Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Carrot payasam / carrot kheer

No feast in India is complete without a dessert. In a typical Kerala sadya (feast), dessert takes on the form of payasam/kheer. Palada pradhaman, arguably, is the best dessert from my home state.
This year, for Onam, I wanted to try something different and that is how this carrot payasam took shape in my kitchen. Having tasted it a few times before, I relied on my taste buds and memory to recreate it.

What you need :
Carrot - 3, washed, peeled and cut into large pieces
Milk - 3 cups
Water - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup *
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp (or 3 pods of cardamom)
Almonds - 8-10

Take 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of water in a pressure cooker. Add the carrots and almonds to it and cook until one whistle. Then reduce the flame to low and cook for another five minutes. Once the pressure settles, let it cool and then grind to a smooth paste. Set aside. Boil the remaining milk in a saucepan. Add sugar and cardamom. Once it boils, switch of heat and let it cool slightly. Add the carrot mixture to the slightly cooled milk and heat for a few minutes on low. Garnish with some slivered almonds.
This tastes great both warm and chilled. It is a quick and simple recipe to have on hand when a craving for something sweet strikes or when unexpected guests make an appearance.

Note : Do not add the carrot mixture to boiling hot milk as the milk may curdle. Also, do not boil the milk after adding the carrot puree to it.
* If you like your desserts  super sweet, you may need to add more than half a cup of sugar. I would suggest starting with half a cup and then, adding more if you feel it is required.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Olan - a Kerala sadya staple

A few months back, the blog turned eight, and as has been usual for a while now, this particular milestone went unnoticed. Around the same time, I also moved (AGAIN) back to the US of A and so, for the past few months, have been going through an almost endless cycle of packing, shipping, unpacking, and setting up house. I have cooked a lot of unconventional interesting food, but for some reason , I find that  though my drafts folder is crowded with pictures of my experiments, the task of sitting down and typing is something that I keep postponing until I forget how I made a particular dish.
Recently, I was asked for Onam sadya recipes and that is when I realized that there are a lot of simple must-haves in a traditional  Kerala feast that I have not posted here. Olan is one such dish. Easy to make, with a simple yet profound taste, this dish features on almost all sadyas (feasts). Peeled ash gourd is diced into thin squares and then cooked with black eyed beans, green chillies, salt and a dash of coconut milk to create this much loved dish.

What you need :
Ash gourd - peeled and cut into medium sized thin squares - 2 cups
Black eyed beans - 1/4 cup (either the red variety or the white can be used)
Green chilli - 2 or 3, slit lengthwise
Curry leaves - a few sprigs
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Coconut milk - 3 tbsp (optional)
Salt - to taste

Soak the beans in water for at least an hour. Cook until one whistle. The beans should be cooked through but not mushy. Take the sliced ash gourd in a sauce pan. Add just enough water to cover the slices. Add the slit green chillies and salt. Cover and cook over a medium flame until just cooked. Add the cooked beans and boil for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk, if using. Stir well and switch off the heat. Add curry leaves and coconut oil. Do not stir at this time. Cover and keep aside for at least 10-15 minutes so that the aroma of the oil and the curry leaves blends into the dish. 

Mix well before serving.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Moong sprouts kabab aka Disaster management kabab

It was to be just another ordinary day with no post from me commemorating the ordinariness of my everyday cooking. Some moong beans soaked in water the previous night, drained and sprouted were to be combined with onion and tomatoes to make an ordinary salad. However, at the last minute, inspiration struck and I thought of turning the sprouts into deep fried vadas. Then, the rational mind intervened and said, why deep fry? Why not make baked kababs? And that, my dear friends, is how this recipe was born.
I drained the sprouts and ground them with an onion, some garlic and green chillies. This is where the disaster management part of the post title kicks in. Despite ensuring that there was absolutely no water in the beans, the ground mixture had the texture of a thick chutney. Definitely not kabab material. So, in went a boiled potato and some quite a bit of chick pea flour (besan). The resulting mixture, while not dry, could be shaped if I wet my hands frequently. Baking was out of the question as I knew without doubt that the mixture would stick to the pan. So, back to the frying pan it was, quite literally. The end result, though, was not bad at all, and quite possibly something I might attempt again, this time, intentionally, of course.

What you need:
Moong sprouts - 1.5 cups
Potato - 1, boiled, peeled and mashed
Onion - 1, peeled and chopped into large chunks
Ginger - a small piece
Garlic - 7 or 8 cloves
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Besan ( I didn't measure this, but kept adding a spoonful at a time till the mixture was fairly dry. Probably close to 1/4 cup)
Salt - to taste
Oil - for deep frying

Grind the sprouts, onion, ginger, garlic and turmeric powder to a smooth batter without adding any water. Add the mashed potato and salt to this. Mix well. If you are able to shape this mixture into kababs, proceed to deep fry at this point. If not, add besan, little by little, until you are able to shape the batter. Deep fry in oil over a medium flame until both sides are well browned. Serve hot with ketchup/tamarind chutney.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Mango milk shake - a simple summer cooler

It is that time of the year again. Holidays!!! The kid is at home, feeling hungry at all hours. Not only does she feel hungry and thirsty for 'specific' things - as in, I am thirsty for Coke, I am hungry for noodles........but she also wants variety in her food. Gone are the days when I could mash up pretty much any combination of edible stuff and coax her into eating it.
This mango milk shake with splashes of colour from mango and tutti fruity is visually appealing, not to mention easy to make.

What you need:
Mango - 1, peeled, and chopped (Finely chop and set aside about 4-5 tbsp of mango)
Millk - 2 cups, chilled
Sugar - 2 tsp (adjust depending on sweetness of mango)
Tutti fruity - a few spoonfuls

Puree the mango and sugar in a blender. Add the chilled milk and blend again until frothy. Pour into a glass. Top with some chopped mango and tutti fruity. Serve chilled.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bhel puri - Yes you too can make it at home

Chaat and Mumbai are almost synonyms. Almost every street here has not one, but several vendors who, once the sun goes down, set up their make shift chaat counters on the roadside. The way they throw a few things together, mix it up and serve it with ease is nothing short of an art that they have perfected. With so many options available, I prefer to have my quota of chaat at the nearest chaat shop but this time, I tried my hand at making it at home. While it is quite easy to put together once you are done with all the chopping and dicing, I think that the experience of standing amidst a crowd of fellow chaat lovers, watching the magic unfold as the flavours are blended together by practiced hands, is something that gives your chaat a certain character that cannot be replicated at home.

What you need:
Puffed rice/murmura
Onion - chopped fine
Tomato - chopped fine
Cilantro/corriander - chopped fine
Green chutney
Tamarind chutney
Chaat masala
Peanuts toasted in a little oil
Sev - for garnishing

I have not mentioned quantities in the above recipe, firstly because I didn't measure each ingredient separately and secondly because the recipe is very forgiving and you can add as much of each ingredient as you would like. So, if you want your bhel to be spicy, add more green chutney to it, whereas if you want it to be sweet and tangy, add more tamarind chutney to it. Keep tasting and adding or subtracting ingredients as per your wish. You could also add boiled, cubed potatoes, or raw mangoes if you would like to.
Take the puffed rice (which is the main ingredient) in a large mixing bowl. Add in all the other ingredients in the order listed. Mix well. Top with sev and serve immediately.

This post is part of the Blogging Marathon under the theme After school snacks. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 37
It also goes to Sowmya who is hosting Valli's Kids Delight -after school snacks.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The best whole wheat garlic bread recipe ever

For someone who hadn't tasted garlic before marriage, I sure have come a long way. This is one thing that is still not bought at my parents'. I, though, have developed a taste for the pungent bulb in certain dishes. Garlic bread is a favourite in our household and we are partial to the one served at Dominos. I tried recreating that at home using this recipe as the base and then tweaking it to suit my taste. I have made this using only whole wheat, no maida/APF at all.

What you need : (Recipe source : Veg Nation)
Whole wheat flour : 1 cup + 1/2 cup (The original recipe uses APF)
Instant yeast - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 7 cloves - peeled and ground/crushed coarsely
Olive oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Water - Start with 1/2 a cup and then add more if needed. I used a little over 3/4 cups.
Italian seasoning - 2 tsp
Grated cheddar - 2 tbsp

Add instant yeast sugar, salt, 1 tbsp of olive oil and lukewarm water to 1 cup of the flour. Knead gently till the mixture just comes together. Cover and set aside until it doubles in volume. Once it doubles, punch the dough down, add the remaining flour and ground garlic and knead again to a smooth dough. Cover and let it rise until double again.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle. Spread the grated cheese over it and then fold the circle in half over itself to make a semi-circle. Seal the edges by pressing well. Spread the remaining oil on top of the dough and sprinkle seasoning over it.
Bake for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy warm.

This post goes to PJ who is hosting Valli's Kid's Delight themed on Baked Treats.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 37

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jeera biscuits - savoury cumin flavoured cookies

The local trains of Mumbai are a world of their own.  Getting into the local train every morning is an exercise in dexterity and street smartness. Not only do you have to make sure you are properly positioned on the platform to make your entry into the exact compartment that you want to get into easy and quick, but you also have to deal with people who elbow their way through the crowd, walking into the thick of things and then standing right in the middle of all the seats. All quirks of humanity unfold along those railway tracks, in a compartment where humans are packed like sardines. Some smell like sardines too, but then, you learn to ignore and move away. The quirkiness of some of the regulars is enough to merit a post of its own. So I'll leave that for another post and move on to the subject of this post - salt biscuits that taste great with tea or on their own. Spiced with cumin, ajwain and methi, carrying these with you will also give you something to look forward to in case you get stuck next to someone who thinks that deodorant is an insult in a foreign language. You might elicit strange looks, though, if you keep opening your dabba and smelling these, but then, who cares?

What you need:
Whole wheat flour - 1cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp (adjust to taste)
Cumin seeds/jeera - 1 tsp
Ajwain/omam/carraway seeds - 1 tsp
Kasuri methi - 1/2 tsp
Ghee/clarified butter - 1 tbsp
Curd - 3-4 tbsp

Take the whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and ghee in a large mixing bowl. Mix with your finger tips until the mixture is crumbly. Add cumin, ajwain and kasuri methi. Add curd, starting with 1 tbsp and then adding as needed, and knead to a smooth dough. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 10-12 minutes until the bottom starts to brown.
These cookies will be a little soft when you take them out, but become crisp as they cool down.
Store in an air tight container once completely cool.
This post goes to PJ who is hosting Valli's Kid's Delight themed on Baked Treats.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 37