Alright, here is my entry for Jai & Bee's CLICK EVENT .. Probably I am the last one to participate. I wasn't ready until now as I thought I did not have any good pics in the selected theme of "Lentils and Beans" and I didn't have time to click a new one too.. A few of my blog friends liked my blog header picture and had great encouraging comments about it. Thanks to all of them! Sweet friend Swati had a great suggestion that I could send my header picture for the CLICK EVENT (Thanks Swati!). So Here you go!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
With the coming of summer, what vegetable is more synonymous than a freshly picked corn on the cob? Hot & fresh corn-on-the-cob is a highlight of any summertime party! Back in India, I used to simply enjoy the road-side carts selling the aromatic corn roasted on a charcoal grill and sprinkled with spices. Hmm.. Yummy! But I have to admit, thats the only version of corn I've ever tried in my childhood. Somehow, it was not used in our everyday cooking and the same idea got stuck in my mind as if there's no other way to cook corn.
After coming here, corn being the icon of America's culture, I was amazed by the charisma and beauty of this grain. Starting from a BBQ grill to a late night movie its everywhere. Corn oil, Corn bread, Corn Tortillas, Corn Syrup, Corn flour, Pop-Corns and what not. Its available throughout the year in the market, and usually the least expensive. My daughter being a corn lover, nowadays it is always in my fridge 24 X 7. I often make a quick snack for her by cooking the corn on the cob and seasoning with organic butter, olive oil, salt and pepper.. So simple and healthy! I also use this with a lot of other food dishes resulting in corn dosa, corn parathas, corn kichadi etc.
Sometimes, you don't have to cook fancy and complicated masterpieces - all you need is just a good food from simple and fresh ingredients. It turns out to be a masterpiece by itself. This dish is one good example for it and is absolutely a corn lover's delight. I picked up from a cookbook long back and I fell for it right after I made it the first time. I made it when I had a houseful of vegetarian friends who are food lovers. They all thoroughly enjoyed it and were so eager to know the recipe for this which I ofcourse shared happily. A very simple dish with very simple ingredients.
- Corn - 2 cups
- R.Chillies - 2
- Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
- Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Asafoetida - a pinch
- Curry leaves - a few
- Maida - 2 tbsps
- Cream - 1/2 cup
- Milk - 1/2 cup
- Lemon juice - 1 tsp
- Ginger - 1 inch
- G.chillies - 2
- Curry leaves - 5 or 6
- Corriander leaves - a handful
- Grind the paste with the above mentioned ingredients and set aside.
- Combine the milk and cream and mix well. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a wide pan and season with mustard and cumin seeds.
- Add R.chillies. curry leaves and asafoetida and fry for 2 mins.
- Add the paste and fry in medium heat until you feel the nice aroma coming out.
- Add the maida and fry for a few mins.. Keep scraping to avoid sticking to the pan. If you need, you can add just little bit of water.
- Now add the milk/cream mixture along with 1.5 cups of water and bring it to a thick consistency. Add more water if required.
- Add the corn and simmer it for a few mins.
- Add lemon juice and remove from heat.
Serve with Rotis or rice.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
After a few busy weeks, this weekend has been a luxury for us! Hanging around with friends till late in the night, snacking and munching most of the time, rolling out of bed late in the morning, having a relaxed picnic with our friends in our neighborhood park... With all these simple pleasures, the weekend becomes special. This weekend was one such lovely weekend! Weather was gorgeous and summer is here..... finally! It was just a perfect weekend for outdoors. A couple of long drives visiting a few of our neighboring suburbs and having a leisure walk in the beautiful downtowns with coffee cups in our hand.. yeah, this is summer!
At these times, I take it easy and I do not prefer spending time in the kitchen, sweating in the heat. Yet, can't compromise in eating something special that will sustain our weekend mood. "Special" is traditional non-veg food for me! While I was growing up, chicken and mutton (goat meat) were considered special. They were really a weekend food. Though chicken is now inexpensive and is affordable by everyone, mutton is not. Its more expensive than before and people are becoming health conscious too. Mutton has always been one of my favorites since childhood and still maintain that liking whatsoever. After getting married to a vegetarian, I almost stopped cooking it at home, but I do cook when my craving takes over or we have friends visiting us.
Chettinad cuisine is one of the most popular south-indian cuisines. The speciality is in the spices they use, especially in non-vegetarian food. There's just something in the flavor and spices that are entangled so well, that the outcome is simply awesome! Everything is hot and flavorful and made of fresh ground masala. This mutton curry is probably offered in all restaurants in tamilnadu that serve chettinad cuisine. I learnt to cook this from my mother-in-law. She is a vegetarian, but a master in cooking non-vegetarian food too! I always get amazed when I see her cook all non-veg food with perfect spices and flavor without tasting a bit. I think thats the upshot of an experienced cook!
I've made egg curry with the same ingredients (but reduce the spice measurements to half) and method (except the marination and pressure cooking) and it came out delicious.
Goat meat - 2 lbs
Onions - 2 medium
Tomatoes - 2 medium
Curry leaves - 10
Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
For the masala paste
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 5
Cinnamon - 2 inch
Cloves - 4
Star Aniseed - 1
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Black Pepper corn - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Corriander Powder - 2 tsp
Shallots (small onions) - 6
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Make the above paste and marinate the mutton pieces (cut into medium pieces) in this paste for atleast 30 mins.
Transfer these contents into a pressure cooker along with 2 tsp of oil, a little bit of salt, 1 cup of water and pressure cook for the usual time to cook mutton (depends on the pressure cooker).
Meanwhile puree the tomatoes.
Heat oil in a large wide pan and add the chopped onions, remaining salt (there's salt added in mutton already) and curry leaves and fry until the onions are golden brown.
Now add the tomato puree and fry for a few mins.
Add the cooked mutton mixture and turn on the heat to high and fry until everything is mixed well and reaches a thick gravy consistency.
Finally add the black pepper powder (this is optional) and remove from heat.
Goes well with Idlis, Dosai, Chapathi or Rice.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Its been more than 3 weeks since I have cooked anything elaborate in the kitchen. My last few weeks have been hectic with my exams and tight deadlines at office. My office desk was looking so messy with piles of reference books, tons of printouts of research articles for my exam and several coffee cups. There's a long list of office emails flagged for responses demanding my attention. At home it was worser.. Weekdays were busy.. For lunch, I was eating at the cafetaria mostly and I've been cooking many quick-meals for dinner that can save time.
Phew, its all over now! I passed my last exam yesterday.. and now slowly catchin'up with office work, and ofcourse cleaned up my desk.. Much better! There were two things that I wanted to do right after finishing my exams - spend more time with my daughter by taking her out for a bike ride, catching up with her story books etc... And next thing, ofcourse cook a fabulous treat with my favorite items! Just to celebrate passing my exams(need some reason!) we went out for dinner last night to our favorite Thai restaurant in our town. They have one of the best Green curries we've ever tasted! No wonder, we had a blast this time too...
With a crazy routine, I still managed to post some recipes that I have been cooking now and then during the week. When I am on the edge and absolutely need a break for a few mins, blogging helps me to restore my energy. Its good to have a break every few hours from a busy routine.
Today I felt the need for cooking something creative! I miss that wonderful aroma from my kitchen! I knew my fridge was almost empty, but after pondering in the fridge and pantry, all I could find is a few bunches of corriander leaves and right then I remembered this flavorful rice dish! I quickly checked upon the ingredients required for this dish. A couple of mins later, I had my I-Pod hooked in my ears, my apron tied up and was all set for my favorite meal of Corriander Rice , Potato curry and onion raita for dinner! This superb rice dish is another one that I learnt from my mom. It has all the exotic flavors combined and comes out as a masterpiece everytime. Another ideal potluck dish.
- Basmati rice - 2 cups (soaked in water for atleast 15 mins)
- Onions - 1/2 (medium size, chopped finely)
- Tomatoes - 1 cup (Chopped)
- Bay leaf - 1
- Ghee/oil - 2 tbsp
- Corriander Leaves - 1.5 cups, chopped
- Mint Leaves - 15 leaves
- G.Chillies - 4
- Ginger - 1 inch, Garlic - 3 medium pods (you can substitute with 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste)
- Cinnamon - 1/2 inch piece
- Cloves - 2
- Cardamom - 1
- Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
- Onion - 1/2 (medium size)
- Make the above paste and set aside.
- Heat oil/ghee in a large wide pan and add the bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves. Once they pop, add the chopped onions and fry 3-4 mins.
- Add the paste and fry in medium heat for 6 - 8 mins. You will see the oil starting to separate. A large wide pan would make this step faster.
- Now add chopped tomatoes and fry for a few more mins.
- Drain and add the soaked basmati rice and fry for 2 mins.
- Add 3 cups water and salt, cover and cook in low heat for 10 mins.
Serve hot with raita or any curry ( I prefer chicken curry for the side!).
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I am always fascinated with the recipes that are healthy and simple to make. Some things are better to be simple. I always try to keep it simple, but many times have ended up making it complicated. And, its quite a challenge to keep things simple, especially with recipes. I start with one simple dish in the kitchen, but then during the process of cooking, I change my mind to add more items to the menu. May be perhaps I get indulged in the process or sometimes an item in my fridge or pantry may draw my attention and whips me up, and I end up cooking additional items. But fortunately the end results have been good so far and it always looks good to have a variety on the table!
Here is my entry for Raaga who is hosting Monthly Blog Patrol this month with a theme of "Salads and Soups". This is my adaptation of a soup dish from Jai & Bee's Jugalbandi site. They post a lot of healthy recipes and this recipe is a perfect one-pot meal. Nothing can be so healthier than this. Its a combination of a variety of lentils, beans, veggies and spinach. You can find the Original Recipe at their site. But I have substituted and omitted a couple of them according to my taste and to what was in my pantry and refregirator. It came out delicious and we enjoyed it thoroughly. A bowl of this soup with some delicious bread rolls for the side makes up a filly dinner. If you love soups, this is a wonderful excuse for indulging into that passion.
- 13-bean soup mix - 1/2 cup
- Mixed vegetables - 1/2 cup
- Potato - 1 medium
- Chopped Spinach - 1/2 cup
- Tomato - 1 medium
- Onion - 1 medium
- Ginger/Garlic Paste - 1 tsp
- G.Chillies - 2
- Black Pepper-corns - 1/2 tsp
- Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
- Lemon juice - 2 tsps
- Corriander leaves - a handful (chopped)
- Soak the 13-bean soup mix for a few hours and pressure cook them along with chopped tomatoes, water, salt and diced potatoes.
- Dry roast the pepper corns and cumin seeds and make them to a powder using blender.
- When the beans are cooked, mash a portion of it and mix together well with the remaining beans.
- Cook the mixed vegetables in microwave with a pinch of salt and set aside.
- Heat a tsp oil in a pan, fry the sliced onions along with ginger and garlic paste until brown. Also add the fresh corriander leaves and fry for a few seconds.
- Add this to the bean mixture along with the cooked mixed vegetables, chopped spinach and minced g.chillies. Cover and cook for 5 mins.
- Add the pepper/cumin powder and boil for 2 more mins.
- Finally add lemon juice and remove from heat.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
My all time favorite egg dish is Egg Kothu parottas and Chalna that is famous in our hometown. My hometown Madurai is an ancient temple town, a city that was developed around the famous "Meenakshi Temple". It has a history dated back to the pre christian era. The Meenakshi temple complex is one of the largest of its kind in India, and undoubtedly one of the oldest. There are superb sculptures and paintings all over the 11 temple towers. It was recently nominated for the "New Seven Wonders of the World" through an on-line polling program. The city is called the "Athens of the East" because of its marvelous architecture and meticulous planning compared to the city of "Athens", the greek capital. I grew up pretty much around the temple campus and have explored in and around the temple several times. Its close to my heart and even now when I go there for vacation, just the sight of it gives a pleasant and soothing feeling in my heart.
Madurai is a town that never sleeps. Road-side restaurants are trademarks of Madurai and they have quite a few interesting items served. A few of the famous road-side items are Jigarthanda, Kalkandu-Pal and Kothu Parottas. Jigarthanda is a delicious drink made of Milk, sugar, nannari and a kind of Jelly. Its said to be good for stomach and oral ulcers. Kalkandu-pal is made of sugar candy and thick milk and is offered in a tall glass at the road-side coffee shops. I remember those good (g)old days when we used to stop at the road-side coffee shops on our way from a late night movie and enjoying this awesome kalkandu pal.. Kothu parottas are spicy shredded parathas minced and fried on the pan along with onions, tomatoes, g.chillies and mutton stock. The recipe itself is mouth-watering!
Egg is another type of comfort food with so much nutritional value and is inexpensive. There are plenty of way to consume eggs and obviously in Indian cuisine there are hundreds of recipes with eggs. This is an awesome egg-curry with well-balanced flavor and goes well as a side dish for both rice and chapathis. I usually make this when I make a flavored rice dish like Mushroom Briyani, Chana Pulav, or Veg Pulav.
- Eggs - 4
- Onions - finely chopped - 1/2 cup
- Tomato - 1 medium
- Tomato Sauce - 3 tbsp
- G.chillies - 3
- Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
- Corriander power - 1 tsp
- Black Pepper corns - 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Cinnamon - 1 inch
- Cloves - 2
- Coconut milk - 1/2 cup
- Cook the eggs in boiled water, Soak in cold water for 10 mins, remove the shells. Set aside.
- Dry roast the black pepper corns and cumin seeds and make them to a powder. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan, add cinnamon and cloves. Once the popup, add onions and g.chillies. Fry until onions are golden brown.
- Add chopped tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes lose shape.
- Now add the tomato sauce, turmeric and corriander powders and fry in medium heat for 5 - 7 mins.
- Add salt and water and simmer for 5 more mins.
- Add coconut milk and some more water and let it boil for 2 mins.
- Cut the eggs into half lengthwise and add them to the boiling gravy along with the roasted pepper-cumin powder. Boil in medium heat for 2 more mins.
- Garnish with Corriander leaves.
Monday, May 12, 2008
If not in Spring, when else could I catch a nasty cold? I was just wondering last week how I survived the peak winter and most of the spring without falling sick, when everyone around me were glued to tissues for sometime during the past few months. May be I didn't touch wood ;) Right after my last post, I was down with cold and headache with puffy and watery eyes.
The frustrating part is none of the cold remedies that I have in my closet work. I sometimes feel its better to rely on known traditional remedies like tulsi tea, pepper rasam, a bowl of hot soup etc. Not to mention, pretty much thats what I've been eating the last few days and it sure does give comfort. My husband made some quick rasams and dal that lasted for 2 days and we did carry-outs a couple of times. All I want to do when I have cold is cuddle in the couch or bed with a blanket wrapped around me. To keep my sanity, I avoid staring the roof and usually would like to browse using my laptop or watch TV. But things never happen as we want, do they? My daughter was after me to work on her science project, read story books, help her in coloring etc. According to her, I have plenty of time when I am sick! But she helps me in someways to regain my energy though I am not physically active.
Well, finally I started feeling better yesterday and wanted to get back to atleast some routine. Yesterday being sunday, our usual special food day, I was able to make-up my mind and body to cook something better. Rice varieties are usually a good choice for a time like this because its a single item and would go well with even mild side-dishes like chips, raita, pickle etc. This is an excellent rice dish that I learnt from my friend who is a great cook. She has shared so many of her recipes with me. They sure do add new flavors in my kitchen while comforting my soul and stomach as well! We talk about some food items almost everyday and is never boring for us :) My collection of non-southindian recipes has grown significantly because of her and I can't wait to try each and every one of them. With such good friends and cooks around me, no wonder I am able to sustain my interest and motivation for cooking!
The name Chana Pulav sounds very much north-indian. But the ingredients used are pretty basic in south indian cooking as well, so I am convinced that this can fall in both categories. The recipe does call for one popular north indian ingredient "Kasoori Methi" (dry fenugreek leaves), but I didn't have it today and yet it came out awesome as usual. So, I would say its optional. This dish is an excellent choice for a potluck item. The chana and rice mixed with mild spices gives a whole new taste and it sure would get attention in a party.
- Basmati rice - 1 cup
- Chana (cooked or canned) - 1/2 cup
- Onions - 1 medium (sliced)
- Tomato - 1 medium
- Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tsp
- G.Chilly - 1
- Cocounut milk - 1 cup
- Cinnamon - 1 inch
- Cloves - 2
- Cardamom - 1
For the paste:
- Onion - 1/2 medium (chopped in cubes)
- Garlic - 2 cloves
- R.Chillies - 2
- Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
- Grated coconut - 2 tsp
- Soak the Basmati rice in water atleast for 10 mins. Drain the water, and fry the rice in a pan with a tsp of ghee for a few mins or until the water evaporates. Set aside.
- Heat 1/2 tsp of oil and fry the ingredients mentioned above for the paste except the coconut. Grind them to a paste with coconut.
- Heat ghee/oil in a large wide pan and season with Cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
- Add the sliced onions and g.chilly and fry until onion turns golden brown.
- Add the ground paste and fry in low heat until the water is completely evaporated and you see oil starting to separate.
- Now add the fried basmati rice and mix well. Finally add the tomatoes, chana and salt and mix again. At this point, if you have kasoori methi, you can add it crushed.
- Add 1 cup water and 1 cup coconut milk and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 mins or until the rice is fully cooked.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Summer is almost here! While driving back from work to home, I noticed the changes around me. Bright and blue sky, chirping birds, fresh green leaves and blooming flowers.. I realized its time to take my summer dresses and strappy sandals out! Its exciting! I can't wait to wear my cute & frilly summer skirts, the fun-filled BBQ parties with friends, bike rides, our adventurous camping trips and the beach days! But I'll surely miss my cozy evenings curled on the couch, sipping a hot bowl of soup right next to the fireplace, my long boots & coats and the beautiful snow. Well, I guess transition is inevitable and I feel "Change" is what makes life more interesting!
One of my favorite things to do in a beautiful spring evening like this, is to have an early dinner and finish it with a warm and mild dessert. Preparing the dessert wil boost up my senses and will keep my enthusiasm going, and ofcourse will satisfy my sugar craving too!
Semiya pongal is another quick and easy sweet-dish, that can be cooked with very few ingredients and can taste utterly delicious. Semiya is an indian type thin noodles but not long and stretchy. They are usually in 1 - 2 inch pieces. In South India, Semiya is commonly used in Payasam and Upma. Though I have tasted Semiya pongal in a few occassions outside, it is not that popular. I recently learnt the recipe for Semiya Pongal through a cookbook and I do make it quite often if I am in a mood for a simple dessert. I love the texture of the soft nooodles combined with jaggery and nuts and I can't help licking my bowl clean everytime. It totally gives me a feeling of a completely satisfying meal.
- Semiya (Vermicelli) - 1 cup
- Water - 2.5 cups
- Milk - 1/2 cup
- Jaggery (crushed) - 1 cup (you can add more sugar if required)
- Cardamom pods - 2
- Ghee - 3 tbsps (You can also use ghee/oil in 50:50 ratio)
- Cashews - 15
- Raisins - 8
- Heat a few drops of ghee in a pan and roast the semiya until golden brown. Set aside.
- To the same pan, add the remaining ghee/oil and fry the cashews and raisins until the cashews turn brown and the raisins puff up.
- Add the water, milk, jaggery and sugar (if required) and mix well.
- Add crushed cardamom pods, Cover and bring to a boil.
- When it starts boiling (jaggery should be completely dissolved), add the semiya and cover in medium heat for 10 mins or until the semiya is soft and fully cooked.
- Increase the heat and keep stirring gently (otherwise the semiya might lose shape and become mushy) until the water is completely evaporated.
- Remove from heat and top it with another tea spoon of ghee.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Weekend breakfasts are becoming so hard to pick nowadays.. Every weekend I become apprehensive in deciding what to cook for breakfast.. Since the weekday mornings are spent on cereals and bread, my daughter demands a better breakfast in the weekend and so does my husband. I now realize how much dependent we were on Idlis and Dosas back in India. Once the batter is ready, its very easy and simple. We eat that everyday but never get tired of it.
I do love dosas, but I don't need that everyday. On the other hand, my husband is a dosa fanatic. He can live on dosas 3 times a day, 7 days a week.. I know he is going to be happy even if I prepare just plain dosas on weekends. However just to make my cooking more interesting, I keep trying varieties of dosas. Based on my experience, anything and everything on dosa will come out great! Vegetables, eggs, cheese, chicken, mutton - all these are good toppings for dosas. I remember the dosa melas that used to happen in restaurants back in India every year with hundreds of dosa varieties on the menu, some of them I've never even heard of.. like pavakkai dosai, curd dosai (?) etc.. Just out of curiosity, we would go and try a couple of new varieties every year.
Kheema dosa is a popular dosa thats served in all non-veg restaurants in Tamilnadu. I love to eat this dosa in a home-style restaurant pretty close to our house in India. Just the thought of that dosa is mouth watering! Awesome taste and so flavorful! Everytime I visit India, I make sure to have a blast at that restaurant with my sisters and parents. Everyone in our family loves the dishes there and we all have a good time when we go in groups.
- Dosa batter (3 cups of idli rice & 1 cup of Urad dal soaked, ground and fermented overnight)
- Mutton Kheema (minced) - 1 cup
- Grean peas - 1/2 cup
- G.chillies - 1 sliced
- Turmeric powder - 3/4 tsp
- Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
- Pepper powder - 1 tsp
- Curry leaves - a few
- Cinnamon - 1 inch
- Cloves - 2
- Heat oil in a pan. Add the cinnamon and cloves. Once they pop-up add sliced g.chillies and curry leaves and saute for few mins.
- Add the minced mutton, all other spice powders and salt and fry until they are well mixed..
- Cover in lowheat until the mutton gets cooked well.
- Increase the heat, add 2 tsp of oil and roast the mutton until it turns into brown color.
- Add steamed green peas at the end and fry for a few more mins.
- Heat the dosa pan and start making dosas.. Spread the kheema mixture on the dosa while the batter is still wet.
- Turn it over and cook the kheema mixture well. Remove to a plate.
Chicken or Mutton Chalna is a great side dish for this dosa.