Wednesday 30 April 2008

My first CLICK!

When I started my food blog, I was happy that I am getting to explore what I loved - cooking. But I did not know that this would also help me with my other interest which happens to be Photography, though I have never been able to pursue this as I would have liked to.

CLICK is a monthly event, started by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi, that celebrates both Food and Photography. This is my entry for this month's CLICK event , the theme is Au Naturel.

Call Me Flower...

This was as fresh as it could get. I was putting away the weekly grocery in its place and happened to click this one before tucking it away in the fridge. Flowers always make for a good snap and this one happens to be edible too! I have used a Fujifilm Finepix S5700 camera.

Tuesday 29 April 2008


Its funny how things change once you get married, have kids and become 'Responsible' for everything that happens in your home. More so in terms of your food habits. You could ask for anything you wanted to eat, refuse to eat something you did not want or generally throw tantrums around. Now you have to make do with whatever is available in the market at that particular time and think about how you can utilise whatever is already there in the refrigerator.

I remember when I used to get irritated when my mom used to ask every evening, what I would like to have for dinner and I always said anything will do and then end up complaining at the dinner table..'what? Methi again today? Don't we get any other vegetables in the market? And why cant you make Aloo methi instead of this one with besan/dal in it? and the whining would go on every evening.

I now think what a fussy person I was, considering that my mom always made a variety of things. I loved her cooking but was just fussy about everything. She would try her best to make different things for dinner so that we get a change from the routine. Pulao, PCP, Various stuffed Paranthas (Aloo, Mooli, Gobhi, Methi, Bathua) etc. Thalipeeth was also one such speciality of hers. I don't know why but I had this notion that I whenever I ate Thalipeeth I would get a stomachache! So i never ate it or just tasted one whenever it was made at home. But now I miss them very much and every time I make them, I try to recreate the same taste & texture but haven't succeeded so far. I guess its something to do with how Moms cook. I keep asking her about the proportion every time I make them and they do turn out well but never the same as my Mom's.

A different variety of this is the Bhajniche Thalipeeth where a special flour called Bhajni is used which consists of different lentils. Learn more about it and the recipe here.

This one uses wheat, gram & Jowar flours.

Makes about 5-6 Thalipeeths
1 cup Wheat flour
1/2 cup Besan (Gram flour)
1/2 cup Jowar flour
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 small cucumber, grated
1 small carrot, grated
1-2 Green Chillies, finely chopped
Finely chopped coriander
1 tsp Haldi (Turmeric Powder)
1-2 tsp Red Chili powder
1 tsp Ajwain (Carom seeds)
Oil for roasting.

Mix all the ingredients except oil and knead into a soft dough with the help of a little water. Grated pumpkin can also be added along with the other veggies. We have to be careful while adding the water as the vegetables used will also let out water. This dough should not be rested for a long time otherwise it becomes soggy. It is best to put the Tava on the flame and then get this ready and start making thalipeeths right away.

Divide the dough into 5/6 equal portions and shape them into balls. Now there are 2 methods that I know for making thalipeeths. The first one is to take the dough ball on a sheet of plastic, apply oil, spread the dough with your hands into a round as thin or as thick you want. Then carefully remove this with the help of a spatula and put on the Tava to cook.

The other method that I generally use, and also my mom, is to spread the dough on a piece of paper after applying generous amount of oil to it. Then the thalipeeth along with the paper is inverted onto the tava. After a minute or so when it starts getting cooked, the paper can be easily peeled off and can be used to make the next one.

You have to make sure that the paper that you use is a white & blank paper, otherwise the print/colour will get transferred on the thalipeeth! Also you have to be careful that the paper does not touch the flame or the tava when you invert it.
Drizzle some oil on the sides & also apply on each side & cook.

Serve with raita, any chutney, ketchup or pickle and don't forget that dollop of butter on each Thalipeeth! I served it with Chutney Pudi and Dal.
Another version of the same Thalipeeth is made in a small cast iron butti/kadai. It is smeared with oil and the dough is spread in it to take the shape of the kadai. This kadai is then kept on slow flame, covered and cooked, turning the Thalipeeth to cook the other side as well. There is no change in the dough but this tastes so divine that even during my 'Non Thalipeeth' days I would easily devour 2-3 of them and then ask for more, to be reminded by Mom that it will then surely give me a stomachache :)

After the stupendous success of Dosa Mela, Srivalli of Cooking for all seasons has announced her Roti Mela just as I am drafting this. So I am sending it to this event right away!

Friday 25 April 2008

To Manni, with love...

Back when I started my engineering, my college was a good 2 hours away from my place and even then if I got all the connecting trains on time. It was getting really tedious and exhausting to travel daily. So we (Me & another of my friend) were very happy when our friend N shifted close to the college. She immediately offered for us to move in with her, even before she had shifted actually :) And so I went in to stay with her family for that one semester and ended up staying there for the whole course...4 years! 'visiting' my family only on weekends...:)

The things I was looking forward to when I shifted was having a good time with friends & of course the convenience in commuting. I did not know that I would be getting an extended family there. I was comfortable & felt at home instantly. This was the first time I was staying away from home, but it never felt as if I was in a different place, staying with N & her family seemed completely natural. Although everyone made me feel like a part of them, the one person I became very close to, of course apart from N, was her mother. Everyone called her Manni, meaning Mami in Tamil. So I did too.

She is ever smiling & jovial in nature. I have never seen her upset except when she is concerned about the health of any one at home. She was almost like a friend to us (N, her elder sis, her younger sis & me) We shared jokes, college tidbits, funny incidents and almost everything with her. Having stayed in Bombay all her life, she speaks very fluent Marathi, so good that people will find it hard to believe that she is actually a Tamilian.

Whatever little Tamil I know today is because of my stay with N plus I got introduced to the Tamil cuisine here. I did have some exposure earlier also through another of my best friend S, but had never experienced it so closely. I got to learn a lot of things from Manni - Kolumbu, kootu, Gojju, Puliogre, Paal Payasam, Mysore paak etc and of course the Sambhar. The day I
learned the sambhar powder from Manni, I went back home & made it and my Mom was really impressed :). Till date I am using the same recipe for the Sambhar powder & my sambhar is always a hit with everyone. I will be posting it soon on this blog.

But the most important thing I learnt from her was to knead the Chapati dough :) I had tried a number of times back at my place but could never get it right. My mom tried her best to get me to do it properly but all in vain. I actually had to get a dough maker at home so that I could make chapatis whenever my mom was out of town. Funnily the same week that we brought the dough maker home, Manni taught me her method and I caught it instantly. I don't know what she did right or what I was doing wrong until that day, but I could finally make pliable dough & consequently soft chapatis! The dough maker has been lying at my place unused...

Amongst the memories that I cherish, is how we used to sit & have the filter coffee made by her. It is the best coffee I have ever tasted in my life and I love it! She knew that I liked coffee very much, so whenever she made a fresh decoction, she always asked me if I wanted some & I never said No..:) We would call it 'Pehli dhaar ki coffee' ...:) The last time I met her was just a day after I had delivered little S and guess what she had brought for me? A Thermos flask full of Filter coffee! I was so touched that she remembered and cared so much.

The recipe that I am going to share now is for Mysore Paak, which is again a Manni speciality!

Makes about12-15 medium sized pieces
  • 1 cup Besan
  • 1 cup Toop/Ghee/Tuppa/Clarified butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 tblsp Milk

In a pan, melt the sugar in a little milk on low flame. Add the besan and cook while continuously stirring for about 5 min. Take care that no lumps remain. Add the ghee and mix properly. All the ghee will get absorbed by the besan.

Cook while stirring continuously until the mix thickens & reaches a pinkish colour and perforations start appearing. Also at this point the mix would become very viscous and it will actually be a struggle to stir :)

Grease a plate and pour in the mixture and cut into blocks before the mixture gets hard. Allow to completely cool. This recipe yields Mysore Paak which is slightly soft to bite and not like the store brought ones.

This is my entry for JFI, an event started by Indira of Mahanandi and being hosted this month by Jigyasa & Pratibha at Pritya. They have chosen Jihva for Love as the theme.

Its only fitting that I write this now & make this sweet delicacy because its Manni's Birthday on 4th May. This is a very special day for me as another of my best friend's Birthday also lies on the same day. This ones for Manni & Swaps! Happy Birthday to both of you in advance!

Aloo Methi & memories of Delhi

I have stayed in Delhi for more than 12 years. We shifted there when I was a little under 4 yrs old from Bijapur, Karnataka. So I can say that 'Hosh sambhala toh apne aap ko Dilli mein paaya!' I did most of my schooling there and had a lot of friends as one generally has at that age. So when we were about to leave Delhi, I was upset and it felt odd to be moving to a completely new & different place.

When we came to Bombay the language shock was the first thing I experienced. Being used to the 'Haan ji, Pehle aap etc' Hindi, it was a very odd to find people referring to someone elder to them by saying 'Kya be' and 'Tu kya kar raha hai' etc not to say anything about the Tapori language! But slowly I got used to it and even my day to day language started sounding like theirs :) but I made sure to talk the 'North Indian' Hindi whenever I was talking to someone from that region, partly because I did not want to lose touch with the 'Real Hindi' and partly because of my experience I knew they would not like it if I called them 'Tu'. But for a long time I could not get used to calling elder people by their names. In Delhi even if the person was just a year elder to you it was either 'Didi' or 'Bhaiyya' and Uncle/Aunty for the others. But here in Bombay the word 'Bhaiyya' took on a totally different meaning and whenever I called someone Didi they would give me looks which said 'what a weird girl!' and some actually laughed on my face.

But after staying in Bombay for more than 10 years I became a complete Bombayite! I remember one of my school friends from Delhi was supposed to visit me after my 8 years stay in Bombay. I made sure I was talking the proper Hindi and tried my best to sound the way I did when I was in Delhi. Everything went fine. While leaving she said ' Hey you haven't changed at all, but your language is totally corrupt!' Imagine that after all the efforts I made!

Coming back to the food part of this post, I always liked the way potato was cooked in dry sabjis in North Indian cuisine. No gravy means no water added but the potato was always perfectly cooked with all the spices blending in perfectly. At our place potato was generally cooked with 'Rassa' or if it was dry, it was pressure cooked first. So i missed that North Indian touch very much. I remember the lunch times at my Delhi school very vividly. None of us ate what we got from home but always exchanged the tiffins to enjoy what we didn't get at home. R1 liked the Upma/Dosa/Idli/Wada that I used to carry, I liked the Aloo Gobi/Pakodi wali kadhi/Rajma that another friend R2 used to bring, M liked the curd rice/lemon rice from J and she in turn liked the Aloo parantha/Pulao etc from R1 and so on. This arrangement kept us happy and all our Moms were also worry free as all the tiffins would return empty :)

When we came to Bombay I missed these happy times a lot and also the great food! I knew I could not bring back those times but those dishes could be created...right? So as soon as I developed an interest & started cooking I tried to recreate those dishes as I remembered them. The earliest attempts were disasters to say the least. Either the potatoes would be half cooked or burnt, the cauliflower in the aloo gobi would be completely mashed & so on. My mom tried to give me some advice but I never paid attention, after all I had been eating those dishes for so many years & not my mom! She would warn me of the result if I did a particular thing but I went ahead & did it anyway.

One such episode was when I made Aloo Methi for the first time. Now the view that I had was that the Methi would be sort of mashed & the Aloo has to remain firm but get cooked. So when my mom offered to chop the methi for me, I said whats the need to chop it when it is going to get mashed anyway! You should have seen the look on her face when I said that. You should also see the look on my face today when I remember what a fool I had been! Thank God I had enough common sense to at least pluck the leaves out!!! So the Aloo Methi was made without chopping the leaves...My brother D happened to come in the kitchen and saw the bhaji and on being asked how it looked said 'It looks just like the roads & footpaths of the Dadar Bhaji market in the rainy season!' Now the seriousness of this comment could only be understood by those who have actually seen the Dadar market in the rainy season. For those who don't have an idea, believe me its not a good sight. The wholesale bhaji market in the morning leaves enough rubbish(rotten vegetables especially the leafy ones) on the road to cover it completely & when it rains and people walk on the same road plus the must have got the picture by now...Now imagine my first Aloo Methi effort being compared to that!

Anyway, I have come a long way from there. I now make very good Aloo Methi after I 'chop' the Methi leaves :) Here is my recipe which I have arrived at after various trial & errors.
Serves 2
  • 1 bunch of Methi (Fenugreek) leaves, plucked and chopped !
  • 1 medium sized potato, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1-2 tblsp Oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1-2 Green chillies, finely chopped
  • a pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp Haldi (Turmeric Powder)
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp Lime juice

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter add Hing & Haldi. Toss in the potato pieces and stir. Cover & cook for approx 5-7 min (stirring in between) or until the potatoes are nearly cooked. The flame has to be slightly lower or else the potatoes will get burnt.

Now add the chopped methi leaves and mix properly. Add salt and cover again and cook for 4-5 minutes (again stirring in between) till the methi leaves are cooked. Again the flame has to be low. Turn off the flame and add the lime juice.

This tastes best with hot Phulkas.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Phodni chi Poli

This might have been devised to utilise the leftover chapati/Poli but we like it so much that I actually plan to make it and make fresh chapatis for the purpose. But it tastes best with the left over ones since the chapatis become a little crunchy. While the fresh ones are a little softer, the dish is great nevertheless.

I don't know if its the flour we get here, the climate or simply the way I make them but the chapatis do not remain soft once they go cold. Its best to have them while they are really hot straight from the tawa. I have tried almost everything now, kneading the dough with warm water, using a little oil while doing so, storing the chapatis in a proper container, wrapping them in cloth/kitchen towel/Aluminium foil etc but nothing seems to work. Of course the quality differs with the brand of flour that I get. So maybe it is the flour and not me! I do make good chapatis whenever I am back at home in India....:)

But whenever I am making PCP, that's GM's way of calling Phodni chi Poli, I like it that the chapatis are not very soft :).

Serves 2
5-6 Chapatis
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp haldi (Turmeric powder)
7-8 Curry leaves
1-2 Green chillies
1 small Onion
1 Tomato
1/2 tsp Sugar
Fresh Coriander leaves

Tear the chapatis into very little pieces. This is the only time consuming part of the recipe.You can make big pieces and then coarsely grind it but I feel that the handmade pieces taste better.

Heat oil in a kadai/pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering add the curry patta, haldi, green chillies and onion one by one. Fry for sometime. Add the tomatoes and fry some more till the tomatoes are a little tender.

Now add the salt and sugar and mix. Mix in the torn chapatis. Cover and cook for 2-3 min. Add the fresh chopped coriander leaves and cook for 1-2 min.

You can skip the tomatoes and add a little lime juice at the end. This version also tastes great.

This makes for a great one dish meal when
a) you have some left over chapatis but don't have the time to make a curry/bhaji to go along with it.
b) you are in the mood for something different from the daily meal
c) you simply want to have PCP!

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Corn Patties

As with numerous of my recipes, this one is adapted from a recipe from Khana Khazana. The format of this show, the host Sanjeev Kapoor and even the recipes, everything is so appealing that you want to try everything that was shown in the episode right after seeing it. Corn patties was one such recipe which was a part of a snacks special episode.

Being a complete snacks person, I always welcome recipes which I know will taste great but are also health conscious. When it comes to evening snacking time, most of the things that come to mind are either deep fried or full of cheese etc.

And again majority of them have potato in it. Not that we don't like Potato, in fact we love it! Potato is one thing that I have to replenish every 3rd day in my kitchen and I am always looking for the biggest pack available in the store :) A dear friend A, was almost shocked on hearing about our potato consumption! We generally go on these grocery shopping sprees together and had bought a big bag of potatoes each. About 12 days down the line & there I was buying my 3rd bag & she had not even reached half of the earlier one!

But you really need a change sometimes. So this snack recipe without any potatoes & not deep fried seemed perfect. I had made these quite some time back but somehow did not blog about it. So here it is now.
Makes about 8-10 patties
  • 1 cup Sweet Corn
  • 1/2 a Capsicum, Green/yellow/red (I had a red one)
  • 1/4 cup Peas, boiled
  • 4-6 Mint leaves
  • 1 tsp Lime juice
  • Butter
  • Bread slices
  • Salt
  • Pepper powder

Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C.

Reserve about 1 tblsp of the corn and course grind the rest. Mash the boiled peas. Finely chop the capsicum. Mix all of these in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper powder and lime juice. Finely chop the mint leaves and add them to the above mixture. Also add the reserved sweet corn. Mix properly and keep aside.

As you can see, I couldnt resist adding some boiled potatoes to this one as well!

Cut the bread slices in desired shape. I cut them into round slices with the help of a bowl with sharp edges. They can also be shaped into oval patties. Dip these slices in cold water and then squeeze out the water. On one slice place the earlier prepared mixture. Cover with another slice and then press to seal the sides properly. Apply butter generously on all the sides. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes (turning the patties halfway through) or until the patties are crisp & brown. Serve with any dip of your choice.

Monday 21 April 2008

MBP-One Pot Wonders

Monthly Blog Patrol is an event started by Coffee of The Spice Cafe, being hosted by Pavani of Cook's Hideout this month, the theme being One Pot Wonders. I feel that this is a great way of appreciating each other's works and getting to know what each one is cooking!

I didn't have to search at all for this. I had come across this recipe for Cauliflower Biryani when I was going through Maheswari's Beyond the Usual even before the MBP-One pot meal was announced. I had liked the simplicity of the recipe & knew that this one would turn out great.

Both of us(Me & GM) are not Rice fans, so whenever we do have it, its usually in the form of Pulao/fried rice/ biryani etc. So I am always searching for different rice recipes. When I saw this one on Maheswari's blog I had already bookmarked it to try it out. And when MBP was announced I immediately turned to this one.

I followed the exact recipe barring just one change. I added some Garam Masala just before putting on the lid of the Pressure Cooker.

This was the simplest Biryani recipe I have ever come across but finger licking delicious all the same. As suggested, I served it with some Boondi Raita. Cauliflower Biryani will now be a regular part of our meals whenever we are in the mood for some rice. Thanks a lot Maheswari for sharing this recipe. There are many more recipes on her blog that I am definitely going to try very soon.

Thursday 17 April 2008

To 'Tea' or not to 'Tea'......

A regular scene at the Railway station where a passenger train is halting before taking off for a distant destination...

A vendor carrying a steel container, with a small tap, on his shoulders and paper/plastic cups ready in his hand, shouting " Chaiiii Garam Chaiiiii" in that typical tone (I wish I could replicate that tone here!)

I call him towards my window & ask " Coffee hai kya???"

I was never a great fan of tea. In fact I did not even know how it tasted until just 3 yrs back. Give me coffee any time and any kind cold/hot, instant/filter and home made/bought at cafes and any number of times at that. During my working days I was called 'The chain Coffee Drinker' analogous to the Chain smoker! But I was never enthusiastic about Tea. One of the reasons for this could be that my mom had never had tea all her life as well! and maybe that got imbibed in us kids. This posed a small little problem when we visited someone. Everyone invariably offers you tea & when you say that you don't drink tea at all, they start giving you other options. coffee? Juice? Nimbu Pani? plain milk? If you don't accept any of the other options, they feel odd that when everyone is sipping away at the Tea & munching biscuits, there you are just looking at everyone and not having anything. If you accept them, you feel odd that the host had to go out of the way to make/arrange something for you! Just over 3 yrs back at one of the family friend's place, the lady just assumed that everyone drinks tea & came with the cups full. Now it seemed very rude to say No at that time so I reluctantly took the cup & gingerly(ahem..) took a sip expecting it to be very repulsive & odd tasting. But to my pleasant surprise it was quite nice. I started having Tea once in a while after that day. Now I enjoy my cup of Tea which I drink regularly.

Most of the time I make plain tea or just add Ginger and Lemon grass to enhance the flavour. But once in a while we are in a mood for more 'Spicy' Tea & that's when I make this Masala Chai. I made just one change to the regular combination of masalas this time. I am going through a phase where I am sort of bugged up with the taste & smell of cardamom. I am not even using this in any of the desserts I am making, even kheer or shira. So even for the Masala Chai, I did not want to use it & instead added some grains of saunf(Fennel Seeds). The Tea actually tasted very refreshing & totally different but very nice.

Masala Chai

To make 2 cups of Tea
1 cup water
4 tsp sugar
2-3 tsp Tea powder
1 cup Milk
For the Masala:
1/2 inch Cinnamon
3-4 peppercorns
2-3 cloves
2 pinches of saunf (Fennel Seeds)
Bring the water to a boil in a milk pan. Crush all the ingredients for the Masala & add to the boiling water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the Sugar and the Tea powder & boil for a min. Now add the milk & boil for another minute & turn off the fire.

I always knew that Saunf played a major role in Kashmiri Cuisine. So when I made this Tea using saunf I naively assumed that I had made Kahwa, the Kashmiri Tea. Then I happened to look for it on the internet and found that my Tea did not even come close to Kahwa! Its something totally different. I will definitely make the 'Real Kahwa' soon but for now we really liked this 'saunfiya Masala Chai' & will be repeating this one for sure!
PS: I was speaking to my mom a few days back & she told me that she has started to drink Tea occasionally! Now I have to rememeber to share this recipe with her the next time I talk to her...:)

Tuesday 15 April 2008

RCI Bengal

I like almost all Movies by the great Hrishikesh Mukherji. I say almost because films like 'Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kaate' are not just in his league. Such movies make me wonder what he was thinking while he was making them. But all the rest of them are pure Gems (the precious kind, not the Cadbury's ones!). Some of them I have seen so many times that I could recite the dialogues even in my sleep. Whenever there was one being shown on the TV it used to be 'Oh, its been so many days since I last saw this movie!' & then I would sit in front of the TV for the whole time watching it as if it was the first time. These movies had a repeat value to them & you never get bored even if you know whats going to happen when. Anadi, Chupke Chupke, Anand, Guddi, Mili, Namak Haram, Abhimaan, Golmaal, Khubsoorat are just a few of his now rare gems.

Now what has a food blog post got to do with Hrishikesh Mukherji? Well, this one certainly does because one of his movies inspired me to try out this Bengali dish for the RCI-Bengal event hosted by Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook.
The film in question is Bawarchi, where Rajesh Khanna plays the multi talented cook who, apart from dishing out tasty food, also helps in bringing the family together, makes them realise that happiness lies in the simple things that we come across in life. In one of the scenes he tells the Grandfather of the family that he is going to cook a special Bengali dish and the way he announces the name " SHUKTO" in that unique tone is still fresh in my memory although its been a long time since I last saw this one.

Now, when RCI-Bengal was announced, funnily the only things that came to mind was fish & Bengali sweets. Now being a vegetarian, fish was out of question & so I started looking for Bengali sweets to make for this event. While searching on the Internet I came across a number of Bengali recipes that I had never known about. There really are a lot of vegetarian recipes to be explored in the Bengali cuisine. Thanks Sandeepa, for giving me & I am sure many others like me to get acquainted with Bengali cuisine which as I discovered is not about only fish & Sweets. Then when I came across the recipe for 'Shukto' and instantly remembered Rajesh Khanna, the Bawarchi and I knew this was the dish I would be making for RCI-Bengal.

I found various versions of the recipe and have adapted whatever I liked from each of them :) But one common thing in all of them was the use of Vadi(lentils), which unfortunately I could not find anywhere and did not have time to make some at home either. I did have Punjabi Vadi with me but I did not want to use them as they would have altered the taste and I really wanted to try the real Bengali curry this time. So I made it without the vadis.
Mixed vegetables cut lengthwise
(Broad Beans,Karela,Plantain,Brinjal,Parwal,Pumpkin,Ridgegourd etc)
1 cup Coconut milk
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Methi (Fenugreek) powder

To be ground into a paste
2 tblsp Khus Khus (Poppy Seeds)
2 tblsp Mustard seeds
1" Ginger

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the vegetables and fry them till they are tender. Add the ground paste and saute for sometime.
Now add the coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, salt, Garam Masala, Methi powder and cook. At this point, the Vadis are usually after frying them in oil for sometime. Mix properly & let it cook for 2-3 minutes more. Shukto is ready.

I served this with steamed rice. Since we are using Bitter gourd as one of the vegetables, the curry has a mild bitter taste.

I am also sending this to Pooja of My Creative Ideas for the Vegetable Of the Week (VoW) event.

Friday 11 April 2008

Instant Rava Dosa

Weekend breakfasts are always special for us. As a strict rule we do not have bread/cereal or any other such ready made stuff unless & until we are in a tearing hurry to get out of the house which rarely happens. After all weekends are for relaxing and everything else can wait.

Things to be considered while deciding the menu for breakfast on a weekend...
It wont be any time earlier than 11.30am or 12 noon that we are ready to eat
We might not have any lunch at all that day
The weekly grocery shopping is yet to be done so there might not be many things available at hand.
We have to go out, even if it is only to roam around the town center.

The favourite one to fit all the criteria is Poha. Filling yet not requiring too many things to make it and this can keep us going for at least 2-3 hrs before we have any time or inclination to fit in the 'Lunch' which could be anytime between 3 & 5 in the evening. If it crosses 5 it is just snacks before the dinner..:)

Occasionally we plan out the weekend, so we can decide in advance what to have for breakfast & so Dosa/Idli/Wada etc happen. But on days when nothing is planned this recipe of my Mom's comes in very handy. As the name suggests this Dosa is Instant, requiring hardly 15 min of preparation time for the batter.

I have made a couple of changes to my Mom's original recipe, arriving at the presented recipe by trial & error method.

Makes 8-10 Dosas
  • 2 cups Rava (Semolina)
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tblsp Maida (Plain flour)
  • 1 cup curd (better if it sour)
  • 2 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
  • 2 Green chillies, finely chopped
  • Salt
Mix all the ingredients except jeera & green chillies to make a batter, adding water as required. Keep covered for 10-15 minutes.

Crush the jeera between your palms and then add to the batter along with the green chillies. Finely chopped onions can also be added to make 'Onion Rava Dosa' :)

Heat a tawa (griddle) preferably a non stick one. Take a ladle full of the batter & spread it as thin as possible on the tawa. Drizzle some oil on to the sides and let it cook for 2-3 min. Flip the Dosa & again cook for a minute.

This can be served with coconut chutney or any chutney pudi mixed with oil/ghee.

The maida makes it easier for the batter to be spread on the griddle but too much of it could spoil the consistency & crispiness of the Dosa. The rice flour makes the Dosas crispy.

I am sending this off to Srivalli at Cooking 4 All Seasons for the Dosa Mela.

PS: This is my 10th Post! Its not a big deal considering that so many of you have crossed 100s & 200s but a milestone for me nevertheless....

Thursday 10 April 2008

Paneer Pasanda

Make way for the star of all recipes. This dish is what Shahrukh Khan is for movies or Sachin Tendulkar is for Indian Cricket (Alright, Sachin may get rusty now & then but he still is the Master Blaster!).

OK! I might have taken the analogy a bit too far, but what I mean is that just as a movie with Shahrukh in it, is least likely to flop (I admit this very grudgingly...), in the same way any meal with this dish is a sure shot hit with everyone. GM loves it, my guests have always given me compliments for this dish and I love making it because of these reasons :) I do have to keep in my mind not to repeat it with the same set of friends !

I don't remember where I got this recipe from but I stumbled upon it on the Internet search when I was looking for some good Paneer recipes. This was just after my marriage when I was in high spirits to start running my own kitchen. Of course my experiments in the kitchen were a regular happening earlier also but they were restricted to Sundays & Holidays. My mom was always happy to hand over the kitchen to me, a welcome break for her! But this was different and I was so excited that I wanted to try out everything at once. This was the first Paneer dish I made, so it has a lot of sentimental value attached to it as well.

The usual hype is that any Paneer dish requires a lot of preparation and/or involves elaborate cooking steps. But on the contrary I have found that it is very easy, simple & quick to make most of the Paneer items. For one, the cutting & chopping is reduced & also the cooking time is less as paneer need not to be cooked for a long time as with other vegetables such as potatoes.

So here it is, a simple & easy Paneer delicacy...

Serves 2
  • 120 gm Paneer
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 1-2 Green chili, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger paste
  • 1/2 cup Cream
  • 1/4 cup Curd
  • 1 tsp Haldi
  • 1 tsp Red Chili powder
  • 1-2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 8-10 Mint leaves (Pudina), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • milk as required
  • salt

In a pan heat the butter. Add the chopped onions & saute until they turn translucent. Now add the Ginger Garlic paste, Green chilli and stir. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes sort of form a paste with the onions. Now turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Add the paneer cubes and all the other ingredients, except milk, and mix properly. Cover & keep for approx 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add the milk, turn on the flame & cook for approx 5-7 minutes or until it reaches the desired consistency.
Paneer Pasanda is ready to be devoured. Now what could be simpler than this?

For some reason this dish tastes better the next day. So I always make it in large quantities & we have it the next day as well accompanied by a Dal or raita.

Monday 7 April 2008

Ugadi/Gudi Padva Special

Wish you all a very Happy Ugadi/Gudi Padva!

Ugadi/Gudipadva denotes the New year day according to the Hindu calendar. One of the major memories of this festival being celebrated at home is the 'Prasad' made on this day. It mainly consists of 'Neem flowers' & 'Jaggery'. Me & My brother D, used to devise new means every year to escape having to eat that. This prasad actually denotes the 'sweet' & 'bitter' things in life in the coming new year.

The festive meal usually consists of Shrikhand - Puri. Shrikhand is a sweet made from Curd and it can be served as a dessert as well as one of the main dishes along with Puri. We rarely get good Shrikhand here in London. So I prefer to make it at home. Although the taste is not quite the same as what you get in shops in India, I at least have the satisfaction of having made it myself at home :)

I so wanted to participate in the Monthly Mingle that I made a slight change in the recipe to accommodate Strawberries in it :) and now it is called Berrykhand, just like there is Amrakhand. For those of you who don't know, Amrakhand is a Mango flavoured Shrikhand and one of my favourite desserts.

But for now here is Berrykhand!

Makes about 4-5 bowls.
1 kg Curd
1/2 cup Sugar
10-12 Strawberries
1-2 pinches Nutmeg powder
Almonds (As many as you like)

Tie the curd in a muslin cloth. Place it on a height & put some heavy object on the cloth such that the curd is hanging down loose. Place a container beneath this to catch the water. This has to be kept for approx 2-3 hours till the curd looses all the water. Sorry I completely forgot to take snaps of this stage.

Meanwhile blend the strawberries to get a puree. Pass this through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.

The curd obtained after the first step is called the Chakka (the 'ch' pronounced as in 'church') and looks something like this...

Add the sugar to this chakka & stir till all the sugar is dissolved. Now add the Strawberry puree, nutmeg powder and mix again. You may have to adjust the sugar a bit if the strawberries are a little sour in taste. I had to add 2-3 spoons more of sugar. Add the chopped almonds and refrigerate. You can also use other nuts, I think Pistachio would be very nice but I had run out of them yesterday. Serve chilled.

This Berrykhand tasted a lot like Strawberry flavoured Yogurt :) but we liked it.

This is my entry for the Monthly Mingle - Spring Fruit Sensation being hosted by Abby of Eat the Right Stuff. I am also sending this off to Simple Indian Food for the 'Fun n Sun' Event.

Saturday 5 April 2008

Sindhi Moong Dal

This is my second entry for Mathy's JFI-Garlic event.

Actually Garlic is such an important ingredient that almost everything that I cook has Garlic in it. There are some dishes which just cant do without Garlic & some where it might be an optional thing, but I generally use them in every dish possible.

Apart from being tasty, Garlic contains a lot of medicinal value as well. Garlic is known to have antibiotic properties. I remember my granny used to give us dry roasted garlic whenever we had cough or cold. It is even suitable for young babies. I have myself used Garlic when S had cold when she was just 5 months old. A Garlic clove was immersed in boiling water for 2-3 min & removed and this water was used for her formula milk.

Its a well known fact now that Garlic is very helpful in combating high blood pressure. Eating 1-2 cloves of raw garlic first thing in the morning helps in maintaining healthy BP levels.

In fact most of the spices/herbs/ingredients used in Indian cooking are known to have such versatile properties. Haldi(Turmeric) being another example.

Coming back to the event, the reason I chose this Dal for JFI-Garlic is that it has a very distinct taste of Garlic in it. I would say that the main flavour itself is Garlic. None of the spices over shadow the taste of Garlic.
I found this recipe on the packet of Moong Dal that I had bought. I made it for the first time to just check out the recipe & it turned out so good that we have this Dal almost every alternate day now. Since Toor Dal is usually the staple Dal in our diets, it takes a while to get used to the taste of moong Dal.

I made some changes to the recipe I found on the packet. The major one being that they had asked to make the tadka & add it to the cooked Dal. Instead I made the tadka, added the cooked Dal to it & cooked for some more time so that the flavours got infused in the Dal properly.

1 cup Yellow Moong Dal
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 green chillies (depending upon how spicy you like it), cut & slit
1 medium sized tomato, chopped
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
1 tsp Dhaniya Jeera (Coriander-Cumin) powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
Pressure cook the Dal along with the green chillies, ginger, tomatoes, haldi, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and a little salt.

In a pan heat oil. Add mustard seeds, when they start to splutter add the remaining cumin seeds & garlic. Fry for sometime.

Then add the Dhaniya jeera powder & mix. Add the cooked Dal and salt. Let this cook for 4-5 min. Add chopped coriander leaves & cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with Rice or Chapatis/Rotis.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Garlic Peanut Chutney Pudi

Having Belgaum, which lies almost on the border of Karnataka & Maharashtra, as your native place has its own advantages. Apart from knowing 2 languages Kannada & Marathi, I also had the benefit of being exposed to a cuisine which is neither 100% Maharashtrian nor 100% South Indian but a delicious mixture of both. So while Puran Poli featured regularly in our home during festivals like Holi or other special occasions, we also had Idli, Dosa & Wadas very often. The same has continued with me since I took over my Kitchen. In fact my cooking also has a bit of a North Indian touch which is a result of a long 12 year stay in Delhi, but more of that some other time.

Pudi means powder in Kannada. You will probably find this dry chutney only in households where a similar kind of cuisine is followed. The Maharashtrians generally make a more fiery garlic chutney with maybe only peanuts in it. But this one also has roasted Chana Dal, called Puthani in Kannada, which gives it a distinct taste. You will find it in the stores in India by the name of 'Bhuna Hua Chana Dal' & here in London its called 'Dalia' (This I think is the Gujarati name, considering that you will find most of the grocery items suited to Gujarati cooking in London). Garlic still remains the main flavour though.

1 cup of Peanuts (The pink skinned ones are preferable)
1.5 cups of Roasted Chana Dal (Split Chick Pea)
5-6 cloves of Garlic
3-4 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp Sugar
1-2 tsp Salt (according to taste)

The proportion of peanuts & Roasted Chana Dal is to be maintained at 1:1.5 and the other ingredients can be adjusted accordingly.

Roast the peanuts & allow them to cool. Now remove the skin by rubbing them between your palms.

Grind together these peanuts & all other ingredients making sure that the grinder is completely dry. It has to be a course powder & not very fine.

Store in an air tight container. This chutney stays good for a long time so it can be made in large quantities & stored. It tastes very nice when mixed with curd & is a good accompaniment with rice as well as rotis/chapatis. This can also be sprinkled on Sandwiches to give them a different taste or just on plain bread & butter.

This is my entry to JFI-Garlic hosted by Mathy of Virundhu.