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

Monday, October 20, 2014

Apple crumble - the easiest and best dessert ever

Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I came home with a whole lot of apples after we went apple picking recently.  I've wanted to try an apple crumble for a long time and this seemed to be the perfect time to do it. I like to think of my version as a healthy one as it uses whole wheat flour for the topping, and very little fat in the form of butter. The smell while this is being baked in the oven is absolutely delightful and makes you want to keep opening the oven and breathing it in.

What you need :
For the bottom layer :
Apples - 2 medium sized (with peel), diced
Sugar - 2 tsp
Maple syrup - 1 tsp (optional)
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp

For the topping :
Whole wheat flour - 4 tbsp
Brown sugar - 2 tbsp
Cinnamon - 1 tsp
Cold Butter, cut into small pieces - 2 tbsp 

Take the chopped apples in a large baking dish. Squeeze lemon juice over it and mix well. Add the sugar and maple syrup and stir.

Take the ingredients for the topping in a mixing bowl. Mix with the tips of your fingers until it becomes crumbly. Evenly distribute the topping over the apples.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until the topping becomes dark brown and most of the moisture has evaporated. The mixture will bubble a lot once the apples start releasing their juices. So make sure your baking dish is big enough. Switch off the oven and let the dish remain in the oven for another 15 minutes. Serve warm as it is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

This, served with ice cream, makes three small servings. It is easily one of the easiest and best desserts I have made to date. The topping is crisp and offers a wonderful contrast in texture to the soft, cooked apples.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Eggless no food colour red velvet cupcakes

Red velvet cakes and cupcakes, with their bright red color and cream cheese frosting on top are stunning to look at and popular with adults and kids alike. I have shied away from making these because of the huge amount of artificial food coloring that is used to give the cake its vibrant red hue. In my search for alternatives to artificial food color, I stumbled upon this recipe which I recreated in my kitchen. Pureed beets are used in this recipe to give the cupcakes a natural red color.

What you need:
Whole wheat flour - 1.5 cups
Beet - 1 (medium sized, boiled with skin, cooled, peeled and pureed)
Sugar - 1 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1.5 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Cocoa powder - 4 tsp
Curd - 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

In a large mixing bowl, take the oil, sugar, beet puree, curd and vanilla extract. Mix well until sugar dissolves. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix. Spoon the batter into a lined muffin pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degree F for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely and frost, if desired.

While the color of the cupcakes was gorgeous,(The photo doesn't reflect how beautiful the color is as I used my mobile camera) there was a slight smell and taste of beets in them and though the spouse and I didn't mind that too much, the child was put off by it. The quantity of beets and using other ingredients that would probably mask its smell is something I am planning to experiment with and will update on this post.

Whole wheat eggless apple walnut banana squares

Some days back, I went apple picking. Apples, fresh off the tree, are so delicious, so crisp and so juicy - the store bought ones cannot hold a candle to these. Seriously, they are so juicy that even if you were to accidentally scratch one with your nails, you can see the juice spurt out. I came back home with a huge bag of apples that we picked and other than eating them as is, have been trying them out in various bakes. This week's theme for the Blogging Marathon is baking with veggies/fruits and this healthy apple square fits the bill perfectly.

What you need : (Recipe adapted from here)
Whole wheat flour - 2 cups, leveled
Apple -  finely chopped(with peel), 2 cups (I used about one and a half medium sized apples)
Walnuts - 1/2 cup, chopped
Over ripe banana - 2, mashed well
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1 cup * (see notes at the bottom)
Baking soda - 2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp

In a mixing bowl, mix together, the mashed banana, oil, sugar, yogurt and vanilla essence. Stir in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt to this.  Mix in the chopped apple and walnuts. Pour into a 15x10x1 cookie sheet, spread evenly with the back of a spatula or wet hands and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees farenheit for 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once cool, cut into squares and store in an air tight container.

Note :
The apples I had were sweet in themselves. Plus, I do not like my bakes to be overly sweet. One cup of sugar makes these squares only moderately sweet. Add up to half a cup more of sugar if you want it to be sweeter.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Cabbage thoran - a Kerala sadya staple

A sadya (feast) in Kerala without a thoran(stir-fried vegetable) is unimaginable. It is simple dishes like these that make a feast memorable and complete.

What you need :
Cabbage - a small one, chopped fine
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Salt - to taste
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Green chilli - 2
Curry leaves - a few
Red chilli - 1
Oil - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Heat oil in a pan. Add the urad dal, broken red chilli and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the chopped cabbage, turmeric powder, salt and just enough water to cover it. Cover and cook on a low flame.(*) Grind the coconut, chilli and curry leaves coarsely without adding any water. When the cabbage is almost done, add the ground mixture to it, stir well and cook uncovered until well cooked and all the excess water has evaporated. Serve hot.

Note : * The process of cooking cabbage can be quickened by cooking it in the microwave or steaming it in the pressure cooker.
Check once in a while to ensure that there is sufficient water for the cabbage to cook in.

Pavakka kichadi - a Kerala sadya staple

Diwali, though mostly associated with savory murukkus and ghee-laden sweets, is also about the feast that is prepared on the day of the festival. In this post and the next, I will be blogging about two simple and easy-to-make dishes that are an essential part of any sadya (feast) in Kerala.
The first dish is an accompaniment called kichadi by many and pachadi by some. Biitergourd, ladies finger/okra, tomato and beetroot are some of the vegetables that can be used to make this dish.
In this version, thinly sliced bittergourd  is fried to a crisp and then stirred into a spiced mixture of coconut, chillies and sour curd.

What you need :
Bittergourd - 2 small , sliced into thin small pieces after removing the pith and seeds
Sour curd - 1 cup
Fresh grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp + 1 tsp
Green chilli - 2 or 3 (depending on your spice tolerance level)
Oil - 2 tsp
Urad dal  - 1 tsp

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the urad dal and 1 tsp of mustard seeds along with some curry leaves. When the seeds pop, add the bittergourd, stir well, cover and let it saute until the bittergourd turns crisp and brown. Do not rush this step. Let the gourd cook in a low flame and stir every now and then so that it doesn't burn.
While this is getting done, grind the coconut, chillies and mustard seeds to a smooth paste adding a few spoons of the curd to it. Once the gourd is crisp, brown and cooked, add the ground paste to it along with salt and let it boil for a few minutes. Switch off heat. Beat the remaining curd so that it does not have any lumps and stir it into the pan. If you feel it is too thick, add some more curd.

Gongura puliyodharai

After a long time, I am joining the Blogging Marathon again, this time with Festival Special dishes as my theme for the week. Though the festival that has been chosen is Diwali, I am going to be starting with something new that I tried out during Navaratri and felt that it is good enough to be offered as prasadam. 
I have often seen gongura (sorrel leaves) in markets in India and now here in the US. However, the only form in which I have tasted it is the bottled Priya Gongura pickle and to me, all Priya pickles taste and smell the same.
 Recently, spurred on by my friend, I bought a bunch of these leaves with absolutely no idea as to what to do with it. I plucked one and ate it and realized that it was tart enough to be used as a substitute for tamarind.  That's how the idea to use it to make puliyodharai was born. In fact, in this particular dish, the term puliyodharai is a misnomer, as no puli (tamarind) has been used.
A little bit of google-ing told me that not many people had tried out this idea. However, Sailu had a recipe here, which I modified to my taste.

What you need:
Rice - 1 cup, cooked and cooled
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp (I used gingely oil, but any oil you regularly use/like will work)
Peanuts - a fistful

To fry :
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp
Dhania seeds - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Red chilli - 2
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Gongura leaves(washed) - 2 cups packed tight

Spread the cooked rice to cool. Add turmeric powder and 2 tsp of oil to it and set aside.
Heat a tsp of oil. In it, fry on low heat, the urad dal, chana dal, dhania, curry leaves, red chillies, and mustard. Set aside. Fry the washed gongura leaves in the same pan on a low flame till wilted. Let it cool.
Powder the fried spices to a coarse powder. Add the gongura and grind again to a paste without adding any water. Add this to the rice in small quantities and mix well. Add required amount of salt and mix. Top with some more curry leaves. Fry a fistful of peanuts in a teaspoon of oil and mix it into the rice.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

Colourful cupcakes

Ever since I first saw a rainbow cake, it has fascinated me. I love not only the vivid array of bright colours in the cake, but also the name itself. I recently tried making these at home with the few colours I had on hand and in cupcake form.
What you need: (Recipe source :Seduce your tastebuds)
All purpose flour - 1.5 cups
Sugar - 1 cup
Thick curd - 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
 Oil - 1/2 cup
Food colour - a few drops of each colour you wish to use

In a bowl, whisk the curd and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add the baking powder and baking soda to this. When the mixture starts to bubble, add oil and vanilla essence. Mix well. Stir in the flour little by little, mixing well after each addition.
Divide into as many parts as the colours you intend to use. I used pink, green and then a mixture of red and green together which gave me a dark olive-green-ish colour. I also kept one part of the batter plain. Mix the colour into the batter until well mixed.
Line your muffin pan with cupcake liners. Pour half a spoon of each coloured batter into the liners, one on top of the other. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly. It will settle into beautiful coloured patterns by itself.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme Kids' Delight - Oven baked snacks.
Enjoy plain or with some whipped cream piped on top of it.

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

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Super soft idlis - the quintessential South Indian breakfast

How we perceive food is influenced by our regular eating habits and the culture that we are from. While idli is considered healthy,light and easy on the stomach as it is oil-free and steamed by most South Indians, I recently came across a person who believes that idli is a very heavy food as it contains dal.
Idli is something that is made in my household quite often. In spite of that, I have never thought of posting it on the blog so far, as it is something that I consider to be simple, everyday food. However, many friends have spoken to me about how difficult they find it to make soft, fluffy idlis. Hence, this post.

What you need:
Idli rice* - 4 cups
Urad dal - 1 cup
Methi/fenugreek seeds - 1 tbsp

Wash the rice and dal and soak separately in plenty of water for at least 8 hours. Add the methi seeds to the urad dal after washing the dal.*
After an hour or two of soaking, pop the urad dal with the water in which it is soaking into the refrigerator. *
Grind the urad dal, along with the cold water until it becomes light and soft. This takes close to half an hour in a grinder.
Add the soaked rice, in batches, with water if necessary, and grind until smooth. This will take another 20-25 minutes. In the last few minutes of grinding, add in some salt.
Set aside the ground batter over night to ferment.
In the morning, grease the idli plates, pour the batter into it and steam for 10-12 minutes.
Let it cool for 5 minutes and then serve hot with molaga podi, chutney or sambar.

Notes :
* Idli rice is not the same as the regular rice used for cooking. It is labelled and sold as idli rice in most major grocery stores.
* Methi seeds can be soaked with either rice or dal. However, since the urad dal is ground for a longer time in the grinder, I have found that the seeds are well ground if they are soaked with the urad dal, whereas, if you were to soak it with the rice, you might find little brown flakes of methi in your idlis.
* Putting the urad dal in the refrigerator is optional. However, I have found that the yield of batter is significantly more if this is done.

This is my post for Blogging Marathon #36, under the theme Oil-free breakfast.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 14th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Peppy tomato oats to start the day with

Masala oats (oats in different Indian flavours) have been doing the rounds for a while now. Somehow, I have never been tempted to buy these. The only way I have eaten my oats till now is cooked and then mixed with milk, nuts and raisins. However, this recipe that I saw on a TV channel tempted me enough to buy Saffola masala oats. Loaded with vegetables, this is a great way to start your day.

What you need:
Saffola masala oats (I used the peppy tomato flavour) - 2 pkts (40 gm each)
Onion - 2, chopped fine
Ginger - a small piece, julienned
Green chilli - 2, minced
Carrot - 1, grated
Capsicum - 1/2 of a large one, chopped fine
Tomato - 1, chopped fine
Fresh green peas - a handful
Moong bean sprouts - a handful
Salt - to taste (Be careful with the salt as the oats comes with salt added to it)
Oil - 1 tsp
Jeera/cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp

Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the green chilli, ginger and onions. Saute until onions turn translucent. Add in the rest of the vegetables(except tomato) followed by the masala oats. Mix well, lower the heat, cover and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. You do not need to add water, as the water from the vegetables is sufficient for the oats to be cooked. Add in the tomatoes. Stir again and heat covered until the oats is well cooked. (takes 2-4 minutes). Switch off the heat and top with a handful of chopped corrainder leaves.
Serve hot.

This is my post for Blogging Marathon #36, under the theme Oil-free breakfast.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 13th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mor kuzhambu and roast potatoes

The final post for this week's Blogging Marathon, brings you a classic combo from the South Indian state of Tamilnadu - mor kuzhambu (spiced buttermilk gravy with coconut and green chillies) served with a side dish of spicy, roast potatoes. In the Kerala Iyer community, we make mor kuzhambu with ripe plantains and call it pazham (plantain) mor koottan. However, here I have stuck to more traditional vegetables and used ash gourd. Other vegetables that can be used are colocasia/arbi and ladies finger.

What you need
For the mor kuzhambu :
Ash gourd - 1/2 cup, peeled and chopped
Sour curd - 3 cups, beaten well.
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Grated coconut - 3/4 cup
Green chilli - 3
Curry leaves - a few
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli - 1, broken

Grind the grated coconut and green chilli, along with half a cup of curd, to a smooth paste.
Add some water to the ash gourd (just enough water to cover the vegetable) along with turmeric powder and salt. Cover and heat until the gourd is cooked. Add the ground paste and let it boil well. Reduce the heat. Add the remaining curd and heat until it just begins to froth. Take care to not let the mixture boil.
Switch off heat. Heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, broken red chilli, curry leaves and methi seeds. When the mustard pops, pour this tempering over the kuzhambu.

For potato roast :
Potato -2 large, boiled, peeled and cubed
Oil - 2 to 3 tbsp
Sambar powder/red chilli powder - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and some curry leaves. When the seeds pop, add the diced potatoes,  salt, and sambar powder. Stir to mix well and let it roast at low heat, until well browned.

Serve a generous helping of the kuzhambu with rice and roast potatoes on the side.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Idiyappam and tirunalveli sodhi

Traditionally, string hoppers (idiyappam) are made with rice flour. However, ever since I started using ragi, I have almost entirely stopped making this dish using rice flour. This is both a tastier and healthier variation. I usually pair it with vegetable stew, but this time,  I have tried a side dish that has its origin in the Tirunalveli district of Tamilnadu. Vegetables, lightly spiced and cooked in a watery coconut milk broth,  this dish is served to a newly married bridegroom by his mother-in-law and so, is also known as mappillai (son-in-law) sodhi. It is very similar to the stew that is made in Kerala. The only difference is that there is a final tempering of curry leaves and cumin seeds here and also an addition of lemon juice.

What you need:
For the idiyappam (string hoppers) :
Ragi/nachni/kezhvaragu/finger millet flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Water - 2 cups
Oil - 1 tsp

Boil the water and add a tsp of oil to it. Add salt to the flour and dry roast the flours in a pan until the raw smell goes away. Add the boiling water to the flour, little by little, mixing it well with a spatula until it forms a pliable dough. Wet your hands and knead the dough until smooth.
While the dough is still hot, using an idiyappam press, squeeze it out into circles and steam in an idli pan for 10-12 minutes.

For the sodhi :

Potato - 1,peeled and diced
Carrot - 1. peeled and diced
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Beans - a few, chopped
Green peas - a handful
Thick coconut extract - 1/2 cup
Ginger - a one inch piece
Green chilli - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Coconut oil - 2 tsp 
Juice of half a lemon
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few

Cook the vegetables in a cup of water until soft,but not mushy. In a pan, heat a tsp of oil. Crush the ginger and garlic coarsely and add this to the pan. Saute a bit and then add in the onions and heat till they turn translucent. Add the cooked veggies along with the water and bring to a boil. Add the coconut extract and heat for a minute or two,  until it is heated through, but does not begin to boil. Switch off the heat and then stir in the juice of half a lemon. Heat a tsp of oil. add the cumin seeds and curry leaves to it and heat. Pour this tempering over the sodhi .
Serve hot with idiyappam.

This post is part of the Blogging Marathon under the theme Combo dishes. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 9th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Aloo tikki chole

January is a special month for us for many reasons. For one, it is the beginning of a new year and so, a time for renewed beliefs and hopes. It is also the birth month of the little girl and she starts planning her birthday right from January 1st. Everyday, she adds people to her invitee list and comes up with ideas for possible dishes on the menu.
This aloo tikki chole chaat is something that is filling, looks good and tastes good too. Crisp and perfectly cooked potato patties topped with a spicy, warm chickpeas curry and then layered with chopped raw onion, cilantro, sev and a tangy chutney. What's not to love about it, eh?

What you need :
For the tikki :
Potato - 4, medium sized, boiled, peeled and mashed
Bread - 4 slices
Salt - to taste (Please resist the temptation to add onions, cilantro, garam masala or any other condiment)

For the chole :
Kabuli chana/white chick peas - 1 cup (soaked in water overnight)
Onion - 1, chopped
Tomato - 2 , chopped
Ginger - a one inch piece, chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves
Black peppercorn - 4
Clove - 4
Cardamom - 3
Chole masala - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

For serving:
Onion - 1, chopped very fine
Corriander - chopped fine
Tamarind-date chutney

To make tikkis :
Dip the bread in water. Squeeze out all the water and add it to the mashed potatoes. Add salt. Mix well and shape into patties. Shallow fry on a tawa drizzling a little oil over the patties until well browned on both sides.
To make chole:
Pressure cook the chick peas until soft.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the black pepper, clove and cardamom. Fry a little and then add chopped ginger, garlic and onion. Saute till onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook till they soften.
Let this cool and then grind to a smooth paste.
Heat the remaining oil in a kadai. Add the ground paste, turmeric powder and the cooked chick peas. Add salt and chole masala. Reduce the heat and let it boil for 15-20 minutes or until the chole thickens.

To serve:
Arrange two tikkis on a plate. Pour a generous helping of chole on the tikkis. Top with some chopped onion, corriander, chutney and sev.

This post is part of the Blogging Marathon under the theme Combo dishes. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 7th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January.