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 - 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

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 (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

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)

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.


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

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


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


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


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

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.