Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dum Ka Rote Halwa (Baked Semolina Pudding)































This is a very popular halwa in Chennai, India well known for its name "Dum Ka Rote". To make this halwa the mixture is first cooked on flame then baked in the oven on low. In olden days they baked on charcoal ovens with burning charcoals on the top and bottom of the baking dish. But they controlled the heat, by keeping it on low. It was baked on low heat for a long time till it became crusty at the top and bottom. The crust is a delicacy and we as kids used to fight for it as it was the best part of the halwa. This halwa is what you would die for as it is so insanely delicious!!

Basha's Halwa in Chennai is world famous (as he says in this video) and whosoever has tasted it once keeps craving for more. I am dedicating this recipe to one of my readers who was badly craving for it and requested me for its recipe. The recipe for Dum ka rote has been rotating in our family for many years and it is the closest to Basha's halwa I can say. Basha uses only melon seeds as garnish. I could not get melon seeds in the stores here, so had to use some which I managed to save after eating a melon,  therefore, I have used them sparingly. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Semolina (coarse)
1 Cup / 225gm Unsweetened Khoya
1 1/2 Cups / 325gm Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Ghee + 1 tbs
1 Cup / 115gm Almonds (for paste)
 Almonds and Cashews (chopped for garnish)
2 Tbs melon seeds for garnish
1/8th Tsp Saffron
1 Cup half and half / Whole Milk
1/4 Cup Whole Milk (for grinding almonds to a paste and for soaking saffron threads)













Method:
1. Soak semolina in 1 cup half and half or whole milk till it gets soaked well for 10 minutes.

2 Cut the Unsweetened Khoya (Nanak Khoya or Bapu ka Khoya) into small pieces and blend them in a food processor till reduced to powder.

3. Grind the almonds separately in a grinder first to a fine powder then add a little milk and grind to a fine paste with no lumps.

4. Mix together the sugar, ghee and the ground almonds with the khoya powder in the food processor and pulse till everything gets blended well. Transfer to a bowl.

5. Now add the soaked semolina and whisk everything with a hand whisk to a smooth thick batter.

6. Crush the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle, add some warm milk to it then add this saffron milk to the halwa mixture and mix well.

7. Transfer this mixture to a heavy bottomed sauce pan and on medium heat keep stirring till it comes to a boil and then starts slowly thickening. Do not stop stirring at this stage as it could get burnt at the bottom quickly. Finally when it starts leaving the sides, remove from the stove.













































8. Grease a baking dish with ghee and pour the thickened halwa into it. Sprinkle the slivered almonds and melon seeds then drizzle the remaining ghee on top and place it in the centre of the oven preheated at 325 degrees fahrenheit.























9. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the top and the bottom layers start browning and the sweet scented aroma of saffron is filling the air. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature.







10. The above picture was taken when I made the halwa again for a picnic. This time luckily I found the melon seeds at the Sri Lankan store. 



















11. As you see in the above picture all the nuts ( I used chopped cashews and almonds) and melon seeds are gathered in the center. This is because this time I changed the baking technique a bit. I used the convection bake (temp: 350 degrees fahrenheit) instead of the regular bake and as it baked all the nuts and seeds came from the sides to the center. Also it got crispier on the sides and center more compared to the previous halwa which got evenly crisp all over. I prefer the convection method of baking for this halwa as it had a beautiful crust and a crispy center just like the basha halwa. And it tasted delicious!

12. You can decorate the halwa with silver paper and serve it to your guests for dessert. 








Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rice Kheer (Porridge)



























Ingredients:

1 1/2 Litres Whole Milk
1/4 Cup Basumathi Rice
3/4 - 1 Cup White Sugar
15 Almonds for garnish
4 - 5 Drops Rose Essence
1 Tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
2 Green Cardamoms


Method: 

1. Boil milk and leave on simmer to thicken for 10 minutes till it reduces a bit.  Wash the basumathi rice 3 or 4 times till the water runs out clear and leave it to soak in water for 15 minutes.

2. In another pot on medium heat add ghee. Crack the cardamoms a bit to release the flavour then add to the pot followed by the soaked basumathi rice.

3. Sauté the basumathi rice in the ghee till it dries up a bit, then add 3 - 4 cups of water and let it cook till it becomes mushy on low medium heat. Keep an eye on it so it does not burn after all the water gets absorbed.

4. Add sugar and the reduced whole milk, cook for some more time on simmer while stirring continuously. When it is of porridge consistency remove and leave it to cool.

5. Meanwhile microwave almonds soaked in water for 40 seconds on high. When cool peel, cut into thin slivers and set aside for garnish.

6. Add 4 to 5 drops of rose essence to the kheer, mix well, transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with almonds, chill in the fridge and serve. Chilled Kheer tastes better. Enjoy as it is for dessert or with Halwa pies.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Harissa Paste

How to make HARISSA PASTE

Harissa is a hot Tunisian chilli pepper paste used in dips, marinades, soups etc just like any other hot chilli sauce. It is a spicy red hot roasted pepper paste which brings depth of flavour to the dish. It has many variations and it can be made to suit your own taste. It is mostly made with a blend of 2 or more different types of hot peppers (like serrano peppers, Baklouti peppers, hot chilli peppers) garlic and your own blend of aromatic spices. The chillies are soaked in hot water till they soften and are ground to a paste with garlic, whole spices, lemon juice and olive oil. You can also use chipotle, poblano, ancho chillies or any other moderately hot peppers if you don't like it very hot. So you can actually customize it to your own taste.

Harissa paste pre packed in bottles is also sold locally in middle eastern stores here. Tunisia is the biggest exporter of Harissa paste. It is also referred to as the National Condiment of Tunisia. When you travel to middle eastern countries the local grocery stores there sell fresh harissa paste.


Here's the recipe:

Ingredients: 

1 Cup Red Hot Chilli Peppers
1/2 Cup Kashmiri Chilli Pepper or Chipotle Peppers
6 Garlic Cloves
11/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
Juice of Lemon
4 tbs Extra Virgin Olive oil

Method: 

1. Dry roast the peppers on medium heat quickly. Be sure to put the exhaust on as the fumes can make you choke. It is better to cover your face with a handkerchief or face towel when you do this. Remove from stove. Soak them in hot water for 1 hour until softened.

2. Toast the cumin seeds on medium heat until they turn lightly brown and aromatic .  Remove and keep aside. Roast the garlic cloves in a few drops of oil, give a quick stir till you see a little discolouration. Remove and cool completely.

3. Pulse the cumin seeds in a grinder till they are coarsely ground. Drain the water from the chillies and add to the grinder along with garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and olive oil and grind to a fine paste.

4. Store in a clean dry bottle and store it in the fridge. Keeps well for a month.


Notes:

Kashmiri red chillies are mildly hot so if you want less heat then you can use 1/2 cup hot chillies with 1/2 cup kashmiri chillies. I like to substitute kashmir chillies with chipotle or poblano for their smoky flavour. You can customize according to your taste and heat level.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Apple Mango Ginger Salad
























This salad tasted delicious and I finished it all. The tartness of the apples with the delightful aroma of the mango ginger along with the other ingredients kicked it up a notch. Mango ginger is a root vegetable like ginger with a slightly sour taste of unripe mango and a sharp spicy taste of ginger in a mild form. It has great health benefits. It is mostly used in pickles and can also be used as a flavouring to enhance the taste in meat, chicken or vegetable preparations. Here I used it in this salad with great success. 
























Ingredients:
1 Tart apple
1 hot house Tomato
6 garlic stuffed big green olives
1 tbs pickled mango ginger
1/2 cup grated carrot
5-6 Red/green leaf lettuce
Sesame seeds for garnish

Dressing:
2 tbs Olive Oil
Juice of half a lemon
Pink salt
Black pepper
1/2 tsp Harissa paste 
Brown sugar

Method:
1. Cut the apple into small dices. Chop the stuffed olives with the garlic and chop the pickled mango ginger. 

2. Gently squeeze out the seeds from the tomato, remove its stem and cut into small dices. 

3. Clean, wash, drain and dry the lettuce leaves. 

4.  Mix together the diced apples, tomatoes, grated carrots, chopped olives and mango ginger. 

5. Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients till it emulsifies and changes to a creamy texture. Add this dressing to the salad and quickly mix well. 

6. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a salad plate. Spoon all the salad on to the lettuce leaves. Sprinkle some brown(roasted) sesame seeds on top for garnish. Serve immediately. 

Notes: 
1. Add the dressing just before serving the salad or else it will turn runny. 

2. You can pickle the mango ginger by cutting it into dices and adding vinegar and salt and store in a clean glass bottle. You could also use it in many preparations. 



Friday, December 23, 2016

Layered Idly Sandwich
























When ever we eat Idli we dip a piece of it in a chutney and then try another bite with a different one - it is always one chutney at a time. And if you dip the same piece in all the chutneys it becomes messy. So I thought why not build an idli layer by layer like a cake and fill each layer with a different chutney, like icing. I had been toying with this idea so much to the extent of checking with manufacturers if they could make a square idli mould for me. That seemed like a lengthy process for which I had no time. But I had to satisfy my craving to taste the idli and my favourite chutneys together - all in one bite. There was a shortcut which was tempting enough. I used the round steel plates from my Dhokla maker (I could have used a cake pan too) to steam my idli rounds and voila made my idli sandwich with different chutney layers. I had chutney powder (mologai podi), coconut and mint chutney which I used for each layer. It tasted just yummy as I had expected. Plus it looked so beautiful!
























Here's the recipe:

Ingredients: 
Idli batter
Mint chutney 
Coconut Chutney
Chutney Powder (Mologai Podi)
Clarified butter 
Round cake dish or Dhokla Maker plates
Parchment Paper


Method: 
1. Grease the cake pan/plate and line it with parchment paper cut in a circle, the same size as the base.  Pour in the Idli batter to your desired thickness. I keep it 1/2 " thick.

2. Place the cake pan in a steamer and steam for exactly 10 minutes. Remove and keep aside to cool.

3. When cooled, pass a knife around the sides of the pan/plate then overturn the plate carefully after topping it with another plate to unmould the idli cake. 

4. Cut the idli round into 4 quarters. Take one quarter and spread coconut chutney on it, then top it with another and spread with mint chutney, then alternate again with coconut chutney.  I had made only 2 chutneys this time so I had to repeat the layer. But you could use another different chutney instead. Then for the topmost layer I sprinkled with MTR's chutney powder and a few droplets of melted ghee (clarified butter) and brushed it evenly to coat. You could use as many layers as you want with different chutneys of your choice.  Enjoy!






























Notes:

1. You can get ready made refrigerated idli batter from indian stores. The other option is to make your own. I will be soon posting a recipe for making traditional recipes.

2. The chutney powder is available in indian stores as well, but MTR is a good brand.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

Nothing is more comforting to eat on a cold wintry rainy day than a bowl of creamy leek and potato soup with soft buns and mustard chicken to go with. The smooth texture of the soup with the flavour of leeks is so soothing to the senses and highly delectable. It is such a hearty, healthy and nutritious soup and so easy to make in no time. 



Ingredients: 
1 large Leek
2 Yukon gold potatoes
2 tbs Butter
2 Garlic cloves
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1 cup Chicken  stock
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
Chives or spring onions finely chopped(optional)
Salt to taste
Method: 
1. Clean and wash the white and light green parts of the leeks and cut them into small pieces. Peel, wash and cut the pototoes into small pieces as well. Finely chop the garlic. 

2. In a soup pot melt the butter on medium heat, toss in the garlic, give it a stir and add the leeks and potatoes. 

3. Turn over and saute in the melted butter till they sweat and soften a bit. 

4. Add 2 cups hot water and the 1 hot cup chicken stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Let it cook on medium heat till the potatoes and leeks and very soft. Switch off the stove and remove the bay leaf. 

5. Using a hand held immersion blender, puree the cooked leeks and potatoes until smooth, adding a little water if too thick. I also added the shredded chicken pieces from the chicken soup stock and blended everything together. 

6. Add half and half or heavy cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper if necessary. And if the soup appears to be thick add a little water and if it is too runny, leave it on simmer for sometime till it thickens.  

7. Garnish with chopped chives or spring onions and serve hot in soup bowls.  Enjoy with bread, buns or dinner rolls.





Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Steamed Coconut Radish



This is a light side dish which is enjoyed with rice and curry or dal. It is just steamed for a few minutes till tender and then tempered with mustard, dried red chillies and curry leaves. I love to eat this with boiled rice and sambar. 

I prefer to use small or medium size white radishes for this dish as they have strong flavour unlike the chinese lobok which are usually very huge and lacking in flavour.   

Ingredients: 

White radish - 1 medium size 
Fresh coconut finely grated - 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 4 or 5
Dried red chilly - 1 small
Canola oil - 1 tsp
Green chilly - 1 small
Salt to taste

Method: 

1. Peel, wash and cut the radish into small pieces. Add a little salt, slit green chilly,  then cover and steam it with just a teaspoon of water in a sauce pan till it is tender. 

2. Grate finely or coarsely grind the fresh coconut and add it to the steamed radish and on low heat turn it over a bit just to coat all the pieces with the fresh coconut. Do not cook anymore. 

3. For tempering heat the canola oil in a small sauce pan. Break the dried red chilly into two pieces and add it to the oil followed by mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter add the fresh curry leaves. Switch off the stove and pour the tempering over the steamed radish. 

4. Turn over, adjust the salt and enjoy with rice and curry. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Cranberry Sauce

The store bought cranberry sauce was awful, it was like a jello paste and I didn't like it at all. I looked up recipes and found the Pioneer Woman's cranberry sauce recipe very interesting.  It was so simple and when I tried it out, it was amazing. I made a slight change to the recipe by replacing the tartness of the cranberry juice with the sweetness of orange juice. I also added a blob of butter to give it a glaze and buttery flavour. We all licked the bowl clean, it was tongue tingling, tangy, sweet and so yummy. Here's the link to Ree Drummond's recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/homemade-cranberry-sauce/

Here's my recipe: 

Fresh Cranberries - 1 pack
Orange juice - 1 cup
Lemon juice - 1 tbs
Maple syrup - 1 cup
Orange zest - 1 tbs
Butter - 1 tbs

Method:

1. Rinse the fresh cranberries in cool water after picking the bad ones out, drain and put them in a pot. 

2. Add the orange juice, lemon juice and maple syrup and bring to boil. Skim off the froth that floats on top. 

3. The berries start popping out when the maximum heat is reached. Stir on and off and let the sauce thicken. 

4. Add the blob of butter and orange zest, simmer a bit to get the right jelly like consistency and remove. 

5. Allow it to cool before transferring to a serving bowl or jar. 

6. Enjoy with turkey or chicken. 





Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dal Zucchini

I love this dal for its amazing flavour. This is more or less like a lentil (dal) curry with zucchini slices cooked till just tender and then to give a unique taste it is flavoured with black seeds and cumin seeds. So nutritious and comforting to eat with rotis or rice. 



Ingredients:

1 Zucchini 
 1/2 cup Moong Dal (Yellow lentils) 
1/2 Tsp Tomato paste
2 Tbs Chopped onions 
1 Tsp Ginger garlic paste 
1 Small Dried red chilli
2 Small Green chillies whole 
1/2 Tsp Black seeds 
1/2 Tsp Cumin seeds 
 1Tbs Cilantro chopped 
1/4 Tsp Turmeric powder 
 1Tbs Canola oil 
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Wash and soak the moong dal for 10 minutes. Slice the zucchini, chop the onions, grind ginger garlic paste and keep everything ready.

2. Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add the dried red chilli, black seeds, cumin seeds followed by chopped onions.

3. When the onions start turning slightly golden add the turmeric, ginger garlic paste and the moong dal after draining it.

4. Roast the moong dal till it no longer sticks to the pan.

5. Throw in the zucchini slices, gently turn them over with the dal and roast them too a bit.

6. Now pour in 2 cups of water, salt and whole green chillies.

7. Turn the heat to medium and cook till just done. The dal should be of pouring consistency - soft but not mushy and the zucchini not overdone either.

8. Add chopped cilantro, and serve hot with rice or parantas. You may add boiled eggs if you want, but slit them before adding them. Enjoy!


Friday, May 6, 2016

Tomato Rasam

http://mamasecretrecipes.blogspot.ca/search/label/SoupsRasam is a tomato based spicy soup which is eaten separately or mixed with boiled rice and is enjoyed by all south indians in their everyday meals. It is traditionally prepared using tamarind juice and tomatoes as its base and there are so many different versions of it and each one has its unique taste and flavour of spices and seasonings. Eating a vegetarian thali served with rasam and sambar followed by a glass of soothing and cooling flavoured butter milk on a hot summer day is heaven indeed!

Ingredients:

Tomatoes - 4 
Garlic cloves - 4 
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Ground black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cilantro chopped - 1 tbs
Tamarind - a marble sized ball

For tempering:
Curry leaves - a few
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Crushed garlic cloves - 2 small
Asafoetida - a pinch
Canola/Vegetable oil - 1 tsp


Method: 

1. Cut tomatoes into quarters, peel the garlic cloves and cook them with a little water in a sauce pan. Add turmeric, cumin and pepper powders. 
2. When tomatoes are soft mash them with the back of the spoon, add more water and let it simmer. 

3. Soak tamarind in a little water, extract its juice and add it to the pan.
4. Adjust the salt, strain the tomato rasam and add chopped cilantro.
5. For the tempering heat the oil, first add the mustard seed, when it splutters, add the crushed garlic and as soon as it turns golden brown (do not burn it) add the cumin seeds. When they start changing color add the curry leaves and a pinch of powdered asafoetida.


6. Immediately add the tempering to the rasam. The rasam is now ready to enjoy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bottle gourd coconut yoghurt curry

This is just one of my favourite side dishes to eat with rice. It is a very flavourful dish which is made with vegetables steamed in a coconut yoghurt sauce and flavoured with ground spices and tempering. A great vegetarian delight originating from Kerala but enjoyed by all the south indians. This can be made with pumpkin, bottle gourd, ash gourd, cucumber, white radish, beetroot and pineapple. Whenever I make this dish I wipe the pot clean, because it is so tasty. I just love it!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

Bottle gourd - 2 cups
Turmeric      - 1/2 tsp
Coconut grated - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies  - 2 small
Cumin seeds    - 1 tsp
Cilantro           - 1 tbs
Yoghurt           - 1/2 cup
Coconut oil / Canola oil       - 2 tsp
Water             -  1/4 cup

For Tempering:

Dried red chillies - 2 small
Curry Leaves       -  6
Mustard seeds      1/2 tsp  

Method: 

1. Peel the bottle gourd, cut it lengthwise into 2 halves, scoop out the pulp and cut it into small cubes.

2. Steam it with 1/4 cup water till it is just tender, do not over cook.

3. Grind together the grated coconut, cumin seeds, green chillies and cilantro with a little water to make a smooth paste.

4. Add this ground paste to the cooked bottle gourd along with the turmeric powder and simmer for a while till the raw smell vanishes. Switch off the stove.

5. Whisk the yoghurt to a creamy texture and add it immediately to the pot with the bottle gourd, mix well gently. Put it back on the stove on very low heat till it is hot enough. Remove from heat to add the tempering.

6. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and when they splutter add the dried red chillies followed by the curry leaves. Immediately pour this over the bottle gourd coconut yoghurt gravy. Close the lid to retain the flavours. Serve hot with boiled rice. It is so yummy!

Tips:

1. Do not over cook the vegetables.

2. Do not boil the gravy after adding the yoghurt as it will curdle. Heat it only on low heat while stirring every now and then.

3. Use 3 day old slightly sour yoghurt. The sweetness of the coconut combined with the tangy  yoghurt balances the taste.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nutritious Kale Salad



Nutritious Kale Salad

Ingredients:
Kale - 1cup
Romain lettuce -  1 cup
Kalamata olives - 6
Red/green/yellow peppers - 1/2 cup diced
Tomatoes - 1/2 cup diced
Walnut pieces - 2 tbs
Sun flower seeds - 2 tsp

For the Salad Dressing:
Olive oil - 1 tbs
Balsamic vinegar- 1/2 tbs
Dijon mustard - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste 
Black pepper - just to sprinkle on top

Method:

1. Mix together kalamata olives, yellow peppers, tomatoes - all cut into dices along with chopped kale and lettuce. 

2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Top with walnuts and sunflower seeds and serve with the baked salmon fish filets: saffron flavoured baked salmon fish filets . Enjoy!


Friday, November 13, 2015

Egg Plant Tapenade



This is a mediterranean recipe that I modified to suit my taste. I flame grilled the egg plant to give it smoky flavour and substituted pine nuts for walnuts and sun dried tomatoes for fresh ones. The smoky egg plant combined with the slightly tangy and nutty flavours turned out really delicious. We should not forget that the egg plant is the king in this dish, so care should be taken not to over power it with other flavours. Therefore adding just the right proportions of everything makes it not only enhanced in flavour but also in taste.

Ingredients:
Large dark purple egg plant - 1
Sun dried tomatoes             - 1 tbs
Walnuts(lightly toasted)        - 2 tbs
Extra virgin olive oil              - 2 tbs
Pitted kalamata olives          - 8-10
Lemon juice                         - 1 tsp
Small onion(finely chopped  - 1
Garlic clove                          - 1

To garnish:
Ground Cumin                   - 1/2tsp
Cayenne pepper/paprika    - 1/4tsp
Extra virgin olive oil            - 2 tbs
Cilantro finely chopped      - 1 tbs

Method: 
1. Flame grill the egg plant on the gas stove till it is charred all over and becomes soft. Leave it to cool.
2. Toast the walnuts with a little olive oil. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in just a little water.
3. Remove the charred skin from the cooled egg plant, clean well so that no charred remnants are sticking to the egg plant, cut it open without loosing its juices, scrape out the seeds if they are too big and hard, otherwise you can leave them.
4. Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a sauce pan and fry the chopped onion, once it is translucent add the chopped garlic clove, walnuts, give it a quick stir and remove from stove.
5. In a dry grinder, grind together the chopped onion and walnut mixture (pour it with the olive oil in the pan into the grinder) along with the sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper to make a smooth paste. You can add a green chilly if you want some heat. For me without thegreen chilly it tasted better.
6. Now mash the egg plant with a hand blender and incorporate the ground mixture into it to make a sligthly smooth but still a little coarse paste. The roasted egg plant should be well blended with the ground paste.
7. Transfer the contents to a serving bowl. Add chopped cilantro, a dash of  lemon juice, adjust the salt and mix well.  Sprinkle cumin and cayenne or paprika on top, drizzle olive oil and enjoy!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Zucchini Papaya Salad


Ingredients: 
1 Cup Light green zucchini
1 Cup Papaya (not so ripe)
4 Tbs Peanuts crushed
1 Tbs Sesame seeds

Lemon dressing:
1 Tbs Lemon juice
1 Tbs Olive oil
1/4 Tsp Sesame oil
1/2 Tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper as required

Method:
1. Peel the Zucchini and Papaya. Wash and towel dry. Grate into thin long strips or julienes.

2. Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds.

3. Mix all the dressing ingredients and whisk well till it emulsifies and thickens.

4. Pour the dressing over the grated zucchini and papaya.

5. Top with roasted peanuts and sesame seeds.

6. Enjoy.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Spicy Carrot and Green Apple Salad



This recipe is adapted from a carrot salad recipe I found on one of the south indian blogs. It is a very refreshing salad and I like it very much. The sauteed mustard seeds add an extra flavour to the salad.

Ingredients: 

Carrots shredded - 2
Green Apple Shredded - 1
Fresh Cilantro - 1 tbs
Fresh lemon juice - 1 tbs
Ginger grated - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves - a few
Green chillies - 1 small (optional)
Vegetable oil - 1/2 tsp

Method:

1. Mix together the shredded carrots and apple. Add chopped cilantro.
2. Heat 1/2 tsp vegetable oil in a small sauce pan. Add the mustard seeds when the oil is just hot to make them splutter. Add the chopped curry leaves and remove immediately and pour it on the shredded salad mix.
3. Add lemon juice, salt and sugar, toss well and serve. Enjoy!

Apple grape salad



A refreshing salad for lunch or dinner as a snack or a side dish in summer.  This is a very simple salad to make from the fruits you have at home, especially when you are pressed for time and your imagination has deserted you. Cut up an apple or pear, some grapes or berries and throw them in together with a handful of spring mix, garnish with some chopped walnuts, drizzle some dressing on top and voila your salad is ready in no time! You may any dressing of your choice. I also use lemon poppy seed dressing sometimes.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

Green apple - 1
Red grapes  -  1/2 cup
Spring mix -   1 cup
Walnuts      -   1tbs

For the lemon dijon dressing:

Lemon juice (fresh) - 1 tbs
Dijon mustard - 1tsp
Brown sugar   -  a pinch
Olive oil          - 1tbs
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Wash, peel and thinly slice the green apple. Deseed and cut in half the red grapes.
2. Layer the spring mix on a plate, then throw in the apple slices followed by the grapes on top.
3. Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a bottle and shake well to blend.
4. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and drizzle the dressing on top.
5. The salad is now ready to be served. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Stuffed Chilli Bhajjis


I have long been craving for the stuffed chilly bhajjis that I used to eat in Chennai,India at one particular location and my mouth still waters thinking about them. I loved them as a child and enjoyed eating them. I don't find them now when I go to India. The small tea shop by the Cinema theatre where a lady vendor used to sell them is no more, though the theatre is still there. Everything has changed. But the taste is still alive and it evokes fond memories of the past of how we (me with my family) walked home after watching the movie enjoying these hot fuming mouthwatering bhajjis. I still remember how her small tea stall was always crowded and how we watched her fry a bazillion of them in a huge wok as we waited impatiently for our turn to buy them These bhajjis were stuffed with a delicious spicy filling and back then I used to wonder what it could be. I tried to recreate it and  kept trying different combinations and finally after many trials i managed to come very close to the taste. This was the best I could do. 

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

Green fat chilly peppers- a few
Potatoes - 1 large
MTR Chutney powder- 1 tbs
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Amchoor (Dried mango) Powder -1 tsp
Ginger powder - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Mirch powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Besan (Chick pea flour) -1/2 cup + 2 tbs
Ghee - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Pomegranate molasses -1/2tsp (optional))

Method: 

1. Dry roast the cumin seeds. Grind them in a mortar and pestle and keep aside. 

2. Take a sauce pan, add a tsp of ghee (clarified butter) and on medium heat roast the 2tbsof besan flour (chick pea flour). When it starts leaving an aroma it means it is well roasted and the raw smell is gone. Remove from the pan into a bowl and keep aside.

3. Peel, boil and grate the potato when it is cool. 

4. Now add to the grated potato the roasted besan flour, MTR chutney powder, roasted ground cumin and the other spice powders. Mix well. Add salt and pomegranate molasses. The filling is ready  now.

5. Take a green chilly slit it open vertically, remove the seeds and stuff it with the filling. Then take some more filling and wrap it around the stuffed chilly. Compress it inside your fist and make it smooth. Set aside.

6. Repeat the same process with the rest of the chillies and set aside.

7. Make a thick batter with the 1/2 cup besan (chick pea flour), 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp chilly powder and1/4 tsp baking soda with a little water. 

8. Dip the wrapped stuffed bhajjis in the batter and swirl them around so that they gather more batter and then slowly slide them in the hot oil on medium heat. Keep splashing the hot oil over them carefully and turn them over from time to time in order to fry them evenly. Remove them when they are crisp and golden.  

9. Drain them on paper towels and serve them hot with mint or tamarind chutney. Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rice Ganji (Porridge)






















Rice Ganji or kanji is an all time favourite for Ifthaar during Ramadan in Chennai. It is served to fasting muslims at most of the mosques there and is also prepared in almost every muslim house in Ramadan. It is a satisfying and fulfilling meal and is enjoyed with all sorts of snacks especially different kinds of vadas, samosas, pakoras etc. Sometimes to make it rich, some ground lamb or beef is added and it is called Aash. As a variation, small fried meat balls are also added.
 On the left is the picture of the rice ganji with grated coconut, chopped ciilantro and mint and below is the picture without the coconut which is also flavourful but has a lighter taste.

 Most important of all is the tadka or tempering which (done right at the end with ghee) takes it to the next level by making it rich and aromatic. Grated coconut and a hint of mint and chopped cilantro added just before tempering enhances its flavour and taste.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients: 

Rice - 1 cup
Moong dal - 1/4 cup
Onions - 1 small sliced
Green chillies - 2 small
Black pepper corns - 1/2  tsp + 5-6 for tempering
Fresh mint leaves - 5-6
Cilantro chopped - 1 tbs
Ghee - 2 tbs for tempering
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Cloves - 2
Fresh grated coconut - 1 tbs
Ground beef/lamb - 1 tbs (optional)

Method: 

1. Dry roast the moong dal till lightly golden.
2. Wash the rice and the roasted moong dal till the water is clear.
3. Put it in a pressure cooker and add 2 cups of water, salt, pepper corns, green chillies and a little cilantro.
4. Close the lid and pressure cook for 5 mins after the first whizz or whistle. If you are not using a pressure cooker you can cook in the normal way by adding enough water and cooking on medium heat till the rice and dal are mushy.
5. Remove the lid of the pressure cooker after all the steam is out and add some more water to get a flowing consistency. It should neither be too thick nor too runny.
6. Now add the fresh grated coconut, mint and cilantro and let it simmer for 2 mins. Please note that the coconut has to be really fresh otherwise all your effort will be lost. Do not use the coconut if you get a stale or rancid smell. Transfer it to a serving bowl.
7. Now for the tempering, take a sauce pan, set it on medium heat.  Melt the ghee then add the 2 cloves, a few more (5-6) pepper corns and the sliced onions and stir continuously till they turn evenly golden brown. Now quickly add the ginger garlic paste, give it a stir and as soon as you get a whiff of the aroma pour it on top of  the prepared ganji.
8. Gently mix the tadka in the ganji and enjoy with fritters of your choice.
























Tips:

Care should be taken not to burn the rice porridge at the bottom of the pressure cooker or pot. So cook on medium heat, add enough water and stir from time to time.

Do not burn the onions in the tempering, nor let the ginger garlic paste burn too as all the flavour is lost if it is burnt.

Those who want a meaty flavour can add 1 tbs of ground beef/lamb to the pot initially along with the rice, dal and other ingredients and follow the same method for the rest of the cooking.

Alternatively you may roast the ground meat in a just a little oil or butter, add ginger garlic paste, and then add the rest of the ingredients and pressure cook. Follow the rest from step 5. And when you do the tempering just brown the onions with the pepper corns and cloves only and add to the ganji.

Or add small fried meat balls and simmer for a while just before tempering.




Thursday, April 30, 2015

Oats with poached egg


I got tired of eating oats with milk and sugar, so tried this indianized oats recipe which my mom used to make, gave a twist to it and enjoyed it so much! I added my own home made yoghurt (which had turned a little sour) along with fresh curry leaves and chopped cilantro. The Poached egg in the oats was just perfect, so lip smackingly yummy and really satisfying to have it in the morning as your first meal of the day. It was also a very nutritious and healthy breakfast.

Try this recipe.

Ingredients:
Quick cooking Oats -  1/4 cup  (cooking time -1.5 mins)
Onion chopped - 1 tbs
Ginger garlic paste - 1/8 tsp (optional)
Green chilly deseeded (optional) - 1 very small
Curry leaves or mint (fresh) - 4 or 5
Cilantro (chopped) - 1 tsp
Yoghurt - 1 tbs (optional)
Egg - 1
Salt to taste
Water - 11/2 cups
Olive oil - 1 - 2 tsp

Method: 
1.Put the olive oil in a sauce pan on medium heat.
2. Add the chopped onion, curry leaves and the green chilly. You may omit the green chilly if you don't want it or add half of it. I added a very small one after removing the seeds just for the zing. It wasn't hot for me.
3. Fry till the onions turn translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste - a little just for its flavor, then the whipped yoghurt. You can make it without the ginger garlic paste and yoghurt too and it still tastes good.
4. Now add the water and let it come to a boil.
5. Add the oats, salt and chopped cilantro and let it cook for 2 mins.
6. Break the egg first into a small bowl then slide it slowly into the sauce pan with the runny oats.
7. Simmer for 2 more mins till the egg is poached to your choice - half done, well done or runny. I like it with the center still runny but the sides slightly done. Add a tablespoon of some sour yoghurt and chopped curry leaves as a final touch and enjoy!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Madrasi Vegetable Biryani

The pictures below show the vegetable biryani made at two different times with a slightly different technique. Adding the beetroot to the sauce colours all the vegetables and the rice as well, so it looks like beetroot colour all over. But if you layer the beetroot pieces on top of the rice it stands out like a jewel in the crown and makes the biryani more colourful and I prefer doing that. Also I feel a difference in flavour too though both are equally good.  I have shown both the methods below with pictures.






Ingredients:
Vegetable Oil - 1 cup
Cloves - 10
Green cardamoms - 10
Cinnamon sticks - 2 x 3"
Basumati rice - 5 cups
Onions - 5 medium to large size
Potatoes - 4 - 5
Peas - 1 1/2 cups
Carrot - 1large
Green beans - 2cups
kohlarabi - 1
Beetroot - 1 
Cauliflower florets - 2 cups
Plum tomatoes - 4 large 
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 cup
Yoghurt - 1 cup
Saffron - a pinch
Cilantro - 2 cups chopped
Mint - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 10
fresh lemon/lime juice - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method: 
Peel, wash and cut potatoes into big chunks. Peel carrots, kohlarabi and beetroot, wash them and cut into thin dices and keep them aside separately. Cut beans each into 2 pieces. Separate cauliflower florets, wash, towel dry and keep aside. 

Deep fry all the vegetables separately except the beetroot as it colours the oil. 

Pre soak the basumathi rice for half an hour, after rinsing in several changes of water until clear. For golden sela rice, it has to be soaked for 2- 4 hours.



1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot. Add the whole spices - 10 cloves, 10 green cardamoms, and 2x 3" cinnamon sticks. 
  
2. Peel, wash and slice 5 large onions and add them to the pot
.

3. Fry the onions on medium heat till they are golden brown.


4. Add ginger garlic paste, turmeric and red chilly powder. 


5. Add green chillies and tomatoes.


6.Turn over and cook till they soften a bit.


 7. Add yoghurt and mix well.



8. Add a few mint leaves. 


9. Add chopped fresh cilantro.

10. Meanwhile fry all the vegetables separately and the beetroot at the end, otherwise it will color them all. Do not fry the peas.


11. Add all the fried vegetables and green peas.


12. Sprinkle 1 tsp lemon juice, adjust the salt and mix all the vegetables well with the saiuce gently. 


13. Pre soak basumathi rice for 1/2 an hour. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the basumathi rice and 2 -3tbs salt. Cook for a few minutes till the grains become just a little soft on the outside but still gritty when you press them between your index finger and thumb (you should keep checking from time to time). At this stage you should drain the rice to the last drop


14. Transfer all the contents of the pot (the sauce with the vegetables) to the roaster and place it in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade. 


15. Immediately layer the drained rice on top of the sauce in the roaster simmering in the oven.


16. Add the fresh mint and coriander.
                                                                                                  

17. Add a pinch of edible orange food colouring on one side and mix it with a little rice as seen in the picture.


18. Sprinkle the coloured rice on top of the white rice. Add the saffron milk. Close the roaster lid and steam in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade for 10 mins.


19. Remove from the oven when done and let it settle for 5 mins. Then open the lid and mix the rice with a round or flat spatula gently starting from the bottom and then folding in with the rice on top.

20. Mix well till all the white rice is coated with the sauce. Now close the lid and put it back into the hot oven for 5 more mins.  The vegetable biryani is now ready to eat. Serve hot with onion yoghurt chutney and enjoy!

Tips:

1.  It is very important to use good quality long grain basumathi rice which has been aged.

2 Adding the beetroot pieces along with the other vegetables to the sauce colours the rice and all the vegetables in it as you can see in the picture. If you want it coloured it is fine. But I prefer adding the beetroot pieces as a layer on top of the rice, which makes them stand out like a jewel in the crown.

Take a look at the pictures here after step 10:

11. Add all the vegetables except the beetroot pieces. Mix well


12. Add fresh lemon juice, mix well then transfer the sauce with the vegetables to a roaster and place it in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade. 


13. Now top the vegetable sauce in the roaster with a layer of 3/4 cooked basumathi rice, then put all the beetroot pieces on top of the rice. 


14. Add another thin layer of rice over the beetroot pieces. Throw in some fresh mint leaves and lots of chopped cilantro. Colour a little of the rice in the corner of the roaster with edible natural food colouring and sprinkle the coloured rice all over the top layer which makes it look so decorative and colourful. Finally sprinkle a few drops of saffron milk (saffron dissolved in milk) here and there as the last finishing touch before closing the lid on the roaster. Let it steam in the oven preheated at 375 degrees centigrade for 10 mins. 



15. Remove the roaster from the oven when you get an aroma of the biryani which means it is done. Do not open the lid immediately as you could burn your face - it is steaming hot! let it sit for at least 5 minutes so all the juices get absorbed. Then wear your kitchen gloves and slowly open the lid little by little, while keeping your face away from it. Take a flat or round spatula and gently turn over the rice from the bottom to mix it. Start from one side of the roaster and as you turn the rice over the sauce from the bottom, mix well lightly and gently and enjoy!

As it is vegetable biryani you can mix all the biryani in the roaster, then reheat again before serving. With all the other biryanis it is not recommended. It is better to mix only as much as you want to serve, as there is a tendency for the meat pieces to break. But the foremost thing is to mix gently and carefully with a flat spatula. Also it cools down fast as all the steam comes out if you mix everything all at once. Everyone loves to eat steaming hot biryani, so we mix when we serve and keep the lid closed.