Monday, January 28, 2013

Dreamt of Laddoo but got Boondhi

So, it was our anniversary yesterday and as usual my husband wanted me to make his favorite Pound Cake but I wanted to try something different. I typically experiment with atleast one new sweet during Deepavali but last year since we didn't celebrate, the family was not subject to that tasty torture. It so happened that I saw this recipe few days ago and the laddus looked absolutely tempting (even though I'm not usually a fan of laddus). The recipe seemed simple enough that I started floating the idea of making 11 laddoos for our anniversary (no prizes for guessing how long I've been married :) ) My husband said that he preferred boondhis but I said 11 boondhis is nowhere exciting as 11 laddoos and vetoed this desire of his.

Next, I chose a quiet afternoon when my daughter was at class and son was napping to proceed with the laddoo making and everything seemed to be progressing well except at the last stage when the boondhis were added to the sugar syrup they showed no signs of sticking together. I tried to form laddoos at different stages of the sugar soaking process but no such luck... Eventually my husband got what he wanted - tasty boondhis :)  My daughter returned from class and exclaimed "Wow! amma you made so many mini laddoos!" and loved having them for snack.

BOONDHIS - makes about 3 cups


Ingredients

For Boondhi

Besan (Kadalai maavu) - 1 cup
Water - half to 3/4 cup
Ghee - 1 tbsp + 2 tsp
Oil - to deep fry
Raisins - 1 tbsp
Cashew pcs - 1 tbsp


For Sugar Syrup:
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - half cup
Cardamom/Elaichi - 4 to 5 powdered



Method:
1) Combine sugar and water and heat on med-low flame until melted and begins to boil. Let it heat through until it thickens a bit for boondi (about half string to 1 string consistency). NExt time I try to make laddoos, I'll probably switch off as soon as sugar melts. Stir in the cardamom powder.

2) Heat 1 tbsp of the ghee and fry the raisins and cashews till golden (I didn't use any cashews since my daughter is allergic). Keep aside.

3) Meanwhile heat oil. Whisk together the besan, 2 tsp ghee and water until you form a paste with no lumps. It should be smooth. Add water as necessary to get a thick yet pouring consistency. You can adjust the water/besan content if you feel that the batter is too thick or thin.

4) I used my 'kannu karandi' - which is a perforated stainless steel ladle to form boondhis. Hold this slotted spoon over the hot oil and pour a ladleful of the besan batter and swirl it over the slotted spoon with the ladle. The batter will fall through the holes and form boondhis. I didn't care about the shape at that point since i figured they'll all be smushed into laddoos anyway.

5) No need to fry boondhis till crisp. In a couple of minutes the bubbles will subside and the boondhis can be removed from the oil and drained.  Keep them aside (Another thing I plan to change when making laddoos next time is to drop them in the sugar syrup at this stage instead of waiting for all batches to complete).

6) Finish all the batter in this manner. Warm up the sugar syrup on a low flame and mix in the fried boondhis along with the fried raisins and cashews. Mix well. It will taste like besan initially and seem wet with the syrup  but once cooled and after a few hours the boondhis will taste great. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Swiss Chard Thoran & Tandoori Rolls

It's always exciting & healthy to cook different greens, besides spinach. There was once a time when I would stick to just spinach or methi leaves but now I have recipes that my family loves that involve kale, swiss chard, bok choy, gongura, beet greens etc.

Red Swiss Chard can be made into a kootu but this thoran works so perfectly and it results in a flavourful, tender curry that is great with some rice, rasam/yogurt. I used this fabulous recipe with just a few modifications and we love it at home.

RED SWISS CHARD THORAN


Ingredients:
Red Swiss Chard - 1 bunch
Coconut - 1/3 cup, shredded (fresh or frozen)
Onion - half of a small one or 2 shallots, chopped
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves, chopped
Green Chillies - 2, minced finely
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - quarter tsp
Split Urad dhal - quarter tsp
Cumin seeds - quarter tsp
Salt - to taste

Method: 1) Rinse swiss chard leaves and chop them (including the stalks). 
2) Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal and cumin seeds.
3) Once the mustard splutters, add the chopped onion, garlic and green chillies and saute for a few minutes.
4) Next add the chopped swiss chard... it may seem like a lot, but it will cook down considerably... saute for a few minutes with a touch of salt.  With greens, I've found that it can quickly become too salty, so it's always good to start with less and add more if needed.
5) After a few minutes when the swiss chard looks wilted, add the grated coconut, reduce flame to medium low, cover and allow to cook for a few minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Remove from stove and serve.



TANDOORI ROLLS


I also wanted to share this idea for a very tasty roll that I made a few days ago... I made this tandoori marinade with some hung yogurt and marinated cubes of paneer and baby bella mushrooms for about 3 to 4 hours (refrigerated).  I then pan fried them separately for a few minutes.  Next, I sauteed some sliced onions and bell peppers with some oil, salt and chilli powder. For a dressing I blended together some mint leaves, coriander leaves, cumin and g. chillies with some yogurt. You can use chapathi for the rolls or use storebough wraps (there are some good multigrain ones with a good amount of fiber).... Add few cubes of paneer, mushroom, onion, bell pepper, few cubes of pineapple, some grated carrot and drizzle some of the mint-coriander dressing, roll up and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baked Plantain Chips

It's so hard to get back to the normal schedule of work, gym, school, classes etc. after a relaxing break. We got a lot of rest, reading, playing, meeting friends, catching up on movies, cleaning, organizing etc. done. Hope you all had a lovely holiday with family.

Coming to the recipe I have for today... My husband loves plantain chips and my MIL used to make them as one of the snacks for his birthday party each year... She  made them when she visited us too and they were super tasty and crunchy. I decided to try the baked version recently and was quite happy with the resultant lower fat chips. Make sure you get the plantains and not the 'green bananas'.

BAKED PLANTAIN CHIPS



Ingredients:

Raw (unripe) Plantains - 3, peeled
Chilli powder - 1 tsp (or to taste)
Salt - about 1 tsp (or to taste)

Turmeric powder - quarter tsp
Olive Oil (extra virgins works) - 2 tbsp

Method:

1) Peel and slice plantains into thin slices (abt 2 to 3 mm) - making them too thin will make them brown too fast and if they are too thick they will be more chewy than crispy.


2) Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper.

3) In a big bowl, toss the sliced plantains (they tend to stick to each other so separate them) with the chilli & turmeric powders, salt and oil.



4) Place them on the baking sheets in a single layer and cook for about 15 mins or till golden  turning over once in between.  Cool a bit and enjoy as a snack or as a side dish with rice and a curry. These are best fresh.