Sunday, August 31, 2008

Simple potato curry

What you need:
Potatoes - 2 large, skinned and cut into medium sized pieces
Tomato - 4, cut into largish pieces
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder or red chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Take potatoes with about 1.5 cups of water in a pan and boil until cooked, but not mushy. Add turmeric powder, sambar powder, salt and tomatoes. Boil until everything gets blended together well. The tomatoes should not turn mushy.
This is a really simple curry that goes well with rotis.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Microwave baingan bhartha

I have always loved the microwave. I can put something in to cook, set the timer, go out for a stroll and come back to find it cooked just right. That said, I have always resorted to the old fashioned method of roasting a brinjal over an open flame to make baingan bhartha.. This time, though, I had a brainwave (yes - I do get one of those now and then) and decided to stick the eggplant in the microwave. The rest, as they say, is history.

What you need:
Eggplant/Brinjal/Aubergine - 1 large
Onion - 2, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger - a small piece, julienned
Garlic - 4 or 5 pods, chopped
Groundnuts - a handful (optional)
Tomatoes - 2 or 3 large juicy, ripe ones, chopped
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala -3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 3/4 tsp
Corriander leaves - a few, to garnish

Spread some oil all over the brinjal. Prick the skin on all sides with a knife and then microwave on high heat for 14 minutes or until the skin shrivels up and the brinjal gets cooked.Let it cool. Remove the skin and mash the brinjal.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a microwave safe bowl. Add a tsp of jeera and the groundnuts to it and heat for 45 seconds. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, green chillies and heat for 3-4 minutes. Now add in the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, salt, sugar(optional) and the mashed brinjals. Stir well. Add some water if necessary and cook for 5 minutes.
Garnish with freshly chopped corriander leaves.This my entry to Fresh Produce of the Month featuring eggplant this month and hosted by Simona.

This also goes to Sunshine Mom's Food in colours - Red and to Srivalli's MEC-Potluck.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tried and Tasted - Urad dal pooris and potato curry

Jugalbandi - a blog that I go to not just for recipes, but also for their anecdotes and fantastic pictures. When I came to know that T&T features them this month, I bookmarked a couple of recipes. I've religiously done this for the last 3 T&Ts but didn't get around to the cooking part of it. This time around, I did try out and taste the jugalbandits' urad dal pooris and potato masala. Here's the result.I made no changes at all to the puris. J&B are absolutely right when they say that these taste much better than regular puris. Next time around, I might add in some garam masala and amchur to the dough, though. To the potato masala, I added more green chillies and skipped the red chilli powder. Oh...and did I tell you these puris are so much prettier than the regular ones?
Thank you, Jai & B.

Needless to say, this goes to Zlamushka for her Tried and Tasted event.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Restaurant review - Bombay Blue

45, College Road,

A hotch-potch of cuisines - Italian, Mexican, Lebanese and Indian

Would I go there again???
I went in expecting to find a lot of Bombay-ish stuff like chaats and street food, but found a menu that boasted food from four different parts of the world. The food is OK - not the kind that will have you raving about it, but not bad either. One of their specialities is the wide selection of sizzlers they offer. You will notice the smell of smoke almost as soon as you enter the restaurant. This is because nearly all the people who go in order a sizzler. We did too, and while I was not displeased with the way the sizzler tasted, I was not very excited about it either.
The soup that we ordered tasted more Indian than Italian, but it was good. The falafel and the sandwiches were good too. Again, nothing to rave about, but no rants either.
So, to answer my question - I wouldn't mind going back, but Bombay Blue is definitely not going to be my first choice if somebody were to ask me where I'd like to go.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy birthday

He's the first guy I lost my heart to and it's his birthday. To see what I made, click here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Palak pulao

I love making pulao. Not for its taste, aroma, flavour or any of those things that often find a mention when you talk about pulao. All that is only of secondary importance to me. The numero uno reason why I love this dish is because it is so E.A.S.Y to make. Take some rice in a cooker, throw in veggies of your choice, spices.....fry it in some ghee, add water, salt and pressure cook. Doesn't get simpler than that, does it? You don't even have to cook up a fancy curry to go with it. Just pair it with some papad and raita/curd and you have a complete meal and just one pot to wash.
The palak pulao that Iam blogging about today is adapted from Tarla Dalal's Iron Rich Recipes. The original recipe calls for sweet corn. Having none, I substituted that with carrots.
What you need:
Spinach/palak - 1 bunch, washed and chopped fine
Carrots - 3, chopped
Onion - 1 large, chopped
Green chilli - 2 or 3
Black peppercorns - a few
Cinnamon - a small piece
Clove - 4
Cardamom - 4 pods
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Rice - 1 cup
Water - 2.5 cups

Wash rice, drain water completely and set aside. Heat 2 tsp of ghee/oil. Add cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and peppercorns. Stir until fragrant. Now add in the green chilli, and onions. Fry until onions become translucent. Add the spinach and carrots. Fry for a few minutes. Then add the rice, water and salt. Mix well and pressure cook until one whistle.
If you can get somebody to chop the veggies and clean up after, that will make it all the better :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stuffed okra

This recipe is from Harveen Choudhary's book "Taste of Rajasthan - Delicious Vegetarian food from the Land of Rajasthan". I loved the methi theplas that I tried from this book and have had a couple of other recipes bookmarked for a while now. This curry is one of them.

What you need:
Ladies finger/okra - about 1/4 kg
Saunf - 1.5 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Gram flour/besan - 2 tsp
Amchur - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp or to taste
Oil - 3 tbsp (that sounds so much better than 12 tsp, doesn't it?)
Kalonji seeds - 1/2 tsp

Wash and dry the okra. Cut into finger length pieces after removing the head of the okra. Make a slit halfway through the cut pieces.
Mix 1 tsp of saunf with the besan, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, salt, amchur and 4 tsp of oil. Once well mixed, it will be like a thick paste. Stuff this into the okra using the blunt end of a knife (which is what I did) or a spoon.Heat the rest of the oil in a pan. Add 1/2 a tsp of saunf and kalonji. When it smells really, really good, stir in the okra, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until soft. If you have any stuffing left over, you can add that along with the okra. Ramove the lid and stir on high heat for a few minutes until crisp.
Our dinner tonight - rotis, stuffed okra and panchratni dal
For the recipe of panchratni dal, click here.

I have followed Choudhary's recipe to the T - not even changing the quantities he specifies. The only difference is that the original recipe calls for a tsp each of dhania powder and jeera powder to be included in the stuffing. I had neither, so I skipped it.
The dish is definitely a keeper and will be one of the regulars in our home now. The only thing I will change is the quantity of oil used. Iam going to try it out with less oil next time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mint vada

Mint is one of my favourite herbs. It hasn't always been that way. Growing up, I didn't see mint featured on the regular menus in my home - quite likely because my mother hates it. I started enjoying the flavour of mint only after I began cooking on my own. Aloo pudina baath is something that I make quite frequently.
These mint vadas are adapted from Mallika Badrinath's book - 100 Snack Varieties. The smell of the vadas being deep fried and the minty taste when you bite into the crisp outer shell is an experience in itself.

What you need:
1 cup bengal gram (channa) dal
1 cup fresh mint leaves
A handful of corriander leaves
Green chillies - 2 or 3
Oil - for deep frying

Soak the dal in plenty of water for an hour. Drain all the water and grind the dal along with mint, corriander and green chillies to a coarse paste. Add salt.
Heat oil in a kadai. Take a small ball of batter in your hand, flatten it on your palm and drop it into the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown on both sides. Do this over medium heat to ensure that the inside gets cooked.
Also check out my Parippu Vada recipe here.

On a different and more serious note, Srivalli of Cooking for all Seasons is organizing a fund raiser to help Lakshmi, her household help and a mother of two toddlers, to meet the expenses of a major heart surgery she has to undergo. Please check this post of Valli's for details and do chip in.

Poli - a sweet treat

Poli or Boli as I call it, is something that I have always associated with waking up early, kneading mounds of flour relentlessly, rolling out the dough, the air filling up with the fragrance of ghee, and the thin, soft polis disappearing almost as soon as they appear on the table. Until now, I have only been personally accountable for the disappearance of the polis. I have never wanted to venture into areas that I hitherto thought were reserved for more experienced(read mothers, aunts....) people. Never one to prepare traditional sweets for festivals, I've not really had a reason to try my hand at making this. So, what exactly made me decide to try this out??? I don't really know - maybe a whim, a fancy or a desire to prove to myself that I can do it.
What you need:

For the outer covering:
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Gingely Oil - LOTS (I didn't really measure the exact amount)
Salt - a pinch
Yellow food colour or a tiny bit of turmeric powder

Mix all the ingredients together and knead into a smooth, pliable dough adding as much water as needed. The dough should be loose and elastic.. Don't stint on the oil if you want tasty, soft polis. Cover and let it rest for 3-4 hours.

For the filling:
1 cup channa dal
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder

Pressure cook the dal with enough water. Drain all the water and grind it to a smooth paste along with the sugar. Take this mixture in a kadai, add cardamom powder and heat,stirring continuously, until all the moisture is absorbed.

To make poli:
  • Take a banana leaf or a small plastic sheet. Oil it.
  • Take a lemon sized ball of dough. Pat it with your finger tips (apply some oil on your fingers too so that the dough doesn't stick to it) into a circle. Keep a bit of filling inside, close it iand then pat again into a large, thin circle.
  • Heat a tawa. Turn the poli onto the tawa. Spread some ghee over it and cook till the underside has golden brown spots. Turn over and cook for a minute.
  • Serve with a dollop of ghee on top.
  • Notes :
    Instead of patting the polis into a circle, you can roll them out with a rolling pin. If you choose to do that, use less oil. Make a dough that is the consistency of chapati dough and then roll out into circles.

    Poli is traditionally made for Avani Avittam which falls on the same day as Rakshabandhan. So Iam sending this to Priti who is hosting Festive Foods-Rakhi-Thread of Love.
    It also goes to Easycraft's What's Your Favourite Colour Event.

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    Spicy bittergourd curry with no oil

    A super spicy and tasty dish that can be made entirely in the microwave....this is a recipe that I found in one of my Microwave Cookbooks.What you need:
    Bitter gourd - 3 large, deseeded and chopped fine
    Thick, sour curd - 1/4 cup
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    Rice flour - 1 tsp
    Red chilli powder - 1 tsp

    Take the bittergourd and just enough water to cover it in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 3 minutes.
    Drain the water completely. Mix in the other ingredients. Spread on a microwaveable dish and heat for 8 minutes or until crisp.
    Tastes great with rice or just by itself.

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Tandoori Aloo or maybe I should call it Microwavi Aloo

    This is a quick snack that I tried last night with good results.
    Make a marinade by mixing 6 tsp of sour, thick curd, 1 tsp all purpose flour, 1 tsp red chilli powder and 1 tsp garam masala. Peel baby potatoes. Prick them all over with a fork and marinate for about 30 minutes. Microwave on high for 8 minutes.
    We ate them hot off the oven and that left me with no pics. Will update the pics next time I get around to making this. The only hard part of this recipe is peeling the baby potatoes....It took sooooo long.

    This goes to Valli's Potluck.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Peas Usal

    I came across this book called Ruchira by Kamalabai Ogale at the local lending library. I loved the title Ruchira....and that's what made me pick this book up. It is a collection of Maharashtrian Vegetarian Recipes. All the recipes come with easy to follow instructions, and most of the ingredients are what we usually have at home. The featured dishes are all healthy, made with minimum oil and quite easy to make on an everyday basis. Kamalabai's Peas Usal is the first one that I've tried out, making very minor modifications along the way.To make Peas Usal, you need:

    Green peas - 2 cups (I used dried peas, so I soaked it in the morning and used it in the evening)
    Coconut - 1/2 cup, grated
    Green chilli - 2 or 3
    Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup
    Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
    Oil - 2 tsp
    Garlic - 3 cloves
    Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    Asafoetida - a little
    Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp

    Cook the peas with some salt and set aside. Grind the corriander leaves, coconut and cumin seeds to a smooth paste, adding a little water if needed. Heat the oil. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder to it. When the seeds pop, add the peas, salt, sugar and the ground mixture. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. Add the amchur powder. Stir well and boil for a minute or two.
    Serve hot with rice or rotis.

    • The original recipe called for lemon juice. However, I absolutely L.O.V.E amchur powder. These days I use it in a lot of dishes. I would probably up the amount of amchur the next time I make this dish.
    • No sugar next time around. The peas and the coconut lend a sweetness to the dish....and additional sugar, however minimal, is not necessary.
    • The usal was a very simple, not-too-hard-to-whip-up accompaniment which tasted good without leaving an oil trail all the way from the mouth to the stomach.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Supermarkets are bad for me

    I went in to buy a pack of turmeric powder and some poppy seeds.....and came back lugging two bags full of stuff that was a little too heavy for me to carry.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Spring Onion Chutney

    Most of the weekends over the last few months have been spent travelling. So much so that I've come to think of the railway station as a home away from home. It also means that I usually try and use up anything that is likely to spoil if left in the refrigerator over the weekend.

    A bunch of spring onions + an upcoming weekend trip = this recipe.

    What you need:
    Spring onions - 1 bunch, chopped (the greens can also be chopped)
    Red chilli - 2
    Oil - 1 tsp
    Tamarind - a gooseberry sized piece, soaked for 10 minutes in just enough water to cover it
    Urad dal - 3 tsp

    Heat the oil, urad dal and chillies in a microwaveable bowl for 2 minutes or until the dal turns reddish brown. Stir in the chopped spring onions. Heat for another 4 minutes or until the onions are browned.
    Let it cool. Blend coarsely along with the tamarind and salt.
    Heat a tsp of oil in a pan. Season with some mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, pour it over the chutney.
    Enjoy with dosas or as a dip.

    This chutney goes to Valli's potluck and to Culinarty's Original Recipe Round-up.

    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Iam "it"

    Nidhi tagged me to do the booky meme. I've watched this tag going around with quite a bit of interest. Here's what the meme requires me to do:
    Pick up the nearest book
    • Open to page 123
    • Find the 5th sentence
    • Post the next three sentences
    • Tag 5 people and acknowledge the person who tagged you.
    Well, here goes....

    You hate me because you know....
    Because he knew what?
    What could he possibly know about George Hatfield that would make him hate him?

    Do those lines tell you what Iam reading currently???

    Sra, I'd like to know what you read.
    Rachel, what's on your bookshelf, girl?
    Vani, what do your books tell you?
    Divya, what's on the pages for you?
    A and N, my newly discovered blogger buddies, it's now your turn to be "it".

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Cooking with leftovers - Vermicelli upma pakoda

    When it comes to making upma, I do not know the magic proportion that will yield just enough for two. I ALWAYS end up with more than we can eat. When the same situation arose yesterday and I was left with enough upma after breakfast to safely see us through lunch and dinner and maybe breakfast the next day, I had a brainwave (oh yeah....I do have one of those once in a while...) and that's how this dish was born.

    What you need:

    Leftover semiya upma
    Red chilli powder
    Gram flour/besan
    Rice flour
    Oil - for deep frying
    (Quantities depend on how much upma you have leftover.)

    Mix all the ingredients together. Use just enough besan and rice flour to for a really thick batter. Add water only if needed and even then, just sprinkle a few drops at a time.
    Heat oil in a pan. Drop spoonfuls of the upma-besan mixture into hot oil. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain excess oil and serve hot with ketchup/chutney.

    Thoughts : The pakodas turned out nice, brown and crisp. Perfect way to use up leftovers.

    Note : To make upma, heat 2 tsp of oil. Season with mustard seeds and urad dal. Add chopped onions, ginger, green chillies, garlic, tomatoes, veggies of your choice and stir fry for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of water for every cup of vermicelli you use. Once the water boils, add in the vermicelli and salt. Cook until all the moisture is absorbed and the vermicelli is cooked through.

    This goes to Rushina's Pakora Contest and also to the Original Recipe Event at Lore's Culinarty.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Aloo baingan curry

    To while away the time between me reaching play school to pick my daughter up and them opening the doors and letting her out, we parents usually indulge in some light banter. Today the topic veered around to food....or rather, the cooking of it. It seems most people have a cook or someone(usually parents/in-laws) living with them and taking care of the cooking. I felt(still do, in fact) like a RELIC....Maybe I am one....Maybe I ought to be in a museum...
    I cook all our meals myself.....we do eat out often and order take-away but every single meal that is cooked at home is made by me from the scratch. I guess I missed the bus that brought the cooks in :-))
    Anyways, here is a simple recipe that you can whip up in almost no time at all or when the cook decides to take a break.....What you need:
    Potatoes - 3 medium sized, peeled and chopped into pieces
    Brinjal - 7 or 8, chopped
    Green chilli - 2 or 3
    Garlic - 4 cloves
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
    Oil - 3 tsp

    Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds...roast for a minute and then add the potatoes and brinjal. Stir well, add about half a cup of water, turmeric powder and salt and cook covered for about 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are almost done. Grind the chillies and garlic coarsely in a blender without adding any water. Stir this into the cooked veggies. Remove the lid and stir fry for roughly 3 minutes or till the moisture is absorbed.
    Enjoy with rotis/puri.

    This is my entry to Srivalli's Curry Mela.