Saturday, May 31, 2008

How do I love thee.....Come let me count the ways

Well, for starters I like you best as you are.......I love to bite into your juicy and all....and keep eating until all that is left is your seed. Then, there's pulisseri, pachadi, koottan - various avatars of yours - all of which Iam equally awed by.
So when Arundati chose you to be the star of blogosphere's breakfast table, all of these dishes ran through my mind.....but there was also this feeling in the back of my mind that I should try something that I've never tried before. Well, the days passed by and I did eat a lot of mangoes, but I never got around to making anything out of it.
Things just seemed to fall into place today though, with DH saying that it's been a while since I baked bread.....and since I happened to have some wonderful smelling ripe banganapallis on hand, I thought, why not go ahead and bake some mango bread. Googling lead me to this recipe which I adapted so that I could make it entirely in the microwave.

To make microwave egg-less mango bread you need:
1 large ripe mango - skinned and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour (I used flour made out of a mix of seven grains - can be substituted with whole grain flour)
1/2 cup milk powder
1/2 cup water

Blend the mango, sugar, yogurt, salt, oil, water and milk powder together in a blender. Transfer it to a large bowl and add in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix everything together well. The dough will be quite thick - infact, for a while there, i thought that I'd gone wrong with the consistency.
Grease a loaf pan with oil/non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and microwave in convection mode at 175 degree centigrade for roughly thirty minutes. Do check every now and then to see if it is done because microwaves do vary in their power output and so the time taken will vary depending on your microwave. Insert a knife into the bread...if it comes out clean, then the bread is done. Let it stand in the microwave until it cools down completely.

Fresh out of the oven....

Slice and Njoy!!!
A nice, moist really can't taste the mango in it, though....So next time around I'd probably use mango juice instead of water to get more of the
mango flavour. I also want to try adding a little bit of cinnamon and some walnuts or raisins to the batter.

This is my entry to Weekend Breakfast Blogging hosted by Arundati.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Masala puris

For life to be interesting, you need to move away from the regular path every once in a have to welcome the unexpected. As Oswald says "A surprise never hurt anybody" (Sheesh....can't believe i am quoting Oswald.....can u tell I watch way too much Pogo these days???)
Well, the same rule applies to food too. Every now and then, you need to experiment, to get out of your comfort zone and just throw things together and cross your fingers and hope that something edible comes out of that strange combo that's in the pan.
Here's one such experiment that I tried....To make masala puris you need:
Wheat flour - 2 cups
Potatoes - 2 or 3 medium sized, boiled, peeled and mashed well
Onion - 1, chopped really fine
Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp

Combine all the ingredients together and knead into a smooth pliable dough adding just as much warm water as needed.
Make small lemon sized balls out of the dough and roll it out into small puris.
Heat some oil(enough to deep fry the puris) in a kadai. Slide one puri at a time gently into the hot oil. Turn over once so both sides are cooked and browned evenly. Remove and drain excess oil using a kitchen/paper towel.
Eat hot off the stove with thick yogurt and a spicy pickle on the side.....and trust me, once you've tried this, you'll never want to go back to plain puris ever again....

Speaking of surprises, there are two blogger buddies who made my day by passing on some lovely awards to me.
Sukanya has given me the yummy blog award.
Thank u really does mean a lot to me.
As a receiver of this award, I have to list out four of my favourite desserts. I really don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I'll try to list a few that I do like better than the rest.
  • Palada pradhaman
  • Rosogollas
  • Jilebis
  • Kaju Kathli
I'd now like to pass this award on to
Sowmya has passed on the Nice Matters Award to me. She says “Nice Matters Award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world.”
Thank you Sowmya.

The masala puris are off to Srivalli's Roti Mela.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ranting and cooking

To the nosy old man next door....
Pushing and prodding and hoping that staring at the envelope long enough will miraculously render it transparent just won't work.....If you want to know how much I pay the telephone department every month, all you have to do is ask me.....and I "may" tell you...
And while we are at it, let me also tell you that I know you always watch out of your window to see when I get my really don't have to ask me if the courier guy delivered the package which you saw him bring in...
If you saw him walking to my place with a package, if you heard him ring the bell, then simple logic determines that I did get the package.....unless there's a new bermuda triangle between your home and mine.
Alright, with that finally off my chest, let's now get talking about Mathan erissery. Erissery is a very simple, rustic Kerala dish. It can be made using a variety of vegetables. My favourite is pacha mathan erissery (raw pumpkin erissery).

What you need:

Raw pumpkin - 3/4 cup, diced into medium sized pieces after removing the skin
Green chillies - 3
Fresh grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/3 tsp
Salt - to taste
Coconut oil - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

Take two and a half cups of water in a pan. Add pumpkin pieces, salt and turmeric powder to it and boil until the pumpkin is cooked. Grind green chillies and coconut to a smooth paste and add this to the cooked pumpkin. If needed, add some more water at this stage. Boil for a few minutes. Switch off the heat and then pour the coconut oil on top. Garnish with fresh curry leaves.
Serve hot with rice.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Refried beans

Colourful, full of flavour and nutritious....that's Mexican food for you... Refried beans almost always make an appearance at the Mexican table, either as an accompaniment to Mexican rice and tortillas, or wrapped into burritos and enchiladas.
The name is a bit of a misnomer because there is no frying involved in making this dish. It is actually quite easy to make and probably one of the simplest recipes to follow.

What you need:
Red kidney beans - 3/4 cup (Soaked in plenty of water overnight)
Garlic - 4 cloves, crushed
Tomato -1, chopped
Onion - 1, chopped fine

Take all the ingredients in a pressure cooker, add sufficient water and cook until one whistle....reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 - 20 minutes.
By now, the beans should be soft and well cooked. Mash it coarsely with a masher or a heavy ladle. Heat until all the moisture is absorbed.
Serve with tortillas or rotis.
(Traditionally, the ingredients are boiled together on a low flame unti the beans become tender, but I used a pressure cooker to speed up the process)

Iam rushing this off to DK who is hosting A Wordly Epicurean's Delight (A.W.E.D) featuring Mexican food.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Methi theplas for RCI-Rajasthan

Looking around for a Rajasthani dish that I could make using ingredients that i had on hand is what led me to the book "Taste of Rajasthan (Delicious Vegetarian Food from the Land of Rajasthan) by Harveen Choudhary. The fact that I had a bunch of fresh methi just waiting to be used helped decide on the dish that was going to be cooked. I have followed Choudhary's recipe almost to the T except for certain small changes.

What you need:
Fresh methi leaves(chopped) - 1 cup
Wheat flour - 2 cups
Gram flour - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Green chillies - 2, ground into a paste
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Sour curd - 3/4 cup
Oil - 3 tsp

Mix the chopped methi leaves and curd in a bowl and set aside for an hour. Add all the other ingredients to this and knead to a smooth pliable dough. If needed, add some warm water while kneading. Cover and keep aside for an hour.
Take a small ball of dough. Dredge it in some wheat flour and roll out into a thick circle. Transfer the thepla to a heated tawa....cook until you see a few brown spots on the bottom. Turn over, drizzle some oil/ghee over it if you'd like to and cook for a minute. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
Serve hot...or tastes good either way...

What I think of these theplas:
They turned out super soft and delicious...the original recipe called for 1 cup of curd and that's what I used, but the dough turned out to be a little sticky and so I had to add more flour.
I loved the colour that the turmeric and garam masala gave to the theplas. I don't find much difference between these and the methi parathas that I make...except for the fact that I've never soaked the methi leaves in curd before...I suppose that takes away the bitterness. These tasted great on their own....the only thing I'd probably eat with it is mango thokku...but even that is not necessary.

This is my entry to RCI-Rajasthan hosted by Padmaja of Spicy Andhra and to Srivalli's Roti Mela.

Restaurant review - Little Italy Ristorante, Chennai.

112,Eldorado building, Nungambakkam high Road, Chennai.
Ph :42601234
It is opposite Pizza Corner on Nungambakkam H.R.

Mostly Italian and also some Mexican food....the entire menu is vegetarian. Both the cuisines have been Indianised to suit the local palate but it does taste good. The minestrone soup, which incidentally, is my favourite soup, was a huge disappointment. I was expecting an Olive Garden style soup, but what they served turned out to be greenish and watery. Other than that, the rest of the dishes we ordered turned out to be quite good. The risotto and penne with sun dried tomatoes and sauces were both good, though the quantity is much too less for the price that you pay. The Quesidillas looked like they were made using rotis instead of tortillas....but tasted quite alright.
The service is just about average. The wait staff (at least some of them) seem to have trouble with both English and Tamil. I asked the lady who waited on our table a question about a dish and she just said yes and walked off. I also had to wait an extra 10 minutes to get an plate for my daughter despite the fact that several waiters were walking around setting tables and I was told that I would have to wait for "Just one minute".
That said, the ambience and the food made enough of an impression to make me want to go back.

How much should you expect to pay???
About Rs 600 - 650 for two people.

Do make reservations, especially on weekends, because the place does tend to get quite crowded.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The making of an Onion Kulcha

Flat breads in the form of rotis and parathas make an appearance in my home quite often. However,making naan is something I have shied away from after a disastrous trial a few years back. So whenever the craving for naan or any of its variants hits me, I take the easy way out and either eat out or get take-away...
A few days back, though,I decided to try my hand at making onion kulchas.....the results were encouraging enough to make me want to try out other versions of this very adaptable bread.

What you need:

For the dough:
All purpose flour/maida - 1 cup

Whole wheat flour - 1 cup

Active dry yeast - 1 tsp

Salt - to taste
Warm water - enough to knead the flour into a smooth dough

To make dough:
Soak yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water for 10 minutes or until it is completely dissolved. Mix the flours and salt together. Add the yeast mixture to this and then add warm water a little at a time and knead into a smooth pliable dough. Cover and let it stand for a few hours. The volume of the dough will double in about 4-6 hours. Punch it well and knead again and set aside until you are ready to make kulchas.

For the filling :
Large red onions - 2, chopped very fine
Tomato sauce - 1tsp

Chilli sauce - 1 tsp

Salt - a little

Oil - 3 tsp

Red chilli powder - 1/4 tsp

To make filling:

Heat oil. Add onions and saute until brown. Stir in all the other ingredients...stir well and remove from heat. Set aside.

To make kulchas:
Take a medium sized ball of dough. Using a rolling pin, flatten it into a small circle. Spoon some of the filling into this circle and close it and shape into a ball again with your hands. Roll out into a thick circle. Fold this in half so you get a semi-circle and spread it slightly with the rolling pin. Now fold it into a triangle and spread again with the rolling pin to make a thick kulcha.
Heat a tawa/griddle. Transfer the rolled out kulcha onto that. Cook until you see a few bubbles form on the top of the kulcha. By this time, the bottom should have turned golden brown. Turn over and cook for a minute or two.
Serve hot with any curry of your choice.

Kulcha with baby potatoes - Njoy!!!

This is my entry to Srivalli's Roti Mela.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

We met, we talked and....we ate

For months together, mails were exchanged, plans were made,and then, eleven strangers decided to meet under one roof on May 1st, 2008.
What brought them together is nothing other than the passion to write about good food. There were the initial akward silences, but then as time passed, peopled opened up and we found
ourselves discussing stuff other than food. We talked about our ridiculous it is that we have to register them in school as soon as we see two pink lines......and lots of other stuff.

A food bloggers' meet is never complete without the presence of food.....and boy, was there food!!!!
Lakshmi graciously opened up her house to us.....and also made yummy delicious tava bread and thayir sadam......thank you, Laks.....
Rachel baked a lovely looking and even lovelier tasting ladenia for us......Kamini's aloo tikkis were lip-smacking good.....Srivalli's Channa pulao and raita were awesome...
Sra's paneer curry and Arundati's Idiyappam and Mango pulissery both were perfectly delicious.
Nirmala's florentines, which to her dismay, were called cookies by everybody, tasted fabulous.....after all, what's in a name, Nimmi???
Kamalika's chakkara pongal and Lavi's Rosogullas were the ultimate sweet treats.....Yours truly took along chakkavaratty payasam, the recipe of which will be posted soon.
Whew!!! There, didn't I tell u there was A LOT of good food.
This meet also made me realise something else.....
I'd forgotten to take my camera along...and so, had to wait until the others had taken several pictures of the food from different angles...
...and that's when I understood what my family truly goes through when I put food on the table and then ask them to stand around and gaze at it until I've taken enough pictures :-))
A lovely potluck, good company and a great time....that's what we had....and I really, really hope we do this again.....