Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I loved the picture associated with this fried rice recipe so much that I decided I had to try it out. However, I did not have all the ingredients that the recipe required. So I decided to improvise and make it what I had on hand. Here's what I did.....

What u need:
Basmati rice - 1 cup
Vegetables(carrot,beans,potatoes,peas)-1 cup, cut into thin long pieces
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Green bell pepper - 1/2, cut into thin strips
Green chillies - 2 or 3, minced
Red Chilli sauce - 5 tbsp
Soy sauce - 2 tbsp
Tomato ketchup - 2 tsp
Salt - as required

Cook rice in a pressure cooker with 1.5 cups of water until one whistle. Heat 3 tsp of ghee/oil. Fry the cooked rice in this until the grains are separated. Set this aside.
Heat 2 tsp of oil. Saute green chillies and onion until browned. Add bell pepper and other vegetables. Stir everything together and add 1.5 cups of water. Cook on a high flame until all the water evaporates. Add this to the rice.
Heat 2 tsp of oil. Add the red chilli sauce, tomato ketchup and soya sauce and stir for a minute until the mixture thickens slightly. Pour this on top of the rice. Add salt and stir everything together until it is thoroughly mixed.
Serve hot.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Avil laddoo, Rava laddoo, Pal therattipal and Ribbon pakoda for Diwali

Hope all of you had a wonderful Deepavali. I did.
Back home the festival of lights is all about decking up in new clothes, going to the temple, lighting firecrackers and of course the all important festival food. When I was growing up we used to look forward to the sweets and savouries that we would get to eat on that day. The firecrackers are another major highlight of the day, but I always was and still am terrified of them. Here we'd gone to the temple where there was a fireworks really felt nice and brought back a feeling of being back home. Here's a look at some of the dishes I made......
(A triple serving of sweets : Avil laddoo; Rava laddoo; Pal terattipal)
All of these sweets are really easy to make and are guaranteed to disappear almost as soon as you've made them. Here are the recipes:

Avil/Poha/Beaten rice Laddoo

What you need:
Avil - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Cashews - a little
Ghee - just enough to form laddoos ( I used about 8 tsp)

Dry fry the poha a little at a time until reddish brown. Take care not to burn it. Powder it in the mixie. Also powder the sugar. Fry cashews in a little ghee. Mix everything together. Pour hot melted ghee on top and shape into laddoos while the mixture is still warm.

Rava Laddoo

What you need:
Rava/Sooji/Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Cashew and raisins - as per taste
Ghee - enough to form laddoos ( about 10 tsp)

Fry rava until it is hot but not changed in colour. Powder it in the mixie along with the sugar. Fry cashew and raisins in a little ghee. Add the powdered mixture to it. Add hot ghee and shape into laddoos.

Pal therattipal
Well, I'll let you in on a secret. Usually pal therattipal involves a lot of stirring and hovering over a hot stove...but this version is very quick and all that you need is a microwave...and about 8 minutes of your time(depends on you microwave's power). I found the original recipe here.

What you need:
Milk powder - 1 pack
Condensed milk - 1 tin
Unsalted butter - 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp

Mix all the ingredients in a microwave safe dish and heat for about 8 minutes....checking constantly and stirring it whenever it starts rising to the top. When it is a nice reddish brown colour, take it out and when it is warm, shape it into small balls or if you like you can just scoop it up with a spoon and serve it as is.

Now, after all those sweets, if you are craving something that's salty and spicy, here is some Pakodam....
What you need:
Gram flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 3 cups
Salt - as per taste
Red chilli powder - as per taste
Butter - 2 tbsp
Oil - for deep frying

Mix all the ingredients together and knead to a smooth pliable dough by adding a little water at a time. The dough should be neither too watery nor too crumbly. It should roughly be the consistency of chapati dough. Heat oil. Now take a little bit of the dough and fill it into the pakoda nazhi. (I don't have a pic of the nazhi right now but will post one soon.) Squeeze the dough out in a circular pattern into the hot oil. Deep fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon so that all the excess oil gets drained out. Store in an airtight container. This pakodam stays good for several days.

If you are like me and missed the Special edition JFI-Diwali event, you do get a second chance. You can still send in your entries to Vee....just make sure you do it before the 28th...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Aloo-Peas Paratha

What you need

For the paratha:
2 cups wheat flour
Hot water - as reqd
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp

For the filling:
Potato - 2(boiled,peeled and mashed)
Peas - 1/2 a cup(I used frozen)
Onion - 1 small(chopped)
Jeera powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp
Oil - a little

Kneading the dough:

Mix the wheat flour, salt and oil. Add hot water a little at a time to this and knead well until the dough is soft and pliable. Take care not to add too much water.
Keep covered for atleast 3-4 hours.

Making the masala:

Heat oil in a pan. Saute onions until brown. Add jeera powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt. Stir for a few seconds. Add the mashed potatoes and peas. Stir and remove from heat.

Making parathas:
  • Divide the dough into several small balls.

  • Roll the ball into a small circle.
  • Place a little bit of the masala in the centre of the circle.
  • Gather the sides and close into a ball again.
  • Flatten and roll into a thick paratha.
  • Transfer parathas to a heated pan.
  • When tiny bubbles form on the top flip the paratha over and cook the other side.
  • Brush some ghee on top of the paratha and serve hot with yogurt and pickle.
(In the pic I've served parathas with a raw carrot salad)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Butterfly effect meme

My very first tag....Iam so excited about this. Thank you Vani for tagging me.
This is a foodie meme which asks you to talk about stuff that has had a profound influence on your foodie life(in the words of who started this meme). Well, not just any kind of stuff...but specifically an ingredient, a dish/recipe, a meal, a cookbook/other written work, a food personality, and another person in your life.
Before I get down to the meme, here's some info:
A meme is an Internet phenomenon (sometimes called an Internet meme)which occurs when something relatively unknown becomes hugely popular, often quite suddenly, through the mass propagation of media content made feasible by the Internet.(source: wikipedia)
Alright, that said, let's talk....
  • Ingredient - I had a tough time deciding on this one.....there are several ingredients that I absolutely love but if I must choose just one, then it would have to be potatoes. Whether it is a spicy potato fry with ulli sambar, drenched-in-oil Mc Donalds french fries, Hard Rock Cafe's Baked potato which is a meal in itself, or the "no one can eat just one" chips...I love 'em all.
  • A dish/ recipe - No thinking twice about is nothing other than the very south indian sambar. Can you believe Iam so particular about how sambar should taste that I hardly ever touch it if I go to a restaurant??? And of course, in my opinion, my mom's sambar is the absolute best in the world....Iam always striving to recreate that in my kitchen.
  • A meal - There's a restaurant run by Arusuvai Arasu on Chennai's East Coast Road(known locally as just ECR). Usually Iam not the kind of person that orders a full thali meal in a restaurant....'coz if you've been reading carefully u know that Iam picky about my sambar....but this is one restaurant where as soon as i stepped in, I knew I'd love the food. I had their several course lunch served on a banana leaf....and the taste lingers to this day.
  • A cookbook/other written work - When I got married and moved from a small town in Kerala to the US, the extent of my cooking was limited to sambar, rasam and tomato rice. The only thing that saved us from eating those dishes day in and day out was the several Mallika Badrinath cookbooks that I carried with me.
  • A food personality - Don't know if he fits this label perfectly, but it would have to be Hemant Trivedi. All of his recipes are perfect....each and every one that I've tried out has come out delicious.
  • Another person in my life - Let's start with my husband. He has always encouraged me to experiment with food, try out new dishes....and yeah, he is the only one that's had to actually eat my "not-so-perfect" creations. And then there's mom....moms are fantastic in that they are able to whip up great tasting meals within what seems like no time at all. I always find myself comparing anything that I cook with her cooking and also strive to keep my kitchen as neat as she keeps hers.
With that said, it is now my turn to tag......and I tag Prema of My Cookbook.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Onion-tomato curry

The name is not fancy....the curry is so easy to make - the recipe - simple to follow....but the taste is fantastic....Iam still drooling just thinking about it....can't think of any words that would do justice to the taste. The recipe is adapted from a Mallika Badrinath cookbook that I have. Let's get to it without further dialogue.

What you need:
Onion - 1 large, chopped fine
Tomato - 3 large very ripe ones, chopped
Green chilli - 4(adjust to suit your palate), minced
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Besan(gram flour) - 1/4 cup
Cilantro - to garnish

Heat oil. Add mustard seeds and urad dal. When dal turns reddish brown and seeds pop, add the green chillies and onion. Fry till onions turn translucent. Then add the tomatoes and salt. Saute for a few minutes. Make a smooth paste of besan with water....make sure there are no lumps. Stir this into the curry....stirring all the while so no lumps are formed. If necessary add some water and cook for a few minutes until desired consistency is reached.
Garnish with freshly cut cilantro.
This tastes great with chapatis which is what I had it with for dinner last night.

Oh....yeah....and if u do have any leftovers(hard to believe, but I did have some) makes a great spread for a breakfast sandwich.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I am back with another recipe featuring bell pepper. The recipe is loosely based on my memory of a dish I ate at a friend's house years ago when I was not interested in recipes, methods or ingredients. I have used ingredients that I had handy. The dish is very easy to make.....takes not more than twenty minutes including prep work.
What u need:
Bell pepper(capsicum) - 1 large, diced
Spring onions - a few(optional)
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Grind together without using water:
Coconut - a few spoons
Green chilli - 3
Fried gram dal(Dalia) - a handful

In a pan, heat the oil. Add urad dal and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add onions, bell pepper and salt. Stir, reduce heat and cook covered until the pepper softens....takes about 5-10 minutes. Add the ground mixture. Stir well. Serve hot with rice.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Navaratri to me means good food....well, isn't that what any festival/celebration is supposed to be about anyway??? As a kid, I remember dressing up in different pattu pavadais each day and going to different houses for golu and chundal. A group of about seven or eight of us would plan our route and set out armed with some empty plastic covers which would be filled to the brim with different kinds of goodies by the time we came back home.
Last Friday, I had some of my friends over and I made one seemed familiar with that name....don't know if it is a term that is used only in a particular of my friends said she had heard the name, but the dish she talked about was made with moong dal and sounded totally different. Here's how I made it:

What you need:
Channa dal - 1.5 cups
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Coconut - 1/4 cup
Green chilli - 4 (adjust to suit your palate)
Ginger - a small piece, chopped

Cook channa dal in about 6-7 cups of water. Make sure it is not overcooked. Drain the water and keep aside.
Heat oil. Add urad dal and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the cooked dal, salt, asafoetida and ginger. Grind coconut and green chilli together without using any water. Alternatively, you can crush the chillies coarsely with your hand. Add this to the dal. Stir well.
If you'd like to, you can also add some lemon juice to this. I did not....