Dec 31, 2013

Baked mini samosas

I wasn't planning on cooking dinner on New Years Eve. Even though I have been cooking all the meals for the last several months, I haven't yet got used to rejection- that sinking feeling that you get when you have poured your heart and soul into a dish, and it is consumed without comment. Criticism I can deal with, not indifference, and I wanted to shield myself from that on the last day of the year.
But even though we'd agreed to order pizzas, I still wanted to whip up something for the family, and at the last minute remembered these baked samosas that Shruti Gandhi had posted. They were a hit!


2 Boiled Potatoes
1/4 cup Boiled Green Peas
1 Green Chilly, finely chopped
1 tbsp Chopped Coriander
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder, roasted
1/2 tsp Red Chilly Powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 tbsp Coriander leaves, chopped

For Dough–
1 cup Plain Flour
1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 tsp Ajwain
1 tbsp Ghee
Salt, to taste
Lukewarm Water, as required
Method
  1. Mash potatoes in a big bowl and add boiled peas in it.
  2. Add all the spices and coriander leaves too and mix everything well.
  3. Take plain flour, salt, cumin seeds, ajwain and ghee in another bowl. Mix them to form crumbled texture.
  4. Knead a medium-hard dough by adding lukewarm water as required.
  5. Cover with a lid or cling wrap and keep it aside for half hour.
  6. Divide the dough in 7 and stuffing in 14 equal portions.
  7. Roll out 5-6″ disk with paratha thickness and cut it into halves.
  8. Take a half part and fold it to make a cone shape. Seal the end with gluey paste.
  9. Fill the stuffing in it and seal the open edge with that paste again. Repeat the same process for rest of all pieces.
  10. Arrange them in a lined baking tray.
  11. Bake them in pre-heated oven for 25-30 mins on 180 degrees or until they are golden brown and crisp.

Sukku kaapi

A couple of months back, I was given a bottle containing an ayurvedic mixture that was supposed to help keep colds at bay. While the concoction was effective, it was too exorbitantly priced (not to mention, unavailable locally) for me to make it my 'go to' drink to ward away colds. As the powder was getting depleted, I was getting ready to go back to my regular "Madam Pomfrey's Potion", when I came across a reference to Sukku Malli Kaapi. It seemed to have a lot of ingredients in common with my ayurvedic concoction, so I decided to give it a try.

After having three cups in a single day, I am almost ready to swear that it works. That and lots of rest, and other fluids!


1/2 cup dried ginger powder
1/4 cup coriander seeds (whole)
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole jeera

Method
Dry roast coriander seeds till golden brown.
Dry roast jeera and peppercorns together till nice aroma rises. 
Keep aside, and let them cool down completely.
Grind the roasted coriander seeds, jeera and peppercorn to a fine powder.
Mix with the dry ginger powder, and sieve a few times till well mixed.
Store in an airtight jar.

To make sukku kaapi, bring 11/2 cup water to a boil. Add 1 heaped tsp sukku kaapi powder, and let the concoction boil for 2-3 minutes. Strain the infusion, add panakalkandu (or honey), and drink.

Dec 30, 2013

Radish salad

My mother calls this a curry. I think it is more of a salad. Since she is the person who first prepared it for me, I guess she has the right to name it, but since I am the one who is now making it for myself, maybe that right is mine. Even though, I haven't still decided what it should be called, I know this is one of those dishes I will never tire of.

One large radish (without leaves)
2-3 tbsp peanuts
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 green chilli
1 sprig curry leaves
Rock salt to taste
1/2 tsp cooking oil for tempering

Method
Grate the radish, sprinkle rock salt on it, and keep aside
Heat the cooking oil, and temper with mustard seeds, curry leaves and chilli. Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add the peanuts, and fry for a couple of minutes till the rawness goes.
Pour the oil over the radish, mix well, and let the flavours seep in for a couple of minutes

Super moist Carrot Cake

Carrot cake!
The name itself is enough to conjure images of divine goodness packaged into a beautiful slice of cake. The kind of cake that you could eat by the dozen, without a twinge of guilt. And then, I came across this quote- "We looked at an online recipe from a celebrity chef ...(for a carrot cake)... There it was, in all its splendor, weighing in at 1,460 calories and 28 grams of saturated fat in one gargantuan three-layer slice."
Ouch! Not so healthy after all. But the heart still craved for a carrot cake. Tarina's recipe for a super moist carrot cake seemed perfect, and I was contemplating substituting some of the flour with wholewheat flour to keep up the "healthy" charade, till I heard Tarina say, "baking is completely scientific. If you have a recipe which has been tested before you have to follow it to the last gram. If you do want to make substitutions e.g. wheat flour, then you are basically creating a totally different recipe and you will have to make your own trials and see what works. You cannot make one substitution in an existing recipe and expect the result to be the same, it doesn't happen as you have basically changed the formula!"
That decided me. This cake follows the recipe to the letter, except two substitutions- regular flour instead of self rising flour and regular sugar instead of brown sugar. 


2 eggs
150 ml vegetable oil
200 gms soft brown sugar*
300 gms carrots (peeled and grated)
75 gms walnuts
175 gms self raising flour
1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
1 tsp cinnamon powder
pinch of salt

MethodHeat oven to 180 C. Line a 8 inch baking pan. Sieve all dry ingredients together. Whisk all wet ingredients till well mixed. Fold in all dry ingredients. Crush the walnuts slightly and add at the end. Pour into muffin liners, and bake for 25-30 mins till a skewer comes out clean. Serve warm!

I halved the quantities, and that gave me a dozen cupcakes.


 *- I didn't have brown sugar, so used regular sugar

Dec 28, 2013

Pepper chicken

I had heard so much about my mother-in-law's pepper chicken, that I was petrified when she told me "Today, I will teach you to make pepper chicken", when we visited her the first time after our marriage. Me, who had never cooked non-veg food in my life. How was I worthy of possessing the Family Heirloom? What if I ended up poisoning the entire family? What if....
She brushed my fears aside, and told me that all pepper chicken required was five ingredients- vinegar, soya sauce, peppercorns, oil and salt. Though I don't think of either oil or salt as ingredients, I can "see" her counting the ingredients out everytime I get down to making pepper chicken.


1 kg chicken, cleaned
4 tbsps vinegar
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp peppercorns
cooking oil
salt to taste

Method
Coarsely grind the peppercorns, so some of them are ground well, some are merely broken and some remain intact.
Clean the chicken pieces, make a few slits in the flesh (if required) and keep aside
In a thick bottomed kadhai, mix all the ingredients together, and marinate the chicken for 30 minutes (you can skip this process if you don't have time, but it helps).
Turn on the fire, and when the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to the lowest, cover the vessel and let it cook in it's own steam. Turn the chicken pieces over every 15 minutes or so.
After 45 minutes, lift up the lid, let the gravy thicken (if required), and serve.

Dec 26, 2013

Coffee frosting, that wasn't

The coffee cupcakes tasted lovely, but greed is something that pops up without warning. I didn't just want coffee cake, I wanted coffee cake, with coffee frosting. And so, out came the recipe again, this time for the frosting.
The only problem is that in my enthusiasm to make the frosting, I poured hot coffee right onto the butter, which left something that could politely be dubbed "messy". It went into the freezer, then came out of the freezer, and all that ended up making such a mess of the whole thing, I am surprised there anything came out of the piping bag!
Lesson learnt- coffee cake tastes better without frosting, than with indifferent frosting!


125g/4½oz unsalted butter
200g/7oz icing sugar
50ml/2fl oz strong espresso coffee

Method
Beat the butter and icing sugar together in a small bowl until pale and light
Add the espresso and mix well
Pipe onto the cupcake.


Santa Bread

Many moons back, I pinned this Martha Stewart recipe, never dreaming a day would come when I would dare attempt it. But somewhere along the line, I started baking bread, and the impossible became possible. This then was what I made for Boxing Day!
I used the basic bread recipe for this one.
After the proofing, divide the dough into two parts.
Form the larger part into a cone, flatten and shape into a face. Cut slits into the broad part, and twist to form the beard.
With smaller part, make the pom-pom, the hat brim, the two eyebrows, the nose and the whiskers. Assemble.
Put two olives (or raisins) as eyes, and brush red food colouring on the hat.
Brush with milk/ egg white, and bake.

Dec 24, 2013

Coffee walnut cake

After my successful attempt at making gingerbread, the next thing I wanted to tackle was coffee cake. I have absolutely no memories associated with coffee cake (though I cannot be sure I haven't had an indifferent version sometime in the past), but there is something about the name that cries out to be tried.
Found a recipe that looked good, halved the quantities, and just did it.

225g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs
50ml strong espresso coffee
225g self-raising flour
75g walnuts
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
    In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and pale.
    Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well to completely incorporate each egg before adding the next egg.
    Add the espresso to the mixture and stir well.
    Add the flour and walnuts and stir well to completely combine.
    Spoon the cake mixture into cupcake liners
  • Transfer to the oven to bake 22-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden-brown.
    Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Rawa paniyaram

Rawa dosa used to be a regular feature in our house when I was growing up, but for some reason, it is only the regular dosa (and idli and paniyaram) that has found a place on my dining table. And then a day came, when there was no dosa batter in the fridge, and the kids demanded paniyarams for lunch. Not wanting to go out in the winter, I came up with the idea of rawa paniyarams.
Kids loved it so much, I am planning to follow up with rawa dosa this weekend.


1 measure rawa/ sooji
2 tbsp sour curds
Whey to make batter
Rock salt to taste 
1/2 onion chopped
Dhania patta
Oil


Method
 Mix the rawa, curds and whey into a smooth batter and keep aside for about 30 minutes.
Add rock salt, chopped onions and chopped dhania patta, and mix well.
Cook in a paniyaram pan till done.
Serve with coconut chutney or mint chutney, or green-coconut chutney

Dec 23, 2013

Paneer peas green pulao

I started out intending to make biryani with soya nuggets, but after making the green masala realised I had run out of onions. Since I didn't fancy going out on a cold winter evening, I adapted the recipe and made this awesome paneer-peas green pulao instead. It was really lovely with a tomato raita!

Basmati rice - 2 cups
Fresh peas- 1 cup
Paneer- 150 gms
Cloves - 3
Black peppercorns - 6-7
Cardamom - 1
Bay leaf -2
Fresh corriander leaves - Around 1/2 cup
Rock salt- to taste
Desi ghee - 2 tbsp
Green chillies - 1
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Garlic - 3-4 cloves
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

MethodWash the rice and soak it in water for half an hour. Drain the water after half an hour.
In a mixer, grind together Garlic ( 1/2 inch piece ), Ginger ( 3-4 cloves ), Green chillies ( 2 chopped ), and corriander leaves ( 1/2 cup ). Add little black salt to taste. Grind to a smooth paste( Add only 1 tbsp water if required )

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a pan, and add the whole spices. Fry for 10 seconds and then add the ground paste and fry for another 30 seconds. Reduce the flame, add the peas, and stir for about a minute.

Add rice and water (2 parts water to every part rice), and cook uncovered (on low flame) till the rice is done. The rice should be fluffy and not sticky. So fluff it with a fork after its done.

Cut the paneer into small squares, and mix well with the pulao. Garnish with crumbled paneer, and serve hot with raita.

Mooli Bhujiya

Sometime in the '80s, seduced by the advertising might of the manufacturers of sunflower oil, my mother banished all the "unhealthy" oils from her kitchen. The only oils I ever really cooked with were the so called "heart friendly" ones, and though they got the job done, I realised what I was actually missing only after I bought my first bottle of mustard oil a couple of months back. North Indian subjis have taken on a whole new flavour now, and I am loving it.

Which is why, when I saw this recipe for Mooli Bhujiya, I knew I had to try it out immediately. And I loved it- the family less so, but I'll teach them to appreciate it soon enough.



Radish (Mooli) with leaves intact- 2
Green Chilies - 1
Mustard Oil - 1 tbsp
Carom seeds (Ajwain) - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida-1/4 tsp
Turmeric-1/2 tsp
Salt-1 tsp
Chili powder-1 tsp
Mango powder-1 tsp
Coriander powder-1 tsp 
Method
Wash the radish and the leaves. Chop the leaves into small pieces, and the root into discs.
Heat mustard oil in a pan and add carom seeds, as soon as it start crackling add asafoetida and chopped green chilies.stir for few seconds (don't overcook ajwain /carom seeds else it will taste bitter)
Now add the chopped vegetables, mix and saute for a minute.
Add salt and all the spices, mix well. Cover the vegetables and let it cook in its own steam till done.
Serve hot with chapati.

Gajar ka halwa- Xmas is here

The first gajar ka halwa of the season. Photograph banta hai!!!!

I bought the carrots intending to make halwa, but it languished in the fridge for two days, because I was too lazy to actually make it. I had a really long run today (one kilometer short of 25 miles), and decided we were having Mc Donalds because I was too tired to cook. And then, at 7 pm, I started grating the carrots, and gave my arm muscles a great workout. After dinner, in a fit of madness, I started on the gajar halwa, and it was done by about 11:30.  After all that, don't you think it deserves a picture at least?

Recipe here

Egg curry, with rich gravy

Normally, our diet is sadly lacking in eggs, but this was one of those weekends, when I'd stocked up on eggs, and the hubby chose to buy them too. We might eventually have consumed all of it, but how was I to store the eggs, when the fridge has only six slots for eggs? Egg curry to the rescue.
Instead of the regular stuff, I wanted to make the sinful version, but since I couldn't locate the recipe made up my own. Fingerlikingly good! So good in fact that I polished off the two eggs that were left over right after returning from my Sunday long run!
8 eggs, boiled
1 onion
1 tomato
1 tbsp khus khus, soaked for about 30 minutes
1 tbsp cashew nuts
1 tbsp kasuri methi
1 bay leaf
1 tsp jeera
salt to taste
1/3 cup milk
cooking oil

Fry the boiled eggs in a little cooking oil till slightly browned, make a few slits on the side, and keep aside
Chop the onion into small pieces, and fry on a low flame. When it starts turning transparent, add chopped tomatoes, and fry till onions are browned
Make a paste with onions+ tomatoes, khus khus, cashew nuts and kasoori methi.
Heat very little oil in the kadhai, add jeera and bay leaves, and stir around a few times. Add the ground paste, milk and salt to taste and bring to boil.
Add the eggs, and let it simmer for a minute or two. Turn off the fire, cover, and let the masala soak into the eggs.
Serve with chapatis

Dec 21, 2013

Dhania-coconut chutney

It was only after putting the batter in the paniyaram pan that I realised there was no chutney in the house. Since there wasn't enough coconut to make coconut chutney, and no mint to make pudina chutney, I threw together whatever I found and made this delicious dhania-coconut chutney, instead.
1/2 bunch dhania patta, chopped
3-4 tbsp coconut, grated
2-3 tbsp roasted chana dal
2 tbsp curds
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Grind together all the ingredients till you achieve the desired consistency. That's it!

Dec 20, 2013

Gingerbread

Have been wanting to make gingerbread ever since I read a story where two women were held hostage in a petrol pump while the gingerbread house they had in the car was robbed! Since architectural wonders like a gingerbread house are beyond my limited skills, I settled on plain gingerbread instead. The recipe has been staring accusingly at me for over two weeks, and on the last day before the school holidays, I finally made it. 
A little bit of history, before we begin. The best gingerbread I've ever tasted used to be made by a friend of my mother. Cancer claimed her, and unfortunately her daughter no longer has the recipe. But I do remember that she'd told me that her mother used jaggery and jaggery syrup in place of brown sugar and golden syrup, so that's how I adapted this recipe.


350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup
Method
  • Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
    Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
    Preheat the oven to 180C
    Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
    Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
    Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.



I don't have a gingerbread man cookie cutter, but still wanted at least one gingerbread man, so I made this by hand. The poor guy split down the middle, but who cares?

And ah, the aroma of gingerbread in the oven! Smelt like Paradise.


Nimona

Till a week back, I hadn't even heard of something called Nimona. But within a week, three people posted different versions of it, and since I just love green peas, I had to try it out. It being the start of the holidays, I got the kids to help me shell the peas, and before I knew it, we had enough to go (and more).

Loved the dish, and am definitely making it again soon.

1 cup shelled Peas, puréed/mashed in Sil-batta.
1 large Potato, cubed.
3 tbsp vadi
2 Tomatoes, chopped fine
2 Onions, finely chopped.
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste.
Chillie powder
Salt
Garam masala
Haldi
Hing
Mustard oil
Sabut Jeera, Tej Patta for tempering.

Method
:
Heat mustard oil in a pan, and sauté wadis and Potaotes till done. Keep aside.
In the remaining Oil, add Jeera, Bay leaf, Onion, Ginger-Garlic paste, and sauté till golden brown.
Add the Tomato purée, Chillie powder, Salt, Garam masala, Haldi and Hing
Sauté till it releases Oil, and add the Peas. Add some water and cook till done.
Add the Potaotes and wadi, and cook further for a few minutes.
Serve hot with rotis.

Dec 18, 2013

Sweet potato halwa

I am a huge fan of halwas made out of vegetables. Not only does it satisfy the sweet tooth, with the milk and the veggies, it is much healthier than many other sweets. So when I had 250 gms of boiled sweetotatoes in the fridge, this was the first thing I thought of making. And I am glad I did.

Most of it is by 'andaz', bit worked beautifully well.

250 gms sweet potatoes boiled and mashed (I pressure cooked for about 20 mins on sim after the first whistle)
1/2 cup milk (andaaz)
1 tbsp ghee (can be less)
3-4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp raisins
cardamon powder

Heat ghee in a non-stick, and once it has melted, add the sweet potatoes, and cook with constant stirring for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the milk (you need to add enough to cover the sweet potatoes, the sugar and the raisins, and cook on a low flame till the milk completely disappears.
Take off the fire, and stir in the powdered cardamon.
Serve chilled

Dec 17, 2013

Beetroot and sweet potato burgers

"What would you like to have for dinner?", I asked the kids.
"McDonalds!", the chorused, with big grins, knowing fully well I wouldn't let them have 'junk' in the middle of the week.
But we're they in for a surprise. What they had for dinner was a delicious and healthy take on their greasy aloo tikki burger. Presenting the beetroot- sweet potatoe burger!


250 gms beetroot
250 gms sweet potatoes
1 onion, chopped fine
Salt, red chilli powder, garam masala powder to taste
2 tbsp corn flour
2-3 tbsp sooji/ rawa
Butter

Method
Pressure cook the sweet potatoes and the beetroots. 
Peel the beetroots, and chop into small pieces
Peel and mash the sweet potatoes.
Add the beetroots and onions to the mashed potatoes, along with all the spices and mix well.
Make a batter with the corn flour
Fashion the mix into 'tikkis', coat on both sides with corn flour, press into the sooji, and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes
Shallow fry the tikkis with butter.

Place between home-made buns, put a layer of mint chutney and a cheese slice. Voila! Healthy burgers ready!


Burger buns were made by following the basic bread recipe, with 1 cup whole wheat flour replacing the regular flour. The dough was fashioned into balls, and the top evened out by tucking it into the bottom of the burger. Sesame seeds were sprinkled prior to baking.

Dhokla

Dhokla is one of my favourite snacks, but like many others, it was one of those things that I thought only "other people" (or outside establishments) could make. Though I have often been assured that it is one of the easiest things to prepare, I was never ready to accept it. 
It was only after I opened the steamer and saw the fluffy surface of the dhokla that I was finally willing to accept that it could be made at home. The next time, however, I need to do it differently, so it gets done better.


For The Batter
3/4 cup soaked yellow moong dal
3 green chillies
salt to taste
1 1/2 tsp sugar
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tbsp besan 
2 tbsp curds
1 1/2 tsp fruit salt

For The Tempering1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
a pinch asafoetida (hing)
2 tsp finely chopped green chillies

For The Garnish and serving
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (dhania)
1 tbsp grated coconut
green chutney

MethodCombine the yellow moong dal and green chillies and blend in a mixer using a little water to make a paste of pouring consistency.
Transfer the paste to a bowl, add the salt, sugar, asafoetida, oil, turmeric powder, besan and curds and mix well to make a batter.
Just before steaming, sprinkle fruit salt and mix lightly.
Pour the batter into a greased container
Steam in a steamer for 10 to 12 minutes or till the dhokalas are cooked*. Keep aside.

Heat the oil in a small non-stick pan and add the mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds crackle, add the sesame seeds, asafoetida and sauté on a medium flame for 30 seconds.
Add the green chillies and sauté on a medium flame for 30 seconds.
Pour the tempering over the prepared dhoklas and spread it evenly.
Sprinkle the coriander and coconut evenly on top.
Cut into pieces and serve hot with green chutney.
 
* - since it is hard to know when the dhokala is done, it might make more sense to divide the batter into two containers and steam each separately- this will ensure the entire batter gets cooked properly.

Beetroot halwa

Though often eclipsed by it's more famous cousin, gajar ka halwa, in my house, beetroot halwa was always (if not more) as popular. My mother had a maid to do the chopping and grating, so there was rarely a single day in winter that we didn't have one of the two desserts to feast on.
Personally, I don't like making beetroot halwa, because the vegetable leaves a nasty stain on the hands, but since carrots haven't come to the market yet, I had no choice but to make this today, and I am glad I did.


250 gms beetroot- peeled and grated
equal measure milk
2 tbsp sugar (you can add more, but the beetroot is sweet in itself)
cashewnuts
cardamon

Method
Wash, peel and grate the beetroots and keep aside
Bring the milk to boil in a thick bottomed pot, reduce the flame, add the grated beetroot and sugar, and keep stirring till the milk thickens completely.
Towards the end, throw in the cashewnuts, so it cooks a bit, but not too much.
Garnish with powdered cardamon and serve chilled

Dec 14, 2013

Paneer in tamarind based gravy

We were having guests over for dinner, and since there were kids involved, I didn't want to experiment too much. A the same time, I balked at the idea of serving two dishes with the same gravy, so got a little creative with the paneer-muttar. It came out much better than expected and was all polished off in no time at all. Success!!!

500 gms paneer
500 gms peas
3 medium onions
2 green chillies
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp jeera
2-3 bay leaves
2 tbsp cooking oil
4 tbsp dhania patta- chopped fine
1 tbsp kasoori methi
2 tbsp Tamarind paste
Salt and sugar to taste


Make a fine paste of the onions and green chillies
Heat the oil and temper with jeera and bay leaves. 
Add the onion-chilli paste and the ginger-garlic paste, and fry on low heat till the raw smell goes.
Add chopped coriander leaves and kasoori methi, and keep frying till the masala leaves the edge of the pot.
Add water, salt, sugar and tamarind paste. Stir a couple of times, befor adding the peas, and letting it cook till peas are done.
Add paneer, and give it a single boil.
Add cream, before serving.


Dec 13, 2013

Masala anda

I first heard about the Mexican "huevos rancheros" ten years back (yes, I had to look up the name, because I had forgotten it), and made an Indianised version for myself several times when I was expecting my first child. For some strange reason, though I thought of it often, I never got down to making it after I became a mother. Then Tarina posted a lovely photograph of "masala anda" on IFF, and when she insisted that it tasted better without the garlic, I just had to try it, if only to prove her wrong. Whether I have become a better cook, or if it is really true that eggs and garlic don't go together, I don't know, but this definitely tasted divine when I had it for lunch.
two eggs
1 onion
1 tomato
1/2 inch piece of ginger
red chill powder
parsley, basil and oregano to taste
salt to taste
cooking oil

Method
Cut the onions, tomatoes and ginger lengthwise.
Fry the onions till transparent. Toss in the ginger and tomatoes and swirl around on a very low flame till the tomatoes start getting mushy.
Add the spices, mix well, and spread it across the bottom of the pan.
Break the eggs carefully over the mixture, sprinkle salt on the eggs, and cover with a lid, so the eggs cook in their own steam.
When the eggs are done to your satisfaction, slide it out onto a plate, and enjoy with hot, buttered toast.

Dec 12, 2013

Cashew milk

I saw this lovely recipe for an East Indian desert using cashewnuts and milk, which looked like marzipan, but was softer, and wanted to try it out. Nothing about it seemed difficult, and I jumped into it with my normal enthusiasm. Unfortunately, I didn't know what "softball stage" meant and never thought to ask (I now know that if you put a blob in water, it should solidify), so I ended up with something that tasted good, but just didn't hold any form.
I thought I would have to bribe the kids into eating it, but at the last moment, remembered the "badam milk" that my mother makes. So I added the cashew paste to milk, and whisked it in the blender. The result was amazing!


500 ml full fat milk
200 gms sugar
50 gms cashewnut powder (cashew whirled in the mixie to get a powder)
1 tsp butter
Few drops of vanilla essence
 
Method
Boil the milk until reduced to half
Add sugar and cook until the mix thickens
Add the cashewnut powder and mix well
Cook until softball stage, add the butter, essence and mix well and let it cool.
When ready to serve, put 2 tbsp of the paste in 1 glass milk and whisk well.
Serve chilled.

Dec 9, 2013

Mini samosas- the triumph of sensibility over sense

What do you do on that rare day when your husband comes back home early, you decide to have a quick beer, and yet you want something more substantial than peanuts to go with it? If you are sensible, you either curb that desire, or fry some kebabs. But when you are more prone to sensibility, you decide to use the hingwala aloo left over from last week's dinner party, to rustle up some mini samosas!

1 measure maida
1 measure whole wheat flour/ atta
2 tbsp oil
large pinch ajwain
enough water to knead the dough
salt to taste
oil for deep frying
leftover aloo subji (or make your own)

Method
Mix the flours with salt, oil, ghee and ajwain, and combine to form a crumbly mixture.
Now slowly add enough water to make a pliable dough, not too soft. Divide the dough and shape into balls. Keep aside covered with moist cloth for 15-20 mts.
 Roll each ball with the rolling pin into a slightly thin puri, slightly elongated in shape. Take a knife and divide the rolled puri into two by cutting through the center.
Now take a semi-circle piece of the roti, and make a fold in the shape of a triangle, pressing with your fingers to seal along the fold. Now place this cone between your thumb and index finger and place a ball of the stuffing inside. Wet your finger and run it along the edges of the dough with water and seal to enclose the stuffing.
Press the ends firmly so that the filling does not come out during the deep frying process. Prepare all the samosas in the same manner.
Heat enough oil in a wide vessel to deep fry the samosas. Heat the oil till hot but not piping hot. Reduce flame to low medium and drop 2-3 samosas into the oil slowly and deep fry them till golden brown, turning them carefully to the other side so that it cooks on all sides.
Serve with green chutney.

Dec 8, 2013

Cheese-garlic braided bread

It has been more than a month since I baked bread. After making jam roly-poly twice, a few days apart, I sensed bread fatigue setting in, so decided to give my family a bit of a break. The break eventually became much longer than I'd intended, and I was not sure if the yeast I had been hoarding would still work. Which is why, I stuck to my basic bread recipe instead of experimenting with something new.

At the end of 15 minutes, the loaf looked done, but the colour was still very pale, so I brushed it with butter, and grilled for about 5 minutes- next time to avoid the extra crunch, I will do so for only 2 or 3 minutes.


2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

4 pods garlic grated
4 tbsp grated cheese
2 tbsp chopped olives
Oregano to taste

In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm water (only about 1/3 cup), and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy.  If the yeast doesn't become foamy, let it rise for 10 minutes more- unless it is foamy, you are better off throwing it out and starting afresh
Add in flour and salt and mix well. Add the olive oil, and mix till crumbly.
Add the yeast, and knead for about 2 minutes. Add cheese, garlic, oregano and olives and mix well. Cover the bowl and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place. 
Deflate the dough, divide it into three equal parts, and roll each into a long cylinder. Join one end of the cylinders together, and make a loose braid, closing up the end when done.
Keep it aside and let it rise for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Brush the top with some milk, place the bread on a greased baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove, run butter on the top, and grill for 2 minutes so well browned.
Remove to a wire rack, and let it cool before serving.


Delicious with a pat of butter and hot tomato soup.

Dec 4, 2013

Kaali dal

We all love mah ki dal, or kaali dal, but I rarely make it, because I always felt it is best left to the experts. But after moving to the new place, I found that none of the restaurants here serve kaali dal, so have no choice but to start making it!

1 cup whole urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal

2 onions
2 tomatoes
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 bay leaves
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 star anise
1 badi elaichi
4-6 cloves
4 tsp dhania powder
2 tsp jeera powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp kasoori methi
salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil

4 tbsp cream


Method:
Wash the dals, soak for about 2 hours, and pressure cook till cooked.
Meanwhile, mince the onions, and keep aside. Puree the tomatoes and keep aside.
Heat the oil, add all the whole masalas and stir around for a few seconds. Add onion paste and ginger garlic paste, and cook on a low flame till the raw smell goes.
Add tomato puree, and the powdered masalas and keep cooking till the masala leaves the edges of the vessel.
Add the cooked dal, and mix well. Add water, if required, to get the desired consistency. Bring to boil, reduce the flame and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Add kasuri methi and cream, mix well, and serve.


Pudina chutney

KWhen you have guests over, and are serving kebabs, you better have pudina chutney and lots of it!
I was initially planning to make a slightly offbeat chutney, with grated apples, but by the time I was done with the rest of the cooking, had only enough energy left over to make the most conventional of pudina chutneys. And it turned out exactly the way it should!


1 measure mint leaves/ pudina (destemmed)
1 measure coriander leaves/ dhania patta
6 pods garlic
2 green chillis (or to taste)
1/2 lemon
1 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
water, as required
salt to taste

Method
Remove the stalks from the leaves, and chop coarsely
Roast the jeera seeds
Blend the leaves, garlic, green chillis and jeera with sufficient water to get the desired consistency.
Squeeze the lemon, add salt as desired.
Serve chilled. 

Capsicum paneer

Most people, I know, don't notice the gravy that they eat, but I am particular about not serving similar dishes when I have people over for a meal. So, with Kali dal on the menu, I had to think of a non-tomato gravy dish for the paneer. A couple of days back, I had seen this "balti paneer" dish on IFF, and since I know that capsicum and paneer go together, I decided to make it.


250 gms fresh full cream paneer cut in cubes and soaked in milk
1 tsp shahi jeera
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp grounded kali mirch
1 large onions cut into rings
1/2 large capsicum de-seeded and cut into slices
2 green chilies diagonally cut
3-4 pinches kasoori methi
Green Corriander leaves chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
salt to taste
1/2 cup milk
4-5 tablespoons of fresh cream

Method
Heat oil, and when heated, add the shahi jeera and let it crackle
Add onion rings , cut green chilies and slices of capsicum and sauté
Reduce heat and add kali mirch (crushed black pepper), haldi (turmeric), salt, kasoori methi
Add paneer cubes soaked in milk and mix well
Add milk and cook till the milk dries up
Add the cream and mix for 10-15 seconds
Remove from heat
Serve garnished with chopped dhaniya patta

Dahi bhalla

No Punjabi "party" is ever complete without dahi bhalla, so when I knew we were hosting a dinner party, one of the first things I did was to set milk so I would have sufficient curds for it.
Personally, I prefer the Tamilian "tair vadai" to the Punjabi "dahi bhalla", but this time I made it the way my mother in law used to.


1 measure urad dal, soaked for about 4 hours
1 green chilli
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
salt to taste
oil for deep frying

2 cups curds
salt, sugar, jeera powder, red chilli powder to taste


Soak the urad dal for 2- 8 hours. Chop the green chilli and ginger. With minimal water, grind the soaked urad dal, the green chilli and ginger till till fine (the way to test if the dal is done is to drop a bit in water- if it starts floating right away, it is done).
Add salt and baking soda, and mix well so air bubbles froth into the mixture.
Heat the cooking oil till medium hot (if it is too hot, the vadas will not cook on the inside, if not hot enough, all it will do is guzzle oil), then taking a spoon, drop blobs into the oil. Stir around till evenly browned, then drain out onto a kitchen towel.
Put the hot vadas in the dahi, and let it soak. After the dahi has soaked in well, pour the rest of the dahi over the vadas. (If you are serving dahi-vadas, keep some more of the dahi aside)

Garnish with imli chutney, coriander leaves, chilli powder, zeera powder and dhania powder.

Meethi imli chutney

For someone who loves imli chutney as much as I do, it is rather surprising that I've never attempted to make imli chutney till now. It is not that the store bought imli chutney is good- far from it- it is perhaps just that I have never felt the need for it till now.
But with Punjabi dahi bhallas on the menu, I couldn't really do without imli chutney, could I? Considering the recipe is of my own invention, I think it turned out pretty good.

1/3 cup dates cut lengthwise
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon raisins
3 tbsp jaggary
1/2 tsp Sonth/ Dry ginger powder
1/2 tsp saunf
1/2 tsp jeera
1 tsp red chilli powder
3/4 cup water
 

Method
Boil the water, add the chopped dates, and simmer for about 10 minutes till the dates are really soft and can be mashed.
Meanwhile, roast the saunf and the jeera separately, powder coarsely and keep aside.
Add jaggery and tamarind concentrate, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt, red chili powder, roasted cumin seeds powder, sonf powder and dry ginger powder.
Cool, grind till smooth. Pour it back into the pot, add the raisins and give it one final boil.

Dec 3, 2013

Mor kuzhu

When I was a kid, I associated mor kuzhu with summer holidays at my favourite grandmother's place. No matter which city she was in, Patti would always make this family favourite for breakfast at least a few times during every holiday.
After I grew up and moved out of home, my mother started the tradition. Knowing I loved mor kuzhu, she started making it for breakfast at least once during every visit. That however, only lasted as long as I was her daughter and not the mother of her grandchildren. Once the kids came along, the menu became what she assumed the kids would like, and mor kuzhu was resigned to spend the rest of its life in the recesses of my memory.
And then, very hesitatingly, I asked her for the recipe, and she offered to teach me how to make it. Her attempt, unfortunately, didn't come out well, but since it passed the taste test, I was embolded to try it for myself.
Call it beginner's luck, if you will, but not only did the mor kuzhu set perfectly, it allowed me to cut it into (near) perfect squares.

2 tbsp rice atta
1 cup sour curds, diluted with 1 cup water
Salt (a little less than usual)

For tempering
5 tsps cooking oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
5-6 mor molahai* broken into pieces
hing, optional

Method
Mix the rice flour with the buttermilk and salt and keep aside
Heat the oil, add the ingredients listed under "tempering", and fry till the mor molahai gets done.
Add the buttermilk- rice flour mix, and keep stirring on a low flame, till it changes colour and starts pulling away from the sides of the pan
Pour onto a greased plate and cut into squares after cooled.


* mor molahai will be available in any store that stocks Tamilian stuff. To me, the taste of mor kuzhu is in the mor molahai, but you can substitute it with a regular tempering of urad dal and green chillis.

Dec 2, 2013

Khatta Meetha Karela

I am not particularly fond of karela, but I keep trying out recipes in the hope I will find something I will like. This khatta meetha karela sounded interesting, and for the most part, it lived upto expectations. I am definitely making it again before deciding if I'm making it a keeper or not.


2 cups of diced bitter gourd, steamed
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon asafoetida powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon dry mango powder
4-5 curry leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of jaggery, or more to suit your taste
¼ cup of roasted crushed peanuts
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped coriander leaves
salt to taste


MethodHeat oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium high; add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves and allow them to crackle.
To this add the asafoetida, turmeric powder and stir in the steamed bitter gourd and simmer for a few minutes.
Stir in the red chilli powder, dry mango powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and jaggery.
Continue to stir until the jaggery melts and gets well combined into the vegetable.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat when the mixture starts looking shiny. Stir in the crushed peanuts and coriander leaves
Serve hot.

Nov 29, 2013

Rajma

My mother's Rajma is reputed to be the best. I wouldn't really know, because I never had rajma made by anyone else till I went to hostel. And there, we had rajma twice a week. Not any old rajma- a fusion rajma made by Malayali cooks to cater to North and South Indian taste-buds. Add to the fact that the sambar powder didn't really go with the rest of the gravy was the fact that the beans would invariably be insufficiently soaked, and therefore quite bitter. By the time I graduated two years later, I couldn't even think of rajma without wanting to throw up.
All those years as a new bride, the only request I would make to anyone calling me home for dinner was "no rajma PLEASE". And so my mother's rajma remained the only edible rajma I ever tasted.
Gradually, the phobia left me, and I started having rajma again. Not too often, and not too cheerfully, but I could have it without wanting to throw up. And now, I do make it once in awhile.
This version is my own, and I make it often.


250 gms rajma soaked overnight
1 badi elaichi
1 piece cinammon
2 bay leaves
 
3 small onions, chopped
3-6 pods garlic
1 inch piece ginger
2 tomatoes
4 tsp dhania powder
2 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
salt to taste
2-3 tbsp cooking oil 
2 tbsp cream

Method:
Cook the soaked rajma with the three whole spices in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes (lower after the first whistle and let it simmer for 20 minutes). Discard the whole spices and keep aside.
Take onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes in a blender, and grind to a fine paste.
Heat the oil, lower the flame, add the paste and the ground spices, and cook on a low flame till the raw smell goes, and the masala starts leaving the sides of the kadhai.
Add the cooked rajma and kasoori methi to the paste. Add about 1 1/2 cups water, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, cook for a minute, and take off the fire.
Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Nov 28, 2013

Chocolate fudge

I've made fudge using my mother's recipe, but it had never come out as well as the ones she makes. S when she made them this time, I just had to take a picture for posterity.

Nov 25, 2013

Birthday cake that wasn't

The cake I made for my son's tenth birthday was supposed to be special. More so because of all the people in the house, he is the only one who consistently enjoys and eats the stuff that I make. I had it all planned- a Harry Potter themed cake, with cup cakes sporting spells, and a sketch of HP's face with his trademark glasses and lightning bolt scar. I even got a bunch of icing supplies in anticipation and cupcake liners.
But the best laid plans go awry. Something seemed wrong even while I was stirring the batter, but it was only after I put the cake in the oven that I realised what was wrong- I had used rice flour instead of all purpose flour.
The cake took ages to bake, the batter which should have smoothened out continued to show it's crests and troughs, and I had to make a hasty trip to a cake shop so the kid would have something to cut at night. But, it tasted quite lovely, and I only wish I had the courage to make it again!

Nov 22, 2013

Policha ladoo

I don't like wasting leftovers, and now that I make my own rotis, it tears my heart everytime I have to get rid of the fruit of my mehanat (however inedible it might have become). But there is only so much roti upma you can eat, and the roti pizzas don't quite turn out as wonderful as you hope they would.
Which is why, I jumped with delight when I found that the Maharashtrian Policha Ladoo actually uses leftover rotis as the base.
Since they were pretty easy to make, I was certain the kids would hate it (one doesn't get lucky all the time, does one?), but both of them loved it. I don't need a crystal ball to predict that there isn't going to be too much roti upma for me in the near future.



3 Left over rotis
A lemon sized ball of soft Jaggery
1 1/2 tsp posto/ khus khus
1-2 tsp Shredded, un-sweetened coconut
1 tbsp Ghee


Method

Tear the roti into small pieces, and grind in the mixer with the jaggery.
Dry roast the poppy seeds, and once they start getting brown, add the coconut and roast till dry.
Mix the poppy seeds, coconut, ground roti mix and ghee to make a slightly sticky mass.
Roll into balls.
Enjoy!

Nov 20, 2013

Cucumber dal

This is a dal that my mother learnt from her friends in Bangalore. Native to the region, I love it, because it has so many tastes that I love- raw garlic, raw ground mustard, coconut and tamarind. The cucumber makes it a more balanced dish too.

1 measure tur dal (or channa dal), cooked with haldi powder
1 cucumber cut into pieces and steamed
Salt to taste

For ground masala
2 tsp mustard/rai
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 marble sized ball tamarind
2-3 pods garlic
2 red chillies

Grind the ingredients listed under "ground masala" with a little bit of water, till you get a smooth paste.
Add to the cooked dal, add the steamed cucumber pieces and salt to taste, and bring to boil.
Serve with rice or roti.



Nov 18, 2013

Andhra style carrot curry

There are only so many vegetables my family eats, and life often seems like a constant struggle to escape the commonplace of recipes. This Andhra style carrot curry that was made by combining a couple of recipes from the internet is one I am definitely making again.


Carrots - 2, large cut into small pieces
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Asafoetida - pinch
Green chilies - 2 or 3, whole
Ginger - 1/2", grated
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Coriander powder - 1 1/2 tsps
Toasted sesame seeds - 2 tbsps, lightly crushed
Red chili flakes - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

Method
Heat oil in a cooking vessel. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, and after they start to splutter, add the curry leaves, green chilies, asafoetida and ginger and saute for 5 to 6 seconds. Add the chopped carrots and mix.
Cook without lid on medium flame for 4 to 5 mts, mixing the contents once in a while. Reduce flame, add salt and cook till the carrots are soft, approx 25 mts.
Remove lid, add the coriander powder and mix. Cook for 2 to 3 mts. Add the crushed toasted sesame seeds and crushed red chili flakes and mix.
Turn off flame and remove into a serving bowl. Serve warm with rice or rotis.

Nov 17, 2013

Pazham bonda

Have I told you I love my paniyaram pan? So much, that when my maid misplaced it a few weeks back, I rushed to the market the very next day, and got myself a new one. And given how I love procrastinating, that's saying a lot!
So when I saw this recipe for pazham bonda, I wondered if I could adapt it for the paniyaram pan. You'll never know till you try it out, I told myself, and made it the very same day. Wonder of wonders, the younger one (who is the world's least adventurous and most fussy eater) loved it. Which means, I am definitely going to make it again, and yet again.






1 cup of Wheat flour
1/2 cup of Plain flour (maida)
1 (soggy) banana, mashed
Jaggery, to taste
1-2 cups drinking water
A pinch of baking powder
Cooking oil

Method
Combine all the ingredients above into a batter (similar in consistency as dosa batter). 
Set aside to rest for about 3-4 hours. You can leave it for longer if you have the time as well.
Heat a paniyaram pan, put a few drops of oil into each of the moulds, and pour the dough into them. Cook on a low flame, till it starts leaving the sides, turn around and let the other side cook too.
Drain and place the bonda on a clean kitchen towel.
Serve hot with tea or coffee.

Nov 16, 2013

Masoor dal with cauliflower leaves- the Ayurveda way

Everytime I buy a cauliflower, I end up paying for a whole lot of leaves that I never use. What if the leaves could be cooked separately, I asked myself, and decided to experiment. As luck would have it, I found this nice recipe for an Ayurvedic soup, which I adapted to make this dal.
The jury is out on whether we liked it or not.
 
1 cup red masoor dal
Leaves of 1 cauliflower, chopped fine
Haldi powder
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
 
For the tempering 
1/2 tsp of Whole Cumin/Whole Jeera
1/2 tsp of Whole Fennel/Whole Saunf,
6-7 whole Fenugreek seeds/Whole Methi seeds
and a pinch of asafoetida/Hing.

 
Method
Pressure cook the dal with cabbage leaves, haldi and sufficient water, till well cooked. 
Heat the ghee, and temper the ingredients listed under "for the tempering". Pour the tempering over the cooked dal.
Grate the ginger, and add to the dal along with the coriander powder, and salt to taste. Add about 2 cups of water, and let the dal come to a boil.
Adjust for seasonings, and squeeze juice of a lime quarter.
Serve with rice/ rotis, or drink it as a soup.