Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Flour tortillas and vegetable fajitas

One of our favourite things to order at a Mexican restaurant nearby is their vegetable fajita. Fresh grilled vegetables, Spanish rice, refried beans,sour cream, guacamole and salsa are served with soft, freshly made tortillas and can be, based upon the individual's taste, be assembled at the table to make a wrap.
In my home made version, I have skipped the beans, guacamole and rice because I didn't have the ingredients for them on hand, but these fajitas were just as good the way we had them.
Until recently, I thought that all tortillas were made with corn flour. Only while looking for flat breads to make for the Blogging Marathon did I find out that in certain parts of Spain they make flour tortillas using All purpose flour. I have made mine with equal parts of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. The authentic tortilla uses lard or shortening, which I have skipped and used a teaspoon of oil instead.

What you need:

 For the tortilla :
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp
Warm water - as needed

In a large mixing bowl, take the flours and salt. Add water, a little at a time, and knead into a pliable, smooth dough. Mix in the oil and knead. Cover and set aside for an hour.

To make tortillas :
Pinch out golf ball sized balls of dough and roll into a circle. Cook on a hot griddle until the bottom starts to brown. Turn over and cook until the tortilla puffs up a little and the other side also gets brown flecks. Store in a tortilla warmer or wrapped in a clean kitchen towel.

For the vegetable mix :
Mixed diced vegetables - 1 cup (I used green bell pepper, yellow and orange sweet peppers, carrot, beans, peas and corn)
Onion - a small one, diced
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
Butter or oil - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice (optional)

Heat butter or oil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and onion. Saute over high heat until slightly browned. Add in the rest of the vegetables and salt to taste. Stir well over high heat for a minute or two. Transfer to an oven safe dish. Grill at 450 degree Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables look slightly charred and develop a smoky flavor. Squeeze some lemon juice over this if desired and set aside.

For the fajita :
Vegetable mix
Sour cream

To assemble the fajita :
 Heap some of the mixed vegetables onto a tortilla. Spread a generous helping of sour cream and salsa over it. Roll up and enjoy!

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

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Focaccia Caprese

We are already three months into this new year. Yet, this is my first post of the year. Despite intentions to the contrary, the blog has ended up being neglected. As always, the Blogging Marathon is what I've relied on to bring some action back into the blog. This time round, I've chosen to blog on flat breads from around the world for three days. By choosing this particular bread, I am also able to tick off one of the breads from the list of breads that the We Knead to Bake group has chosen to bake.
Focaccia is an Italian flat bread and Caprese refers to something that comes from Capri - an island off the coast of Italy. The topping on a focaccia caprese is tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil. I have made some changes to the original recipe, the major one being that I have used whole wheat flour in place of all purpose flour, and the minor ones being the use of Italian seasoning mix in place of dried oregano and the use of grated mozzarella and parmesan in place of slices of buffalo mozzarella.

What you need:
For the dough :
Whole wheat flour -  3.5 cups
Instant yeast - 2 tsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil - 1/8 cup (Original recipe calls for 1/4 cup)
Lukewarm water - 1 to 1.5 cups

For the topping:
Tomato - 3-4, sliced into thin circles
Grated mozarella and parmesan - 1/4 cup
Parsley - some, chopped fine

For the herb oil :
Oil - A little less than 1/4 cup
2 large cloves of garlic minced
Italian seasoning mix - 2 tsp
Mix these ingredients together and set aside.

To make the dough :
Take the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add water, a little at a time and mix to form a pliable dough. Add oil and knead well. Let this rest in a well oiled bowl until doubled in volume. This took approximately two hours.

Divide the dough into two parts. Roll out each part roughly into a rectangle of 11" by 7". I patted it out into a rectangle by hand, to give it a rustic look. Transfer on to a baking tray and let it rise for 20 minutes. Drizzle some oil over it and give it a dimpled look using your fingers.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 - 20 minutes or until the focaccia starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and drizzle the herb oil over the focaccia. Arrange the tomato slices evenly over it and sprinkle some grated cheese and some chopped parsley on top. Top with some more of the herb oil and bake again at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-8 minutes until the cheese just melts. Remove from the oven and top with some more fresh chopped parsley.

Cut into slices/wedges and serve while hot.

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kathi rolls

A quick and easy meal on the go, an evening snack, an interesting way to use up left over rotis - any of these descriptions would fit a kathi roll perfectly. Called Frankie in Mumbai, a kathi roll is a medley of vegetables and masalas wrapped inside a flaky roti. Though I have eaten these in restaurants where the outer covering was made of all purpose flour/maida, I have tried to make my version healthy by using whole wheat rotis.

What you need :
Roti/chapati/parotta - as many as needed
Chaat masala
For the filling : (This recipe makes enough filling for 7 rotis)
Potato - medium sized, one - peeled and diced
Carrot - 1,chopped
Capsicum - 1/2, chopped fine
Onion - a small one, chopped fine
Green chilli - 1, minced
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Beans - 8, stringed and chopped
Tomato - 1, chopped
Oil - 2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Juice of half a lemon

Corriander/cilantro - a little, chopped fine
Salt - to taste

Steam cook the potato, carrot and beans.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the green chilli, and chopped onions. Saute until pink. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for another minute on low flame. Add the chopped capsicum and tomato. Cover and cook over a low flame until the capsicum is cooked yet crunchy. Add in the cooked veggies, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and salt to taste. Mix well and heat until any excess moisture evaporates. Add lemon juice and garnish with chopped corriander.

To make the roll:
Spread a generous helping of the filling on one side of the roti.
Sprinkle some chaat masala over it and then roll the roti in such a way that the filling is wrapped inside.

 Place a few rolls seam side down and drizzle some ketchup or chutney over it if desired.

This is my second post for Week 3 of Blogging Marathon #47 under the theme Cooking from the menu card of a restaurant - the restaurant of my choice being Puranmal.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 47 

Tomato soup

I have always been partial to tomato based soups. Though I have been making different kinds of soups this winter, the best, according to me, is this simple tomato soup. Vine ripened, juicy tomatoes give it a rich color and tang, which is balanced by the spice from black peppers and sweetness from the carrot.

What you need :
Tomato - 4 large, red, ripe and juicy - chopped
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Black peppercorns - 10-12
Carrot - 1, grated
Almonds - 8-10
Salt - to taste
Spring onion greens - a little, chopped, to garnish

Heat butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan. I used a pressure cooker for the entire process. Add the black pepper and fry for a few seconds. Stir in the onions and saute on low flame until pink. Add the carrots and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, almonds and salt. Saute until the tomatoes soften. Add 2 cups of water. Close the pressure cooker and let it cook till one whistle. Once the steam settles and the mixture cools down, blend in a blender until smooth. Heat until it reaches desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve hot.
This is my first post for Week 3 of Blogging Marathon #47 under the theme Cooking from the menu card of a restaurant - the restaurant of my choice being Puranmal.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 47 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hara bhara kabab

This is arguably one of the most popular starters in India. Whether at restaurants or at home parties, this is a dish that makes an appearance at the table quite frequently. The kabab possibly gets its name from the distinctive green color it has. Mine are not green because I used yellow peas instead of green peas.

What you need: 
Potato - 1 medium sized, boiled peeled and mashed
Spinach - 1.5 cups, packed, steamed, squeezed and mashed
Peas - 1/2 cup - soaked overnight, cooked and mashed
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger - a small piece, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Cilantro/corriander - a little, finely chopped
Oil - a little for shallow frying the kababs
Cashew - one for each kabab (optional)

Mash the potatoes, spinach and peas together in a large bowl . Ensure that any excess water is squeezed out from the veggies before mashing. Heat oil. Toast the cumin seeds in it. Add in the ginger and chilli and saute for a minute. Pour this over the mashed vegetables. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Shape into balls. I was able to make 13 kababs using this recipe. Flatten slightly between your palms. Press a cashew into the center of the kabab. Shallow fry on tawa, turning over now and then until both sides are well browned and crisp.
Serve hot with ketchup or mint and tamarind chutneys.
This is my first post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #47 under the theme North Indian party starters.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 47

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Badam katli

I have never believed in pressurizing my child to study or to excel in everything or in fact, anything that she does. I have always believed that children will do well if they are allowed to do what they are interested in. In the process, if they discover that they excel at something, that is a bonus. The unfortunate side effect of my beliefs is that, not many people agree with me. I am constantly asked if I send my child to xyz class or abc class. When I smile and say no, I often get incredulous looks that tell me that I am crazy not to send her to a place that everyone sends their child to. Oh well, it takes all sorts to make the world go round and unless my daughter expressly tells me that she is interested in taking up some hobby/sport/class, I am not sending her to one.
With that off my chest, I can now share with you this recipe for badam katli that I tried making using a really small quantity of badam as I wasn't sure if the outcome would be good. It did turn out good and the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you are trying to make a larger quantity.

What you need :
Almond(Badam) - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cardamom - 3 or 4 pods

Soak the almonds in hot water for an hour and then peel them. Grind the peeled almonds along with milk and cardamom to a smooth paste.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the almond mixture, sugar and ghee over a low flame until the mixture thickens and starts leaving the sides of the pan.
Quickly pour into a greased pan and smooth the top with a wet spatula.
When it is still warm, mark squares with a sharp knife. Cut when cool and store in an air tight container.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 46

Coconut laddoo

When Nestle launched Milkmaid in India, they held a contest for school children in which we had to come up with innovative recipes using Milkmaid. What I still remember about the whole thing is how absolutely enticing the coconut laddoos that appeared in the TV commercials for Milkmaid looked. The mom and daughter duo who starred in the commercial made the whole dessert making process look so uncomplicated. I wanted to make these laddoos for the contest, but for some reason, ended up making carrot halwa. Nothing innovative about warm off the stove gajar ka no prizes for guessing how that contest turned out for me. Anyway, years later, I tried out the Milkmaid coconut laddoo and must say that when they said easy, they really did mean easy. Mix, heat, stir, shape - that's all there is to it.

What you need:
Coconut flakes - 5 cups (I used sweetened flakes that I bought off the shelf at Target)
Milkmaid /condensed milk - 1 tin

Set aside about 3/4th of a cup of coconut flakes.
In a large saucepan (preferably nonstick to save you the hassle of cleaning), mix the remaining coconut flakes and the condensed milk. Switch on the heat and stir until it comes together and starts leaving the sides of the pan. Let it cool a bit and then shape into balls with wet or oiled hands. Roll each ball over the coconut flakes that you've set aside so they get a nice coating of the flakes.
And as easy as that, you have an ooh-inducing dessert. Dig in.
This is my first post for Week 1 of Blogging Marathon # 46 under the theme Indian desserts.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 46

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minimal oil vegetable koftas

Fall is a beautiful season. The heat of summer is gone, but the bone chilling cold of winter is not yet here. The changing colors of leaves on the trees - the gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and flaming red - these are testimonials of nature's artistry. The leaves have now started falling, a signal that fall is coming to an end and colder weather is imminent.
 While deep fried snacks are enjoyed by us, I do try every now and then, to see if a recipe can be tweaked to use less oil. These koftas were made to be used in a curry that I wanted to serve with rotis. However, we soon found that these made for a great tea time snack. Luckily, I had enough of these on hand to make a curry after we were done with our snacking binge.

What you need:
Potato - 1 large or 2 medium sized, boiled, peeled and mashed
Carrot - 1, grated
Green beans - 10, chopped very fine
Spring onion - 2, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Bread - 4 slices
Ginger - one inch piece, skinned and chopped fine
Dhania/corrainder powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

Add the carrot, beans spring onion, ginger and chilli to the mashed potatoes. Mix in salt, garam masala, red chilli powder, dhania powder and turmeric powder. Dip the bread in water, quickly squeeze out all the water and add it to the vegetables. Knead well and then divide into small balls.
Heat a paniyaram pan/aebelskiver pan with about 1/4 tsp of oil in each depression. On medium flame, fry these koftas, turning over until they are well browned and crisp on all sides. Do not rush this process. It will take time, but the end result will be worth it.
The recipe for the curry I made with these koftas in it, will be up next.
This is my third post for BM #45 under the theme healthy tea time snacks.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45

Crispy corn

The temperature outside has been steadily dropping over the last few days. I am one of the few people who still go outside for a walk in the morning, but am not sure I will be able to do that for much longer, given how many layers of clothes I have to wear and how cold it still feels despite all those layers. Warm soups, adrak-wali chai (ginger tea) and crisp, deep fried snacks are what the stomach craves for every day.

Mainland China's crispy corn chilli pepper is something that I love and have ordered  every single time we've eaten there. I love how crisp yet juicy the corn is, and how beautifully it is presented in a fried fritter basket. Here's my version of this to-die for snack/starter.

What you need :
Frozen American sweet corn - 2 cups
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 small, chopped fine
Spring onion(with greens) - 2, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, slit into half
Juice of half a lemon
Oil - 2 tsp
Oil - to deep fry

Defrost the frozen corn. Remove it on to a paper towel, cover with another paper towel on top and gently press to remove moisture.  Transfer the corn to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the rice flour evenly over it so that each corn kernel has a fine coating of flour over it. Keep this aside for at least half an hour so that any excess moisture is absorbed by the flour.
Heat oil for deep frying. Fry handfuls of corn until crisp. Drain onto a paper towel and set aside.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan. Add the green chillies, onions and spring onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the fried corn to it along with salt and lemon juice. Mix well. Serve hot.
This is my second post for BM#45 under the theme healthy tea time snacks.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45

Monday, October 27, 2014

Peanut chaat

Marina beach, the crowds, mallipoo (jasmine) sellers, Kwality ice cream carts, roaring waves......these sights, sounds and smells will be indelibly etched in your mind if you visit this beach even once. I love the raw mango, neatly sliced and sold with red chilli powder and salt that is commonplace in this area. Peanut chaat is another popular favourite that is sold along the beach. Boiled peanuts, raw onions, tomatoes, a dash of lime and salt - what's not to love about this simple dish?

What you need :
Peanuts - 1 cup
Onion - 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato - 1 small, finely chopped
Green chilli - 1, minced
Carrot - 1/2, grated
Juice of half a lemon
Corriander/cilantro - a little, for garnishing

Soak the peanuts in hot water for 2 to 3 hours. Drain, add half a cup of water, a pinch of salt and cook in the pressure cooker until three whistles. Remove and drain water completely. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Enjoy.
This is my post for Blogging Marathon # 45 under the theme healthy tea time snacks. It also goes to Valli's Kids' Delight event featuring nuts and legumes in a lunch box friendly avatar.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45