Friday, January 13, 2017

Peas pulao

One pot dishes are my favorite kind. A few veggies, some form of protein and carbs, a few spices and seasonings - all thrown into one pot - that's all it takes to make this pulao. On days when you aren't inspired enough to create something that takes more than 10 minutes of time and effort, this kind of dish is there to the rescue. Having frozen green peas on hand makes it even easier.

What you need:
Basmati rice - 1 cup (soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained)
Green peas - 1 cup
Coconut milk - 1 cup (optional  - can be substituted with a cup of water)
Water - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 chopped fine
Ginger - a small piece
Green chilli - 3 or 4
Garlic - 4 cloves
Butter - 3 tbsp.
Cardamom - 2
Clove - 5
Cinnamon - a small piece
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Biriyani masala - 1 tsp (optional)
Sliced almonds - a few, to garnish

Melt butter in your pressure cooker. Add cardamom, clove, cinnamon and bay leaf. Saute on low flame till fragrant. Grind the ginger, chilli and garlic to a coarse paste without adding any water. Add this into the cooker and saute. Mix in the sliced onions and fry till translucent. Add the green peas, biriyani masala, salt, drained rice, coconut milk and water. Close the cooker and cook till one whistle. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Once the pressure settles, serve hot with raita.

This is my third post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #72 under the theme vegetarian dinners.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pavakka varuval (Crisp, fried bittergourd)

If you've read some of my previous posts, you know that we are a family that loves bittergourd. Even the little girl loves this veggie and will eat it in any form.
Marinated in spices and then deep fried, this dish will make you fall in love with this much maligned vegetable. The only things to keep in mind are that it takes a good 20 to 30 minutes on a medium flame to fry these bittergourds to the right crispness, and that the oil in which you deep fry these gourds cannot be used again for deep frying something else as it will have the residue of all the spices. So, you either have to discard it or use it for tadkas.
My dinner today was phulkas, chard dal and pavakka varuval. This is my second post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #72 under the theme Vegetarian dinners.

What you need:
Bittergourd - 4
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - 1 tbsp soaked in just enough hot water to cover it
Oil - for deep frying

Cut each bittergourd into half. Then slice each half vertically into two. Deseed and then cut into chunks. Don't cut them too thin, as they will shrivel up considerably on frying.
Take the bittergourd pieces in a large bowl. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Mix in thick tamarind extract. Mix it all together well. Cover and set aside for at least half an hour.
Drain any liquid that has collected in the bowl, squeeze out any excess liquid and then add handfuls of the bittergourd to hot oil and deep fry over a medium hot flame until it turns brown.
Remove on to a paper towel.

This tastes good by itself or as a side dish for rotis or rice.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Puri masala

The weather here in Minnesota is getting colder by the day. Today, I drove through roads where I was not able to see the lines that mark the lanes or distinguish between the sidewalk and the road. This kind of weather makes me long for tea that is spiced with ginger and cardamom and deep fried snacks. Puris make an appearance at our dinner table on days like this. My favorite accompaniment for puris is this simple yet very flavorful potato masala that is served in restaurants in South India. With just a few ingredients and a bit of your time and supervision, you can make this curry which you cannot go wrong with.

What you need:
Potato - 3 or 4, medium sized (boiled, peeled and mashed)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Green chillies - 3 or 4, slit into half vertically
Ginger - a small piece, chopped fine
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp. (* See note)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Salt - to taste
Juice of half a lemon

Heat oil in a pan. Add chana dal, urad dal and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the slit green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Saute a bit and then add the chopped onion. Saute on a low flame until the onions turn translucent.  Add turmeric powder and the mashed potatoes. Mix well and stir in a cup of water and salt as per your taste. Let it boil for a few minutes until the masala thickens. Switch off the heat and mix in the lemon juice.

Serve hot with puris.

Note : * I am partial to coconut oil and think that it imparts a characteristic flavor to this masala. However, any oil will serve the purpose.

This is my entry to the second week of Blogging Marathon #72, under the theme Vegetarian dinners.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Friday, January 06, 2017

Chocolate chip cookies

There are some dishes that you can always create in your kitchen with perfection and, seemingly, with no effort. A chocolate chip cookie is not one of them. It is one of those things where the end product can sometimes end up too soft and gooey, or too crisp or at times, brown so much that it starts to smell charred well done. There's no easy way around this one. You must try, try and try again until you have that perfect recipe. And once you do, you write it down so that you won't forget the measurements you used and then, you can recreate that perfect cookie any time you want to.
This recipe that I am sharing with you today is an adaptation of one such recipe that I came across in a book called Sensational Cookies by Linda Amendt. Following this recipe will yield cookies that are soft, chewy and just right.

What you need:

All purpose flour - 1 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Butter (softened, at room temperature) - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Chocolate chips - 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat well to mix. Mix in the vanilla. Then slowly add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix with a spatula until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie, as these cookies will expand while baking.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to turn a light brown.
Remove onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

This is my second recipe for Blogging Marathon #72 under the them Kids' Delight - Cakes & Cookies. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Black forest cake (Eggless)

When I was growing up, cakes were not very common. There were plum cakes for Christmas, but other than that, we hardly ever ate much cake. For birthdays, the standard fare was always payasam and a sadya - very rarely did the celebration involve cutting a cake. The few birthday cakes I remember eating were all iced with flowers that looked bright, colorful and beautiful, but were really hard to bite into. Now, with a profusion of flavors, frostings, toppings and fillings to choose from, I find that I prefer simple flavors and minimal frosting.
For the last few years, I have been baking the new year cake for the get-together that me and my friends host on new year's eve. This year, I made a crowd favorite - an eggless black forest cake.

What you need:

Basic chocolate cake - 1
Whipped cream ( 1cup of heavy whipping cream + 5 tbsp. of sugar beaten at high speed till stiff peaks form)
1 jar of canned cherries
Chocolate shavings

With a serrated knife or a cake leveler, cut the cake into two layers. Place the bottom layer on the cake board. With a pastry brush, apply some of the canned cherry syrup all over the cake. Alternatively, you can use sugar syrup too. Evenly spread a layer of whipped cream on this layer and top it with some chopped cherries. Place the second layer of cake on top of this. Apply cherry syrup over it and then spread whipped cream on top of it. Frost the sides of the cake and smooth the icing with an offset spatula. Top the cake with some cherries and chocolate shavings.

This is my second recipe for Blogging Marathon #72 under the them Kids' Delight - Cakes & Cookies. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Basic chocolate cake (No egg - uses egg replacer)

A basic chocolate cake recipe is a must have in every baker's repertoire. This recipe is one that I use frequently as the base for my cakes. It tastes great as it is, and even better dressed up with whipped cream, ganache or chocolate buttercream. With a few modifications, it can also be turned into a delicious black forest cake.

Basic chocolate cake frosted with chocolate buttercream

What you need : (Makes one 8 inch cake)
Cake flour - 3/4 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Cocoa powder - 4 tbsp. (heaped)
Baking powder - 3/4 tsp
Baking soda - 3/4 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Ener-G egg replacer powder - 1.5 tsp (Mix this powder with 2 tbsp. of warm water and blend till frothy)
Oil - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and line an 8 inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into the cake pan and bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Let it cool in the pan and once completely cooled, slice and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

I am beginning this year by participating in the Blogging Marathon. This week, I will be posting recipes under the theme Kids' Delight - Cakes and Cookies.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Challah - a beautiful braided bread

Challah is a Jewish braided bread made and eaten on Sabbath and some other Jewish holidays. Most versions I have seen of this bread are sweet, with cinnamon and raisins being popular additions to the dough. Since I made a sweet bread yesterday, I have made a non sweet version of the Challah for my second post for Blogging Marathon #64.

What you need :
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Lukewarm water - 1/2 cup
Instant yeast - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil - 1/8 cup
Egg - 1

In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast, water, oil and egg.
Add the flour to this, a little at a time and knead to a smooth pliable dough. My dough was very sticky and I had to add an additional 3 tbsp. of flour to make it smooth and non sticky.
Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl and  turn it over a few times so it is coated with oil on all sides. Cover and let it rise until doubled in volume (about an hour).
Punch down the dough and separate it into three portions. Roll each portion into a longish rope (about 15 inches or so). These will form the three parts of the braid.
At this point, you can make a savory stuffing and stuff it into each segment. I made a really tasty tomato, onion and garlic filling. However, for some reason, after I flattened one of the strands and put in some of the filling, I just wasn't able to close the ends together. No matter how hard I tried, the ends just wouldn't stick together. Not sure why that happened. So I took the stuffing out, patted the dough with some paper towels to absorb the extra moisture from the stuffing and then proceeded to braid the bread.
To braid the bread, place the three dough ropes side by side and pinch the top of the three ropes together. Now, start braiding the bread just as you would braid hair or rope until you reach all the way to the bottom of the strands. In the end, knot the three ropes together and tuck them under so that you have a neat braid.
Cover with a wet towel and leave it to rise for 30 - 40 minutes.
Brush some milk on top of the bread and sprinkle the top generously with fresh/dried herbs. I used dried Italian seasoning.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes or until the top turns a nice golden brown.
Slice and serve when warm.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM