Monday, March 29, 2010

Vegetable Manchurian

The mention of manchurian always brings a smile to my husband's face and it makes me very happy too. If it weren't deep-fried, we'd definitely be making & eating it more often... :) I've already blogged about the much-loved Gobi Manchurian and this has a similar sauce base but instead of cauliflower this has fried vegetable balls that consist of minced cabbage, carrot, beans etc. Since I use the mixie to pulse the veggies this comes together in no time and so is great to make for a crowd or parties. You can also make a dry version of this to use as an appetizer and follow the method as given in this recipe after making the fried manchurian balls.


VEGGIE MANCHURIAN


Ingredients:
For the Manchurian Balls:
Cabbage - about 2 cups, minced (I use the mixe & pulse after cutting them into big chunks so it results in a coarse texture, ensure it's not pastey)
Carrot - 2 big, minced (same method as above)
Green Beans - 12 or Cauliflower - 1 cup florets, minced (same method as above)
Spring Onions - 2 to 3 stalks, white and green parts, chopped
Ginger - 1 inch piece, minced
Garlic - 3 cloves, minced
Green Chillies - 4 (mince the Ginger, garlic & Green chillies in the mixie or using a mortar & pestle)
Cornflour - 4 tbsp
All purpose flour - 2 tbsp (adjust based on consistency)
Chilli powder - 1 tsp (or to taste)
Salt - to taste
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - to deep fry

For the Sauce:
Onion - quarter, chopped finely
Spring Onions - 3 or 4, chopped finely. Reserve some of the green parts for garnish
Ginger - half inch piece, minced
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves, minced
Green Chillies - 2, minced
Red and/or Green bell peppers (capsicum) - half cup, chopped finely
Soy sauce - about 1 tbsp
Chilli sauce - 1 to 2 tsp (I use Sriracha)
Tomato Ketchup - 1 tsp
Cornflour - 1 tbsp
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - about 2 cups
Oil - 1 tbsp

Method:
1) For the manchurian balls, combine all the ingredients (except the oil for deep frying) in a bowl. Heat oil in a pan on medium flame (ensure it's not too hot or the insides won't cook). Make balls of the dough with your hand and deep fry them in oil till crisp & golden on the outside. Make sure the mixture is not watery and adjust cornflour & all purpose flour accordingly. Drain the fried veggie balls on a paper towel and keep aside.


2) For the manchurian sauce, heat a tbsp of oil in a deep pan and add the chopped onions, spring onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry till they wilt a little bit. Then add the chopped bell peppers with a bit of salt (be careful since the sauces we will add later are salty too) till they are tender crisp.

3) Add the soy & chilli sauces and ketchup at this stage and stir for a minute or two before adding 1.5 cups of water.... Let this come to a boil. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.

4) In the remaining half cup of water, dissolved the corn syrup to a smooth paste and once the sauce starts to boil, stir this in and you will see the sauce thicken almost immediately and turn a bit translucent. Add powdered black pepper at this stage. Once bubbles pop up, the sauce is ready.


5) If you are serving immediately, you can add the fried veggie balls to the sauce and let it cook for a minute or two before removing from the stove. Else, keep the sauce and veggie balls separately until it's time to serve. Reheat the sauce when ready to serve and pour over the veggie balls and garnish with spring onion tops.

We enjoyed our vegetable manchurian with this delicious and easy peppered vegetable rice.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Murungakkai (Drumstick) Poriyal

This vegetable used to be one of my favorites and something we had in abundance thanks to the large tree that my grandparents had in their home. My grandma made good use of this veggie and the leaves and there was always plenty to hand out to the neighbours too. Now, of course, I don't find these fresh anymore and I stick to what I find in the freezer section of the Indian stores and sometimes they are very sorry looking and thin... :(

When you see the picture below though you will notice that it doesn't look like a trademark drumstick curry - you might even think - where is the drumstick?! They have been cooked and the pulp inside has been separated to use in this curry so it will be easier and less messy to eat this veggie. I don't mind eating this in the typical way but sometimes that's not ideal when you have to pack lunch for work so nowadays this is how I make this. This recipe is from Mallika Badrinath.

This tasty curry is one of the many ways we enjoy this vegetable besides adding to sambar , avial or thengaipaal kuzhambu.

MURUNGAKKAI CURRY


Ingredients:
Frozen Drumsticks - 1 pack
Onions - 1, big
Tomatoes - half, chopped
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Sombu (Fennel) - 1/2 tsp
Coconut - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp

Method:
1) Cook the drumsticks in a microwaveable bowl with few tbsp of water and some salt for about 7 to 10 minutes (covered) till soft. Allow to cool, peel, and scrape the fleshy insides with a spoon. Keep aside.

2) Chop half of the onion into big cubes and chop the other half finely. In a tsp of the oil, fry the big cubes of onion for a few minutes till light brown. Grind this with sombu & coconut to a paste with some water.

3) Heat the remaining oil in the pan and season with mustard seeds & curry leaves, once they splutter add the finely chopped onions and saute until cooked, then add the tomatoes with some salt and allow to cook till mushy.

4) Add all the spice powders at this stage and the ground paste and cook for a few minutes.

5) Add the scraped flesh of the murungakkai and some water, cover and allow to cook on low for about 5 to 7 minutes. Once the flavours have been absorbed cook the curry in an open pan until almost dry. Serve with rice for a delicious curry.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rava Kesari

Will you believe it if I say I've made Kesari a grand total of just two times (once for our grihapravesam and the other was when I made TBC's Pineapple Kesari - which we loved) in the past 10+ years since I started cooking? Considering that this is one of the simplest and quickest desserts and something that frequently appears in many homes for the exact same reasons, one has to wonder why it didn't feature more often at our place. Both, my husband and I aren't (make that weren't) exactly big fans of this sweet and that would explain why this hasn't made it to our table often. But recently my mom made this when we had a few visitors and I found that it tasted quite delicious as did my daughter & husband. So, last week when my MIL made this I quickly noted down the measurements & took pictures since now, this is a sweet that I will definitely make more often than before. When you have surprise guests at home, this can be whipped up at a moment's notice with ingredients that are almost always available at any point of time.

RAWA KESARI


Ingredients:
Rava/Sooji/Fine Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar - 1.75 cup (or 2 cups if you want it very sweet)
Water - 3 cups (or replace part or whole of it with milk for a richer taste - called Sojji instead)
Ghee - 1/4 cup
Orange food colouring - as reqd
Cashew bits - 1 tbsp (I didn't use since my daughter is allergic)
Raisins - 2 tbsp
Elaichi powder - from 2 to 3 cardamoms

Method:
1) Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and fry cashews & raisins till the cashews are golden & the raisins puff up. Remove them with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
NOTE: Refrain from popping these into your mouth while making the kesari regardless of how tempting this may be - this is really hard for me to do... :)

2) In the remaining ghee, add the rava and roast till fragrant. It should not turn brown. Keep this aside as well.

3) Bring to boil the 3 cups of water in the pan and add some orange food colouring. Reduce the flame at this point and add the roasted rava in a steady stream while constantly stirring with the other hand. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken.

4) When thick enough (the rava would've cooked by now), add the sugar and cook until the mixture thickens again, adding ghee little by little until it is shiny and leaves the sides of the pan. Stir in elaichi powder and fried raisins (& cashews, if using).

If you want to cut into shapes, allow to cool a bit and then do so. Delicious Kesari is now ready to dig in. My daughter loves anything that is heart-shaped so sandwiches, pooris, dosa, chapathi and even this kesari has been shaped thus to appeal to her.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Crispy Stuffed Tacos & Chocolate Fondue


A quick weeknight meal needn't be mundane or boring. With just a few easy steps, it's possible to have a meal that is delicious & different from the usual. I didn't have a lot of time two days back and needed to think of something for dinner and remembered that I bought a pack of crisp taco shells at the grocery store last week along with a can of refried beans (vegetarian of course) and decided to use them. The resultant was a crisp taco, filled with beans, spiced boca soy crumbles, rice & veggies topped with lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes and cheese. To round off the meal, I made a super quick chocolate fondue into which we dipped pieces of luscious strawberries and banana chunks - yummy! Now tell me if that is not a sure fire way to brighten up a weeknight dinner :)

CRISPY STUFFED TACOS


Ingredients:
Crisp Corn Tacos (I used store bought) - 1 pack
Refried beans (Vegetarian) - 1 cup (make sure there is no lard in the ingredient list)
Romaine Lettuce - about 2 to 3 cups
Tomatoes - half cup, chopped or use Salsa if you have that.
Spring Onion Tops - 3 tbsp, chopped
Shredded Cheese - 1/4 cup
Avocado/Guacamole - some (optional, I didn't have any so skipped it)

For the Rice, Veggie and Soy stuffing
Boca meatless ground burger - half packet, thawed
Cooked Rice - 3/4 cup
Onion - half, chopped
Spring Onion whites - 2 tbsp
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
Tomato Paste - 2 tbsp, mixed with little warm water
Carrot - 1, cut into small cubes
Green Bell pepper - half cup, chopped
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Sambar powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method:
1) Heat oil in a pan and add garlic,and onions and when slightly browned, add the carrots and bell pepper with some salt and fry till a bit tender. Add the sambar powder along with the boca meatless burgers crumbles, tomato paste and water mixture, cover and allow to cook on medium till the veggies soften.

2) Now add the cooked rice, toss together and let it cook until the mixture is dry. Adjust salt as necessary.

Assembly:
Take each crisp taco shell, warm them in an oven lightly and put in first a thin layer of refried beans, followed by the rice-soy mixture and add toppings of your choice.. except for the guacamole, I added the rest - lettuce, tomatoes, green spring onions, shredded cheese & sour cream and bite into it.

CHOCOLATE FONDUE (makes a small portion)

Ingredients:
Semi sweet chocolate chips - 2/3 cup
Heavy whipping cream - 1/4 cup (or substitute with 1/4 cup milk + half tbsp butter)
Instant coffee granules - 1/4 tsp (optional, I like the coffee - chocolate combo)
Vanilla essence - half tsp

To Dip: Washed & dried strawberries, peeled banana chunks

Method:
1) Find a combination of a bowl and saucepan such that the bowl fits in the saucepan (see pic below) so as to form a double boiler.


2) Take some water in the saucepan making sure that the bowl on top will not touch the water beneath and bring the water to a light boil. Reduce flame and allow to simmer gently.

3) Place the bowl on top and add the chocolate chips, cream (or butter & milk), coffee granules and keep stirring. In a few minutes, the chocolate will start to melt and become smooth and satiny. Stir in the vanilla essence and switch of the stove.


You could transfer this to a fondue pot or in our case, we just moved the entire arrangement to the table and started dipping the fruit in with our skewers :)



I know the picture is not good but believe me it tasted great.