Method for Pizza:
In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy (about 5 minutes). Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough lightly after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. You might not need all of the flour. Knead dough very lightly just to combine. Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place (I put it in the oven and turned on the light - no heat though) until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

For Garlic White Sauce - this yields enough sauce for about 3 to 4 medium pizzas

Garlic cloves - 6 to 8, peeled (or use roasted garlic if you have that on hand and skip step 1 below)
Red Chilli Flakes - 1 tsp
Milk - 1 cup, warmed in the microwave
Olive oil - 2 tsp
Butter - 3/4 tbsp
All purpose flour - 2 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method for Garlic Sauce
1) Heat olive oil in a pan and add the red chilli flakes and the peeled garlic cloves, cook till they are golden brown and kind of shrivelled. Scoop out the garlic and as much of the red chilli flakes as you can and place in a blender. Leave the remaining olive oil as is in the pan.

2) Return the pan to the stove and add the butter, when it's melted, add 2 tbsp of flour and stir on a medium heat for a few minutes till the flour and butter combine to a mass and get a bit fried. Now add the warm milk, salt, red chilli powder and stir continously so no lumps are formed. Allow this to simmer (with frequent stirring) until it thickens. Allow this to cool for a bit.

3) Blend this sauce in a mixie/blender along with the garlic from step 1 (this takes care of the tiny lumps if any in the sauce) until you have a smooth, silky, white sauce, loaded with garlicky goodness.

Pizza Toppings: (these can be varied to your choice - the following are my suggestions and what i used except for the broccoli).

Caramelized Red Onions
Red Peppers - sliced into circles
Tomatoes - sliced into circles
Broccoli (par-boiled) / Spinach - small florets or chopped accordingly.
Basil leaves - few, chopped
Pepper jack cheese - about 1 cup

1) For the caramelized onions, heat some olive oil in a pan and add sliced red onions, after they have sweated it out a bit, sprinkle some salt & a touch of sugar and allow to cook till browned & caramelized.

2) Roll out the risen pizza dough to desired thickness. Coat a baking pan or pizza stone with some cooking spray and sprinkle some cornmeal (optional). Transfer pizza dough onto baking pan.

3) Spread a few tbsps of the garlic sauce, sprinkle the pepperjack cheese and evenly distribute the toppings on the pizza.

4) Cook in a preheated oven at 400F for about 15-20 minutes or till done. Slice and serve.

I would like to send this as my 2nd entry to Poornima's My Favorite things: Cheese Event which she is hosting on behalf of Bindya this month.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Batata (Aloo) Poha

This is a well loved, simple yet tasty dish that comes together really quickly and as I understand is something that is often made during fasting. Though this is not something that my mom made, I first tasted it when a neighbour of mine (who spent a lot of her younger years in several parts of North India) made it for me - yummy. Now, this is something I often make for my daughter & me to enjoy.


Poha/Aval - 1 cup, (I use thick) rinsed, drained and allowed to rest for 10 to 15 mins
Onions - 1/4 cup, chopped (Optional)
Potato - 1 medium, boiled, peeled and cubed
Peas, Carrots - 1/4 cup each (Optional)
Green Chillies - 4 to 5 (to taste), slit vertically
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Shredded coconut - 1 tbsp (optional)
Lemon juice - to taste (garnish)
Turmeric powder - half tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Cumin seeds - half tsp

1) Fluff the poha with a fork and ensure that they have softened. Be gentle with them.

2) Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard and cumin seeds, then toss in the onions and green chillies and saute. Next the veggies go in along with turmeric powder and salt. Saute until they get cooked. Sprinkle a little water and cover if they are too crunchy.

3) When the veggies are sauteed toss in the Poha along with 1 tbsp of the coriander leaves and stir gently until well coated with the masala. Taste and adjust seasonings.

4) Stir in the lemon juice and shredded cococnut. Yummy poha is now ready.

This is my 2nd entry to Mahima's 15 minute Cooking event which focusses on quick & tasty food.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chilli Cheese Toast

This is a recipe from Tarla Dalal that I wrote down many years ago. It makes for a quick breakfast and is quite cheesy that it's almost like a pizza of sorts that kids will also like.


Whole Wheat Bread - 4 to 6 slices
Capsicum/Green bell pepper - 1 medium, chopped finely
Onion - half of a small one, chopped finely
Cheese (mozzarella/pepper jack) - 4 to 6 oz, shredded (or to taste)
Butter/Margarine - 1 tbsp
Tomato Ketchup - to taste
Red chilli powder / Hot sauce - to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400F.
2) Combine, capsicum, onion, cheese, butter, tomato ketchup, red chilli powder/hot sauce & mix well.
3) Slather this on the bread toasts and bake for about 10 minutes or till crisp at the bottom and the cheese has melted.

This being a super quick recipe, I'd like to send it to Mahima's 15 minute Cooking event and thanks to its cheesy goodness this will also be sent to Poornima's My Favorite things: Cheese Event which she is hosting on behalf of Bindya this month. Thank you Ladies for hosting these :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rich Fruit / Plum Cake

I've always been a big fan of the dense, dark slices of plum cake that are wrapped in a translucent sheet of paper that we get in India... On seeing the fruit cakes here, I was rather excited at the prospect of re-living those yummy memories but they didn't stand a chance and came no where close to the taste of the plum cakes we get in India. Since I adore tutti fruiti I picked up a pack of Mixed Fruit & Peels that I saw on sale at the supermarket but the taste was quite different and rather disappointing...yet my craving for plum cake was still strong... and not wanting to add alcohol to the fruit mix, I decided to soak them in Pomegranate Juice (POM) but I didn't have enough so used the Pomegranate Blueberry juice that was in the fridge and let it marinate (refrigerated) for a month or so... along with some dates and raisins that I added to the mix as well, hoping that would improve the overall flavour.

I then used RP's fruit cake recipe primarily and was extremely pleased with the end result and couldn't get enough of it... :) The key is to have a really dark coloured caramel syrup so, the cake develops a rich, dark colour and nice flavour. So, here's my non-alcoholic version of a favorite... with a few changes I made.


Dried Fruits (Tutti fruti, cherries, raisins, dates etc) - 1.5 cups (soaked in POM or Pomegranate blueberry juice for a month or so in the fridge)
Nuts - 1/3 to 1/2 cup, chopped (I used walnuts and almonds)

All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Butter - 1 stick (1/4 lbs)
Eggs - 3
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, ginger powder & clove powder - 1/4 tsp each
Pure vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 cup (to prepare caramel syrup)

1) Bring butter & eggs to room temperature.

2) To prepare Caramel Syrup, heat 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan with half tbsp of water. When the sugar begins to caramelize, stir slowly until it turns almost black (pretty dark). Remove pan from stove and place in sink (to avoid splatter - and oven mitts are recommended for the next step). Carefully pour 1/4 cup warm water to the caramel syrup (this is when you have to be careful of it splattering) and stir gently. Add the vanilla extract to this and keep aside.

3) Preheat oven to 350F and spray a cake pan with PAM or no-stick oil spray

4) In a bowl, beat the 1 cup sugar and butter to a creamy consistency. Then add the eggs one by one and beat well to incorporate.

5) In another large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and the spice powders together. Stir in the fruit & nut mixture.

6) Add the caramel-vanilla syrup, and the creamed butter-sugar mixture and stir. Pour this into the greased pan and bake for abt 45 mins to an hour or until a toothpick inserted comes clean.

Ideally, the cake should be allowed to mature and rest for a few days before consuming but I couldn't resist my temptation.. so I reserved a portion of it to taste as soon as it cools down and wrapped the rest in foil and allowed to rest on the countertop for 2 days before slicing and storing in the fridge. Typically this type of cake lasts a long time but we finished eating it all in a few days... :)