Monday, February 28, 2011

Stuffed Snake Gourd

This is a recipe that I first tried several years ago... I found it intriguing because we usually make poriyal or kootu with Snake Gourd (Pudalangai) and so a stuffed version was something I wanted to try and we liked the end result. Unfortunately I can't recall what the source of this recipe is but am glad I noted it down, albeit with modifications I made and everytime I find tender snake gourds (which doesn't happen too often sadly), I try to make this dish.



Tender Snake gourds - 2, pith cleaned and cut into 2 inch pieces
Onion - 1 medium, chopped finely
Grated coconut - 1/3 cup
Besan - 2 to 3 tbsp
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped finely
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

1) Put snake gourds as a single layer in a microwaveable bowl, sprinkle some salt on them lightly, add about 2 tbsp water, cover and microwave for about 5 minutes until a bit tender (need not be fully cooked). The tips of the snake gourd (which can't be filled), can be chopped finely and included in the filling mixture.

2) For the Filling: Heat 1 tsp of oil and add the chopped onions (and chopped snakegourd, if any) fry them for a few minutes (no need to brown them), add salt, turmeric and chilli powder along with besan and fry for a few more minutes before switching off the stove. Now add the grated coconut and coriander leaves and mix well. The filling is ready.

3) Remove the pumpkin pieces from the microwaveable bowl and fill them with the stuffing mixture.

4) Heat a wide pan on medium with about 2 tsp of oil and carefully place each of the filled pumpkin pieces sideways as a single layer. Cover the top with a plate and add a few tbsp of water to the plate. Let this cook for a few minutes before carefully removing the plate and turning over the pumpkin pieces so they cook on the other side as well.

Serve as a dry curry with rice or eaten plain :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fried Nutella Wontons

After the beautiful weather we had last week (where we got a preview into spring), we are back to a bone chilling cold... Anyways, here's something that can cheer you up in no time. For those nutella lovers out there, this is definitely a must try. It works as a nice, warm, crispy dessert with very little effort and time. I always have wonton wrappers in my freezer and nutella in my pantry and that's all this delicious dessert needs (besides oil that is).


Frozen wonton wrappers - as many as you want (defrosted per package directions)
Nutella - about 2 to 3 tsp per wrapper
Oil - to deep fry (this doesn't require too much oil)
Powdered sugar - for dusting

1) Separate the wrappers, lay them on a flat surface.

2) Put about 2 to 3 tsp of nutella in the middle and spread it a bit.

3) Cover to form a rectangle (or a triangle if you so prefer), crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. You can freeze/refrigerate the assembled wrappers at this point and fry them when you want dessert.

4) Heat oil to deep fry ( a little bit goes a long way in this case) - and deep fry the wontons until puffed up and light golden. Drain on paper towels.

5) Dust some powdered sugar on top or serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Tip: The wonton wrappers absorb very less oil and would be a perfect candidate for the outer wrappers of a somaasi (something I'm planning to try when I get a chance).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Caramelized Onion Tart

When I posted this picture a while ago, quite a few people showed interest in the Onion Tart. I have been meaning to make this for a while but never got down to it until recently. I didn't have puff pastry sheets on hand and thought I'd use the Filo sheets that I had in my freezer instead. Well, I think that the tart tastes definitely better with puff pastry sheets. The filo sheets worked but weren't as good - were too flaky in this case. So, I would highly recommend using buttery pastry sheets instead. The topping is super tasty regardless - this is definitely something I'll be making often - it's particularly great when entertaining.



For the Onion Filling
Red onions - 2, thinly sliced (I used my food processor - makes life so easy)
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Heavy cream - half cup
Balsamic Vinegar - 1 tbsp (optional)
Brown Sugar - 1 tsp
Red Chilli Flakes - half tsp
Extra virgin Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Salt & Pepper - to taste

For the Tart:
Puff Pastry sheet- 1 sheet (Half of one box), thawed according to package directions
Parmesan cheese - half cup, grated
Red bell peppers - sliced thinly into long pieces
Milk - 1 to 2 tbsp (or egg wash if you prefer that)

1) Heat olive oil in a pan on medium and add garlic, sliced onions and red chilli flakes, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium, stirring every once in a while until browned. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue cooking the onions until they are caramelized and almost paste like- about 30 to 40 minutes in all. Yes, it takes patience but it's worth it.

2) Pour the cream on the onion mixture and switch off the stove once warm. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and allow to cool a bit.

3) Preheat oven to 425F. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Spread out the thawed puff pastry sheet a little with a light dusting of flour. Fold all 4 sides of the puff pastry sheet about one inch thickness. Brush the edges with milk (or egg wash if using) to create a border for the tart.

4) Using a fork, lightly pierce the inside of the puff pastry sheet (leaving out the borders) - this will prevent the tart from puffing up when baked.

5) Spread half of the parmesan cheese on the base, top with the caramelized onion mixture, top with the remaining parmesan cheese and line the red peppers.

6) Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Serve warm.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rice Krispie Date Balls

This is an absolutely tasty treat that comes together in an instant - butter, sugar and dates are melted to a goo and in go some nuts and rice krispies... Once cooled, these are rolled into delicious morsels. Will be great to pack as a dessert for kids' lunchboxes or to serve as an after school snack . This is also a recipe that can be made with your kids (you can enlist their help to roll it into small balls once it has cooled down a bit). These tasted awesome when slightly warm and when cooled they become a bit chewy, but remain tasty.


Ingredients: (makes 15 one inch balls)
Rice Krispies cereal - 1.25 cups
Dates - 3 to 4 oz, pitted and chopped
Sugar - half cup or slightly lesser if the dates are very sweet
Butter - 3 tbsp
Walnuts - 2 tbsp, chopped (you could add more, or even substitute with other nuts) - optional

1) In a saucepan, melt together the butter and sugar on a low-medium flame. Then add the finely chopped dates and continue to stir and cook until the dates melt into the butter, sugar mixture and it's a brown gooey mix (about 7 to 9 minutes)

2) Add the chopped walnuts (if using), followed by the rice krispies and stir until well coated and mixed.

3) Pour out onto a pan/plate and allow to cool just until you can touch/handle it without burning yourself. Roll into balls and the yummy snack is ready.

Isn't that easy?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Brinjal Masala Gravy

When I saw these luscious, perfect, purple beauties at the grocery store I couldn't resist myself and brought home quite a big bag of them. I had so many ideas of what to make with them and one of those was this tasty, spicy gravy. You could make this as a stuffed brinjal gravy as well but since my husband likes the eggplants to be really well cooked and I had no intention of using a lot of oil, I cut them into quarters, smeared them with the masala and roasted them in the oven first before adding them to the gravy. Works out great!

Another tip would be to make this curry well ahead of time and allow it to rest for about 6-8 hours before serving. Something magical happens during that time and the flavours mature resulting in a much tastier dish than if you were serving right away. I know it seems like a long list of ingredients and quite a process, but you can do quite a few things in parallel to cut down on the time. However, do not cut down on the simmering time or the resting time - the results are definitely worth the wait.


Fresh (indian) Brinjals - 6 to 7, cut into 4 or 6 pieces each (lengthwise)
Cloves - 1 or 2
Cinnamon - one 1 inch piece
Cardamom - 1
Aniseed (Sombu/Saunf) - small pinch
Oil - 2 tbsp

For Masala powder:
Roast the following in a few drops of oil and grind to a powder
Urad dhal - 2 tsp
Coriander seeds / Coriander powder - 1 tsp (if using powder, don't roast or add last)
Methi seeds - a tiny pinch (5)
Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Dried Red Chillies - 4 to 5
Roasted Groundnuts /Peanuts - 2 tbsp
Dessicated Coconut - 2 tbsp (Fresh grated would work too)

For Gravy:
Fry the following in 1 tsp oil and grind together
Onion - 1 medium, cut into big pieces
Tomato - 1, cut into big pieces
Garlic cloves - 4
Ginger - half inch piece
Green Chillies - 6

1) Preheat oven to 425F. Coat the eggplant pieces with the masala powder. Spray with oil and spread as a single layer on a baking sheet, skin side down and cook in a 425F oven for about 30 mins or till soft.

2) Meanwhile, fry and grind the ingredients for the gravy.

3) Heat oil in a pan and add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and aniseed, then add the ground onion-tomato paste and fry on medium for about 10 minutes or till oil separates.

4) Add the cooked eggplant pieces along with any remaining masala powder and required amount of water to make a thick gravy and allow to come to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for about 20-30 mins.

Ideally make this curry the previous day to allow the flavours to come together or atleast allow to rest for 6 to 8 hrs before serving. This is equally delicious with rice or rotis.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spinach Soup

With the winter weather being what it is, soups are my go to thing - hot, spicy, filling, soothing & satisfying. They are extremely low cal to boost so there is no guilt in eating that extra serving or two :) This is Vitamin A rich with carrots and spinach in the mix, derives some protein from the mung dhal & some fibre from the celery stalks. There is really no need to add any butter or oil & is tasty as-is and I pressure cook this so it comes together very quickly.



Spinach - 5 to 6 cups of leaves, washed
Mung dhal (yellow split) - 4 to 5 tbsp, washed
Carrots - 2, sliced
Celery - 2 stalks, sliced (if not using, add a bit more onions)
Onion - quarter, cut into chunks
Tomato - 1 , cut into chunks
Green Chillies - 2-3, chopped
Garlic - 3 to 4 cloves
Black Pepper & Salt - to taste
Butter - 2 tsp (optional)

1) Pressure cook everything (except black pepper and butter) with some water (pour enough for it to be about 3/4th of spinach-veggie-dhal mix) for 2 whistles (or 1 whistle plus 10 mins on low flame).

2) Grind everything using an immersion hand blender (or allow to cool and grind in a mixie/blender). Season with black pepper to taste & adjust salt - add a touch of butter for flavour (if needed) & adjust consistency if it's too thin or thick. If it's too thin, dissolve some cornstarch in cold water, add to soup and allow to boil. I've never had to do this because the dhal gives a good consistency to this soup. Enjoy!

And here is a picture of the Eggless Chocolate Cake I made for our anniversary last week.... I put a layer of nutella in between the layers and used the chocolate frosting recipe for the top and sides. This was put together in a hurried fashion because it was a weekday but tasty nevertheless and low fat too.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank EC for featuring my blog on her 'Super Blogger Sunday' series.