Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Holidays! And a short Break...

I'm all set for leaving to India tomorrow for 4 weeks! Will be taking a break from blogging for a few weeks. I will definitely miss you all, but hopefully I'll get some time from there to read all your yummy recipes and posts from there once in a few days. And hoping to learn some new recipes too from mom and sisters...

Before my vacation, I just wanted to quickly post this pineapple cake that my husband made! I usually stay away from oven and hardly bake any cakes, except making chocolate chip cookies once in a while. Somehow, I enjoy the store-bought cakes rather than making my own :) I prefer stove-top cooking rather than baking. Give me a pan and pressure cooker, I will be happily cooking forever :) I get timid about baking cakes perhaps because of so many careful steps involved like pre-heating, pre-coating the pan, timings, batter consistency etc.. and most likely I'm going to mess up atleast one step :) So, I cheer up myself that I'd rather buy the readymade cakes from stores and enjoy it to the fullest, instead of undergoing the hazzle. But this holiday season, I was seriously tempted to try baking some holiday treats in the oven, after seeing many of my blogger friends rocking with super dishes fresh from the oven. Those soft and yummy looking cakes that I see in many blogs are indeed a lure to me, and they often stare at me as if they are challenging me with my cooking skills :)

Fortunately, my husband is interested in experimenting different cake varieties, and thats his only interest in the kitchen :) While I was debating about my baking "kick-off" this year, my hubby came forward to bake his favorite Pineapple Cake for Christmas and I too didn't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen because of my India trip preparation. With that as an excuse, I gave up my baking challenge this time too.. Hopefully someday I'll make it!

We all enjoy his pineapple cake that he makes often and its a hit in our family circle too. This is an easy to bake cake recipe and does not take more that 20 minutes for preparation and about 35 minutes baking time. His American friend once brought it to work and from that time on, it has been one of our favorite cakes. The natural sweetness and juices from the pineapple is what makes it really special.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ( 20 oz. ) can crushed pineapple, un-drained.
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Procedure:

  • Beat the eggs
  • Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, add beaten eggs, crushed pineapple, and nutsand pour into a greased shallow pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes

His Recommendations:

  • Add another 1/4 cup extra sugar but as mentioned above, sweatness for the cake comes from the pineapple.
  • Do not bake it over 40 minutes. This helps maintain the juicyness for the cake.
  • Use only crushed pineapple un-drained (with the juice in the can) and not chopped.
  • Rest the cake overnight before for the best taste.
  • Use Parchment Paper to lift this off easily.
  • While you make it for the second time, you can get creative and add finely chopped dates, raisns and other nuts if you like them.

Enjoy!

Wish you all a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spicy Egg Masala


I'm going off the grid! Next week, around this time I will be flying to India! My long planned trip is finally around the corner. After booking my tickets what seems like a lifetime ago (actually in June), its now only a week more! I am excited. No matter howmuch ever we blend with the country and life-style here, going to India is always exciting! After all thats where I grew up! I love it when people around me speak the same language I do. That brings a sense of comfort to me. After a long time we all sisters are meeting together and have several things planned during our stay there. Hoping to have some great family time, do lots of shopping, enjoy home-made meals as well as my favorite Street foods!

I've been on my toes this week (shopping and packing) and still have a lot to do before I'm ready to leave. Hence didn't have time to cook anything elaborate in the kitchen and have been managing with some quick meals for dinner this week. Slowly have started emptying the refregirator too. During times like these, eggs are really handy to make a quick meal. A few days before, my sister was asking me for some new spicy egg recipes for a change as she was done trying all the egg recipes from my blog. To be honest, I ran out of egg recipes and I myself have been on the lookout for new recipes already. After my sister's demand, I scoured the internet for recipes, glimpsed through a couple of cookbooks and finally narrowed down a few egg recipes that looked and sounded interesting to me. I have quite a few bookmarked too but finally settled down to make this spicy egg masala that I got from Aayi's recipes, that looked scrumptious and super delicious in the picture. And ofcourse simple too! What I like about this recipe is, the eggs don't require lot of stir-fry because the spice mixture is cooked separately and ground into a paste before it gets stuffed into the eggs. So a quick seasoning and a stir-fry of the stuffed eggs makes it very easy. You can find the original recipe here too.


Ingredients:
  • Eggs - 4
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Ginger-Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 5
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander seeds - 2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Corriander leaves - hand full.
Procedure:
  • Boil the eggs, remove the shell and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, season with Cumin, cinnamon, cloves. Once they pop, add corriander seeds. Saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add, onions, ginger/garlic paste and fry for a couple of mins. Add chilli powder, salt and fry for a min. Cool and grind the above mixture to a smooth paste.
  • Slit the eggs vertically half-way ( don't cut them fully) and stuff the spice paste in each of the eggs.
  • In the same pan, heat more oil and season with curry leaves and corriander leaves.
  • Now add the eggs and the remaining paste, if any, and saute gently until the eggs are coated with the oil properly.
  • Cover for a few mins in medium to low heat. Then increase heat and stir-fry for a min. Remove from heat.
Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winter Melon Dosa with Onion-Ginger Chutney

Is the thanksgiving week over already? It seems like just a day ago I was looking forward to the 4 day weekend with lot of things planned and now can't believe it flew off so fast! Though I was looking forward to this holiday, my excitement for the weekend disappeared after hearing the Mumbai horror. It was heartbreaking to see so many innocent people being killed by some crazy bunch of people. To watch it live on TV was even more terrifying. Would we ever be able to defeat the evil and anti-social element called Terrorism once for all? My thoughts and prayers go for all the victims' families affected in this tragedy and hats off to all those commandos who did a terrific job in saving many lives.

I know I've not posted anything for more than a week now. The downside of a holiday weekend is that it makes it so hard to get back to routine after that. We had our friend's family visiting us last weekend and that kept us busy for all 4 days. We were continously out-of-doors moving around the city and had a hectic, but good time. Well, after the weekend, it has taken me a couple of days to recuperate my mood for my usual schedule. Its hard to keep up any kind of routine during holidays and I've been lazing around for a couple of days even after the holiday was over. I am here finally with yet another of my favorite recipe.

I had big plans for cooking while they were here, but nothing really got accomplished. Sometimes, no matter how well I plan my menu ahead, they all end up in vain and I wind up making my own decisions in the last minute. Especially, when we have outdoor plans, nothing gets executed per schedule. This weekend was like that. In spite of having my well-planned menu (atleast thats what I thought), I hardly followed it. But, one good thing is I learnt some new recipes from my good friend who visited us. She is a great cook and I always loved her healthy and authentic recipes! One of the most exciting moments in the kitchen for me is learning new recipes by watching the experts actually do it! I happened to see quite a few recipes like that and can't wait to try each of them on my own.

Have you ever had Poosanikkai Dosai (Ash gourd Dosai)? If you haven’t, don’t worry. I hadn't either until a few days before. And I don't think I'm overstating when I say that its now become one of my favorite dishes! There are several reasons for liking this dish, first of all the batter doesn't require fermentation and can be used immediately. Second, the fact that we're consuming a vegetable too along with dosa. Third and most important, if I have to like a recipe, it has to be simple :) And this is really a simple dish! I learnt this recipe from my friend over the weekend, and today I tried for the first time on my own. My first instinct when I heard about this dish was a bit of surprise that we could combine Poosanikai with Dosa! All I had known to do before with this vegetable was koottu and sambar. But ever since I heard about this recipe, I couldn't wait to try it eventhough I was a little nervous about the dosa batter consistency etc. Fortunately it turned out very good and crispy. A special thanks to my good friend for sharing such a nice recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Winter Melon (Vellai Poosani/Ash Gourd) - 2 cups (peeled, deseeded & chopped into 1 inch cubes)
  • Raw rice - 1.5 cups
  • Urad dal - 2 tbsp
  • Methi seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Yogurt - 1/2 cup (if its not sour enough, you need 1 cup)
Procedure
  • Soak the rice, dal and methi seeds overnight.
  • First grind the winter melon to a smooth paste along with a little salt. Set aside.
  • Then grind the soaked ingredients with some more salt and mix it with the melon paste. You can also add the melon paste to this mixture and give it a round in the blender, so that they are now mixed thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add the yogurt and then sufficient water to make it to a dosa batter consistency. The batter shouldn't be thick nor too thin. You are now ready to start making dosas!
We enjoyed this with a yummy Onion-ginger chutney. I learnt this chutney also from my same friend and the combination was heavenly. Here is the chutney recipe:



Ingredients:

  • Onion - 1 medium
  • R.chillies - 4
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Chana dal - 1 tbsp
  • Tamarind paste - 1/2 tsp
  • Shredded coconut - 1/2 cup

Procedure:

  • Heat 2 tsp oil and add mustard seeds first. Once they pop, add the chana dal and fry until it turns light brown.
  • Add R.chillies, Onions, Ginger, Tamarind paste and Coconut one by one in the specified order and fry each of them for about a min.
  • Grind the mixture along with salt to a thick paste. Yummy Onion-Ginger chutney is ready!

You can also season with mustard seeds before serving, but thats just optional. Goes well with idlis/dosas.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kashmiri Pulao - A colorful gourmet


I don't know how many of you are like me, but I'm happy to be a late-night person rather than an early morning person. Yes, I really am. Early mornings are just too arduous for me. I feel that I can rule the world during late nights, but never in the morning. I get so much work done during late nights - it could be either office work, or some planning for house-hold stuffs or even my favorite blogging! I can go on working while the whole world is sleeping. I feel so calm and peaceful when the house is quiet with zero distractions. Even if I am up early (sometimes I do out of necessity), I end up being so busy that I hardly get any quiet time without upheaval. This may sound ridiculous, but I've to tell that I even postpone somethings to late night though I may have some time during the day, because I know I can certainly do that same task better in the night.

Conversely, my husband is an early morning person. He gets up before the sun rises (god knows what he does that early) and takes off to work showing up 15 mins early everyday. I wonder how people do that. I've seen people waking up in the dark, jog around in the neighborhood, scaring the birds. They continue to amaze me. He says I'm lazy when he tries to wake me up early and I'm reluctant to do so, and I tell him he's lazy when he literally yawns every minute at 7 pm :) We know that we both are not lazy or crazy, but just don't fit in the same time zone.

Well, with that been said, today ironically I'm posting this recipe early in the morning :) Not that I've changed suddenly, but it all happened by itself. Its 6.30 am on a working day. My daughter is still sleeping. Before she gets ready for school, I felt like giving her some more time to sleep as she had a rough night because of her stuffy nose. I woke up seeing a snowy morning today! Its absolutely refreshing to watch those flurries through our windows, and the white snow covering our patio tables, chairs and the little plants in our patio! Its also intimidating to see a snowfall in November which is unusual in my area. But that didn't stop me from enjoying its beauty. In the next few mins, I settled down with a hot cup of coffee and my laptop to draft this post.

Ok, with just a few mins left for my morning routine to start, let me jump to the recipe now. I made this tasty, colorful dish over the weekend. I found it in my treasure book - the collection of recipes that mom had written for me when I got married. I made this for the first time and I still don't know how I missed this incredibly simple yet flavorful rice dish for so many years. The fresh fruits are a great addition and gives a fresh and rich taste to the rice. We all loved it and had a wonderful dinner enjoying this with Paneer Makhani.

This goes for SriValli's Rice Mela.
Ingredients:
  • Basmati Rice - 2 cups
  • Saffron - 1 pinch
  • Onion - 1 medium (chopped)
  • G. chillies - 4 small
  • Cashews - 20 pieces
  • Raisins - as needed
  • Green Peas - 1/2 cup
  • Black or Brown seedless grapes - 1/2 cup (chopped)
  • Pomegranate seeds - 3 tbsps
  • Cinnamon - half inch pieces - 2
  • Cloves - 3
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Ghee/oil - 3 tbsps
Procedure:
  • Cook the Basmati rice and spread it in a large plate or any flat surface to avoid sticking.
  • Cook the mixed vegetables of your choice (avoid potatoes) separately and set aside. I used only green peas and microwaved it.
  • In a large wok, heat ghee/oil fry the cashews and raisins and remove them to a plate retaining the oil.
  • In the same oil, season with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
  • When they pop, add onions, g.chillies and saute for a few mins until onions become soft.
  • Now add the cooked vegetables, saute for a few more mins.
  • Add cooked rice, saffron, salt and mix well gently for 5 mins. Finally add the fresh fruits, half of the roasted cashews and raisins and mix well. The original recipes says to add 2 - 3 tbsps of cream at this point to make it rich. I didn't, but it still came out perfect.
  • Turn off heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining cashews and raisins.
Its definitely a party food, as it has more color as well as flavor and practically goes with any curry!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Colocasia (Seppankilangu) fry


I somehow believe that strange and interesting coincidences definitely add spice to life. Recently, I've been experiencing this quite frequently :) A few months before, I happened to meet my school friend after 20 years! When I saw her in our local temple, ofcourse I took a few mins to recognize her, but as soon as I recognized her, I couldn't stop myself intruding in her discussion with her friend and ask her if she identified me. Thank goodness she did! It's indeed a great feeling bumping into an old friend several miles away from home after decades! Especially, its a delight to see them married, with kids, and with those extra few pounds :) We had so much to catch-up about our life, spouses, kids etc and it made me go back to the era that I used to treasure. Its definitely exciting to recall those moments with someone who shared those good old days with me..

Then, a day last week.. Since morning, I was thinking to call another friend of mine and say hello to her since it's been a while talking to her. She recently had a baby and hence I wanted to check on the baby especially. I guessed she was probably quite busy with her little one and hence didn't have time for our usual chit-chats. So after a quick dinner, I settled down on the couch to call her. Strangely, when I took the phone to call her, I received a call from her in the same minute! I was surprised and I thought it was really strange and funny. The fact that the same person you are about to call is giving you a call in the same second is something quite mysterious and interesting to me. Don't you all think so too?

Well, Another one today.. (Can you beleive it?!) During my usual debate of what to cook for dinner tonight, I found this colocasia lying in my fridge for about a week and hence settled down to make it today. I remembered this superb dish that my mother-in-law makes. Everybody loves this dish in our family and I somehow think I still can't match her exact taste and typically avoid making it. But today, for some reason I was in a mood to make this adorable dish for dinner (and to my contentment it came out great today) and after dinner I happened to have a casual chat with my mother-in-law over phone. I was surprised to know that she had made the same dish today for lunch! In fact, she also did mention that she actually made it today after quite a few years, because it used to be my hubby's favorite and nowadays she had no interest in making this dish just for herself and my father-in-law. Different minds thinking alike and some interesting coincidences like these astonish me often and make me wonder if that so called "telepathy" really is true.. :)

Alright... coming back from the high realms of ESP and philosophy, this dish is a deep-fry dish that may take a few extra minutes, but I firmly believe that the taste it offers is simple irresistible. After deep-frying, it gets tossed in a simple spice mixture that adds an immense flavor to the dish. May be ideal for a sunday lunch when you have those few extra minutes to spare.

Ingredients:

  • Colacasia (Seppankilangu) - 6 medium
  • Onions - 1/2 medium sized, chopped
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds and Urad dal - 1/2 tsp each
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Oil - for deep frying.

Procedure:

  • Pressure cook the colacasia until its well cooked. Please be cautious not to overcook as it may completely mess up this dish. I've done this mistake a few times.
  • Slice them into round pieces and deep fry in oil in 2 or 3 batches until they become crispy. They may not turn completely crispy but you'll see atleast the outer layer turning golden brown and crispy. Wrap them up in a paper napkin and drain the excess oil.
  • Remove the oil from the pan retaining just a tsp of hot oil . Season with mustard seeds and urad dal.
  • Add finely chopped onions and curry leaves and fry for a min.
  • Then add the tomatoes, chilli powder and salt and fry until the tomatoes lose shape.
  • Then add the fried colocasia and mix well. Cover for 2 mins and mix one more time.
  • Remove from heat.

Goes well with any rice dish.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Paneer Malabari


Though I have a busy schedule throughout the week, I feel there should always be time for delicious food and family meals. Inspite of having diverse activities in the day, I somehow think that eating together at the end of the day is important. Cooking is one of my favorite relaxation therapies and though it may make me tired physically after a long busy day, it definitely rejuvenates me mentally - even if I prepare a quick meal for just 3 of us. I believe that a busy life-style doesn't have anything to compromise on healthy and tasty food. Yes, my busy life too demands quick and easy meals but I can never give up on flavours. I'm personally not fond of bland foods, and have a tendency to spice up any dish by adding my own touches. Well, its just not about adding that extra "chilli" kick to spice it up, but more than that, the flavour is the most wonderful thing that I can anticipate in a dish.

Needless to say, the way we cook food nowadays have also changed dramatically. While growing up, I'm used to watching the home-made masalas ground and prepared fresh for everyday meals. Now its a world of ready-made spice powders and ready-made masala pastes. Yet, I strongly believe that adding a little bit of right spice and making some simple tweaks, can make any dish come out delicious.

I also have to admit that our tastes and likings also change quite a bit in these recent years. Atleast mine have changed a lot. There are several reasons for that - having the opportunity to indulge in different cuisines at restaurants or during travel, developing the interest to try new recipes etc. One of the startling reasons that I feel is, coming across different recipes for the same dish! This is something incredible that always throws me off! I'm sure we all of us have experienced this in our life... It could be through friends during a party, or through internet, blogs etc. Its amazing to learn how a neat little twist to our favorite recipe that we've loved and grew up with, brings a whole new flavor. This actually inspires me to try new flavors at home too and indirectly helps my taste-buds adapt to new flavors.

Well, this is one such dish that adds a whole new twist with paneer. During my childhood, Paneer was a delicacy. Mom used to make it rarely and whenever she made it, there were no leftovers. Though nowadays its no longer a delicacy in our household, I've only made and tasted Paneer with traditional north-indian spices and have never thought it will get along with coconut too. The first time I came across this recipe (I believe from a TV show), I was a little intimidated making it. But it didn't disappoint me and the dish came out incredibly tasty and very unique! The ingredients list may seem to be longer, but all of them are fairly common and are tossed in as a paste.

Ingredients:

  • Paneer - 25 cubes
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Tomato Puree - 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Curd - 1/4 cup
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Raisins - a few
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full
For the paste

  • Cashews - 6 full (or 15 broken pieces)
  • Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Kasakasa - 1 tbsp (soaked in water for 10 mins)
  • G.Chillies - 2 small
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 3 medium pods
Procedure:

  • Dry fry Cumin seeds, cardamom. Then add the shredded coconut and dry fry for a few more mins. Grind these together with g.chillies, ginger, garlic, cashews and soaked kasakasa to a smooth paste.
  • Heat oil in a pan and season with cinnamon, cloves.
  • Add chopped onions and fry for a few mins.
  • Add tomato puree and all spice powders. Mix well and cover for 5 mins in medium heat.
  • Add the ground paste and salt. Fry for 3 - 4 mins or cover for 5 more mins.
  • Now add paneer cubes, raisins and curd. Stir well and boil for some more time.
  • Finally add corriander leaves and remove from heat.
Serve hot with Rotis/Parathas.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spicy SweetPotato Fry, Awards and MEME


Alright, yet another post without my garrulous and chatty talks. This time I have a long list of awards and MEME's to share. Sorry friends, you all have been so nice in sharing these awards with me, but I know I'm just too late in posting them. I got hooked up in posting the recipes than posting my awards and before I postpone it any further I have to do it today. So, I just want to quickly post a simple yet a flavorful recipe that I made today and move on to my awards and MEMEs.

The first time I read this sweet potato recipe in a magazine, I was a little hesitant to make this as I'd never made any dish with sweet-potatoes by that time. Just out of curiosity I made it and it turned out wonderful! I absolutely loved the blend of sweet flavor mixed with vibrant spice flavours. After a few more trials it has now taken a permanant place in my cookbook. Its light, its flavorful and its simple.

Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes - 2 cups (cooked, peeled and chopped into cubes)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal/Ulundham paruppu - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

For the powder: (feel free to adjust the spice level according to your taste)

Corriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Chana dal/kadalai paruppu- 1/2 tbsp
Urad dal/Ulundham paruppu - 1/2 tbsp
Red Chillies - 4 to 5

Procedure:
  • In a pan, fry the ingredients mentioned for the powder with 1/2 tsp of oil and powder them finely.
  • Heat more oil in the same pan and season with mustard seeds, urad dal.
  • Once the mustard seeds pop, add turmeric and asafoetida. Fry for 10 secs.
  • Add the cooked & cubed sweet potaotes, salt and fry for 2 - 3 mins in medium heat.
  • Now add the spice powder and mix well. Cover for 2 mins in medium heat and fry for 3 more mins.
  • Remove from heat.
We enjoy this with dal/rice.

MEME: Its Meme time! Deesha had tagged me with this 7 facts about myself and here they are Deesha!

Since I've been already talking a lot about my food likings and opinions in my posts regularly, I will stay away from my food facts in this MEME :)

1. I am a late night person and my brain works the best only late evenings. All my blogging and any serious planning activities happen only when I'm done with my regular duties and the house is super quiet like a haunted house.

2. I am not a big fan of reading books and mostly stay away from big novels, although I like to quickly glance on some of my favorite magazines.

3. I love to be alone once in a while and engross in the world of my own. I think solitude is my best companion many times.

4. I am fond of music, mostly melodies, and have a huge collection of MP3 songs. I enjoy the song lyrics as much as I enjoy the music in the song and surprisingly, I happen to know the lyrics for the majority of these songs! I learned classical music during my childhood, and after several years, my forgotten passion is back and I'm now learning classical music again from a professional teacher...


5. I'm a shopping freak, especially with apparels. My closet is always full with latest tops, pants, salwars etc. While writing this I am realizing that last two months I haven't been shopping much.. Hmmm, need to catch up!


6. I am not that good in waiting for things to happen on its own. I quickly run out of patience and need things to happen right away. I am working on it, but I also have to say that my tendency of impatience helps me in winding down things faster without postponing..

7. I'm addicted to Sudoku and have finished almost 3 books (over 300 puzzles) in just 1 month. Don't know how long this addiction will last..


Alright, now awards time!
Bhawana, Kitchen Flavours and JZ have passed me the Brilliante Weblog Award:
Vani and Srilekha passed me the "Beautiful Site Award":




Kitchen Flavours has passed me this "Friendship Blend Award":


Suma and Madhavi have passed me this "Good Job Award".



And last but not least - Vani, Purva, Raaji and Gita have passed me this "Butterfly Award".


Thank you soooo much to each one of you for thinking about me and sharing your award with me. With so many good friends around me in my blogging world, its hard for me to pick only a few people to pass these awards. I'm sure all of you have already recieved it. If you have not received it, feel free to grab them from here.. :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Having a feast?

Moong Dal Ladoos, Kalakand ..

Ribbon Pakodas

This is a short and sweet post.. No rambling or blah-blahs this time.. Just extending my previous post and just wanted to quickly post my snacks and sweets that I made for Diwali... I made Moong Dal Ladoos, Kalakand and Savory flat Pakodas. Hope you all had a wonderful Diwali!

Kalakand:

I love this sweet since it tastes very similar to my favorite Paalkova and I was excited to see the recipe for it when Cham posted it in her blog a while before. I decided to try it for Diwali and it just came so good! My hubby loved it and he was complaining that I made too little :) I made Cham's stove top version. Thanks Cham, for posting such a wonderful recipe!

Mix 1 can of condensed milk, equal measure of home made paneer, and 4-5 cardamom pods together. Heat this mixture in a pan and bring it to boil, then reduce the heat and keep stirring for about 10 mins. You will notice that the mixture will start thickening and finally tend to separate from the pan. Pour this in a greased pan and top it with chopped nuts of your choice. Let it cool and cut into your desired shapes.

Moong Dal Laddoos:

Roast 1 cup of moong dal (yellow) in a pan. Let it cool. Meanwhile grind 1/2 cup of sugar and 4-5 cardamom pods to a fine powder. Transfer to a wide bowl. Then grind the roasted moong dal to a fine powder too. Mix it with the sugar powder. Roast some cashews in 1 tsp ghee and add it to the mixture. Then add 1/4 cup of hot ghee and mix well. Make laddoos while the mixture is still warm.

Ribbon Pakkodas:

Mix 2 tbsps of water with 1 tbsp of garlic paste, strain and save the water. Discard the pulp. Then mix 1 cup of besan (gram flour/kadala mavu), 2 tbsp butter, 1 tsp chilli powder, garlic extract and salt with water and make a dough similar to a chapathi flour consistency. Fill the Murukku maker (fix the appropriate lid) with this dough and squeeze small circles into hot oil and deep fry.

Sending these dishes to Priti's Festive Food: Diwali, Srivalli's JFI Festival Food - Diwali.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Paneer Kheer and Diwali Wishes!


I'm a believer in finding excitement even in trivial stuffs. I keep looking for reasons to celebrate even if there doesn't seem to be one. Actually this is a quality that we all sisters share in our family. We have a good time even if we get together for some time and switch ourselves to a celebration mode. One of the many advantages of growing up with 3 sisters is instant entertainment! Our house was never quiet when we grew up and no one was never alone at home. I remember those lively evenings at hour house, after we come back from school/colleges everyday. Dinner time was the time for all of us to catch up on everyone's news. Each one of us had a story to share from our school and college everyday. And the interesting part was, mom used to actively participate in these conversations! She never gets bored with our silly stories and even with our so called "complains" about school. And in fact, she maintained and still maintains the same kind of relationship with all our friends who visit our place. That's one of the reasons that our home was the regular meeting place for a number of friends.

Now after many years, while everyone has spreaded out from home and live in remote places, I can sense the silence in our house. Mom and dad especially can sense it often and every now and then they express about it when we converse over phone. Diwali is one such occasion that we all miss terribly. Naturally, its wonderful to celebrate Diwali! Wearing new clothes, oil bath, fire crackers, special programs in TV and best of all delicious food and yummy sweets... Hmm, I really wish I was in India for Diwali every year and enjoy as much as possible, but unfortunately, that isn't the case. Its been years since we celebrated Diwali together as a family in India.

Well, change is inevitable and we all know about it. And fortunately that same quality still continues in us and often we catch-up over phone nowadays. We do our three-way/conference calls to get everyone on line and have fun talking about many things. Surprisingly even now, we never get tired of our never ending chitchats. Also, when we visit India everytime we make sure we celebrate every little occassion to make it a pleasurable experience.

A couple of days before I successfully finished a mini home project and I felt that I deserved a pat on my back. Perhaps because of the way I was brought up, I still find reasons to rejoice even in day-to-day minor happenings. So, I made this Paneer Kheer! This kheer is a winner in our family. Especially if my daughter loves it, then it has to be a real winner! I happened to read this recipe from a cookbook recently and I made it for the first time a couple of days before when I had to finish off the left over paneer in my freezer. After a while, I was enjoying this delicious kheer and I just loved it so much that I had 3 servings (yes, I am a dessert freak!) continuously and almost finished it before my hubby and daughter had even tasted it. As a result, I had to make more paneer at home the same night and made this kheer again the next day. All of them loved it as much as I did! I have to tell you its evil and rich :) Quite similar in taste to Basundi, but takes much lesser time than Basundi.


WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY DEEPAVALI!


Ingredients:

  • Condensed Milk - 1/2 can
  • Whole Milk - 3 cups
  • Grated Paneer - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup (or as required)
  • Cardamom - crushed - 1 tsp
  • Ghee - 1 tbsp
  • Cashews and raisins - a few
Procedure:
  • Heat the whole milk in a wide pan and let it boil.
  • Add the condensed milk and stir well. Let it boil and taste for sugar. If the sweetness from the condensed milk is not enough, you can add 1/2 cup sugar and stir it gently.
  • Cover and boil in low heat for about 10 - 15 mins.
  • The mixture should not be too watery and should be like any other kheer texture.
  • Now add the grated paneer, crushed cardamoms and boil for 10 more mins in low heat.
  • Finally add Cashews and raisins after roasting in ghee.
  • Remove from heat and let it rest for an hour.
Serve warm or chilled.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Methi Malai Matar - a green delight


As much as I love to cook and eat comfort food, I love to cook and enjoy party food as well. Great parties begin with great food, as food is the main spotlight of many parties. Preparing a party food is another form of amusement to me since it gives me an opportunity to try some colourful dishes that look fantastic on the table. It sure also gives me a chance to try those special dishes that can't be prepared on a daily basis, but still certainly deserve a spot on the table for special occasions or even for a casual evening party. But it certainly requires some level of planning, well ahead. I definitely enjoy hosting parties and having some great time with friends, yet can't take any last minute surprises. Everything has to be pre-planned. I prepare the menu atleast a couple of days before, so that I can plan for grocery shopping, if any, as well as manage my cooking time efficiently.

But I have to admit that though I enjoy cooking for a party, it is definitely an exhausting day for me many times. I often recall those days when I grew up in India, and wonder how do they cook such an elaborate south indian feast with very little help and still manage to serve with a smile in their face! I probably would have turned cranky by that time! For that reason, I avoid spending a lot of time in the kitchen on the day of my party and usually finish all my chopping, soaking and my pressure cooking tasks the previous day, so that they are ready to be just seasoned or stir-fried on the party day.

Two kinds of people make any party very special - those who love to cook and those who love to eat! Last weekend, we had some good friends come over to my place for dinner with their families. It was a fabulous evening and I was quite happy that everything went as planned. All of them are in my close knit friends circle, and like me, they are food lovers too :) So we always feel free in each others presence and are unfussy about food as well. And the best part is that we all get inquisitive about good food and happily exchange our secret recipes ;-) Even a slight variation to our regular food could give such a fantastic twist to the entire dish and thats something I'm always willing to learn from others.

Alright, about the recipe.. For the party, one of the veg curries I'd made was Methi malai matar. I often make it at home too whenever I am in the mood for something different. But this recipe undoubtedly looks great on a party table, especially if you can decorate with a twist of cream on the top. Fresh methi leaves are ideal, but you can use kasuri methi (dried methi leaves) as well, and comes out as great as the fresh leaves. I love the slight bitterness of the methi leaves combined with the sweet taste from the peas. Very simple and flavorful recipe.

This entry goes for EasyCrafts "WYF - Party food" event.

Ingredients:
  • Peas - 1.5 cup
  • Chopped Methi leaves - 1/2 cup
  • Curd - 2 tbsp
  • Cream - 1/2 cup
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Green chillies - 2
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Corriander seeds - 1 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
Procedure:

  • Grind the ginger, garlic and g.chillies together. Set aside.
  • Boil the peas with some salt and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with cumin seeds. Crush the corriander seeds slightly and add this to the oil.
  • Add the chopped onions and fry for a few mins. Then add the ginger, garlic and g.chillies paste and fry well for a couple mins.
  • Add methi leaves or kasuri methi and fry well for until the methi leaves lose shape.
  • Add the spice powders, salt and mix well.
  • Add curd and fry for 2 mins. Cover and let it cook for 3 - 4 mins.
  • Now add the cooked peas, some water and let it boil for 2 - 3 mins.
  • Finally add the cream and mix well. Remove from heat.

Serve with rotis.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fish Pulav


Well.. October is definitely an Autumn month in my place, but last few days have been quite sunny and pleasant. My sandals and skirts haven't gone into my boxes yet fully, and keep hopping out now and then. I have no complaints about these warm days in Autumn, I'm just saying that weather is so unpredictable these days. Actually I was so thrilled to get back into my summer outfits last week and I had the luxury to enjoy the little summer pleasures like.. taking my daughter for a bike ride, having the windows rolled down in my car while driving, etc. etc. But, its all going to be over in a day or two. Chilly Autumn days are on their way back by the end of this week. But as I said before, I love Autumn too! Every season is special in its own way..

Over the weekend, I had the good luck to get some time to clean up my freezer. I recently realized that my freezer was getting crowded and that it definitely required some sorting, but didn't expect that I will do it right away. Sometimes, just a few minutes is all that is required to put things in order, But we don't realize that until we finish doing it. A pile of paper will soon become a tower of terror for me! Thats even more haunting! Now I've learnt that before even it terrifies me, I better fix it. Thats what forced me to attend to my freezer this weekend :) While cleaning up my freezer, I noticed that there were some Tuna Steaks waiting for my attention. I had bought them a couple of weeks before to make fish curry, but then last week I happened to taste an awesome fish curry from my good friend at her place! That will definitely keep me going for the next few weeks and so I dropped my plan for making fish curry at home. But yet I had to make something with this Tuna before it goes useless and here I am with this fish Pulav!

This is yet another spur of the moment dinner inspired purely by what I had in my freezer. Just a bunch of spices thrown together to make something edible. There are days when you need to improvise and be creative with what you have, but I also have to say that self-tried recipes, many times turn out perfectly to end up in trash. But I knew I cannot mess up with this one because fish can practically go with any spices and ofcourse rice! Yet another simple recipe that uses simple ingredients and can be done in a short time. So, here goes the recipe.. hope you all like it too...

Ingredients:
  • Cooked rice - 1 cup
  • Cooked and shredded Tuna - 1/2 cup
  • Onions - 3 tbsp (minced)
  • Minced ginger and garlic mixture - 1 tbsp
  • G.chillies - 2
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - tsp
  • Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Curry leaves a few
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full
Procedure:
  • To cook the tuna, I leave it in microwave for 3 mins. Then shred it and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with cinnamon and cloves. Then add onions and g.chillies and fry for a few mins until onion turns to a golden brown color.
  • Add the chopped ginger and garlic and fry for a few mins.
  • Add curry leaves and corriander leaves and fry for a few more mins.
  • Add the shredded tuna, all spice powders and salt and fry in low heat for about 5 mins. I cover for 2 mins and cook so that the raw smell from fish goes away.
  • Then add the cooked rice, mix gently in low heat.
  • Cover for a few more mins and mix well once more.
Yummy fish pulav is ready. Serve with Raita.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Banana Sweet Appam


What happens after a looong tiring two weeks, when you get some spare time, absolutely nothing to do?? Sleep peacefully? Watch a movie? My house was quiet this evening as my hubby and my daughter were off to a birthday party. I didn't feel like joining them as I needed some time for myself after yet another exhausting work week. I relaxed a bit and then I managed to annoy a very good friend of mine over the phone for an hour (hope she forgives me!) as we had a lot to catch up. While I was done with that, what else I can do? Ofcourse, Blogging!

When I was a kid, I was not too thrilled about snacks or sweets. Just the word snacks were good enough to lose my interest. Everyone in my family and friends circle seemed to enjoy all kinds of snacks no matter however they taste. I liked may be one or two sweets, but savory snacks were far from my liking. Sometimes I used to wonder, if snacks were the only food on earth, what would I have chosen? And my answer was always "Laddoo". My only preferred sweet since childhood and my liking still continues. I can enjoy anything and everything that turns out being a laddoo. I am definitely convinced that our taste buds change as we grow. The things I used to dislike before are in my favorites now and some things that I used to love as a child have disappeared from my favorites list long back (ladoos are exceptions, he.. he). I have lately been trying all kinds of snacks and sweet recipes in my kitchen. After moving to this country, the sight of those glamarous desserts ignites that passion for them too. These days desserts are simply irresistible and I just can't seem to get enough of it.

Banana sweet appam is one such dish that I didn't have a great liking for, while growing up. But it seems to be flavoring my kitchen often nowadays - perhaps because it happens to be my hubby's and daughter's favorite snack dish. Also, obviously I can't avoid tasting the dish now and then, while preparing it and may be these factors got me hooked up to this sweet snack. I made this for Vijayadhasami yesterday after coming back from work. A quick and easy one done in 2 steps.

This entry goes for Mythreyee's Deep Fried Sweet Series event as well as Hima's Sunday Snack - Fry it event.


Procedure:

  • Banana - 1 (mashed)
  • All purpose flour(Maida) - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 2 tbsp
  • Baking soda - 1 pinch
  • Coconut bits - a few (optional)
  • Cardamom - 1
Procedure:

  • Powder the Cardamom and add it to the flour. Add all other ingredients and make it to a thick batter consistency. Add very little water if absolutely needed, as banana releases moisture eventually and may make the batter too watery.
  • Drop spoons of batter in hot oil and deep fry.
Serve Warm.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kothamalli Adai


Hope you all are having a wonderful Navarathiri weekend! It was a pleasure this weekend to visit all my friends' house and see their cute and beautiful Golu bommais. Navarathiri is one of my favorite traditions in our culture as I feel that it gives lots of opportunities to be creative and artistic! And, this is one festival that the kids can also actively participate and show their imaginative skills.

My favorite season fall has officially begun. To me, Spring is the season of a new beginning while Autumn is the season of transition. Eventhough it daunts me that summer is gone, Autumn is still my favorite time of the year for several reasons. Makes me feel excited that its time to celebrate Navarathiri and Diwali with friends and family. I love the warmth tinged with the chill. I love pumpkins... Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Soup - everything pumpkin. I love photography in fall when I capture those lovely colors. I love striding on the carpets of those brown and crispy leaves. To me, fall is about wearing cozy & comfy clothes, but yet not freezing in the wintery bitter cold. I welcome Autumn as it is...

Nowadays, first thing in the morning, I enjoy my coffee in our patio while breathing that cool fresh air. This keeps me fresh enough for the rest of the day. This morning, after nursing my coffee for about 30 mins, I was all geared up to make a good breakfast. I've been thinking about making adai for the past several days, but as usual kept postponing it because of time constraints. Adai is one of my favorites as it can be made instantly. No waiting required for fermenting the batter. I soak it overnight and I grind it just before breakfast. Kothamalli Adai is a recipe that I learnt from a cookbook, its pretty much the same as regular adai except a few ingredients.


Ingredients
  • Tuvar Dal - 1/4 cup
  • Raw Rice - 1/4 cup
  • Idli rice (par boiled) - 3/4 cup
  • Red Chillies - 3 or 4
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Garlic - 2 pods
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Corriander leaaves - 1 cup (chopped)
  • Onions - 1/2 cup (chopped)
  • Curry Leaves - a few
Procedure

  • Soak the dal and rice overnight. Grind with Red chillies, fennel seeds, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, corriander leaves and salt. Need not be too fine.
  • Transfer to a bowl and mix it with water to a dosa batter consistency.
  • Add finely chopped onions and curry leaves.
  • Pour the batter in a circular shape on a hot pan. Pour a little oil around and turn it over when crisp. Transfer to a plate.
Serve hot with Tomato chutney.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rava Pongal


Thanks so much for all your lovely comments and wishes you had left in my previous post. I'm doing fine. Yet, I know I'm late for my next post :) But, it was not because of mere laziness or procrastination, but actually I had to travel out of town for official reasons and my kitchen was "officially" closed last week. Though I had some marvelous food during that time, I sure was missing home food and I'm so glad to be back home and enjoy my favorite comfort food.

There's nothing like having the time to sit down and have a good breakfast. I wish I had the time to have a relaxed breakfast every morning. But so far its been just a big daydream for me. My mornings are typically - "take a bite, do this; take another bite, do that" type of mornings. I actually sometimes skip breakfast to avoid morning rush. I hope someday I'll get into the routine of calm and relaxed mornings, may be a BIG hope! But to recompense this, I prefer to have a relaxed breakfast atleast in the weekends. I mostly prepare a proper traditional breakfast atleast for one morning in the weekend, and also often we go out for breakfast too. My day starts fresh when I chit-chat with a cup of coffee and good breakfast.

This weekend we enjoyed our favorite breakfast - Pongal with chutney and sambar. To me, one of the intimidating tasks of getting married is making the food your spouse grew up with. Mom cooks pongal for a little extra time so that the rice and dal are blended well, but my mother-in-law makes a version that's similar to pulav consistency. I like both versions, but prefer mom's way of making pongal, may be because thats the one I loved and grew up with. And my hubby prefers his mom's version, probably for the same reason. I learnt making his mom's version in a hard way. I still remember a day after we landed in the US, and while I was still almost zero in cooking, my hubby once wanted me to cook his mom's version of pongal. He had no idea of what he was getting into :) I made it and it was a disaster. It came out too stiff and no where close to pongal. I managed by adding more water and re-cooking it, but still the consistency was messed up. Well, after a lot of practice I can now say that I'm far better in making pongal, both versions.

Rava pongal is a totally new version of pongal to me. The recipe for this is from a booklet that came with a rava packet! Its interesting to me when these tiny pamphlets have some really delicious recipes and also very unique recipes that are not popular in other cookbooks. I made this the first time this weekend and just loved it. It came out pretty good and I'm sure I will try this often from now on. Goes well with chutney/sambar.


Ingredients:

  • Rava - 1 cup
  • Moong dal (pasi paruppu) - 1/2 cup
  • Milk - 1/2 cup
  • Cashew nuts - 10
  • Pepper corns -1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
  • Ginger - 1 inch (minced)
  • Ghee - 1 tbsp
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
Procedure:
  • Pressure cook the dal, strain and save the stock and set aside the dal.
  • Roast the rava in a tsp of ghee and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining ghee and oil and season with pepper corns and cumin seeds.
  • Then add the cashews, ginger and curry leaves and fry until cashews turn golden brown.
  • Add two and half cups of the following mixture - water, milk, the strained water from dal.
  • Add salt and let the mixture boil. Then add the roasted rava and stir in medium heat until the rava is well cooked and reaches a semi solid consistency.
  • Now add the cooked dal, mix and cover in low heat for 5 mins.
  • Add some ghee on the top and mix well.
Serve hot with coconut chutney, sambar.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Italian cheese bread


Sorry for the long delay in posting. Right after I posted my previous entry, I came down with a nasty cold and cough. Perhaps it was the sudden drop in temperature in our area and obviously a flu season too. Everyone in our family took turns to share their cold with each other. I was glued to the tissues for quite a few days and then passed it on to my daughter as well. Its been an exhausting two weeks. Apologies for not visiting all of your blogs, I'm sure I missed some great recipes. Hoping to catchup slowly in the next few days.

With no energy left, the last thing I wanted to do was cooking, so nothing to post as well. We've been pretty much managing with some simple home-made food and by doing take-outs. Finally, since last weekend I am slowly into my normal routine. This is a quick snack that I made last weekend. Its my daughter's favorite and she loves the cheese in it. I learnt this recipe from an Italian cookbook and I've heard a lot of good comments about this dish whenever I make it for a potluck party as an appetizer. It uses authentic and simple italian ingredients, and doesn't require any visit to a speciality store. I make it often as a tea-time snack for the weekends especially when we are in that "munching" mood.

This entry goes for Meeta's La Cuciana Italiana event , Hima's Sunday Snack Event, Sangeeth's Eat Healthy-Calcium Rich Event as well as EC's WYF - Salad/Starter/Soup event.

Ingredients:

  • Bread loaf - 1 (I use the italian herbs loaf that also has some poppy seeds on it)
  • Butter - 2 tsp
  • Italian herb seasoning - 1 tsp
  • Mozarella cheese (shredded) - 1 cup
  • Salt and pepper - as required
  • Garlic - 3 large cloves minced
  • Crushed red pepper - 1 tsp (Optional)
Procedure:

  • Microwave the butter and minced garlic for a min.
  • Cut the bread loaf into 1 inch slices.
  • On each slice, first apply the garlic/butter mixture, then sprinkle some salt and pepper above.
  • Then spread the shredded cheese and finally garnish with the italian herb seasoning. Bake the slices for 5-10 mins in a 350 degrees temp or until you see the top portion turned golden brown.
  • Serve hot after sprinkling with some crushed red peppers (optional).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hyderabadi Dalcha


Whenever I decide to go on diet, something comes and blocks me and makes it impossible to carry on. After feasting heavily for 2 weeks in the cruise, I was determined to diet for the next few weeks. I had all that fresh and energetic enthu going on for the first 2 weeks. If you are a regular reader of my blog, I mentioned that I even began planning my menu for the week ahead. Well, I should say I am still sticking on to my menu plans for most of the part, but dieting "vow" had disappeared long back! This dish is the proof :)

It all started when I happened to taste a mutton fry dish in a restaurant recently and I somehow wasn't that impressed. The spices weren't blending well with the meat. I could smell the raw flavour and plenty of hard-to-bite chunks. I had a feeling that I make a better version of the same dish! Don't get me wrong about my pride, but I believe that making a meat dish is an art by itself. It requires adding the right amount of spices to suppress the raw meat flavor, but at the same time not letting the spices overtake the vibrant meat taste. Balance is the key, and apparently that restaurant dish didn't have that balance. Since then, for some reason, the thought of preparing my favorite mutton dish at home was whirling in my head. May be perhaps I just wanted to get-rid of that restaurant taste that was still lingering in me and replace with any of my favorite dish :) , although I kept postponing it because of my 'dieting' aspiration.

But last week, the moment I spotted some fresh goat meat in the grocery, I knew I was in trouble. Its hard to resist when I see those freshly cut goat meat with nice stewy bones. Moreover the after-effect of my restaurant experience insisted me to buy it right away and there ends my dieting drama!

Alright, moving to the recipe.. I have to admit that I didn't have high hopes when I saw this recipe in a cook-book long before. My first instinct was - Meat and Dal? Really? Then I went on convincing myself - Come on, its a popular dish and its been tasted and approved by many, so it has to be good. And, I was not wrong. I love the unique flavor of lentils and meat and enjoy it more with plain rice than briyani. I've made it quite a few times so far and it gets better everytime! The secret is adding the right amount of dal.

This entry goes for Mona's RCI - Authentic Hyderabadi Cuisine.


Ingredients:
  • Goat meat - 1/2 lb (with bones)
  • Chana dal - 3 tbsp
  • Tuvar dal - 3 tbsp
  • G.chillies - 4
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Pepper powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Tamarind paste - 2 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - 1/4 cup
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom - a few each
Procedure:
  • Chop the goat meat and remove just the bone pieces separate. Pressure cook the bone pieces with a little ginger/garlic paste, turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp black pepper powder.
  • Soak the dals for atleast 15 mins and pressure cook them together with some turmeric powder, curry leaves and half of the corriander leaves.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan, season with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Once they pop, add chopped onions, g.chillies, ginger/garlic paste and fry for a few mins.
  • Add the remaining corriander leaves and curry leaves and fry for a couple more mins.
  • Add all the remaining powders along with tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes lose shape.
  • Add the remaining mutton pieces (raw), salt and fry for 5 mins.
  • Now add the stock from the cooked bones and let it boil for a few mins.
  • Finally add the cooked dal and pressure cook the mixture together until the mutton gets cooked completely (time depends on the pressure cooker).
  • Open the pressure cooker and add the tamarind paste and the cooked bone pieces, some water as required and let it boil for a few mins.
  • Garnish with chopped corriander leaves.

Serve hot with plain rice or briyani.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tomato - Green Chilli Thokku


I've been slammed at work lately. Moved to a new project recently and its keeping me busy. I came home late, so was feeling lazy to cook today, and I didn't have much stuff in the fridge too . Tiredness makes me low on inspiration, so wasn't in a mood to be creative either . But all I knew was that all of us were hungry and I had to cook something to fill our tummies before any of us turn cranky :)

My fridge usually is stuffed when the week begins, but it was odd to see my fridge empty on a monday. I had so much planned to get done for the weekend, but can't remember getting anything significantly done. Saturday kind of evaporated. Don't know how, and I guess we've been just lazing around too much with absolutely no mood for outdoors. Sometimes it happens. No matter how nice the day is or how much ever time I have, I get the feeling of staying indoors and watch tv, browse or even just lie on the couch and simply stare the cieling:) It may sound ridiculous, but for the past 2 days this is how I've been feeling myself. I'm typically not that kind of person and usually would like to keep myself occupied as much as possible. But I think occasionally spoiling ourselves helps regain that energy :)

Well, with nothing much left in the fridge, I had to comeup with something that can be of a quick remedy. I was thinking of having paruppu podi (the readymade one) and potatoes for dinner, but then I remembered the Long-Live-The-Shelf Event hosted by Roma. That convinced me to might as well make something on my own instead of paruppu podi so that I can atleast send the entry for the event. This thokku (pickle/chutney) requires nothing but tomatoes and g.chillies and I had enough of them in the fridge. Another of my mother-in-law's collection. It could be enjoyed by mixing with plain-rice (instant tomato rice), or as a side for curd-rice. It tastes divine with curd-rice!

This entry goes for Roma's Long-Live-Shelf-Event.

Ingredients:
  • Tomatoes: 5 large
  • Garlic - 5 cloves (big size) or 8 (medium size)
  • G.chillies - 7 or 8
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp (add more if the tomatoes aren't that sour)
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Asafoetida - 2-3 pinches
  • Oil - 3 tbsp
Procedure:

  • Add the tomatoes to boiling water (or microwave for a few seconds) and leave it covered for 5 mins. Peel off the skin, mash them with hands (or puree them in blender).
  • Mix the mashed tomatoes, tamarind paste, chilli powder, turmeric and salt well, along with a cup of water.
  • Heat oil, season with mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Then add chopped garlic and chopped g.chillies and fry until the chillies change color.
  • Add the tomato mixture and let it boil. Simmer for 10 mins or until the mixture thickens and oil starts separating. Remove from heat after it reaches a thick consistency
  • Mix it with plain rice to make instant tomato rice OR enjoy with curd rice.

This can stay in fridge for a week to 10 days.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chicken Fry


Hope all my US friends had a great labor day weekend! Its hard to believe our last 3 day weekend of the summer just got over and we are getting closer to the end of summer with each day. My daughter's school starts tomorrow. Am I excited?? I seriously don't know. The early morning rat race begins from tomorrow. Starting school after a long, lazy summer could be pretty stressful. But on the flip side, after all for kids what’s summer without crazy bedtimes, endless ice-creams, non-stop biking in the neighborhood, and getting soaked in the pool for hours — and it naturally can be hard to readjust when fall comes. I miss those summer vacations from my school. I wish my job also had a summer break(and still get paid).. he he..

On the other hand, my daughter is all excited about her new school year. She keeps coming up with questions like.. Mom, Who will be my teacher? Where will I sit? Are my friends going to be in my class? She is all set with her new school bag and drags it up and down our living room often in the day. She also pretends to be a teacher and disciplines her imaginary students.. That's her playtime favorite nowadays. I wish I was so enthusiastic like her :) Though fall routine haunts me, it also makes me feel good that my little girl is growing!

This weekend we had no big plans and mostly stayed home. Just planned a few things for the upcoming week and spent a few productive hours in the kitchen. Enjoyed our favorite traditional lunch for 2 days in a row with sambar, rasam, kootu, poriyal etc. Heavenly meal after a long time! And just to make the weekend more special, I made a chicken dish too. This is a very tasty chicken recipe that I learnt from my Mother-in-law. She makes it regularly and its one of her excellent dishes that I enjoy when made by her. After all these years of practice, I've now started almost duplicating her taste. But hers still holds the first place :) The ingredients list may seem to be longer, but the preparation is fairly simple as all of them get tossed in at the same time.

Ingredients
  • Chicken thighs - 2 lbs ( I switch between boneless and with bones, but both are yummy)
  • Ginger - 2 inches
  • Garlic - 3 cloves (medium)
  • Black Pepper seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
  • Onions - 2 medium
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full
Procedure

  • Coarsely grind (not too fine) 1/2 onion , Ginger, Garlic, Pepper seeds, Cumin seeds and the Fennel seeds. Add this to the chicken, then salt and pressure cook together until the chicken is cooked. (Add just enough water to cook the chicken).
  • Heat oil in a thick bottom pan, season with 1 tsp fennel seeds, add the remaining chopped onions, curry leaves and corrainder leaves and fry until onion is well fried.
  • Now add the cooked chicken mixture, all the remaining spice powders, mix well and turn the heat to high until the water from the chicken is almost fully evaporated.
  • Now turn to medium heat and fry the chicken until its well roasted and turns into a dark brown color. Keep scraping in equal intervals to avoid burning. You can add a little extra oil if required.
Enjoy with Rotis or Rice.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rava Laddus and a Click


Its friday.. My mind always gets a little lazy at this time of the week no matter how busy I am. Just the thought of friday makes me feel lethargic and sluggish. So, just in an effort to increase my productivity I decided to manage a few hours in the kitchen today. I knew I had plans to participate in quite a few events and its only a couple of days left but I've no idea what to make. I was glancing through various cookbooks from my shelf and found quite a few interesting recipes. But most of them required ingredients that I don't usually stock in my pantry. It required a mini visit to the grocery store. That was a good reason for me to postpone those dishes for some other time.

Finally after a lot of reasearch and thinking, I decided to close my cookbook and make my own favorite Rava Laddus. It was a good decision:) Laddus came out phenomenal! Sweet and soft with those yummy flavors. I have a liking for laddus since childhood and that liking still continues. Our Deepavali wasn't complete without rava laddus. Grandma used to make it delicious and I've managed to follow her traditional recipe many times. About a few months before, I tasted these laddus from a friend and it had a slightly different flavor, I just loved it! The secret ingredient was coconut! Adding just a little bit of coconut gave it a different twist and I fell for it right away. Since then I've been modifying my grandma's recipe just by adding a little coconut to it. I like all kinds of laddus, but rava laddus are the only ones that I have tried making at home. May be beacuse of the simple ingredients and the straight-forward method.


Ingredients
  • Rava - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Cardamom pods - 5
  • Cashews - 10
  • Shredded Coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Ghee - 2 tbsp
  • Milk - 3 tbsp
Procedure

  • Heat the pan and dry roast the rava until nice aroma comes. Set aside.
  • Remove the skins from cardamom and take just the seeds out. Grind them together with sugar to a fine powder. Mix them with the rava.
  • Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan and roast the cashews. Add this to the rava mixture.
  • In the same pan, add another tsp of ghee and fry the coconut until they become golden brown. Add to rava mixture.
  • Mix together well and start making the laddus by adding a little ghee and warm milk to each laddu while making it so that the ball holds on tight.

I also managed to make Honey Lemonade, a refreshing and healthy drink for summer. I often make this at home as my daughter just loves honey! The recipe is quite simple. Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup honey in a pan. Heat until the honey dissolves fully. Cool and then add 4 cups of cold water, a few ice cubes and a pinch of salt. Mix well and serve chilled.

This entry goes for EC's AFAM:Lemon as well as Jai and Bee's CLICK event.

Honey Lemonade

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pista Kulfi


We were at home this past weekend catching up with our friends over phone and emails after our vacation. Also finished my groceries and loaded up my fridge for the upcoming week and actually I had some time to cook a traditional lunch after a few weeks! Surprisingly, I also got into this mood of planning the dinner menu for all five working days next week. I normally won't do it, and even if I do, I don't end up maintaining it :) But perhaps, may be my 2 week break is giving me all this enthusiasm! Don't know how long my enthu will last.. But, so far so good! I've been going as per plan for the past 2 days and it helps indeed. Atleast, it lets me drive back home peacefully listening to my favorite music, instead of debating myself about the dinner menu.

This year, for some reason August is cooler than it should be. Don't know why. I know that theoritically there are a few more summer weeks left before all my short sleeve blouses and skirts get replaced with my sweaters and pants in my closet. But oddly I had to sleep with my big blanket last night. I liked it, but mentally not fully ready for fall and winter yet. So still maintaining to cook some thing summery in my kitchen often, just to maintain my summer gusto. Coincidentally, Srilekha's Ice-Creams and Milkshakes event came up at the right time giving me another opportunity to make a summer favorite!

Pista Kulfi has been my family favorite for a long time. Back in my childhood, I remember enjoying kulfi only in "Aavin", a popular dairy store in my place. But about a few years ago I learnt this awesome recipe from one of my friends - actually this recipe is a combination from my sister and my friend. Both had slightly different versions and I combined them to make it my own way. Its been coming out delicious every time and we all thoroughly enjoy it. If you have the right ingredients, its super easy! If you do have those freezer pops, you can make it with ice-cream sticks.. but we just enjoy it in a bowl as well..

Ingredients

  • Evaporated Milk - 1 cup
  • Sweetened Condensed mik - 1 cup
  • Half and Half - 1/2 cup
  • Cool whip - 1/2 cup (you will find this in the freezer section)
  • Green food color - 2 drops (optional)
  • Crushed Cardamom pods - 5
  • Pista, Walnuts - 1/4 cup
Procedure
  • Combine and whip all of the above ingredients except nuts in a big bowl for a few mins. Bring the cool whip to room temperature before mixing.
  • Freeze it for an hour. Remove and now garnish with the nuts. Freeze again overnight.
  • Leave it outside for 5 mins before serving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Apple Dal!

I'm back.. Missed you all for 2 weeks and I'm sure I would have missed reading some fabulous recipes too! We came back last weekend from our 10 day cruise trip to the Carribean Islands. We were a group of 17 people and we had a blast! Friends, I have to tell you.. If you have not done a cruise vacation, do it! Its worth. A very different experience and we all had a great time! It was a mega-ship and we got a room with a balcony. The ocean views and sunset views were just fabulous! What's more appealing is that unlimited top-notch cuisine that was served all day (included in your fare). The food was exceptional and we also were lucky enough to have some fabulous Indian dinner every night due to our speical request.

It was a REAL vacation as we didn't' have to worry about anything and the cruise ship had it all - comfy rooms, plenty of food, pools, casino, movie theater, spa, gym, disco, shopping, library - you name it. Its just like a floating 5 star hotel. Life on the ship is all about being pampered, entertained, fed by culinary yummers at all hours with spectacular desserts. Those were the best desserts I've ever tasted! We docked at a few islands like Bermudas, Peurtorico and enjoyed swimming and snorkeling in those beautiful beaches too! The weather was hot and sunny in every port- but getting into the water made it better, water was perfect! I can't think of anything that I disliked about the cruise except my lousy Rammi playing.. ha ha.. But overall, we had a great time!

Well, its hard to get back to the same old routine after a good break.. But you know what? I'm re-charged completely after reading all your wonderful comments, a few tags and awards waiting in my blog while I was gone and I can't wait to get back to my blogging as well as read thru all your posts. Thank you all for your wishes and great words. Alright, here I am with another of my favorite recipe. After we came back, we sure did have the craving for some home-made comfort food. Nothing can beat that! After doing some basic grocery shopping, I decided to make some quick comfort food yesterday. Apple dal is one of our favorite dal recipes and a very simple recipe too. I make this whenever I need a simple but different dal recipe or whenever I have some extra apples. I like the taste of the sweet and tangy apple mixed with spices. Goes well with rice as well as rotis. Hope you all like it too.

Ingredients:

  • Green Apple - 1
  • Cooked Toor Dal - 1.5 cup
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • G.Chillies - 2
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Sambar Powder - 1 tbsp
  • Mustard and Cumin seeds - 1 tsp each
  • Asaefotida/Hing - 2 pinches
  • Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander and Curry leaves - a few.

Procedure:

  • Peel and dice the apples into 1 inch cubes and soak in water and the lemon juice atleast for 15 mins.
  • Puree the tomatoes. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a kadai, season with mustard, cumin seeds and asafoetida. Add the chopped onions, curry leaves and g.chillies and fry for a few mins.
  • Add sambar powder and tomato puree and let it boil for 5 mins in medium heat.
  • Then add the apples, cooked tuvar dal and salt with some water and simmer for 10 more mins or until the apples are soft. Mash the mixture slightly.
  • Add corriander leaves, mix and remove from heat.

We enjoy it with plain rice. I make it a little spicier since we always have it with rice.