Friday, April 20, 2012

Hot red chilli chutney

I am going to let you in on a secret today. While my cooking skills have vastly improved compared to what they were like when I started cooking, I still do slip up every once in a while and make certain errors of judgement. If you need proof of that, go read this post where I inadvertently end up making glue.
If you need further proof, all that you have to do is continue reading this post.
The markets in Bangalore sell an amazing looking red chilli. These are not dried chillies, but fresh, ripe chillies that are a beautiful red.

After buying a packet full of these because they looked so good, I let them languish in the fridge because I had no idea what to do with them. Finally, one fine day, I decided that i would make a chutney with these chillies to go with dosa.
I chopped up about 8 of those chillies and sauted them in oil as I had heard that sauteing chillies in oil takes away some of the heat. While the chillies were kept aside to cool,  I  ground tamarind, jaggery, garlic, cumin seeds, salt and curry leaves  into a fine paste. The chillies were added to the paste and once again ground in the blender.
The chutney looked just as gorgeous as I thought it would look.

 I served heaped spoonfuls to hubby and myself and sat down to eat. The husband started eating and his smile sort of froze as soon as he had his first taste of the chutney. He then kept taking progressively lesser and lesser amounts of chutney until finally, he pushed the chutney aside and gulped down what seemed to be a whole bottle of water. This didn't deter me in any way. I had made this chutney and I was definitely going to eat it, come what may. I added a huge helping of jaggery to the chutney and tried eating it that way. Despite my pride, I couldn't eat any more than the husband did. Finally, I learned that there is truth in the maxim - Appearances can be deceptive.

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Green gram & Corn pulav

Green gram is one of the lentils that I sprout almost every week. It is very easy to sprout and highly nutritious too. This afternoon, for lunch, I paired sprouted green gram with sweet corn to make a delicately spiced and fragrant pulav.
What you need:
Rice - 1 cup
Sprouted green gram/green moong - 1 cup
Corn kernels - 1 cup
Ginger - a one inch piece
Green chilli - 1 (adjust to taste)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Corriander/Cilantro - 2 tbsp, chopped
Butter/ghee - 1 tbsp

Grind the ginger and green chilli to a coarse paste or crush it using a pestle.
Heat butter in a pressure cooker. Add the ginger-chilli paste to it and saute for a minute on a low flame. Add the chopped onions and saute until pink.  Add the sprouted gram, corn, rice, garam masala and salt. Stir to mix well. Add 2 cups of water and cook until one whistle.
When the steam settles down, fluff with a fork and garnish with finely chopped corriander.


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Fried Rice - Chinese style

Every city and town in India has its own version of Chinese food. Never mind that no person from China would recognize even half these dishes. I myself have tried several versions of 'Chinese' Fried rice. This is one version that I saw on a TV channel, recreated the same day and liked a lot.
What you need:
Carrot - 1, medium sized, chopped into thin long pieces
Capsicum/Bell pepper - 1, chopped into thin long pieces
Beans - 7-8, chopped into thin, long pieces
Leeks - 1/4 cup, chopped
Celery - 1/2 cup, chopped
Green chilli - 2 or 3 (adjust to taste)
Salt - to taste
Soya sauce - 1 tbsp
Spring onion - 1/4 cup, chopped
Onion - 1, chopped thin and long
Rice - 1 cup (I used a variety of rice called jeera rice)

Wash and soak the rice in plenty of water for 30 minutes. Drain and keep aside. Heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add onion and green chilli. Saute for 2 minutes and then add the leeks and celery. When the onions turn transparent, add capsicum, carrot, beans, soya sauce and salt. Stir well, cover and cook on a low flame. You do not have to add any water at this point as the vegetables in combination with soya sauce and salt will release water and cook beautifully. When the vegetables are cooked, remove from heat and keep aside. Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a pressure cooker. Saute the soaked rice along with some leeks, celery and spring onion. Add salt and water. The rice that I used requires two cups of water for every cup of rice. The amount of water to be used will depend on the quantity, quality and type of rice used. Cook until one whistle, reduce the flame and cook for another five minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool. Mix the cooked veggies and the rice well. The final step in putting the rice together might seem quite unnecessary, but it is essential to make sure that the flavours of the vegetables and the rice blend together well. In the final step, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add some spring onion and the rice to this. Stir well until heated through. Enjoy!!! Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#14

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easy chocolate layered cake

Though I have been baking cakes for a while now, I have shied away from baking layered cakes and also from icing the cakes. I always thought that icing is not something that is easy to do. I would drool over pictures of fellow bloggers' cakes with perfect, melt-in-your-mouth kind of icing on top. I recently conquered my fear of both - baking layered cakes and of making icing at home, realizing in the process that it is not a very difficult task if you have good quality ingredients on hand.

What you need:
For the chocolate cake: (Recipe source : Adapted from the Hershey's website -
All purpose flour - 3 cups
Dark chocolate cut into small pieces - 1.5 cups (I used Morde)
Water - 2 cups
Baking soda - 2 tsp
Buttermilk - 2 tbsp (Original recipe calls for white vinegar)
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Vegetable oil - 2/3 cups
Vanilla extract - 2 tsp

Preheat oven to 180 degree centigrade. Grease two nine inch round cake pans.
Mix together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
Heat chocolate in the microwave (medium power) for two minutes or until it melts when stirred. Cool a little and then add it into the mixing bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix with a hand blender until well blended.
Pour the mixture into the greased pans and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool completely.

For the whipped chocolate cream frosting : (Recipe source - Divya's Easy cooking)
Dark chocolate - 1/2 cup
Cream - 2 cups (I used Nilgiris cream)
Sugar - 3 tbsp
In a large, thick bottomed sauce pan, boil the cream and sugar. Switch off the heat and then mix in the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts completely. Let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Whip the cream over an ice bath at medium speed until soft peaks begin to form. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
This is the part that made me happiest. I couldn't believe how easy it was to do this and how wonderful the whipped cream tasted.

For the chocolate glaze : (Recipe source - adapted from the Hersheys website)
Grated dark chocolate - 2 tbsp
Butter - 2 tbsp
Water - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 2 tbsp (Original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I felt it would make the cake too sweet)
Melt butter in a pan. Add sugar, chocolate and water. Cook on a low flame, stirring constantly until it forms a smooth, slightly thick paste. Take care to not let it boil. Let it cool to room temperature.

Putting the cake together:
Place on of the cakes on the serving platter Spread 1/3rd of the whipped chocolate cream frosting on it evenly. Place the other cake on top. Now cover the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
Pour the glaze on top of the cake, letting some of it run down the sides.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dabeli masala

The variety of street food that is on offer in India is mind boggling. Each state has its own kind of street food - something special that is only available on the road sides and not in fancy restaurants.
If you happen to be in Bangalore, do take some time out to visit Thindi Beedhi which is in VV Puram. It is a street dedicated to food. The name literally means Food Street. You will find huge crowds thronging the small street on weekends, vying for dosas, super soft idlis, chaats, badam milk and sweets. There is a chaat shop here that I really like. The dabelis in this shop are always in huge demand.
Dabeli is a street food from the state of Gujarat. It literally means pressed. With potatoes, sweet and sour chutney, spicy chutney, pomegranates and sev stuffed into burger buns, this is nothing short of a delightful explosion of flavours. The potatoes are cooked with a dash of special dabeli masala, which is the recipe that I have for you today. (Recipe source : Tarla Dalal)

What you need:
Red chilli - 1
Corriander seeds - 1 tsp, heaped
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Clove - 5 or 6
Cinnamon - a medium sized piece

Dry roast all the ingredients in a kadai over a low flame for 2-3 minutes until the spices turn reddish brown.
Let it cool and then powder in the small jar of your blender.

This makes a small quantity, just enough for a single use.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Creamy Pasta in white sauce

A few weeks back, the little girl went to a friend's birthday party and came back raving about the W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L creamy pasta that she ate there. The only help I got from her in helping me to figure out what made it so wonderful is that it was creamy and non spicy and that she loved it. Not one to miss out on a opportunity to feed her something that she likes, I too decided that I would make pasta for dinner.

What you need:
Pasta - any kind - 2 cups, cooked as per package instructions. (I used macaroni as the little girl is partial to it)
Mixed vegetables - of your choice - chopped into thin, long pieces and cooked. (I used carrots and beans, though the usual choices are broccoli and bell pepper)
Garlic - a few cloves
Celery - some, finely chopped
For the sauce:
Butter - 4 tsp
All purpose flour - 4 tsp
Milk - 1/2 litre - approx 3 cups
Onion - chopped fine
Black peppercorns - 5 or 6
Cloves - 5
Bay leaf - a small piece

To make sauce:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour to it and stir over a low flame to make a smooth paste. The colour of the flour should not change. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat milk in a thick bottomed pan. Add half the chopped onion to it along with peppercorns, cloves, garlic and bay leaf. When the milk boils, add the flour paste to it. Whisk over a low flame. When the mixture thickens, remove from heat and strain.

Assembling the pasta:
Heat some butter in a pan. Saute the finely chopped onion, garlic and the cooked vegetables. Add the cooked pasta, pasta sauce and salt as required. Heat till the pasta is well coated with the sauce.
Garnish with finely chopped celery/parsley.
Serve hot with some crushed pepper sprinkled on top.

This is my first post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme "Cooking by the Alphabet".
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#15