Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tomato Rice

My husband has some pretty weird requirements when it comes to tomato rice... he wants it to be tangy & spicy but not too tomatoey (if that is a word). I've had a really tough time catering to this and most of my attempts have not been met with much enthusiasm. I tried quite a few recipes and most of them had a lot of tomatoes in the ingredients list and I knew right away that it wouldn't fit the bill... if I scaled back too much on the tomatoes then it didn't have sufficient tang :( but help arrived in the form of my mom's tomato rice... Finally i found a version that was met with approval and I promptly took note of the measurements. So, this may not be the tomato rice for everyone out there but even for someone who loves tomatoes (like me) , this is a very tasty and quick rice dish.

TOMATO RICE a.k.a Thakkali Saadham

Basmati Rice - 2 cups (levelled, not heaped), soaked in water for 20 minutes with a bay leaf and cumin seeds  and drained
Roma Tomatoes - 3, chopped
Onion - half of a big one, chopped finely
Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
Mint Leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped

Yogurt - 1 tbsp 
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp (optional, needed if using tomatoes that are not very sour)
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Sambar powder (I use Shakthi) - 1.5 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 to 1 tsp
Water - 3.5 cups
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

For Tempering:

Kraambu (Cloves) - 1
Pattai (Cinnamon) - 1 inch piece

To Fry & Grind:

Cinnamon - 1 small piece
Sombu (Fennel seeds) - 1 tsp (always a good combination with tomatoes)
Elakkai (Elaichi) - 1
Clove - 1
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Coriander  leaves and stems - some

Onion - half of a big one, cut into big cubes

Tomato - 1
Garlic - 8 to 10 cloves, peeled
Ginger - 1 inch, peeled
Green Chillies - 8

Method:1) Heat 2 tsp of oil and fry the masala ingredients, one half of the onion (cut into big cubes),tomato,  garlic, ginger & green chillies till the onion is light brown. Cool and grind this to a paste.
2) Heat the remaining oil in a pressure cooker and season with  clove & cinnamon Then add the chopped onion and cook till it is browned. Now add the chopped tomatoes with some salt and turmeric powder and cook till mushy.
3) Toss in the chopped coriander and mint leaves, and the ground paste along with the chilli powder, sambar powder and garam masala, yogurt and tamarind paste (if using). Fry this really well for about 5 to 7 minutes.
4) Meanwhile, drain the rice, saute in ghee for a few minutes & keep aside.
5) Add the drained and fried rice to the onion-tomato spice mixture and 3.5 cups of water. Check and add more salt if necessary. Cover with lid, place the weight on top and once the pressure builds allow to cook for 5 minutes on medium flame before switching off the stove (there will be no whistle). Let this rest for 20 minutes atleast before opening the cooker. Stir gently and serve with some raitha and chips.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Roasted Potatoes with Green Beans

This is a quick, simple vegetable side that I made for my daughter's dinner (since I had some boiled potatoes in the refrigerator) one day to accompany her pasta dish. She loved it and also insisted on taking the leftovers to school for the lunch the following day. It's very mild with just a touch of red chilli flakes, salt and pepper and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese. I quite liked it too and in the name of tasting ate quite a bit of it... :)



Potatoes - 1 or 2, boiled, peeled and cooled (make sure they are firm and not mushy)
Green Beans - 10 to 12, trimmed and french cut into 1 inch bits
Butter & Extra virgin Olive oil - half tbsp each
Garlic - 1 clove, minced
Red Chilli flakes - a pinch (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese - 2 tbsp or to taste

1) Parboil the green beans by adding a tbsp of water with a pinch of salt and microwaving them (covered) for about 4 minutes. Cube the cooled potatoes.

2) Heat oil & butter together in a saute pan and add the garlic and cook for a few seconds taking care not to burn. Then toss in the red chilli flakes, potatoes and green beans and toss around with some salt and pepper on medium flame until the potatoes get a golden crust on them.

3) Finally sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

I served this with some rotini pasta tossed with a mushroom alfredo sauce sprinkled with ground black pepper for my little gourmand.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Enjoying Bajjis amidst all that snow

We got a whole lot of snow on Friday & Saturday and it was upto 30 inches Saturday evening. While I stocked up on groceries & thought we were prepared and all set to stay indoors, we were in for a shock when we woke up Saturday morning to find we had no power or heat. It was about 8 hrs before we got both back and until then it was quite worrying. We couldn't even go to any of our friends' home (who had power) because the roads were far from clean and were pretty dangerous to drive in. The shovelling was back breaking since it was kind of heavy, icy snow as opposed to the light powdery ones we got the previous few times. This is our second major storm for this winter and as much as it looks beautiful the work involved and the potential danger (esp when we lose power and therefore heating) makes me dread snow and want nothing more to do with it.

Here are some pictures of our neighbourhood...

Since my dad always makes bajjis when it rains, we made spicy milagai (chilli) bajjis during this snowstorm :) - spicy chilli bajjis with hot ginger tea is sure to warm us up in any weather. The following batter and method can be used to make bajjis using different vegetables such as sliced potatoes, sliced vazhakai/raw plantain, cauliflower florets, sliced onions (my favorite) etc. the possibilities are endless.


For the batter

Besan/Kadalai maavu - 1/2 cup
Rice Flour/Arisi maavu - 1/4 cupMaida/All purpose flour - 2 tbsp
Idli/Dosa batter - 2 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 to 1.5 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt - 1.5 tsp (or to taste)
Water - 1 cup (approx)

For the Bajjis:
Light green Anaheim Peppers, Onions, Raw Plantains, Potatoes, Cauliflower etc.
Oil - to deep fry

1) In a bowl, blend together the ingredients listed under 'for the batter' and make sure it's not too thick or thin.
2) Heat oil until it starts smoking a bit.
3) Dip the veggies in the batter, making sure that it encases the veggies fully and gently slide them into the oil and deep fry until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve plain or with some coconut chutney.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Veggie Burger

Hiya folks... I know I've been away for much too long a time and it was totally unplanned. I had no intentions of taking a break but things just unfolded and soon I realized that it has been more than a month since I posted anything. Things have been super hectic at home and work and to top it there has been a lot of cold, cough, ear infections etc. going around at home so it has been tiring to say the least. I will try my best to post more regularly but if I am slacking yet again, you will know why :)

Coming to the recipe I have on hand.. this a hot new favorite at our home and is healthy too - a veggie burger.
What I love about this burger, besides it being absolutely delicious, filling & easy to make, is the fact that it has crunchy bits of vegetables that lends a yummy texture and can be frozen for later. We had these stuffed in pita bread (store-bought jalapeno cheddar pita) with some cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots & a touch of mayonnaise & ketchup - yummy! These can be served like traditional veggie burgers or even eaten as is like cutlets, if you please.



Blackbeans (cooked) - about 1.5 cups, coarsely mashed (you can use canned instead)
Potatoes -2, cooked & peeled (I microwaved for 8 mins with some water)
Quick cooking oats - half cup
Onion - half, chopped finely
Garlic - 4 cloves, chopped finely
Carrot - 1, big, chopped finely
Broccoli stalks - half cup, chopped finely
Bell peppers (red & green) - 1/3 cup, finely chopped
Bread crumbs - 1/4 cup (I run the end slices in a mixie and store them so used that)
Chilli powder - 1.5 tsp
Sambar powder - 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Celery salt, Oregano, turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp each
Salt - to taste
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped finely
Oil - 1 tbsp + more to cook the burgers (I used Extra virgin olive oil)
1) Heat oil in a pan and add onions, garlic and saute until translucent. Next add the green & red bell peppers, carrots, broccoli stalks and saute till crisp tender.
2) Add salt, chilli powder, cumin powder, sambar powder, celery salt, oregano & turmeric powder and let this cook for a few more minutes before adding in the mashed potatoes, oats, coarsely mashed black beans & bread crumbs. Switch off the stove.
3) Stir in the chopped coriander leaves and combine everything together and divide to form patties - make sure they are thick enough so they don't fall apart. Wrap them individually in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour before cooking.

4) I froze some of these for later and pan-fried the rest on the tawa with some oil and assembled them in the pita bread.