Mar 31, 2015

Sambar- with sambar powder

While in most ways, I am a rebel, in some ways I am a purist. Sambar, for me, has to be the traditional aracha vitta sambar. But the other day, while cleaning the freezer, I came across a bottle of really good sambar powder, and decided to use it to make sambar.

1 cup tur dal
250 gms small onions, peeled*
2 cloves garlic - crushed lightly with the peels
1 lime sized ball of tamarind
1.5 tbsp sambar powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp haldi powder
A pinch of hing
1 tsp jaggery
Salt to taste

For tempering:
2-3 tbsp oil
2 to 3 dry red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds/rai
1/2 tsp methi seeds
A pinch of hing
1 sprig curry leaves

Heat 1/2 cup water, and soak the tamarind for 30 minutes. Squeeze out the pulp and discard the tamarind.
Wash the dal well, and pressure cook with haldi powder till soft. Once the pressure settles, remove lid, mash and keep aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil, add mustard seeds, and let it splutter. Once it stops spluttering, add the other ingredients listed under tempering and the onions, and garlic and saute till the onions turn transparent.
Dilute the tamarind pulp to 2 cups quantity, add sambar powder and bring to a boil. Add the onions and tempering, reduce the flame, and  let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
Add the mashed dal, dilute if required, bring to a boil, and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve hot.

*- rubbing with oil, and keeping aside for 10 minutes makes it easier to peel

Masala dosa

The Hubby will be joining a new job in Hyderabad, and I wanted to cook him a meal he likes on his last day at home. Since he had mentioned wanting masala dosa a few days back, that became my obvious choice. The recipe was a mix and match of various tried and tested ones, and it tasted lovely because it was made with love.

For the potato filling
5 large potatoes
1 medium onion chopped fine
1 green chillie
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp flax seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp haldi powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

Chop the potatoes into eighths, and pressure cook till soft. Peel, and keep aside 
Heat the oil, and temper mustard seeds. Once the seeds have stopped popping, add the onions, flax seeds, green chillies and curry leaves, and saute till transparent.
Add the ginger paste, salt and haldi powder and stir for about a minute.
Mash the potatoes with the fingers, and add to the masala. Mix well, cover and let it cook for about 2 minutes.

Dosa batter
2 measures boiled rice
1 measure urad dal
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste

Wash the rice well, and soak overnight.
In another container, wash the urad dal and soak overnight, with the fenugreek seeds.
Remove most of the water, and grind separately till smooth.
Mix well, add salt to taste, and let it ferment for 6 hours. 

Assembling the masala dosa
Heat the tawa, till well heated. Sprinkle some water on the surface, reduce the flame, and after the water evaporates, pour in two ladle-fulls of batter*, and twirl it into a circle.
Pour about 1/2 tsp oil around the edges, and let it cook on a low flame. Once the ends start rising, flip it over, and after a minute flip it back.
Arrange the potato masala in half a semi-circle, fold in half and take off the tawa.
Serve with chutney and sambar.

*- I used store bought dosa batter.

Mar 29, 2015

Bisi bele bhaat- revisited

I make bisi bele bhaat quite often, but most of the time, I just use my instincts while cooking. Today, I followed the recipe perfectly, and loved the result.
The only diveation from the original recipe was the fact that I fried the small onions with the peanuts and added them to the dish while cooking.


Mar 22, 2015

Youghurt chicken

A very quick dry chicken dish based partially on an old favourite.
1 kg curry cut chicken
1/2 cup curds
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp kasoori methi
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil

Drain the water from the curds by hanging it in a muslin cloth for 30 mins
Make a marinade with the curds, ginger- garlic paste, salt, pepper, kasoori methi.
Wash the chicken, make a few slits, and marinate for 1 hour.
Heat the oil, add the marinated chicken, mix it well, cover, and cook on a low flame till done (about 20 minutes).
Serve with rotis or garlic bread.

Hara Bhara Kebab

The hubby and I recently made a pact to cut down on outside food. The decision was not a hard one to make, but it is not exactly easy to keep, because the heart keeps craving for all kinds of food. This is my first attempt at making a hara bhara kebab from scratch, and I found it almost as good at the frozen ones that you have to heat up.

1 large bunch palak
2 medium size potatoes
3/4 cup fresh peas
1 tsp amchur powder
2 tsp ginger-green chili paste
2 1/2 tbsp besan
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

Cut the potatoes into eights, and pressure cook along with the peas. Peel the potatoes and keep aside
Blanch the palak in salted water, drain and drench with cold water (to retain the colour). Finely chop, and keep aside
Roast besan till it becomes aromatic and changes its color- be careful not to overroast
Mash the potatoes, add the chopped spinach, peas, ginger-green chilli paste, spices, roasted besan and salt and mix well.
Shape into round patties and shallow fry till golden brown.
Serve with pudina chutney

Mar 21, 2015

Thing Two's cheesy mushroom pasta

After Thing One's success in the kitchen, Thing Two wanted to try his hand at making pasta, and he proved to be as adept.

200 gms pasta
100 gms mushrooms, sliced thinly
4 pods garlic
2 tbsp basil leaves
1/4 cup grated cheese
1 cup milk
1 tbsp cornflour powder
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack, drain, wash with cold water and keep aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil, add the garlic pods and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushroom, and saute till well browned. Add torn basil leaves and toss for about 30 seconds. Add salt to taste, mix well and keep aside.
To make the white sauce, heat the milk, make a paste of cornflour with milk, mix well, and let it simmer on a low flame till the sauce attains desired consistency. Add salt and red chilli flakes to taste, and mix in the cheese.
Mix the pasta and cooked mushroom well, pour the white sauce, and serve.

Mar 17, 2015

Cheesy Eggplant Casserole

My mother was a great one for trying out recipes that she read in magazines, and one of my favourite was an eggplant casserole that she got from a Thanksgiving special feature where an American lady cooks for the Indian family she married into. By trial and error, I figured out what went into the recipe, and this is the first time I have made it for my family.

1 egg plant, sliced into thin circles

2 tbsp besan
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Cooking oil for shallow frying

2 tomatoes, chopped into coarse pieces
6 pods garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chilli flakes
salt to taste
sugar to taste

3 tbsp grated cheese

Coat the eggplant slices with salt, keep aside for a few minutes, and squeeze out the juice.
Cover with a mixture of besan, red chilli powder, and shallow fry on a low flame till done.
Heat the oil, add garlic and saute till it starts browning.
Add chopped tomatoes, oregano, chilli flakes, salt and sugar, and saute till the tomatoes turn mushy.
Place a layer of eggplant slices on a baking tray. Pour some of the tomato paste over it, and sprinkle a layer of cheese. Keep layering till all the eggplant slices are used up, and finish with a layer of tomato paste and a thick layer of cheese.
Bake for 5 minutes, till the cheese is well melted.

Mar 15, 2015

Thing One's classic casserole

The holidays have started, and Thing One decided to help me in the kitchen. Since he loves casseroles, I helped him rustle this meal up.
200 gms pasta
1 cup milk
1 tbsp cornflour powder
1/3 cup cheese, grated
10 button mushrooms, sliced in half
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
6 pods garlic, peeled
10 olives, pitted
2 tbsp basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp cooking oil

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack, drain, wash with cold water and keep aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil, add the garlic pods and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and mushroom, and saute till well browned. Add salt to taste, mix well and keep aside.
To make the white sauce, heat the milk, make a paste of cornflour with milk, mix well, and let it simmer on a low flame till the sauce attains desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in 1/3 of the quantity of cheese. Add the torn basil leaves, and keep aside.
Chop the olives and mix well with the cooked pasta.
In an ovenproof bowl, put a layer of cooked pasta, followed by a layer of mushrooms, and a sprinkling of cheese. Repeat till all the pasta and mushrooms are used up, and top it with a layer of cheese.
Pour the white sauce over the bowl.
Bake in oven at 180 degrees for 5 minutes till the cheese melts. Enjoy.

Nutty Wholewheat Triangles

I've been looking for a good recipe for peanut cookies for a while, but the only ones I could find online used peanut butter. While I have nothing against peanut butter, I think they are much better spread on toast than beaten into a batter. Finally, I made up a recipe myself, and was really satisfied with the result.
The triangles are slightly fragile and collapse gently if you squeeze them too hard, but they are absolutely melt in the mouth!!!

1/4 cup roasted peanuts- crushed
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup sugar- ground coarsely
1 cup wholewheat flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp baking powder

Grind the peanuts and keep aside (I like it fine ground, but you can leave a few chunky pieces too)
Grind the sugar and keep aside
Sieve together the flour, powdered sugar and baking powder.
Add the ground peanuts and desiccated coconut and mix well
Make a depression in the centre, pour in the oil, and knead well.
Grease a baking sheet, and spread the dough evenly across it.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Place a container with water in the bottom rack, and the cookie tray in the middle rack.
Bake for 10 minutes, take out, and with a sharp knife, make a cut for 16 squares, and further cut each diagonally (32 triangles in all). Return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes (checking every minute after 13 minutes, to ensure it doesn't burn).
Remove, let it cook, and break along the cut lines.

Mar 1, 2015

Basil Paneer

I wanted to make a really simple paneer dish to go with parathas, but wasn't in a mood for plain old paneer bhurji either. So I basically threw in a bunch of ingredients that I had, and came up with this nice fusion piece!

250 gms paneer (I used store bought)
1 medium onion
1 large tomato
3 pods garlic
2 stalks basil leaves
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt and sugar to taste
1 tbsp cooking oil

Finely chop the onions and garlic. Heat the oil, add the onions and garlic and saute on low flame till they turn transparent.
Add coarsely chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, mix well, and saute till the tomatoes turn mushy. Roughly tear the basil leaves, add and mix well.
Cut the paneer slices into cubes, and add to the paste. Turn off the flame and mix well.
Add salt and sugar to taste.

Oatmeal cookies, variety is the name of the game

"Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
One basic recipe, three variations. Can anyone ask for more?

3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp milk

MethodDry roast the oats till they smell toasty.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix well.
Add the butter, and mix it so it resembles breadcrumbs.
[This is the basic mixture- you can personalize it in many ways]
Add 2 tbsp milk and mix well, so you get a dough that holds together, but breaks away when pulled- you might need to add 1 tbsp more till you get the consistency. Do not knead beyond that point.
In the meanwhile, preheat the oven at 180 degrees, and grease a baking tray.
Divide the dough into 16 parts, roll into a ball, and press down to get a cookie shape. Place on the baking tray at well spaced intervals.
Place a shallow dish with water in the lowest level, and the baking tray in the middle level. Bake at 180 degrees for 15- 20 minutes, checking after 12 minutes to ensure it doesn't get over crisp.
Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

There can be three variations-
Add 2 tbsp roasted flax seeds, before adding the milk
Add 1/4 cup raisins, before adding the milk
Add 3 tbsp cheese and 1 tsp chilli flakes before adding the milk