Tuesday, 31 March 2009

MBP – Masala Peanuts

Is it a coincidence that I read this post at Jugalbandi on the same day that I read this announcement? Well, according to Master Oogway (Kung Fu Panda), there are no coincidences. So this one had to be destined.

Even before I had seen the MBP announcement, I had bookmarked these Masala Peanuts. No oil, they say and that was all the encouragement I needed to make them. If only I had got some prodding to publish this post earlier. Its been more than a fortnight since I made them & only posting about it now.

Anyway, the recipe looked quite simple & straight forward. I have used the pink skin Indian variety of peanuts which does not find much favour at Jugalbandi as you will find out in their post. But for me, these are the best, they taste great & these are what I stock. Plus I have always had the Masala peanuts (the fried ones) made with these. That reminds me to mention here that this version is as healthy as it can get as opposed to the fried Masala peanuts that we used to get on the roadside stalls (or in the local trains), spicy & oily, but they did taste great too! BTW those fried ones are now available in fancy packages under the brand name of Haldirams (can some one confirm this?). Check out their cool site.

I have used a different spice combination than given in the original recipe.

Masala Peanuts

Source: Jugalbandi

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Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Peanuts
  • 1.5 Cups Besan (Chickpea flour)
  • 1.5 Tblsp Rice flour
  • 2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • Salt

Method:

Pre Heat the oven to 200 deg C.

Arrange the Peanuts on a baking tray and bake them with the broiler on for about 10-15 min, stirring them around 2-3 times. Keep a watch as the peanuts might get burnt and don't expect dark speckles on them as you would get when you roast them on the stove top. Here they will be heated uniformly so they will only turn brown. Remove and keep aside to cool.

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Meanwhile mix the the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Reserve half of this dry mixture and make a thick paste with the other half using a little water.

Add the paste to the peanuts and mix well to coat them. Now add the dry mixture to this and combine. I found that using a spoon works better than doing it with hands since the flour sticks to the hand.

Spread the coated peanuts on the baking tray and bake for 15 min.

Take out the tray after 15 min and move around the peanuts. Now would also be a good time to break the bigger clusters if any, into smaller ones.

Put the tray back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. Take them out and allow to cool. Once cool enough, store in dry air tight container. They are great to munch on and really do get over in no time.

This is my entry for this month’s MBP: Snacks & Savouries hosted at Ashwini’s Spicy Cuisine. MBP is an event originated by Coffee of Spice Cafe.

Monday, 30 March 2009

About Taste Buds

Taste Buds was formed on the spur of the moment in March 2008, although the idea was given a lot of thought before actually going for it. It started as my journal for recipes that I had gathered from various sources such as friends, family, magazines, websites and of course other blogs. It has now transformed into a space where I share a lot of things apart from food, with my virtual friends and hope to make new ones as I go along.


The recipes themselves are a good mix of traditional Indian, restaurant style, healthy and International. While I am thorough with some of them, there are some trials & errors and experiments as well. With these recipes and experiences, I hope to convince, if not inspire, someone who is reluctant to start cooking and enjoy it at the same time.



About me: I am a full time Mom, trying to keep pace with the way my daughter is growing up while pursuing my own love for cooking all things nice. Professionally speaking, I am a Telecommunication Engineer and will get back to active working (out of the house i.e.) very soon. I am an almost true Cancerian and so cooking & feeding happens to be one of my strong traits!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Attempting a Rasam…..

This wasn't my first attempt. I have made Rasam before but not with such a delicious end result. Although rasam forms an integral part of a south Indian meal, I have yet to come to terms with this watery preparation.

I have always wondered about how it can be described. Its not like Sambhar for sure, not even a Dal, because you can hardly find dal(lentils) in there. They call it a South Indian soup but if you are used to the restaurant style Tomato soup & Sweet corn soup then this seems like something different. I had even asked my friend S, how & with what do you eat rasam. Rice, she said. And I could not imagine mixing my rice with this watery (again the same adjective!) soup kind of thing, me being used to thick Dals, varan, amthi & sambhar. But I did have it with rice at her place and liked it a lot. That was my first encounter with the Rasam.

When I started cooking on my own after marriage I tried a few times to make Rasam, mostly with tomatoes. It would turn out fine sometimes & ‘only’ watery at others. Such experiences wiped out the lovely rasam memories from S’s place & reaffirmed my belief of the Rasam being ‘Watery’! Then T&T – Tasty Palettes was announced and while browsing through Suganya’s blog I came across this title – Pepper, Cumin & Garlic Rasam with Potato roast.

Now if you mention, pepper & garlic in the same breath, you have my total attention. Plus it had cumin too and of course the picture looked great as is the case with all the pics on Tasty Palettes. I had to try this one specially since it fitted perfectly with the fact that there was only rice for dinner.

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I followed the recipe from start to end & obediently did not allow the rasam to boil as Suganya has mentioned. I also took the ghee recommendation very seriously and that is clearly visible in the picture isn't it?

In fact I was so engrossed in the whole thing that I even made the Potato roast, mentioned in the same post on the blog, without having planned it! The tangy, spicy Rasam had great company in the form of crunchy, crispy potatoes. But since that wasn't the original plan it didn't strike me to take snaps & I only remembered when we had finished off everything (licked the rasam bowl & scraped the potato off the pan)!

T&T_quality_blog-modified

This goes to Zlamushka’s Tried & Tasted event that has made a comeback with Suganya’s Tasty Palettes being the featured blog for the month. The event is being hosted by Sweatha, Curry Leaf.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sabudana Wada

This one takes the record for being in the drafts for the longest time - almost a year! We must have had Sabudana Wadas at least 10-12 times after this was drafted. Every time I made them, I would sit with the laptop determined to publish it and everytime something or the other would happen (e.g not fitting in with the ongoing events!) and it would be pushed back. But now here it is finally!

Sabudana or sago is the major reason, I don't mind fasting once in a while! I am a huge fan of the khichdi and absolutely love the wadas. But I have almost never liked the Sabudana wadas I have had at the restaurants or food joints. They are either too chewy or too hard & crispy. Home made it is for me, where I can make them as per my liking.

The soaking time totally depends on the type of Sabudana, you have. The minute homoeopathy-medicine-like sabudana needs hardly 20 min of soaking whereas the normal medium sized seeds may need anywhere between 4-6 hours.

Sabudana Wada

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Makes about 10 medium sized wadas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Sabudana
  • 4-5 Green Chilies (or as per taste)
  • 1/2 cup Peanuts
  • 2 medium-small sized Potatoes, boiled & mashed
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying

Method:

Soak the Sabudana as per the type of Sabudana for 1/2 an hour or 4-6 hours to make them soft & fluffy.

Dry roast the peanuts and then remove the skin by rubbing them between your palms. Grind them coarsely, there should be some whole or halved peanuts remaining.

Chop the green chillies and make a coarse paste preferably using the pestle & mortar.

Combine in a bowl, the soaked Sabudana, mashed potatoes, ground peanut, green chillies and add salt. Mix together and divide into equal portions.

Shape these portions as desired (round, flat etc). Check that the mixture holds its shape and is neither too loose nor very dry. This is very important since if the mixture is crumbly, the wada will disintegrate in the hot oil, whereas if it is too wet, the resulting wada will not be crispy & cooked properly.

If the mixture turns very loose add some more mashed potatoes and make sure that it binds well. Also I prefer the flat shape to the round ones. The flat shape ensures that the inside of the wada gets cooked thoroughly when fried. With the round ones, the surface gets crisp but the insides sometimes remain undercooked.

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While you are shaping the wadas, heat oil in a kadai. To check if the temperature is optimum, drop a pinch of the mixture in the hot oil, it should instantly come to surface floating and the sabudana in the mixture should puff up.

Reduce the flame to medium and drop the wadas. Turn the wada using a slotted spoon to fry uniformly. Once the surface is crispy & brown, remove on a kitchen towel to drain the excess oil.

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Serve hot with Coconut chutney.

The coconut chutney served with Sabudana wadas is usually made with peanuts in it. For this grind together 1 cup grated coconut, 1/2 cup peanuts, 2-3 green chillies, salt & 1 tsp sugar with a little water to the desired consistency.

On another note, Trupti of Recipe Center has passed on the following awards to me:

Adorableblogcopy amazingblog[1]

Thanks a lot for your appreciation Trupti!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Dum Paneer Kali Mirch

I don't remember where I had got this recipe from. It was collected during the days when I was actively (read desperately) looking for Paneer recipes all over. Google search results & some news paper cuttings plus many of those appearing in the magazines and not to forget all those cookery shows (specially Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana) made up my collection of these treasured Paneer recipes. This was one of them. Since I have this one written down from my days before I even knew about food blogging, I don't know the exact source.

Somehow this collection has been neglected for the need of having to look them up in the diary. I always tend to go for the normal ones that I am used to making now. But the day of 14th march demanded something different. It was GM's Birthday and Paneer had to be on the menu. But I didn't want to go for the regular Paneer dishes because I wanted it to be different. So this one was dug out again of the diary.

It feels almost nostalgic to note that my first recipe post on this blog Paneer Makhani and the first post after completing a year is also a Paneer dish!

Dum Paneer Kali Mirch

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups Paneer, cubed
  • 1 Big onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Garlic paste (or minced)
  • 1 tsp Ginger paste (or grated)
  • 1-2 Green chillies (according to taste)
  • 1.5 tblsp Oil
  • 1" piece of cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1-2 Green Cardamom
  • 10-12 Black Peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 2 tblsp Curd, beaten
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1 tblsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tblsp chopped mint leaves
  • Salt

Method:

Heat 1/2 tblsp oil and saute the sliced onion in it till they are nicely browned. Cool and grind to paste with a little water.

Heat the remaining 1 tblsp oil. Add the cinnamon, cloves & Cardamom and fry for a minute. Add the Garlic, Ginger & green chillies and fry.

Add the onion paste and continue to fry for another minute. Reduce the flame and add the curd, salt, coriander powder and ground pepper.

Add about 1/2 cup of water, bring to a boil and add the paneer. Add the chopped coriander & mint leaves.

Cover and cook on low flame for about 5-7 minutes.

Serve hot with Roti or rice.

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Note: While browning the onions, don't let them burn too much else the gravy will have a slight bitter taste (This was not mentioned in the recipe but I have learnt it the 'bitter' way!)

Adjust the quantity of green chillies according to the spice level you are comfortable with, also keeping in mind that the peppercorns & cloves will also add some heat to the dish.

And since 'Kali Mirch' (Black Pepper) happens to be the main star of the dish, this goes to Think Spice - Think Pepper event being held at Divya's blog Dil se, the event having originated at Sunita's World.

And here are some of those 'regular' Paneer dishes :)

 

rci-Lucknow

Update: As this dish is cooked in ‘Dum’ style (on a low flame) it qualifies for this month’s RCI-Lucknow at Home Cook’s Recipes. The event was initiated by Lakshmi.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Tiramisu for a one year old???

Absolutely! Its sweet, its rich and best of all this one happens to be eggless too! And it has been made specially for the one year old. After all there has to be something fitting to mark the first Birthday, a very important milestone.

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In case you are still wondering, its the blog that has completed one year. Taste Buds started on this day last year after much deliberation and some inspiration from my dear friend. 75 posts, various blog events, lots of encouragement from fellow bloggers & readers later I am very glad that I 'took the plunge'. Its great to be here amongst all of you, sharing the love for food (I didn't say cooking!). For the record though, I enjoy cooking but  then everything has a burn out time :)

Blogging has become an integral part of my life now and so has reading other blogs. My day starts with having a peek at others' space to see what they are cooking or 'saying' on their blogs. In the past year, apart from posting my recipes, I have tried out a lot of recipes successfully from fellow bloggers, learnt a lot about ingredients (thanks to events such as JFI, Think Spice etc) that were taken for granted by me and started using a lot many 'new' veggies, spices etc which I was not very familiar with.

Now for the Tiramisu. I have wanted to try out this Italian dessert for a long time but the use of almost raw eggs always put me off, so also the wine. I know the wine is supposed to be an integral part of Tiramisu but I just don't like that taste in my dessert. Any recipe I looked had one or both of them in addition to sounding a bit complex. Then I came across this one from Gordon Ramsay. Although there is no egg, it does have the wine in it. It was time I realised that there might be no recipe without the wine in it. So I took the eggless recipe & made it wineless too. I replaced the wine with Pomegranate & cranberry juice (same colour, you see :). It seems to have worked because the end result was almost like the real one without the winey taste. Of course those who swear by the 'real' Tiramisu might find this appalling - no eggs? no wine?? whatever next??? But it works for me (& GM too), we liked this version a lot.

The original recipe assembles the tiramisu in separate serving glasses, but I have made it in a square dish (approx 3"x3") and two individual ramekins.

Tiramisu (Eggless)

(Adapted from a recipe by Gordon Ramsay)

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Mascarpone
  • 1 cup single cream
  • 4 tblsp Caster Sugar
  • About 16 Sponge Fingers (Also called Lady Fingers)
  • 2 tblsp strong instant coffee granules dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tblsp Pomegranate & Cranberry Juice
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

Whisk together the Mascarpone, vanilla extract, pomegranate juice and 1/3 of the coffee.

Whisk the cream with caster sugar until stiff and smooth. Now fold in the above Mascarpone mixture to this cream and set aside.

Line the dish you are using with the sponge fingers dipped in coffee. Spoon in the Mascarpone mixture to form a thick layer.

Chill in the fridge for about 1-2 hours for the flavours to infuse.

Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.

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Note: Since this one is eggless I found that its a bit heavier/denser than the Tiramisu available in restaurants & stores, but I preferred this one.

Thank you everyone for bringing Taste Buds this far. I hope to receive the same encouragement in future and I will keep posting my experiments and experiences in the kitchen.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Roasted Red Pepper & Baby Corn Lasagne

I had made Lasagne for the first time around 3 yrs back, following a recipe from Tarla Dalal. I get these set of recipes emailed to me every week since I registered on the official website. This particular Lasagne recipe sounded simple enough and even included the steps for making the Lasagne sheets and that seemed quite easy too. But I had never had lasagne before so when the recipe asked the pasta dough to be cut into strips I actually cut them into thin ones, just like Fettuccine (As you can see my knowledge of pasta has improved a lot since then!). Well, the recipe did say 'Strips' so strips were what I made and dropped them in the sauce and the whole thing then went into the baking dish along with lots of cheese. The end result was tasty nevertheless and till date whenever I make 'that' lasagne, even though I know they are supposed to be sheets, I still cut the dough into strips.

But that is not the recipe being presented here. I Just wanted to add some veggies along with the sauce and instead of adding them as is, I roasted them a bit. The choice of veggies was also not thought upon. I always have baby corn in the fridge and peppers too, this time it happened to be a red one. But the combination turned out to be a very good one.

And this one uses 'real' Lasagne sheets, store bought. The pack mentioned that pre cooking was not required so I used them straight out of the pack. But next time I might boil them for a couple of minutes before assembling the lasagne. The thing with these sheets is that if your sauce has enough liquid content in it & the sheets are well covered with it during baking, they get cooked well. In my case I felt that it should have been cooked just a little more.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 Red Bell pepper, diced
  • 5-6 Baby Corns, Cut lengthwise
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tblsp Olive oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno Chilli, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup Tomato Passat (Sieved Tomato paste)
  • 2-3 tsp Mixed dried herbs
  • 1/2-1 tsp Red Chilli powder
  • Salt

For the white sauce (B├ęchamel Sauce)

  • 2 tblsp Butter
  • 2 tblsp Plain flour
  • About 2 cups of milk
  • Salt & Pepper

6 Lasagne sheets

1 Cup Grated cheese (I used Double Gloucester, since thats what I had. You can also use Mozzarella or Cheddar)

Crushed Red Chilli Flakes

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 200 deg C on broiler setting. Arrange the baby corn & Red Pepper on a baking sheet.

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Drizzle with Olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper powder. Mix and place in the oven for about 10-15 min or till the edges are brown & crisp. Keep aside until required.

For the Tomato sauce, heat a pan with the Olive oil. Add the garlic & onion and saute till the onion turns translucent. Add the Chilli and chopped tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes are mashed properly.

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At this point add the tomato paste, dried herbs, salt and red chilli powder. Mix well, cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes. Switch off when the sauce achieves a paste like consistency.

For the white sauce, Heat a non stick saucepan and melt the butter in it. Add the flour little by little and keep stirring for the flour to be properly mixed with the melted butter.

Remove the pan from the heat and add 1/2 cup of milk, whisking at the same time for the milk & flour-butter mixture to be mixed without forming any lumps. If you think the quantity of milk is not enough add some more out of the remaining milk. Once everything is mixed properly, return the pan to heat and add the remaining milk little by little, whisking as you do so.

Heat this mixture on a medium flame and the sauce will begin to thicken.

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Once the sauce is thick enough but of pouring consistency, switch off the flame and season with salt & pepper.

To assemble, lightly grease a baking dish and spoon in 1/4 of the tomato sauce. Place 2 lasagne sheets on this. Top this with another 1/4 of the Tomato Sauce. Arrange 1/3 of the roasted veggies and top them with 1/3 of the cheese.

Now place 2 more lasagne sheets on the cheese and again add 1/4 of Tomato Sauce, 1/3 of the veggies and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat once more, reserving some of the remaining cheese.

Top this with the White sauce to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese & the chilli flakes and bake at 200 deg C for 20-25 min or until the sauce begins to bubble and the cheese starts browning.

Just before going into the oven:

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All done & ready to be served

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This picture of the is my entry for this month's Click, the theme is Cheese/Tofu.

And Served hot:

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Note: Its better to make the white sauce just before you start assembling the Lasagne as it will start to thicken even more when it is cooled.

The classic White sauce recipe asks for nutmeg powder to be added along with the salt & pepper, I don't like the nutmeg flavour too much so I have skipped that. You can also add grated cheese to the sauce to make it richer.

Some Lasagne recipes ask for the white sauce to be added between the layers as well but I have avoided that as we like the taste of tomato sauce to be dominant.