Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fish Curry - Chettinad Style..


Chettinad recipes are my favorites as many of you. My perception to Chettinad Cuisine has changed a lot in the last several years. Until I was in India, though I used to hear a lot about Chettinad cuisine and its specialities, I had no idea how to distinguish a Chettinad dish with other dishes, especially Non-vegetarian items. I hardly recall any restaurants specializing just in Chettinad Cuisine when I grew up. To me, all chicken curries seemed to be the same while dining in restaurants in India. But after coming here to the US, its overwhelming to come across so many variations from the regular dishes that I grew up with, including Chettinad dishes. The more I tried and tested some of the chettinad delicacies in my kitchen, the more I started appreciating the taste and also could relate to the dishes that I enjoyed back home. I absolutely love the fun of learning and enjoying the meals from different regions, and I totally agree and believe that Chettinad dishes are one of the most spicy and aromatic dishes in Indian cuisine. One needs to experience the unique addition of different spices and the elaborate preparation method to appreciate the cuisine.

This is the first time I'm trying Chettinad recipe with fish - Thanks to a friend who requested this recipe. Chettinad fish curry is something new to me. Don't know why, but somehow I've never tried Fish curry in the Chettinad style. Mom's fish curry is the only one I know of, which is pretty straightforward. When I got this request from my friend, I became anxious to try it with a spin of chettinad flavors, and made it at once. I found this recipe from my old collection - god knows when I printed it and where I printed it from. Since this is the first time I'm trying it, I decided to make it with extra attention and give some special touches here and there. It came out exceptionally flavorful and actually tasted excellent the next day.

Ingredients:
Notes: I usually like to make fish curry a little extra spicy, and I have given my measurements. You can adjust according to your taste.
Also, I prefer using Laxmi brand tamarind paste which is more natural and light brown in color, instead of Tamicon, the dark colored one. If you use Tamicon, you can reduce the qty to half of what I've given below).
  • Pomphret - 2 big (yields about 8 medium size pieces. You can use any fish of your choice, but it tasted great with Pomphret)
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Garlic - 5 cloves
  • Ginger - 2 inches
  • G.Chillies - 2 small
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
  • Tamarind Paste - 3 tbsp (mix it with 3 cups of water)
  • Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves - a few
  • Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup (chopped)
For the Paste:
  • Peppercorn - 1 tsp
  • Red Chillies - 2
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Corriander seeds - 2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Thuvar Dal - 1 tsp
  • Shredded Coconut - 2 tbsp
Procedure:
  • Cut the fish, clean it thoroughly with running water. Rub some salt over the fish pieces and wash it one more time. Set aside.
  • Make the ginger, garlic and g.chillies to a paste. Set aside.
  • Roast the ingredients for the paste with 1 tsp oil (add red chillies first, then spices and then add the coconut at the end) , cool and make them to a fine paste by adding little water. Set aside.
  • Heat oil (add a little extra oil), season with mustard seeds and fennel seeds.
  • Add the ginger/garlic/g.chillies paste and fry for a min.
  • Add onions and curry leaves, fry for a few mins until onions are nicely fried.
  • Add tomatoes, chilli powder and turmeric and fry for a few mins, until the tomatoes lose shape and the spices are well blended.
  • Now add the spice paste and fry for a few mins. Cover and leave it in low heat for 5 mins.
  • Remove the lid, add salt and tamarind juice and mix well. If required, you can add some extra water.
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer in low heat for about 15 mins. The gravy should be thickened a bit.
  • Finally add the fish pieces and boil for 5 mins.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves.
  • Switch off the heat, leave the pan covered on the stove for about an hour before serving. This way the fish flavor gets into the gravy and tastes better.
Enjoy with steaming hot white rice!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hariyali Paneer and a Hundred down!


Although I have slowed down in my posts, I've been aware in the back of my mind that my 100th post is right around the corner. Ever since I posted my previous one, I was in the urge to post my next one right away to celebrate my 100th post. But I've just not been able to get to my blog. My office work, MBA Classes and house-hold routine is keeping me totally occupied. My late night hours nowadays are taken over by my MBA assignments. I'd been also thinking to celebrate this achievement by making a sweet or a cake, but finally decided to just post one of the recipes sitting in my drafts for quite some time.

After 100 posts, I'm pretty sure that there's still a lot of room for improving my blog, but I should also say thats its been a blast and a great ride so far! Every post has given me an opportunity to learn and improve upon something. When I started this blog, I surely didn't expect I will be touching this magic number 100, ever! Thanks to everyone who have sent a comment, complaint, or correction. Keep them coming as I continue with my next 100 posts!

I think we all agree that adding fresh herbs is a quick way to transform an ordinary dish into an extraordinary dish. This is a recipe that I learned recently with fresh corriander and mint leaves. Well, I've already tasted this dish quite a few times, but I learned the recipe just recently. Corriander and Mint combo is one of the most flavorful combos in Indian cooking. I believe wherever this combo happens, the dish is a hit for sure - It can be in Briyani, Chutneys or Chettinad cuisine. When I first happened to taste this paneer dish in a restaurant, I wondered how I missed this beautiful combo with Paneer! I fell for that minty flavor right away. Here is my version of Hariyali Paneer - modified a bit according to my taste.

Ingredients:
  • Paneer cubes - 25 (small sized)
  • Capsicum - 1
  • Corriander leaves - 1 cup (chopped)
  • Mint leaves - 5 or 6
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 3 cloves
  • G.chillies - 5 (small)
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 3
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Cashews - 5 numbers
  • Kasoori Methi (Crushed) - 1 tsp
  • Cream - 3 tbsps
Procedure:
  • Blend these to a paste - 1/2 onion (chopped), ginger, garlic, g.chillies, corriander leaves, mint leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, cashews. Just add little water to make it to a semi-solid paste.
  • Chop the capsicum to 1 inch cubes.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add the remaining 1/2 onions (chopped) and fry for 2 mins.
  • Add the chopped capsicum and fry for 2 more mins.
  • Add the paste and 2 tbsps of water fry in medium heat for 4 to 5 mins. The raw smell of corriander and mint should not go away. I cover it for 3 mins and then fry for the last 2 mins.
  • Add salt, 1 cup water and let the mixture boil until it reaches almost a thick consistency.
  • Add Kasoori Methi and then Paneer cubes - mix them together and boil for 2 more mins.
  • Finally add cream and stir together. If you want to lighten the spice level, you can add extra cream.
  • Remove from heat and leave it for 30 mins before serving.
Goes best with Naan!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Poosanikai Paal Koottu - White Pumpkin in a mild coconut gravy

Hope you all had a great Diwali!

Fall is here! What are your favorite things in Fall? I like fall, but I hate to see it come because it rings a bell in my mind of whats just around the corner - Winter. But there are still some nice things about Fall. The anticipation of the upcoming Holiday season makes it special to me. The pumpkin flavor is back once again in everything - Donut, Coffee, Soup, Cookies, you name it. If my favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte is available in Starbucks, then I can officially declare its Fall! I am already relishing my Latte for the last couple of weeks, especially on those chilly mornings perfect for a hot drink. Its a delicious blend of pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors in a coffee. I generally enjoy my early morning commutes with a cup of coffee and my favorite music playing in the car, and with my favorite Latte, I can drive that extra mile!

I'm also enjoying the spectacular colors of fall during my commute. When we lived in the New England area, we had the privilege of watching the fall foliage. Those amazing vibrant colors of maples! Though my current place is not a typical fall-destination for outsiders, it actually gets really pretty for a couple of weeks in october. I don't think any other season brings this beauty. I may sound silly, but I also like wearing a warm, cozy sweater on a crisp morning rather than those heavy jackets. It gives me such a great comfort to my mind and body. May be perhaps it reminds me of my holidays in a hill station like Kodaikanal wearing a light sweater with a thin scarf around my neck. Well, those are some of my fall favorites..

Now, about the recipe, this is one of those traditional handed-down-from-grandma recipes in South India. There may be multiple versions of this dish floating across my home-town region. The reason I want to post it here is surprisingly I couldn't find this recipe online. After a long time I made this dish, and when I wanted to make sure I'm using the right ingredients I searched online for this recipe and after a heavy search I found only a couple of sites with this recipe. I decided to post it in my blog after I make this and here it is. Its again a very simple dish and goes well with Rice and Dal.

Ingredients:
  • White Pumpkin - chopped - 2 cups
  • G.chillies - 2
  • Shallots - chopped - 4 tbsp (you can use regular onions too).
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Urad Dal - 1 tsp
  • Red Chilly - 1
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Procedure:
  • Dry roast the cumin seeds for 2 to 3 mins in medium heat and grind to a fine powder. Alternatively you can use 1/2 tsp of readymade cumin powder.
  • Mix the cumin powder with the coconut milk and set aside.
  • In a pan, add onions, g.chillies, pumpkin and salt with 1/2 cup water and cook together.
  • Mash the pumpkins slighlty after they are thoroughly cooked.
  • Add the coconut milk and jeera powder mixture and let it boil for 2-3 mins until it becomes slightly thicker.
  • In a separate pan, heat some oil and season with mustard seeds and urad dal. When they splatter add the red chilly and some curry leaves.
  • Pour this mixture on top of the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Remove from heat.
Serve warm with rice and dal.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mushrooms and Okras Stir-fry


Another long and busy month and I'm realizing that I have not posted anything for weeks now! I wonder if there comes a time when you automatically tend to push your blogging aside because of certain other things taking priority in your schedule. No, I'm not telling that I have come to that stage, and I don't see myself ever doing so, but was surprised to learn that I'm at a point where I'm regularly late with my posts after my summer break. Ever since school started for my daughter, I've been postponing all my other activities just to make sure she comfortably settles well with her routine. Actually my morning rat-race hasn't been that bad so far. She's been waking up on time as she is still excited about her 2nd grade. She is prompt in getting ready and finishing her breakfast too, and we've been consistently ready about 10 mins earlier than usual! I hope this excitement continues in her for some more time. Generally she likes school, except waking up early on those cold winter mornings, which I'm sure all of us hate anyway.

With time crunch, cooking also took a step back in my kitchen for the past few weeks. We had boringly repetitive meals, though how much ever harder I tried to be creative in the kitchen. But I was also waiting for last weekend to get organized and set-up my refrigerator and pantry, which I thought may trigger my interest to cook something elaborate in the weekend. Well, I finally spent a couple of hours in re-arranging my pantry over the weekend, which was one of my long pending tasks. As I arranged my pantry, I started unveiling those unused spices I had brought from India. That sense of guilt in not using them for such a long sparked the vigor in me to get productive in the kitchen. In the next few mins, I started to browse my cookbook to figure out an easy and tasty dish, especially using Okras.

Okra is the most prolific plant I managed to grow in my mini vegetable garden this year. I initially thought it would die as the growth was slow, but suddenly one fine morning, I saw several new flower buds popping! Aah that was so exciting! Since then its been a pleasure watching it grow. Now I have a few pounds of okras in my refregirator. I obviously wanted to make something good with my okras. This is a dish I found in my cookbook, I've no idea when I wrote this recipe in my cookbook. I liked it because it was just easy to make! This is the first time I'm making it, and was a big hit in our house.

Ingredients:
  • Chopped mushrooms - 2 cups
  • Okras - 10 to 12, medium sized
  • Onions - chopped (1 cup)
  • Garlic - 3 medium cloves (finely chopped)
  • Mint leaves - 10
  • Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup (chopped)
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Garam Masala - 1 tsp
  • Mustard and Cumin seeds - 1 tsp each
Procedure:
  • Wash & dry the okras, and then cut them in round slices (should not be too thin).
  • Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
    Heat oil in a pan, season with mustard and cumin seeds.
  • Add finely chopped onions and garlic, fry for 2 - 3 mins.
  • Add the mint and corriander leaves, fry for a few seconds.
  • Add the okras and stir-fry in low heat for about 3-5 mins, until the stickiness is almost gone.
  • Now add the spice powders , mushrooms and salt and mix well.
  • Cover in low heat until the mushrooms become soft.
  • Then increase the heat, stir-fry until its roasted well and you get a nice brown color.
Goes well with anything as a great side-dish. I enjoy this with Rice and Dal!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Green Tomatoes - A Sweet and Sour Combo


I'm back from another beautiful vacation! We were up in the Canadian Rocky mountains last week... This is one of those places with exceptional beauty! The natural beauty of those gorgeous glaciers, roaring waterfalls and snowcapped peaks are a treat for the eyes and mind. We took a train ride for 2 days and then drove from Jasper to Banff in Alberta, Canada. This scenic drive is suppose to be one of the top 5 scenic drives in the world! Its a must-take drive.

Well, here I am again after another short break and pretty much all geared up to get back on track with my old routine. After a long time, our lives seem to be back to normal. Its that time of the year again! Fall is just around the corner. Bright and early tuesday morning next week, my daughter will start the new school year! As usual, I still don't quite feel ready for it this year too. Need to setup her room and desk to get her ready for school. Looks like as usual she is quite excited and seems to be all set for her school already!

My routine won't be great for sure, it doesn't allow for a lot of loafing. Waking up at 6 am! I have to act being cheerful and pleasant in order to get my daughter up and ready to school while I am barely functioning. Next is making the lunch box.. Aah, the pain of deciding what to make... is it peanutbutter-jelly, noodles, or pasta.. or... this.. that.. and finally ending-up with whatever I grab from my fridge first. Then comes my commute - mostly glued to my bluetooth and attending office meetings. And what about the homework time and dinner time? aah.. this whole dreaded back-to-school fiasco! I'm not that enthusiastic about it. I know within weeks we'll settle down, but until then its important for me to keep my sanity!

Well, with my parents departure, I'm back in the kitchen all by myself -- that means, I'm back to my old habits of debating everyday what to cook for dinner, recalling my handy quick and easy recipes, managing with leftovers etc. Ever since we came back from vacation, I'm taking it easy by shopping only for necessary items like milk and bread. I'm barely yet to my regular cooking routine. During my regular hunt in my fridge for dinner ideas, I found these raw tomatoes that my friend had given me a couple of weeks back. She has a huge vegetable patch in her backyard with plenty of tomatoes and chillies! I specifically had asked for green raw tomatoes from her to make this special vegetable dish that I really enjoy. This is another of those recipes I tasted from my friend's lunch box and got curious to try it out myself. That special sour and sweet combination goes very well with chapathis and I actually do enjoy this with rice too.

I know you all should be wondering why does it look red when made with green tomatoes. Adding chilli powder and garam masala changes the color of the dish, and I also do avoid turmeric. I also have to admit that I really don't know the difference between these raw green tomatoes and Tomatillos. They look the same to me, but tomatillos taste a bit more sour to me. I tried this same recipe with tomatillos a couple of times, but came out way too sour! So, I just stick on to these raw tomotoes and end up preparing this dish only in summer. If any one can help me out with the difference between these two vegetables, that will be great!


Ingredients :
  • Green Tomatoes - 5 numbers (medium sized)
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
  • Jaggery - 1 tbsp
  • Peanut Powder (Crushed peanuts) - 2 to 3 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - for garnishing
Procedure:
  • Wash and chop the green tomatoes as shown in the picture.
  • Heat some oil in a pan, and season with mustard and cumin seeds.
  • Then add these tomatoes and fry for a few mins.
  • Add chillipowder, garam masala and some salt and mix well. Cover it for atleast 10 mins or until the tomatoes become soft. You will have to saute the mixture and mash the tomatoes a little bit using spatula a couple of times.
  • When its just about ready add the jaggery and fry until its completely dissolved with the vegetable.
  • Finally add the peanut powder, mix well and remove from heat.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves.
Awesome side dish for rotis!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls with Blue Cheese Dip!

Knock, Knock.. Is anyone out there?? I'm slowly trying to enter into my blogging world again after a long break! Its like getting into your own house after 2 months. Getting familiarized with whats new around me, what have changed during my absence etc. So, what did I miss these last 2 months? Looks like a quite a few of my blogger friends have also taken a summer break! Hope they are having a great time! Other than that, I think I missed quite a few interesting events hosted by some great cooks, and ofcourse also saw some great posts, lovely recipes with those glorious pictures... hmm, I sure did miss my blogging, and I'm glad to be back!

Hope everyone is having a great summer! Trying to get back to routine after my parents departure, but its so hard for me to come back to blogging after a long break! So many things to talk, so many recipes to post, but hard to jump on to my routine after a break. Trying to catch up with all of your yummy posts as well. It may be slow, but I'll catch up for sure.

I must say that this break has been a much needed break! With family around, its natural to switch to a different routine. Definitely busy, but not as crazy as my regular routine. Didn't have to rush my daughter to school, which is a big relief. Didn't need to rush back from work either to pick her up. I was able to catch up with my long pending movies :-), spent some time with mom shopping around, enjoyed eating a lot of my favorite dishes from mom's cooking, had some great trips to some nearby places and attractions, and yeah, had fun Camping too! Before I could realize, summer is almost gone now. I have one more vacation planned for next week for this summer, which is making me feel better. Just not yet ready to get back to the Fall routine.

When mom was around, kitchen time was shared with her mostly. She made a lot of my favorite dishes and I could smell some of my childhood familiar aromas in my kitchen after a long time. Need to work hard for the next few weeks to get rid of those extra pounds that I absorbed from mom's cooking :) I also learnt quite a few new recipes from her as well, will be posting them one by one soon.

Alright, I think I'm back to the grind. Here is yet another exciting recipe, Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls! I got this yummy picture from my sister and brother-in-law. They tried it a few weeks back after they watched it in a cooking show and wanted me to give it a shot as they just loved it. I had asked for the photo and recipe from my Brother-in-law, as I thought of posting this great dish here when I actually didn't have time to make my own dish for sharing. And here it is, after a month! I haven't tried this yet, but the picture was so convincing that I'm going to love it no matter what and I can't wait to try these myself. The combination of chicken and cheese sounded so rich and delicious. Oh also, the blue cheese dip sounded like a classic side for the chicken balls. This could be a great appetizer for any parties, I bet. Here are the recipes, If anyone happens to try them before me, don't forget to let me know how they came out!

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls

Ingredients

  • Rostierre chicken (1 whole)
  • Buffalo sauce (1/4 cup)
  • Grated sharp cheddar cheese (1 and 3/4 cup)
  • Coarse black pepper ( 1tsp)
  • Couple bunch of scallions
  • All-purpose flour (1 cup)
  • Eggs (3, beaten)
  • Bread crumbs for crunchiness (2 cups)

Procedure

  • Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and place it in a bowl
  • Break the pieces into as small pieces as you can (close to shredding it, but with hand). This is a not a 1 minute thing.
  • Add a qtr cup hot buffalo sauce, pepper and cheddar cheese Slice the scallions finely. They are for flavor and colorMix all the above.
  • Make small balls from the mixture. The cheese and the hot sauce will keep them bonded.
  • Grab 3 dishes, for flour, egg and bread crumbsAdd the balls to the flour to just get a coating (just roll them with your finger tip). Shake off the extra flour Dip the balls in egg and roll them on the bread crumbs to get an even coating.
  • Deep fry in oil at 350 deg for about 2-3 mins. Remove them when golden brown.

Creamy blue cheese dipping sauce

Ingredients:

  • Blue cheese (you could use Danish or Maytag too) - 1/2 cup
  • LemonMayo - 1.5 cup
  • Black pepper - 1 pinch
  • Salt - 1 pinch
  • Diced garlic - 1tsp
  • Hot sauce - a few drops
  • Worchestire sauce - a few drops

Procedure

  • Break the Blue Cheese with your hands if you want.
  • Add the pepper, salt, garlic to the cheese.
  • Squeeze a half piece of lemon juice
  • Add the mayo, and mix well.
  • Now add a few dashes oh Wochester sauce, and a little hot sauce for some extra heat.
  • Mix well and you are done!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm Back! But still on a break :)

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Sorry for disappearing suddenly without any updates! My long disappearance would have made people think that I'm still camping :) I wish I was camping that long :) But in reality, this was an unplanned break. I knew I was going to be busy this summer due to my parents visit and with my vacations planned. But didn't expect it to be this busy! I thought I will squeeze in some time now and then to post something during the summer. But I was wrong! I've been on my toes for the last 2 months with absolutely no time to blog at all :-( I feel so bad for completely ignoring my blog, but on the other hand, I'm having a great time this summer with my parents and family. Summer just flies by at our place and it makes sense to spend time outdoors mostly. I take my parents outside for a walk, to the park, for shopping and to restaurants etc. If we are at home, we either watch a movie or play cards until late night! Believe me, this has been the routine for the last few weeks, until recently I realized that I've been postponing my blogging for a while now! Before it gets too late, I wanted to post something. Though my parents will be here for a few more weeks, I will try to post something over the next couple of weeks whenever I have time.

I have quite a few recipes to post, and WILL be posting them soon.. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eating Bangkok - Thai Red Curried Rice!


Last week was another hard-hitting week at work with continuous meetings and intense discussions for our project planning. By the time my week was over, I felt like taking rest for two more weeks! But as this week progressed, I started gaining my vigor again in a couple of days, and I'm feeling energetic right now! I think I know why. Our camping trip is coming up this weekend! Camping is our all-time summer favorite. We have been doing this for several years now, and everytime I love it. I often ask myself why do I love camping? Is it because I can sleep under the stars? Or is it the party at the campground with friends? Or may be its the food? I still exactly don't know what makes me enjoy camping so much. My camping trip starts from the day I start planning for the trip - what to carry, what to cook, where to hike etc. Last weekend, we got together with our friends and decided on everything, and today I started my shopping and packing too. Hope to have a great time this year too. I already shared my last year's camping experience here, and hopefully I'll have something to share this time too!

Alright, about the recipe.. One of my food resolutions is to learn how to cook Thai food! As much as I love Indian food, I love Thai food as well. I got hooked up to Thai food only in the last few years. As predicted, I've never tasted Thai cuisine until I came to the US. But after coming here, as part of our regular culinary explorations, I happened to try Thai cuisine and started loving it right away. That familiar flavor of coconut milk and the vibrant peanuts flavor often relate to my home made Indian food and make me dribble :) When I started this blog last year, I even had a small poll going on in my blog asking everyone to vote for their favorite cuisine next to Indian. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that majority of the vote was for Thai cuisine! That was so exhilarating!

Whenever I go to Thai restaurants I invariably order either the red or yellow chicken curry and the Thai style fried rice. But recently I've started indulging into the taste of Thai Yellow/Red Curried rice. This is an all-in-one dish thats loaded with flavors and offers an incredibly good curried taste, plus a healthy mix of vegetables! The first time I made this dish, I made it for lunch for myself. It was a rainy day and I felt like making something light yet flavorful. I already had a can of Thai red curry paste in my pantry that I usually use to make Thai curries, and wanted to try the Thai curried rice for myself. This recipe is just my own way of making it after guessing on the ingredients mentally everytime I enjoy it at restaurant :) But I was so pleased with the end-result that it ended up being one of the staple rice dishes that we often enjoy at home.

This rice dish goes to Nag's Ravishing Rice event, started by Meeta.

Ingredients:

  • Uncooked Basmati rice - 1 cup
  • Thai Red curry paste - 2 tbsp
  • Onions - 1 small (sliced)
  • Baby corns - 6 to 8
  • Red Bell Pepper - 1 small
  • Cabbage - 1/2 cup (chopped to 1 inch long strips)
  • Carrots - sliced round - 10 pieces
  • Fresh Basil leaves - 5
  • Low fat coconut milk - 1 can

Procedure:

  • Chop the vegetables as mentioned above.
  • Heat oil (preferably olive oil) in a pan, and add the sliced onions. Fry for a min or two.
  • Add the vegetables and stir fry for a few mins. Then add the basil leaves, saute for a min.
  • Then add the Red curry paste and fry in medium heat until you feel a nice aroma (this may take about 5 mins).
  • Add this mixture to the uncooked rice along with salt and 2 cups of low fat coconut milk and cook in an electric rice cooker together. You may also use pressure cooker, but make sure the rice doesn't get overcooked.

Goes well with any curry, but we enjoy the rice just as it is.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spicy Chicken with Green Chillies


I haven't posted a chicken dish in a long time, isn't it? My vegetarian friends have to excuse me this time :) However my non-veg friends have been insisting me to post some non-veg recipes as I haven't posted any chicken recipes in a looong time! When I noticed Viki's Potluck Chicken event going on and myself being a chicken lover, I have no excuse not to post them :) So last weekend, I rolled up my sleeves, got into the kitchen and made this fabulous chicken dish, thats long due. There are quite a few chicken dishes ideal for potlucks that I wanted to post, but just haven't had the time to make them, except this one.

I have to say that I love Potlucks! There are several reasons for my liking. First, Potluck is a food-lovers dream. I like the idea of having friends together to chit-chat and share fabulous food! Second, its neither stressful, nor too formal. Hosting a formal dinner requires lots of planning and labor and by the time everything is prepared and ready to be served I'm too tired to enjoy the party. Third, its a great way to share recipes! I love the fact that I actually first try the dish myself before I ask for the recipe and try it myself. This way, I'm familiar with the taste, color, consistency etc. And last but not least, the joy in choosing the dish (perfect time to make that "show-stopper" dish!) and an ideal opportunity to show our creativity skills too. I should say that I've been very lucky to have attended many interesting potlucks over the years. Some with great themes, some with great entertainment, some with just great food! Though we started off by organizing and attending potlucks only for special occassions like Diwali, New year etc, a while later we learnt that it doesn't hurt to try different foods for no special reasons :)

This is a classic potluck chicken recipe - its rich and flavorful. There are certain recipes we know that we just need to try them the very first time we hear about them. Its that certain thing that sticks to my mind and keeps pointing out that this dish should come out great. As the name implies, this recipe doesn't use chilli powder which is commonly used in majority of the Indian Chicken dishes, but uses only green chillies. My sister shared this recipe with me after she watched it in a TV show. I have been drooling over her recipe ever since I heard it, but have been postponing due to the lack of interest of making this dish just for myself (and mere laziness!) because my husband is a vegetarian. So when I saw Viki's Potluck Chicken event, I wanted to try this dish right away. I finally tried it last weekend and I just loved the outcome! Its a little consuming (to me) than my usual dishes, but I thought its worth for a potluck because thats the only dish I'll be making anyway. It tasted creamy, rich and quite different than my regular chicken dishes. Hope you all like it too.

This recipe is on its way to Viki's Potluck Chicken event.

Ingredients:
  • Boneless/Skinless Chicken thighs - 1 lb
  • Lemon juice - 2 tsp
  • Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • G.chillies (Spicy Thai Chillies) - 10 - 12 (Adjust to your spice level)
  • Red/Yellow Onion - 1 medium
  • Tomatoes - 2 medium
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Any Chicken Masala or Garam masala - 1 tbsp
  • Milk - 1/4 cup
  • Mixed Nuts (Cashews/Almonds/Pistachios) - 4 each (I used just cashews and almonds)
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full.
Procedure:
  • Clean the chicken cut into bite size pieces. Marinate with lemon juice, salt and ginger garlic paste for 1 hour.
  • Heat a pan with oil and shallow fry the chicken until golden brown outside. Set aside.
  • In the same pan, add a little more oil and fry chopped onions until soft. Make a paste.
  • In the same oil, fry the green chillies and make a paste.
  • Drop the tomato in hot water and peel it. Make a puree.
  • Make a watery paste of turmeric and chicken masala/garam masala.
  • Make a paste of the nuts along with the milk. 2 or 3 tsps of the paste is good enough.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add the onion paste and chillies paste; fry until you smell the nice aroma (3-5 mins).
  • Add the powder paste and fry until cooked. Then add the tomato puree, followed by the fried chicken and fry until the chicken absorbs the masala. If necessary, can leave the pan covered for a few minutes.
  • Just before turning off the stove add the nuts paste, corriander leaves. Stir and serve.
Tastes awesome with Naan/Rotis.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quick recipes - for busy days



I've been so behind in participating in any cooking-events lately. The moment I see an event announcement, I get all geared up and enthusiastic about participating, but my energy plunges down like a torn balloon as days go by. And by the time I realize, its already too late to contribute. This has become my habit in the last several months. I'm sure I missed quite a few interesting events that I could have contributed. So, now I'm into this resolution mood of participating in all cooking events, ok - atleast as much as I can, from now on. Don't know how long this energy will last, but atleast wanted to try.

So, after browsing through some of the great events hosted by some great bloggers, I started sorting by the end date and I noticed Mahimaa's 15 min cooking event is nearing its deadline. Ever since I saw her announcement, I've been thinking about participating in her event, because quick-meals are my preferred meals! So this was a perfect come back for me! But as usual I was delaying for no reason. Finally I'm all set to join the event! Thanks Mahimaa, for hosting this event! Here are some of the easy recipes that can be put together in a few minutes.

Purple Shake!

A perfect summer time shake with vibrant grape flavours and frozen yogurt. Long back I tasted Grape Milk Shake in a restaurant and fell for it right away. I thought the combination was quite unique and best of all, I loved the color. Since then, I've been making it at home. But the recipe has undergone some evolution and has now become a low-calorie version, but still offers the same great taste!



Ingredients (for 2 glasses):
  • Grape Concentrate (Frozen/Undiluted) - 3 tbsp
  • Vanilla Frozen Yogurt (non-fat) - 1 cup
  • Water - 1/2 cup
  • Low fat milk - 1 cup
  • Lemon juice - 1 tsp (optional)

Procedure:

  • Run all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until they form a nice frozen mixture. Serve immediately in glasses, topped with a scoop of frozen yogurt.

Corriander leaves with Gram flour - A different side dish!


Fresh herbs are a wonder to cook with! Nothing can beat the fresh smelling corriander leaves and their nice zingy color! Given a chance, I would add them to anything I cook. This dish is a dish that contains corriander leaves as the main vegetable iteslf! Quite an interesting recipe that I learnt from my friend, and have been a fan of this dish ever since I tasted it for the first time from her lunch box! After trying a few times I think I'm getting better in matching her taste. The key is to add the right amount of gram flour (besan). A very simple, yet tasty dish.



Ingredients:

  • Chopped corriander leaves - 2 cups
  • Garlic - 2 small pods
  • Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Gram Flour - 1/2 cup
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Procedure:

  • Chop the corriander leaves and garlic finely. I run both of them together in a food processor for a few mins.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with cumin seeds. Once they pop, add chilli powder and salt in the oil. After a few seconds, add the corriander leaves and garlic and mix well.
  • Add salt, cover and cook for 2-3 mins. Do not add water.
  • Increase the heat, and add gram flour in batches until the mixture becomes without moisture. Don't add too much flour, or it may spoil the taste. I hope the picture gives an idea on the consistency.

Serve hot with Rice / Rotis.


Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Curry

Another of those quick and easy ones that I learnt from my same friend! Again, my first encounter with this dish was from her lunch-box and I've now made it quite a few times. I love pumpkin especially in a sweet form. This is a little different and I love the combination of Sweet and Spicy flavors.


Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin - 2 cups (cut into cubes)
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
  • Jaggery - 2 tbsp

Procedure:

  • Heat oil in a pan, season with mustard and fenugreek seeds.
  • Add the pumpkin cubes, chilli powder, garam masala and salt.
  • Cover and cook for 5 - 7 mins. Pumpkins usually cook faster and release lots of moisture. So, don't add water.
  • Add the jaggery and cover for a couple more mins. Increase the heat and stir periodically until the water completely evaporates and pumpkins are soft and tender.

I enjoy this with Rice and Sambar.


Spicy Green Buttermilk

Its summer time and I can't ignore buttermilk! I made this over the weekend after a tiring day. If you are a spice lover, this buttermilk version is for you. Ofcourse, you can also make a less spicy version of the same recipe, by altering the spices. I enjoy it as medium spicy.



Ingredients:

  • Curd / Yogurt - 1 cup
  • Water - 3 cups
  • Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida - 2 pinches
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • G.chillies - 2 small
  • Curry leaves - 3
  • Corriander leaves - 1 tbsp (chopped)
  • Salt - as required.

Procedure:

  • Grind everything together in a blender except the curd. You can add some water to make it a smooth paste.
  • Then add the curd, remaining water and blend for a few mins.
  • Serve chilled, garnished with curry leaves.

All these entries go to Mahimaa's 15 min cooking event and EC's WYF - Quick Meal event.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mom's Green Cauliflower Masala - A Mother's Day Special!


A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.
- Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

I'm dedicating this post to my Mom for Mother's Day! There have been a few random thoughts floating around in my head for the last few days, whenever I thought about Mother's day. Those thoughts were mainly about my mom and on what to gift her for Mother's day. The more I thought about it, the more I decided to come up with something original. And then a couple of days back, as I was driving to work, I slowly started wondering why not for this mother's day I dedicate a post for her! Though all mothers deserve recognition and appreciation throughout the year, I thought when there is one such special day created called Mother's day completely dedicated to mothers, I should use this opportunity to write a special post for my mom and make her Speciality-dish to let her know that she is special today! So, this is going be a long post :)

I read this quote somewhere - The moment a child is born, a mother is also born! I undeniably think that a mother's qualities are already built inside a woman, but comes out only when she becomes a mother. From then on, her role of motherhood becomes everlasting. I think mothers make the greatest impact in our lives, especially in girls' lives. No matter how "grown-up" we all claim to be, there is always something that we learn from our mothers in every stage. I'm a mother now, and I can understand how much hard work and dedication is required to raise a family. I've also learnt that being a mother never gets easier, but it just gets different in every stage! Things that didn't make sense a while back, make sense to me now. In today's fast paced world, in spite of having everything that I need in my finger-tips today, and having so many amenities all around me like Cell phones, Internet, Car etc., raising my only child has been a challenge for me everyday. And, I always get amazed how my mom was able to bring-up four kids those days without complaints! She has incredible patience with kids and is a very good listener - she's never tired of listening to our ramblings and daily musings, a good friend to all of us - yet strict when needed! Most of all, she takes interest in our individual activities - whether its education or career, music or dance , cooking or shopping, or even when we have nothing else to do but chit-chat! She's been a part of everything. Even now, she continuously encourages me to sign-up for music, dance and meditation classes that I left back as child. I think she still watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement :)

As I type this post, I'm able to recall all her special qualities. My mom has this great determination and inner-strength that makes her very special to all of us within our family. We 4 sisters are hardly 2 to 3 years apart in age, and we all of us pretty much grew up together demanding attention simultaneously. Its amazing when I think how she managed during some of those hard-hitting days when we used to fall sick one after the other, when we all had exams around the same time, and when we relocated frequently due to dad's official demands. To me, taking care of our individual health and education needs, managing the household, while giving the same amount of attention to all of us, is too much to handle. But she did it without flaws and I've often heard her say that she never ever had any regrets in her life that she had to bring-up four girls with very little help and I've always admired her perseverance! This is one thing that I think all mothers need to possess. Oh, I have to share this! My mom is very good looking! We all have heard countless compliments from friends and relatives while growing up and those compliments continue till date :) She is very fair, slim and looks much younger for her age. Believe me, she was named as her college's "Beauty Queen" during one of her college years! She still has her annual magazine that has her name and title :)

Now we all sisters are well educated and established, and have taken different directions in our lives. But I'm sure we all still think about her in the back of our minds and try following her foot-steps in our day-to-day lives knowingly and unknowingly. I'm sure she had given up many things for herself, to make us become who we are now. But after saying all these great qualities of my mom, I'm asking to myself - Do I have all of her qualities ? Frankly, not all of them. I still have a long way to go in some aspects, but I'm also getting better in some aspects. As I work on it everyday, I have a big hope to become a great mother like her one day!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO YOU AMMA AND TO ALL MOTHERS!

Moving to the recipe, today I made this Green cauliflower Curry that is Mom's speciality. Honestly, I've not tasted this dish anywhere else till date. When I think about some dishes that has mom's special touches, this one stands-out for sure. It has an incredible flavour and tastes quite unique than other cauliflower dishes. This is an ideal dish if you are looking for a change from your regular gobi sabjis for Rotis. Green , luscious and the fresh corriander flavor is the highlight in this dish. Hope you all like it too!

Ingredients:
  • Cauliflower - 1 medium flower
  • Onion - 1 medium (chopped finely)
  • Shredded Coconut - 4 tbsp
  • Green Chillies - 4 small
  • Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
  • Garlic - 1 pod
  • Curry leaves - about 10 leaves
  • Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup (chopped)
  • Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Procedure:
  • Cut/break the cauliflower into medium size florets and wash them thoroughly.
  • Make the following to a smooth paste - Coconut, 1 tbsp of the chopped onions, garlic, curry leaves, corriander leaves, fennel seeds and G.chillies. Set aside.
  • In a large pan, heat oil and season with cumin seeds. Now add the remaining chopped onions and fry in high heat for 2 mins.
  • Add the cauliflower and fry for 4 - 5 mins in high heat. Add the paste, salt and 1 cup water and mix well.
  • Cover and cook in low heat for 10 mins or until the cauliflower is completely cooked. Increase the heat and saute until it becomes thick.
Serve hot with Rotis or Rice.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spicy Green Beans with Sesame Seeds - Comfort food at its best!


Every once in a while, I crave for something that I've not eaten in a long time. It doesn't matter what it ends up to be - It could be a dish that mom makes, or a dish that I ate at my friend's place or something that I relished during a dinner at a restaurant. Sometimes, strangely it could even just bring back memories about my vacation somewhere! But once that craving is planted in me, it will ignite and will keep growing until I get that tang of it. Sometimes we end-up hunting for that restaurant that we visited long ago, or sometimes I cook it myself no matter how busy I am. Its that certain thing that sticks in my memory that I can't seem to forget when I crave for it. It may sound ridiculous, but any food lover's craving is very similar to what I said.

This is one such dish that I started having a craving for, since last week. I used to make it often a while back, but don't know why I suddenly discontinued! But after spotting fresh green beans often in my local grocery, I started longing for this spicy dish! I just couldn't resist picking some of them last weekend. How can I not? I had to hunt back for the recipe in my notes and finally made it today!

From a former green beans hater, to making many dishes nowadays with green beans is quite a significant progress for me. I was never fond of green beans. Call me unsophisticated, but I never liked its flavor and texture especially when in its crunchy. Back in India, the only recipe that I am familiar with green beans is the "poriyal". That according to me, in those days, was so bland and lethargic that it didn't attract me. So I lived in ignorance, unaware of the pleasure this vegetable offers when its made spicy! Now I am a convert. Spicy green beans is one of my favourites now. Especially when I make it this way with sesame seeds, its a pleasure to taste it! Pair it with Rice and sambar, its a fulfilling menu! Its interesting to me, the fact that, with just a little thought, and a touch here and there, a basic vegetable can become something exciting!

Ingredients:
  • Green Beans - chopped to 2 inch pieces - 3 cups
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Garlic - 3 cloves
  • White or Black Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Sesame seeds - 1 tsp (for seasoning)
Procedure:
  • Boil the chopped green beans with salt until its 3/4 th cooked.
  • Dry roast the sesame seeds until they turn golden brown. Blend them together with chilli powder and salt to a fine powder. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with cumin seeds and sesame seeds.
  • Fry chopped onions and chopped garlic and saute for 3 mins.
  • Now add the cooked beans and increase the heat until the water completely evaporates.
  • Add the sesame seeds powder, mix well, cover and cook for 5 mins.
  • Once the beans are fully cooked, add the garam masala, saute for a couple of mins, or until the mixture is fully dry.
Serve hot with Rotis or Rice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Onion Pickle


A few days ago, I was wondering why do I dislike making Indian pickles at home. Is it because of that time consuming process? Or is it too much effort like -- bulk chopping, drying in sun etc.? Or that endless waiting while it gets soaked in bottles for days? Or because there's no instant gratification and I have to wait patiently for days? Well, may be perhaps its not my style of cooking, which is usually quick fix meals -- Cut this, cut that, add a little bit of this and a little bit of that, a little fry or boil -- and out of the kitchen! I'm sure its not as easy as it sounds, but I think you know what I mean.

To avoid all the hassle of making pickles at home, I instead prefer visiting an Indian grocery store, pick-up my favorite pickle and satisfy my craving. I've nothing to do with those recipes that are time consuming or with a long list of ingredients, but I'm not cooking them if I can enjoy an equally delicious store-bought product. In fact, I'm not even a serious pickle fan, I can enjoy my meal without any pickle too, but it unquestionably does add a perk to my meal when I have it! While growing up, none of us were too fond of pickles and mom never made it at home too. But I did like it when I tasted it from my friends' lunch boxes during school/college days. Nowadays the store-bought pickles are as good as home-made ones, except my all time favorite ginger pickle. So far, I've not found anything in store thats comparable to my mother-in-law's home-made ginger pickle. So, I don't mind following her recipe and making ginger pickle at home, but only if my hubby comes forward to take the pain of grating that big bulk of ginger!

While browsing a magazine recently, this onion pickle caught my eye, as it looked super delicious in the picture, and appeared to be very simple to make. I surrender when an interesting recipe comes by like this one. May be its my ignorance, but I have never heard of onion pickle until now. Onions as such being such a staple ingredient in Indian cooking, I wonder how were they ignored for pickling! After glancing through the ingredients and instructions, I knew for sure this would come out good, and it didn't disappoint me! It was divine with Curd-rice, and yesterday I couldn't help having a second round of curd-rice with this tongue tickling pickle!

This will stay in fridge for a couple of months.


Ingredients:
  • Pearl Onions/Shallots/Sambar Vengayam - about 25 counts
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
  • Jaggery - 1 tbsp (optional)
  • Tamarind paste - 2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder - 1.5 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Gingely oil - 1/2 cup (You can substitute with any vegetable oil)
Procedure:
  • Peel off the skin from the onions, and chop them to 1 inch pieces. If they are smaller, you can leave them as such without chopping.
  • Mix the tamarind paste with 2 cups of water.
  • Dry roast the fenugreek seeds and a hot pan, make a fine powder and set aside.
  • In the same pan, heat the oil, season with mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the onions and fry in high heat for 3-4 mins.
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder and salt and fry for a few mins.
  • Now add the tamarind juice, jaggery and increase the heat until it starts boiling.
  • Lower the heat and cover for about 20 mins. Once the onions are cooked fully, add the fenugreek powder, increase the heat and keep stirring until it becomes a thick paste.

Enjoy with Idlis/Dosas/Rotis - tastes best with curd rice! Actually, I enjoyed this with plain rice too and it tasted awesome!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spicy Drumsticks & Brinjal Curry


Even Spring is not fully here yet, and I can't wait for summer already! I've already started dreaming about our camping trips and beach days, but those still seem to be a looong wait for me. I hate this in-the-middle-of weather, when it seems to be Spring, but not really. My sweaters make frequent visits to my storage box, but also come out with same frequency! Weather keeps fluctuating a lot. Mornings are colder while I cover myself with coats, and the afternoon becomes really warm or vice-versa. And I also get torn between my sandals and shoes.

Alright, without much ramblings today, I'll move on to this recipe. Someone asked me the other day, what was my favorite vegetable during my younger years. Being from India, like many of us, I was stuck with plenty of choices. Obviously, Indian cooking deals with abundant vegetables resulting in a profuse selection of vegetarian dishes. But one thing that stood unique as I thought about it more, was Drumstick! It doesn't take much to please me - Give me a bowl of rice and any drumstick dish, I will be delighted! I'm sure many of you enjoy this vegetable like me! I absolutely drool and enjoy fresh made sambar with drumsticks! Thats a killer for me. I love to scrape off that tender pulpy flesh and enjoy it. More than taste, its fun to eat this vegetable!

This is another of those traditional handed-down-from-mom recipes. But I can't seem to duplicate her taste, and lack that extra whiff that I usually find in her dish. Well, I'm sure it came out pretty well, but my mind automatically seems to compare with hers, everytime I make this. Though this is a tropical vegetable, I make this vegetable round the year, because I do get frozen drumsticks here, and thats the only version I get here :-( Even in severe winter, cooking this vegetable brings summer into my home, because I've grown up eating this vegetable in a warmer weather.

As usual, pretty basic ingredients and not so complicated recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Drumsticks - 2
  • Indian Eggplants (smaller ones) - 6
  • Onions - 2 medium (divided)
  • Tomato - 1 medium
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric - a few pinches
  • G.Chillies - 2
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp

For the paste:

  • Ginger/Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Shredded Coconut - 3 tbsp

Procedure:

  • Pressure cook together the following for 2 whistles (depends on your pressure cooker) - Chopped Drumsticks, Chopped Brinjals, 1 medium onion (chopped), chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, turmeric and cumin powder and salt.
  • Note: You can also use Japanese eggplants instead of Indian Brinjals. But do not pressure cook them, you can chop and fry them separately with 2 tsp oil and cover it for 10 mins until almost cooked. Then add in the curry at the final stage.
  • Make a smooth paste of the above mentioned ingredients for the paste. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with fennel seeds. Once they turn golden brown, add the remaining Onions and then the Green chillies. Cook for some time until the onions turn color.
  • Now add the pressure cooked ingredients. Increase the heat and then add the paste. Fry and let the mixture boil until the water is almost evaporated.
  • Now, turn the heat to medium and slow fry for 5 more mins until you get a nice colored thick curry.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Idlis with Onion Ghotsu - Time for Comfort..


What is your comfort food? Mine is a long list, but the most favorite is Curd rice with spicy potatoes! :) Doesn't it taste divine and soothing, especially with that slurp? :) I'm salivating at the thought of it. I've been having hankering for comfort foods lately. For the past few days I have almost been cooking only my comfort foods and haven't attempted anything new. Sure, trying different cuisines and making variations in everyday food is ofcourse stimulating. However, after a series of new dishes, most of us long for our favorite & familiar taste to comfort ourselves. To me, comfort food is a home-cooked informal meal, that I can sit & eat on the couch, with my feet tucked in under me. These foods are far from gourmet and usually reminds me of home cooking. Something that I am familiar with, and something I know for sure I'll enjoy. Especially after a long stressful day, or after continuous travel, its so comforting.

I've been slammed at work last week, and absolutely no time for elaborate cooking in the kitchen. Not that I ran out of cooking imagination, there is always the interest and inspiration to make good food, but simply because my schedule has been recently busy with my office projects. In times like these, I'm in need of serious comfort. Last week, as I said, we've been living on comfort foods. Idlis/Dosas for 3 days in a row. One day take-out and another couple of days with Lemon rasam and Potatoes, and there goes the week!

During the middle of the week, I made this Onion Ghotsu for Idlis - my hubby's favorite. I learnt that most men really enjoy sitting down to a nice home-cooked meal, especially when it contains some of their all-time favorite food, perhaps it sends the message that they are special! Mine is no exception :) He loves comfort food and is more fond of simple and tasty home-made dishes than spending those big bucks for those few spoons of gourmet food under a dim light. Since last month, he's been asking me to cook a few of his favorites and he thought I had almost forgotten to make them! Ofcourse I did not, and to prove him, I cooked one of his favorites, Onion Ghotsu! I remember enjoying this yummy and simple recipe during my newly-wedded days. Onion Ghotsu is one of the dishes that my hubby's family practically lived on. My mother-in-law used to make varieties of accompaniments for Idlis/Dosas every morning. This was one of those lovely accompaniments for Idlis. Very flavorful and very easy.


Ingredients:
  • Red Onion - 2 medium (chopped extra fine)
  • Tomatoes - 2 medium
  • G.Chillies - 3 small
  • Turmeric - a few pinches
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp (or as required)
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves & Corriander Leaves - a few
For the paste:
  • Shredded coconut (fresh) - 4 tbsps
  • Pottu Kadalai/Roasted Chana Dal/Chana Dalia - 2 tbsp
  • Ginger - 1/2 inch
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
  • KasaKasa - 1 tsp
Procedure:
  • Make a smooth paste from the ingredients mentioned above for the paste.
  • Heat oil, season with cinnamon, cloves and fennel seeds. When they pop, add the onions, g.chillies & curry leaves. Fry for a few mins until the onions are fried well.
  • Add tomatoes, turmeric and chilli powder and fry them until the tomatoes lose shape completely. Mash the mixture with the spatula, add 1 cup water and salt & cover and let it cook for around 10 mins in medium heat.
  • Now add the ground paste, mix well and cover for another 5 mins. Boil the mixture until it becomes a nice thick gravy.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BUTTER CHICKEN


Without my usual ramblings, today's post is just going to be an appreciation post for the Blogger-aid team who are doing an awesome job. They came up with a fund-raising effort of publishing a cookbook with recipe contributions from we all bloggers! How thoughtful! Kudos to those three ladies who came up with this idea. The funds raised from this will be donated to School Meals, a programme of World Food Programme (WFP). Ever since I read this announcement, I've been waiting to contribute to blogger aid. But as usual I had other distractions and I almost missed the deadline. Fairly late in the game, last week I was going through a myriad of recipes from my very own recipe treasure to figure out what to submit. It was tough to pick a original recipe that I have not posted on my blog yet. Well, I finally decided on this Butter Chicken Recipe that mom used to make often. I almost forgot this recipe in the recent years, and it was a pleasant surprise when I saw it in my cookbook.



It was not until I made it today that I remembered how much I had loved it while growing up. Whenever this dish was made there were no leftovers. A vibrant chicken dish with an awesome blend of spices! I thought this may be an ideal dish to contribute for the cookbook. And the interesting part is not to reveal the recipe in my post! I have just posted a couple of pictures of the dish and will leave it to you on guessing the ingredients and recipe :) To see the recipe, you have to purchase the cookbook that will be on sale on Amazon around Nov-Dec 2009 timeframe. I've seen a lot of delicious recipes already been contributed by my blogger friends to Blogger-aid and I can't wait to buy the cookbook!

See you all in my next post with my usual chit-chats and ramblings :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rainbow Chapathi - Kids Lunch Box Special!


I know, I know.. its been 2 weeks since I posted anything. I just can't figure out how two weeks passed so quickly. I was busy doing nothing! You all must have been tired of seeing my Mocha picture for several days when you open my page. I actually sat down to write this post three times last week and everytime there were distractions in some way, but nothing I can remember. My thoughts were cloudy and immature. But I've been blogging in my mind :) One thought leads to another when I'm alone, but I just let it go and can't remember anything when I sit to write. This post has been sitting in my drafts for more than a week now. And, after receiving a yell from my sister today, I finally was able to post it today.

Not too long ago, I received an email asking if I would like to participate in a "Cooking for Kids" contest and my reaction was, boy that's tough! Though I didn't have time to participate, ever since I saw that email, I've been constantly thinking about making something different that can be healthy and nutritious and my daughter can actively participate. Cooking for kids - I realize lot of us have this challenge in our day-to-day life. I pack her lunch box everyday and very often I run out of ideas for her lunch box. So everyday a considerable amount of my time goes for planning my daughter's lunch. If I can't pack just one lunch-box, I sometimes really wonder how mom used to pack 4 lunch boxes, well actually 5 including dad, lunch boxes everyday. Well, I think the answer is quite clear. We were never fussy with food. While growing up, like many of us, we had only two choices - eat or leave. There were never any meals customized for any of us in the family and its usually mom's choice of menu for the day.

But now, whining and complaining in the dining table is a very usual scene in my place. As far as food goes, it takes really hard to please my daughter. Her list of favorite foods is very small. If she likes something, then it has to be *really* good. I can never get her to try new foods and partially I should be blamed too for not being strict as mom, but I keep complaining that she has adopted this fussy nature from her dad! The good news is she's getting better these days and is willing to try some new recipes once in a while. Well, however she is, there's no doubt she brings a bundle of joy to my life. And I adore her as always. No matter what.

So, wanting to try a different lunch dish for her lunch box I tried this rainbow chapathi for my daughter last week. Mild and colorful, this dish naturally appeals to kids and has nutrients bundled in one meal and, most importantly, my little one loved it! This may be a little time-consuming recipe for some of us (for me, it is!), but to save time you can prepare the batter over the weekend and store it in freezer and leave it outside the night before making it.

This recipe also goes to SriValli's Monthly Mingle - Kids Lunches event. The Original Event
was hosted by Meeta.

Ingredients

  • Spinach - 1/2 cup (tightly packed)
  • Beetroot - 1/2
  • Carrot - 1/2
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger/garlic paste - 1 tsp
  • Chapathi flour - 3 cups
  • Butter
  • Whipped cream - Optional

Procedure:

  • Peel and finely chop the beets and carrots.
  • Cook the spinach, beets and carrots separately with a pinch of chilli powder, salt and little water. I microwaved each of them for 3 - 5 mins.
  • When they are completely cooked blend each of them separately to a paste.
  • To one cup of chapathi flour, add the spinach paste, a little bit of ginger/garlic paste and knead to a soft dough. Add little water if required. Repeat this step with beats and carrots too. You will now have 3 different dough as shown in the picture.


  • Make each of them to a long string dusting them with flour as shown here:

  • Cut them in equal sizes (approximately to 3 pieces) and roll them to a flat ball as shown here:

  • Now make chapathis out of them by frequently dusting them with flour. You will get a colored pattern like this:

  • Heat a pan and cook the chapathis well by applying little butter on each side. Serve with whipped cream on the top!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Caramel Mocha - A coffee delight


How many of you are coffee lovers? I'm sipping my hot coffee right now. Can you smell it? There's a fantastic aroma originating from my kitchen now. Its late afternoon, dark outside and raining. Enjoying coffee on a rainy day is one of those simple pleasures of life. I have always noticed myself in an elated state whenever I enjoy my coffee. I am usually an incoherent amoeba until my first cup of coffee. But a dose of caffeine does magic to my mind and body. Complicated things seem to be simplified after a cup of coffee! It gets me going for the day. Fortunately, we both are coffee lovers and my hubby makes coffee much better than me. Since he's an early-morning person, he makes it every morning and I usually wake up smelling the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling our house. His coffee has been a big hit in our friends circle and parties at our house never end without his yummy coffee.

One of my best experiences every time I visit India is enjoying that wonderful filter coffee at my hometown, I can even taste it when I close my eyes! Especially when I go home after a long time, that familiar coffee smell with which I grew up makes me feel so comfy! Though we still make our traditional filter coffee at home everyday, it didn't take a long time for us to get used to the coffee here. The first time we had coffee after coming to the states was at North Carolina. It was our first week in this country and our friends took us to this coffee shop in our neighborhood. We ordered and after a while, the girl came back with a big white cup (actually, its a bowl!) with a dark liquid in it. It took a few mins for us to realize that was it! It was watery, bitter and had a wierd flavor added to it (we later learnt it was hazelnut!). It was just shocking to know that coffee could be so different from country to country! We couldn't take more than two sips and had to dump the rest. We still feel so sorry for it, as my friends had paid for it. But surprisingly we adapted pretty quickly, perhaps there was no other choice in our work places. Nowadays I enjoy every flavor of it like latte, mocha etc. and I get fascinated with those fancy blended coffee at starbucks.

Well, last weekend I thought I deserved a pat on my back after finishing up my long pending pantry re-arranging project. I wanted coffee but I was also in a mood to prepare something elaborate (just coffee, not dinner!). So I made this Chocolate Caramel Mocha which I always relish. I've made this several times and keep tweaking with some variations everytime. This time I added a pinch of cinnamon powder and it tasted great! If you are a coffee lover, this is a treat for you!

Ingredients: (for 2 cups of Mocha)
  • Instant Coffee Powder - 2 tsp
  • Caramel - 1 tbsp
  • Chocolate Syrup - 1 tbsp
  • Water - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Hot milk - 1 cup
  • Whipped cream - Optional.
Procedure:
  • Heat the water in a pan. When its about to boil, add coffee powder, sugar, caramel, chocolate syrup and cinnamon powder. Stir until everything is completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
  • If you have the patience, whip up the hot milk for a min or two until it forms foam on the top. This just gives that extra kick, but even otherwise it tastes great!
  • In two serving glasses, fill up half of the glasses with the coffee mixture, then fill the remaining with the hot milk seprating the foam. Top it up with foam and whipped cream. Sprinkle with instant coffee powder and cinnamon powder.
There you go! Delicious Chocolate Caramel Mocha is ready!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Nariyal Puri (Puris with a spicy coconut filling)

Friends share a lot of things.. news, food, clothes, shoes and ofcourse recipes! Lately, I have been hearing a lot of recipes from my friends outside this blogging world. As if I don't have enough recipe collection obsession (from cookbooks, internet, blogging), I now have another new list of recipes heard from friends, which is also growing rapidly. Looks like if I have to try all these recipes, I have to cook three times a day for several months! But I'm sure thats not going to stop me from exploring new recipes in my kitchen as and when I have time.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you should be knowing by this time that I'm not a big fan of time consuming cooking. I should tell you that a lengthy cooking process and I have a very troubled relationship. While I love to eat and enjoy the end-products that come out after a lengthy cooking process, the mere idea of a prolonged cooking process, chokes me. Don't know why, but I'm too impatient to have frequent walks to the kitchen and watch it like a hawk and wait for a long time between each steps. Those super complicated steps like separating the eggs, folding the whites etc. just haunt me. I really want to be one of those people who can be really patient and innovative and try some slow-cooking recipes and with all those nice decorative & presentation skills, but it just isn't going to happen. After all these years, I know myself pretty well.

So, going back to my long list of recipes-to-try, whenver I decide to pick from my recipe list, my first choice would be to try something rather simple and quick. This is one such easy and yummy recipe that I got from my good friend. She had mentioned that she got it from Sanjeev Kapoor's recipes and that she herself tried it for the first time. If you are reading this, dear friend, thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe and sorry for taking such a long time to try it. I should say this is one of the yummiest snacks I've ever had and I fell in love with this snack the very first time I tasted it. The coconut stuffing was too good and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Ingredients:
  • Rava - 2 cups (unroasted)
  • Shredded coconut - 1 cup
  • Besan/Gram Flour - as required
  • G.chillies - 4 small
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full
  • Oil - for deep frying.

Procedure:

  • Soak the rava with as little water as possible. You can start with 1 cup of water and mix it, and then keep sprinkling more water until everything is wet. Leave it for 2 hrs.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. Mix the shredded coconut (fresh), besan, g.chillies, salt and corrinader leaves until it forms a thick mixture. You should be able to make balls out of it.
  • After 2 hrs, knead the rava well and make it into a dough. If required, you can add some chapathi flour and make it to a puri dough consistency.
  • Make small balls with the dough, roll them to small circles, add the stuffing mixture, close the circle and make a ball of it one more time. Roll them into small puris and deep fry in oil.
  • Before serving, sprinkle some chat masala and a pinch of chilli powder on the top. Serve with green chutney or sweet chutney.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tawa Paneer

As much as I love to cook, I love to laze around as well. Last week was one of the weeks I hardly cooked anything. Not that I had no time or my routine was unusal. But just didn't feel like spending more time in the kitchen. Well, somehow I was managing with some quick and easy comfort food to feed our hungry stomachs. But then today, while I went to drop my daughter for her music class, I could smell this delicious spicy curry from someone's house! Usually my nose is very adept at recognizing my favorite food from a distance, but today I couldn't. I'm still debating if it was chicken or potatoes :) Well, thanks to whoever was making it, that aroma triggered me to make something good in the kitchen today!

With not much left in the fridge, I decided to make this warm, simple and flavorful paneer dish. As I started cooking this dish, I realized how much I was enjoying the cooking. The stirring of the onions, their roasted texture glittering beautifully from the bottom of the pan, and the seductive aroma of those spices... Hmm, I felt so great and rejuvenated! And was glad to be back into my very own kitchen world.. As silly as it sounds, it still true that I can't stay away from my kitchen for a long time :)

My daughter loves Paneer. So do I. But her intensity far surpasses mine. Because of her, I keep trying different recipes with Paneer, and thats one of the few things that she likes. Whenever she comes to the dinner table, if she sees a Paneer dish, she quietly finishes her dinner without her usual whine or groan - a very rare scene in our house. This dish is one of our family's most favorite paneer dishes. I learned this from my very good friend a while back. I fortunately also happened to watch her cook this yummy dish and since then it has taken a permanant place in my recipe book, and ends up in our dinner table frequently. What I like about this dish is the consistency - neither gravy nor dry - a perfect side dish for rotis and naans. I enjoy gravies mostly with rice and for rotis I usually prefer little dry side dishes.

Note: If you have a food processor, this dish is a perfect candidate for it! Use the food processor to chop the paneer and to prepare the tomato mixture given below.
Ingredients:
  • Paneer - chopped (2 cups)
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
  • Roma Tomatoes - 2 large
  • G.chillies - 3
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Kasuri Methi - 2 tsp (crushed)
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
  • Cloves - 3
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Ajwain seeds - a pinch (optional)
  • Cream - 2 or 3 tbsp
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish
Procedure:
  • Start with boiling the whole tomatoes for 5 mins. Drop them into cold water and let them rest for a few mins.
  • Meanwhile give the paneer cubes a quick spin in the food processor. Don't make them too powdery. They should be still in mini bitable chunks. Otherwise, slice or chop them finely using regular knife. It should come to 2 cups after chopping. Set aside.
  • Chop the onions in food processor too. If no food processor, chop them extra fine.
  • Peel off the tomato skin, puree in food-processor along with the g.chillies, 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with Ajwain seeds (if using), add onions and fry in medium heat for 3 mins.
  • Add the remaining 1tsp Ginger/Garlic paste and fry for a min.
  • Now add the tomato puree, chilli powder and Kasoori methi and mix well. Add salt and cover and cook for 5-6 mins. You can add 2 tbsp of water if you need.
  • Finally add the paneer and give it a good stir. Cover for 2 more mins. Add corriander leaves and mix well.
  • Keep frying the mixture in medium heat until it turns almost dry (Be cautious not to let it too dry).