Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lentil & vegetable biryani

This delicious biryani combines the goodness of lentils and vegetables. I normally use whole masur lentils for this. Here's how I make it:
1 cup basmati rice - washed and drained
1 cup lentils - soaked for 2-3 hrs
1 cup mixed vegetables - I use the frozen kind
1/2 cup onions - chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes chopped
1 tsp ginger - garlic paste
1 tsp coriander pwd
1 tsp cumin pwd
1/2 tsp red chilli pwd
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil
Heat the oil. Fry the onions in it for 5 mins. Add the tomatoes and saute for 5 mins. Add the ginger - garlic paste and the dry spices. Saute for 2 mins. Add the lentils and 1 cup of water. Mix well. Cover and cook on medium for 15 mins. Then add the vegetables and rice. Add salt to taste and about 2 cups water. Cover and cook on medium low for about 15 - 20 mins. By this time the rice, lentils and veggies will have cooked perfectly. Fluff with fork and serve hot with raita, papad etc.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Carrots side dishes

We are leaving for India in a few days and will be gone for 6 weeks. I rarely cook while there, but do pick up lotsa new recipes. If possible, I do intend to post while there.

In the meanwhile, I'm trying to clear my fridge. Had a bunch of carrots, so Friday evening I made this Carrot Koshimbir (salad) and the next day, finished up the remaining carrots with an Instant Carrot Pickle.

Here's how I made this Carrot Koshimbir:

1 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp coarsely pound peanuts
Salt, sugar and lemon juice to taste
Cilantro for garnish
For the tempering:
1 tsp ghee or oil
1 serrano pepper - chopped (deseeded for less heat)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Mix the shredded carrots, peanuts, salt, sugar and lemon juice. Make the tempering and add to the carrot mixture. Combine well. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

The sweet carrots and peanuts make a delicious and quick salad that can be eaten as a side dish or a light meal or as a filling in a tortilla wrap/ pita etc.

Here's how I made the Instant Carrot Pickle:

1 cup carrots - cut into matchsticks
1 clove garlic - chopped
1 heaped tsp pickle masala (I used Bedekar's Mango Pickle Masala) - adjust per taste
1 heaped tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafotida
Mix the carrots, garlic, pickle masala, salt and lemon juice in a glass bowl. Microwave for 1 mins.
Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the asafotida. Immediately add to the carrots. Cool the pickle to room temperature. It can be refrigerated for a day or two.
I am not a big pickle fan, but this quick Carrot Pickle does not last long in my fridge. I fell in love with carrot pickle when I had it for the first time at Preets, an Indian restaurant in our area. Though this version is not like theirs, its equally delicious.

We shared this with our friends for a weekend brunch, along with aloo parathas and vegetable raita.

These two dishes - Carrot Koshimbir and Instant Carrot Pickle go to the JFI - Carrots event at The Cooker.

Bell Pepper Masala Rice

Of all the versions of Bell Pepper Rice I've tried, this one I found on Vah Re Vah chef is absolutely fantastic. I prepared this for our impromptu Diwali get-together a couple weeks back. Here's how I made it:

1 cup basmati rice - washed & drained

1 cup chopped bell peppers - I used green, red & yellow

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 tsp sambar pwd.

Salt to taste

2 tsp oil

For the masala-

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp udad dal

2-3 dry red chillies

few curry leaves

1 tbsp plain peanuts

Dry roast all the masala ingredients. Cool slightly, then grind into a fine pwd. You can add a couple tsp of water if needed.

Cook the rice in 2 cups of water, adding about 1/2 tsp salt, for about 10 -15 mins on medium low till almost done.

In another big pan, heat the oil. Add onions, saute for 5 mins. Add bell peppers, saute 5 more mins. Add the prepared masala pwd, about 1/2 tsp salt and the sambar pwd. Mix well. Then add the cooked rice. Stir gently to mix. Cover and cook on low for 5 mins. till the rice is well coated with the masala and cooked, but each grain remains separate.

Serve hot with raita, papad etc.

This aromatic Bell Pepper Masala Rice goes to the Rice Mela being hosted by Srivalli at Cooking 4 All Seasons.

Zucchini Rice

I got this recipe from Manjula's Kitchen on You Tube and found the combination quite unique. Its very simple and a good way of incorporating this veggie in your meal. Here's how I make it:

1/2 cup basmati rice - washed and soaked in water for 1/2 hr.

1/2 cup shredded zucchini

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp butter

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 red chillies

1 bayleaf

1/2 inch cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice

Heat the oil & butter together. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chillies, bayleaf and cinnamon stick. After the seeds splutter add the shredded zucchini and rice and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a quick boil on high heat, add salt and lemon juice, stir well and cover and cook on medium low for about 10-15 mins. Take off heat and fluff gently with a fork.

This simple Zucchini Rice goes to the Rice Mela event at Srivalli's Cooking 4 All Seasons.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Angoori Rasmalai

I learnt the basic rasgulla many, many moons ago from a friend in Dallas and had made it several times while living there. It never failed to impress. When I saw the Sweet Series announcement at Mythreyee's Paajaka Recipes, it suddenly dawned on me that I haven't made these rasgullas in almost six years, ever since I left Dallas. So I am thankful to her for reminding me of this dish. This time I decided to make Angoori Rasmalai, mini grape-size (angoori) rasgullas in sweet milky syrup. This is a very popular dessert at weddings...infact we had it at our wedding. Here's how I made them:

For the Rasgullas (makes about 45 angoori rasgullas):

2 cups milk

1 tbsp white vinegar

Bring the milk to a boil on medium heat. When it come to a full boil, remove from heat and add the vinegar. This causes the milk to curdle and the whey separates from the cheese. Leave this as is for about 5 mins for all the cheese to settle down. Strain this in a cheesecloth. The whey can be used to knead dough for rotis. Wash the cheese under cold running water for a minute or two to remove any trace of the vinegar. Tie the cheesecloth fairly tightly and hang it to drain for 2 hrs. Then spread out the cheese on a plate and knead it gently for about 5 mins. To ensure it becomes very smooth, use the base of your palm while kneading to gently press the cheese. When the cheese becomes very smooth, form it into balls. For making angoori rasgullas, I made garbanzo bean-size balls. Once cooked, these double in size. If making regular-size rasgullas, shape them slightly bigger.

For the sugar syrup:

2 cups water

5 tsp sugar

Add sugar to the water and bring to a boil in a pressure pan. Gently drop in the cheese balls, close the pan lid (with the whistle on) and cook for 1 whistle. Immediately take the pan off the heat and place it under cold running water. This helps to release the steam pressure. Open the lid carefully, you will see the rasgullas have doubled in size.

Since the rasgullas swell on cooking, remember to cook them in batches to ensure that they have enough room in the pan while cooking. I cooked the 45 angoori rasgullas in 2 batches in my pressure pan, using the same sugar syrup.

When making rasmalai, I always add less sugar to the water used for boiling the rasgullas, since they later get a good soaking in the milk syrup. If making plain rasgullas, the proportion of sugar to water should be equal, or slightly less if you prefer it less sweet. Also, add a pinch of cardamon pwd. to the water when making plain rasgullas.

For the milk syrup:

1.5 cups milk

5 tsp sugar

Few strands of saffron

Sliced almonds and pistas for garnish

A pinch of cardamon pwd.

Bring the milk to a boil on medium heat and then simmer it for about 1 hr. This is the most time consuming part of the recipe, since it is prefarable to keep stirring the milk as it simmers. This ensures that the cream that forms on the milk mixes evenly with the rest of the milk to slightly thicken it, rather than clumping. After simmering for 1 hr, add the sugar, saffron, cardamon pwd. Cool slightly. Add the rasgullas, garnish with almonds and pistas if desired.

Chill before serving.

These Angoori Rasmalais are off to the Milky Sweets - Spongy Texture event at Paajaka.

I am also sending these over to Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen to celebrate her first blog anniversary.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Curried Vegetables and Tofu

I had borrowed a book from my library called 125 best vegan recipes by Maxine Chuck & Beth Gurney, in the hopes of preparing a vegan sweet dish. But as it happens sometimes, I could not get around to that. Instead, I found this lovely, healthy curry dish in it. I made this for our guests last Saturday. Though it was the first time I made this, I was quite sure it would turn out well. Why not, with all the good stuff going into it. And I was not disappointed at all.

Here's how I made it, tweaking the recipe in the book a bit to suit our taste:

1 Vidalia sweet onion - chopped
1 red bell pepper - chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup carrots - sliced thick
1 can chickpeas - drained & rinsed
1 pack extra firm tofu - drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used lite)
1 cup vegetable stock

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garam masala pwd.
1 tsp coriander pwd.
1 tsp cumin pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
1 tsp red chilli pwd, or to taste
Salt to taste

Cut the tofu into 4 slabs and dry roast it in a large non-stick skillet. I learnt this technique from Sia's Monsoon Spice and have used it in many dishes that use tofu. I love the texture it gives to the tofu. Place the slabs of tofu on the hot skillet, press gently to release the water. When they brown on one side, turn over and repeat on the other side. Remove from skillet and cube the tofu. I find that first cutting the tofu into slabs, dry roasting them, then cubing, works quicker for lazy me, rather than having to work with each cube on the skillet.

Heat oil in the same skillet. Saute the onions for about 3-5 mins, until transluscent. Add the red pepper & ginger and saute another 2-3 mins. Add the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and vegetable stock, Cook for 5 mins on medium. Add salt, spices, diced tomato, chickpeas and tofu. Mix well. Cover and cook for 5 mins, then cook uncovered for 5 mins. Stir in the coconut milk, adjust spices. Give it one good boil.


We had an impromptu get-together last Saturday with a few friends at our place. Since I was still in the Diwali mood, I decided to make this kalakand for dessert and was myself surprised how quickly it came together. It went down very well not only that night, but the next evening also, when we hosted a Diwali potluck.
Here's how I made it:
1 15 oz. box of Ricotta cheese (I used reduced fat)
6 oz. sugar
2 oz. milk pwd.
Few strands of saffron
A generous pinch of cardamon pwd.
Sliced almonds &/or pista for garnish
Mix the ricotta, sugar and milk into a smooth paste. Add the saffron and cardamon pwd. Mix and pour into a greased, glass baking dish. My dish was 8 x 11 inches. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 F for 40 mins. The kalakand is done when the sides brown slightly. Cool and refrigerate, or refrigerate directly like I did since I was in a hurry that day. When cold, cut into desired shapes. Serve cold.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Chocolate Nankhatai
Nankhatai is a popular Indian, eggless cookie. I made a batch of these for Diwali using a recipe from Manjula's kitchen on You Tube. But I changed it up a bit for half the batch by adding cocoa and turning them into chocolate nankhatais. Here's how I made them:

1/3 cup maida (all purpose flour)
1/3 cup fine semolina

1/2 cup gram flour

A pinch of baking soda (Less than 1/8th tsp)

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp cocoa pwd.

1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)

2/3 cup powdered sugar

Almonds for garnish
Preheat oven to 350c.

Mix the first 6 ingredients well.

Make sure the sugar is of fine texture, you can pwd it in a blender if needed. Blend the sugar and butter (I used a blender for this) until soft & fluffy. Then mix the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mix and knead gently into a soft dough. Break into small round balls. Flatten each slightly. Top with half an almond. Place these on a greased baking tray and bake for about 12 mins.

I have had varying degrees of success making nankhatais in the past, but really loved how these chocolate ones came out.

These Chocolate Nankhatai's are off to FIC-Brown event at TongueTicklers.

I also made a batch of regular nankhatais using the above recipe. For making these, simply omit the vanilla essence and cocoa pwd from the above recipe. Add 1/4 tsp cardamon pwd instead. You can top the plain nankhatai with pistas, cashews, almonds or charolis. You can also add few strands of saffron to give them a good flavor. Here are my plain and chocolate nankhatais.

These Chocolate and Plain Nankhatais go to the JFI - Diwali Festival event at Cooking 4 All Seasons. JFI is the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi.

Oh, and before I forget, these nankhatais go very well with a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

This easy, single serving of hot chocolate is just off the box of Hershey's Cocoa pwd. Here's how I make it:

1 cup milk - microwaved for 2 mins.

2 tsp sugar

2-3 tsp cocoa pwd

A pinch of salt

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Mix the sugar, cocoa & salt in a large drinking mug. Slowly our the hot milk, stirring gently all the time. Add the vanilla, stir and enjoy.

This easy hot chocolate is also off to the FIC - Brown event at TongueTicklers.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Diwali

Wish you all a very happy Diwali folks.

Usually I am not big on making Diwali faraal since I've found I end up having to eat most of it. Also, I cannot get into the spirit of Diwali here in the US...probably 'coz of having to go to work as usual on Diwali days.

The "OM' design in the above picture is a kind of permanent rangoli I picked up in Mumbai 2-3 yrs back. Its made of Fevicol I think. I have been using it every year since. Works well for lazy me. I only make it a point to draw rangoli on Laxmi Pooja day, its a special tortoise rangoli I learnt from a close family friend several years back. Hopefully I can post it in a day or 2.

The diya is the last of a big lot I had bought 2 years back for a Diwali presentation at my daughter's montessori class. Her teacher asked if I'd give the kids a little background on this festival. So N & me dressed up in traditional Indian clothes, distributed these diyas etc. I was surprised how well the kids responded, for several days after that, they'd come up to tell me how they loved the diyas, had their parents light it etc.

Coming to this year's Diwali treats, I made a batch of Rainbow Karanjis which I have posted earlier. Then we were off to Phoenix for 4 days visiting family. After coming back & catching up on all the housework, I was kinda tired & wanted to make something quick & easy, hence made these Almond, Walnut & Cashew Burfis I found on Manjula's Kitchen in You Tube. I followed her method exactly. The one thing I'd do differently next time is grind the nuts to a fine powder as against leaving them slightly coarse as I did this time.

These Almond, Walnut, Cashew Burfis are off to Vaishali's Sweet Vegan event at Holy Cow!

Another faraal item I could not resist the moment I saw it was this Rice Crispies Chiwda I found on Meera's Enjoy Indian Food.

The recipe is pretty flexible here, so I modified it slightly for the ingredients I had. Here's how I made it:

2 cups Rice Crispies cereal

2 cups puffed rice (kurmure)

handful of store-bought shev

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

Generous pinch of asafotida

1/2 tsp turmeric pwd

3 dry red chillies - broken into 2 pieces each

handful of cashews

handful of peanuts

few curry leaves

1/2 tsp amchoor pwd

salt and sugar to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan. Temper with the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafotida. Add the red chillies, curry leaves, cashews, peanuts, turmeric and puffed rice. Saute on medium low till the puffed rice crispens (about 7 mins). Add the rice crispies, salt, sugar, amchoor and mix well. Cool the chiwda and store in an airtight container.

This Rice Crispies Chiwda and the above Almond, Walnut, Cashew Burfis are off to the Festival JFI event at Srivalli's Cooking 4 All Seasons.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Roasted veggies & pasta

I got this recipe from a co-worker. She is a very, very enthusiastic cook and has a vast collection of cookbooks. When she realized I also had similar interests, she started lending me a few of those at a time. This recipe if from a cookbook published by the Moosewood restaurant. The use of fennel seeds and the combination of veggies was what attracted me to this dish.

Here's how I made it.

1 cup chopped onions
2 cups chopped peppers - I used a combination of green, red, yellow and orange ones (See note)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/8th cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic - minced
1.5 tsp ground fennel
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup uncooked small-shaped pasta (I used star-shaped pasta, orzo is also a good choice)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Place the chopped veggies in a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, fennel pwd, salt, pepper and pour over the veggies. Toss to coat well.
Spread the veggies in a single layer on a nonreactive baking sheet. Roast for 15 mins. Remove from the oven, stir in the basil and return to the oven. Roast another 10 mins, stir and continue to roast for about 5 more mins.
While the veggies are roasting, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water till al dente.
Drain the pasta and mix with the veggies to serve.

We had this as a light Sunday lunch, but I think it would make a great side to a larger meal... perhaps a non-traditional dish for a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, especially if you have some vegetarian friends or family members at your table. Hence it is off to the Monthly Mingle - Sensational Sides event at Ruth's Kitchen. This event is the brain child of Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey?

Note - The original recipe also calls for zucchinis & mushrooms, but I did not have these on hand, so I replaced them with extra peppers. I would highly recommend using these as they take the dish up a whole new level. Hubby did the grocery shopping this weekend & despite having my list of items, he just bought a lot of colored peppers as they were on sale!

Scrambled tofu

I have posted a scrambled tofu recipe earlier as my Express Breakfast Event contribution during my non-blogging days.

This weekend I made it again for breakfast using a variety of colored peppers. It came out really well, looked as good as it tasted. Here's how I made it:

1 14 oz. pack of firm tofu - drained & mashed (with a masher or fork)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafotida
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd.
1 serrano pepper - chopped
About 1/2 cup finely chopped peppers (I used a mix of red, yellow & orange)
2 green onions - finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds. When they start sizzling, add the asafotida, turmeric pwd. serrano peppers, colored peppers & green onions. Saute for 5 mins. Add the mashed tofu. Saute on high heat stirring occasionally for about 7 mins till the tofu dries up. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with toast and tea.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rainbow karanjis

I was browsing thru my recipe books trying to decide what faraal to make this Diwali, when these rainbow karanjis caught my eye and my fancy in Kamlabai Ogle's Ruchira. I had never heard or seen such karanjis before, so I decided to make a trial batch this weekend. Here's how I made them.

For the filling:

2 cups shredded coconut (I used frozen)

2 cups brown sugar or jaggery

1/2 tsp cardamom pwd

Cook the sugar and coconut on medium low heat until well mixed. Add the cardamom pwd and mix well. Allow to cool before stuffing in the karanjis.

For the covering:

1 cup fine sooji (rawa)

1 cup plain flour (maida)

About 4 heaped tsp ghee

4 tsp cornflour

Food colors - I used red, blue, yellow and green

Mix the sooji, maida and half the ghee. Divide the mix into 5 parts (more or less depending on the colors you use). Leave one part white and knead into a stiff dough with water or milk. Mix the colors in the other parts and knead those into stiff doughs too. Leave aside for 2 hrs. Then knead each piece of dough separately again. Mix the cornflour with the remianing ghee and whip till light. Roll each dough into a roti. All the rotis should be of about the same size. Take one roti, smear some cornflour-ghee mix on it, cover with another roti. Repeat with all the rotis. Then roll this stack of rotis into a tight roll. Cut this roll into 2 inch pieces. Roll each peice into a round puri, keeping the colored side down. Fill with the coconut-sugar mix. Fold over. Seal the edges together with some water. Deep fry these karanjis in moderately hot oil.

This made 8 karanjis and 2 modaks for me.

These karanjis are off to the Diwali Festival Feast at All Thingz Yummy.

I'm also sending these to the Festival JFI event at Srivalli's Cooking 4 All Seasons.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Zucchini - Corn Quesadilla & Tortilla Soup

Quesadilla, the Mexican restaurant staple, is a hot favorite dinner item in our home. I have posted a bell pepper quesadilla before. This time, the quesadilla is stuffed with a mix of zucchini, corn & black beans. This is my favorite kind. Here's how I made it:
2 zucchinis - washed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion - chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans - drained & rinsed
1 heaped tsp cumin pwd
1 heaped tsp coriander pwd
Salt to taste
Tabasco hot sauce to taste
1 tsp olive or veg. oil
Tortillas - I use Multi-Grain ones
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Saute the onions till transluscent. Add the zucchini & saute on medium high for 5 mins. Zucchini does not take long to cook, especially when thinly sliced. Add the corn, black beans, salt, cumin and coriander pwds and tabasco sauce. Mix well and heat through. I keep my veggie mix quite mild for my daughter and when stuffing in the tortillas, I add an extra few drops of the Tabasco sauce for hubby & myself.

To make the quesadilla, fold the tortilla into half. Spoon 2-3 tbsp of the veggie mix on the lower half. Add extra hot sauce at this stage. Top with shredded cheese & cover with the top half. The restaurant version of quesadillas is usually oozing with cheese, but I like to go light on this. I add just a bit, enough to act as a binder when the tortilla is folded over and cooked.

Roast both sides on a pan. You can use a few drops of oil, but I like to dry roast it and char it up a bit. This time I used a grill pan to roast to get those grill lines u see in the picture above.

Cool for a minute before cutting into half and serving. Salsas, guacamole or sour cream make good accompaniments to the quesadilla, but I always serve them with this easy tortilla soup. Here's how I made the soup:

About 1 cup of the above veggie mix
2 small tomatoes - chopped
4 cups of veg. broth
Extra salt, cumin pwd, coriander pwd, tabasco sauce to season

Mix all the above and give it one good boil. To serve, crush some tortilla chips in a bowl, pour ladlefuls of soup and top with more crushed tortilla chips. Usually I use regular tortilla chips (especially the broken ones from the tostito scoops pack) but this time I cut up a tortilla into strips and microwaved it till crisp (in 20 sec. intervals for a total of about 3 mins.).

Now, nobody would associate quesadillas with dieting, right? But my version is, I believe, a lite one. The veggie mix has only 1 tsp of oil. The cheese is kept to a minimum - I have not measured how much I use in each quesadilla, but probably about 1 tbsp. The quesadilla is dry roasted. Oh, the tortilla I used (Bestlife multi-grain ones from Costco) has 100 calories and 25 fat calories per tortilla. And accompanied with the healthy, fat-free soup, you don't need more than one quesadilla to fill you up.

Hence this quesadilla and soup are off to the Diet Foods event at Divya's Dil-Se.

Coming to topics other than food, EC of Simple Indian Food had tagged me a while back to state six unspectacular quirks about myself. So here they are:

I am a very shy person.

I avoid driving on the freeway.

I have tried in vain to learn swimming.

I have tried in vain to bake.

I find it difficult to remember birthdates.

I don't follow stuff like chain mails etc.

Hence I had avoided this tag for a while. But I do appreciate EC thinking about me and did want to share some facts about myself. However, I don't want to force anyone to take up this tag. Hence if you read it and want to state six quirks about yourself, consider yourself tagged.

On a similar note, Kitchen Flavours has given me a Butterfly Award. It is my very first award in the food blog world and means a great deal to me. Thank you dear.

One of the rules of the award is to nominate 10 other blogs. But I follow so many beautiful, cool blogs...its hard to pick only 10. So this goes out to all the food bloggers.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Leftover rice cutlets

Leftover rice is often given a new life by turning it into fried rice (phodnicha bhaat), dahi bhaat or these easy, accomodating cutlets. These make for a quick snack or lunchbox fix.
Here's how I made them today:
1/2 cup cooked rice (I had leftover white rice, brown will also work)
1 medium potato - boiled, peeled and grated
1/3 cup leftover peas, carrots subji (or other leftover dry subji, if any)
salt to taste
1/4 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp cumin-coriander pwd
1/4 tsp red chilli pwd or to taste
1/4 tsp chaat masala (or garam masala)
Mix all the above ingredients together. Divide into ten balls. Flatten slightly between oiled palms. Shallow fry on flat non-stick pan till crisp and golden on both sides, about 5 mins on medium heat. I used just a few drops of olive oil to fry.
Serve with ketchup or chutney or pack for lunch.
Until then, these cutlets are off to the Saas, Bahu aur Sensex Contest at the Edible Garden.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rustic Meal

Jowar Bhakri, zunka and buttermilk
Bhakris were never made at my place, but I've recently started preparing them once in a while. I use either jowar or bajra flours for the bhakris. These flours are gluten-free, hence easier to digest. But this also makes them difficult to roll out. After some trial & error process, I found that for my (non) skill level, rolling them between sheets of plastic ziplock bags works best. But I always wanted to get a first-hand experience seeing how these were traditionally made. Last year I had wonderful soft jowar bhakris made by a friend's MIL. Thereafter I kept pestering her to show me how these were made. So this time when her MIL came for a visit, she was sweet enough to demostrate it for me. While I am still far away from making them like hers, I did pick up a few simple trick. One is to use fresh flour. She actually got her flour from India, grown on their own farm no less. The other is, if fresh flour is not available, use hot water to make the dough. What a difference that made! I also noticed she kneaded just enough dough to make one bhakri at a time.
So this time, I used some of her techniques, though I stuck with my plastic sheets for the rolling part of it.
Jowar flour
Hot water
Knead the flour into a soft dough. Initially I used a big spoon to mix it, once it was slightly cooler, I kneaded with my hand. Place the dough ball between 2 plastic sheets. Press evenly all around. Then roll into a bhakri. I used a combination of hand-patting & rolling pin to roll it out evenly. Then place on a hot skillet. Apply some water to the bhakri as it cooks. Roast on both sides.
The zunka I prepared to go with it was just a concontion of some left over green bell pepper, onions and green onions. Here's how I made it:
1 green pepper - chopped
1/2 medium onion - chopped
4 green onions - chopped
1 clove garlic
About 1 cup of gram flour
Salt to taste
1 tsp red chilli pwd (chopped green chillies can be used instead)
For tempering - 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafotida, 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd.
Heat oil. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the rest of the tempering ingredients. Then add the onions, garlic and pepper. Saute for 5 mins. Add about a cup of water, cover and cook for 5 mins till done. Then add the salt & red chilli pwd. Mix well. Sprinkle the gram flour. Mix again. Add a few more drops of oil, cover and cook on medium low for 2-3 mins.
Serve warm with bhakris/rotis.

Palak Dhokla

I think making dhokla from scratch is one of the first recipes I learnt from a friend in Dallas when I was a novice cook. This version of adding palak to it is fairly new to me, I had this recently at a b'day party.
2 cups gram flour
1 cup spinach - fresh or frozen
1 tbsp kasuri methi
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
1/2 tsp Arm & Hammer baking soda
1 tsp citric acid
For tempering - 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 2 red chillies - broken, 1/2 tsp roasted til (sesame seeds)
Blend the spinach and kasuri methi together.
Set water to boil in a pressure pan. Oil a container that fits in the pan. The container should be broad, flat-bottomed and have a good edge. Keep this oiled cntainer in the pressure pan, so it gets heated as the water boils.
Mix the gram flour, sugar and salt with enough water to get a batter of bhajji/pakoda consistency. Dissolve the citric acid in a few spoons of water and add it to the batter. Keep aside for 5 mins.
Then add the spinach puree to the batter.
Next, dissolve the soda in a few spoons of water and immediately add it to the batter. Give it a good stir. You will notice the batter sizzle a bit and fluff up (make sure the container you use for the batter is big enough to accomodate this). Quickly pour this into the hot container in the pressure pan. Close the lid of the pressure pan and steam (without the whistle) for 20 mins. on medium heat.
Then take out the container, cool for 5-10 mins & invert it. The dhokla should slide out. Cut into desired shapes. Make the tempering in a small vessel and pour over the dhoklas. Put a few spoons of water in the same small vessel, with a pinch of salt & sugar. Drizzle over the dhoklas. This prevents them from getting too dry.
This palak dhokla is off to the Food In Colors - Green event at TongueTicklers.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Buttermilk khichdi

I had printed this recipe from a long time back, but only got around to making it last night. It was a good night light dinner, after a day full of kids' b'day party pizzas & cake. Here's how I made it:

1 cup short grain rice
About 3-4 cups thin buttermilk
For tempering - 2 tsp ghee or oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 red chillies - broken into 2 each, 1 tsp udad dal, I tsp chana dal, handful of cashew pieces, few curry leaves
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish

Heat the ghee/oil. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add cumin seeds and the rest of the ingredients for tempering. Saute a few minutes, then add the rice, buttermilk and salt. Stir well. Cook on medium low for about 20 mins. till done.

Serve with mango pickles, chips or papad.


We had this for our Sunday breakfast/brunch. I got the idea for this adai (savory pancake) from SaffronHut. Here's how I made it:

1 cup brown rice

1/4 cup udad dal

3/4 cup mix of green gram, masur dal, whole masur and barley (I got this mix at the grocey store)

Salt to taste

A generous pinch of asafotida

1 tsp ginger paste

1/2 tsp red chilli pwd

1 medium onion - chopped

Chopped cilantro

I soaked the first three ingredients together overnight in plenty of water. Next morning, I drained about a cup of water & blended the rest in a mixer. Added Salt, asafotida, ginger, onions and cilantro.

To make the adais, heat a non-stick pan on medium, spread one ladleful of the batter starting at the center and spreading it outwards in a circle. Drizzle 1-2 drops of oil around the edges. Cook for about 3-4 mins until golden brown and crisp. Then flip over and cook similarly on the other side.

I served these adais with tomato-carrot chutney and zuke-a-mole.

These adais are off to the WBB: Grains in my Breakfast event at Aparna's My Diverse Kitchen.
The WBB event is the brainchild of Nandita of Saffron Trail.

And also to the JFI - Whole Grains event at Suganya's Tasty Palettes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Vegetarian Chilli Mac

Chilli is a popular dish in Southern US. I remember the annual chilli cook-outs in downtown Dallas near my office. This is a vegetarian version combining beans, tomatoes, other veggies and macaroni. I have been religiously scanning the Sunday newspaper coupons and ads for past several years. I found this recipe in one such coupon for Barilla brand pasta.

2 tsp oil ( I use olive oil)
1/2 cup onion chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
1 can red kidney beans - drained & rinsed
1 can cannelini beans - drained & rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes - undrained
1 small can tomato sauce
2 tsp cumin pwd
2 tsp coriander pwd
2 tsp red chilli pwd
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup macaroni - uncooked

Heat the oil. Saute onions, bell peppers. Add all the other ingredients, plus 1 cup water. Stir gently. Simmer uncovered for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally until the macaroni is cooked. Garnish with shredded cheese (I used cheddar) and green onions.

This makes great comfort food for cold, wet nights.

This chilli is off to the My Legume Love Affair Event being hosted by Lucy. This event is the brainchild of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Masur amti

This curry uses whole masur and is a good variation for the usual varan/amti. I generally do not sprout the masur, merely soak it for 2-3 hrs, then pressure cook for 3 whistles. If not pre-soaking, the masur can be roasted and pressure-cooked too.

2 cups cooked masur lentils

2 tsp Maharashtrian Goda Masala

1 tsp cumin pwd.

1 tsp coriander pwd.

1/2 tsp red chilli pwd.

2 tbsp jaggery/gul

5-6 pieces of amsul

For tempering - oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafotida, turmeric pwd, curry leaves

For garnish - cilantro, shredded coconut

Heat the oil. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add the cumin seeds, asafotida, curry leaves and turmeric pwd. Then add the cooked masur and enough water to get desired consistency. Add the salt, masalas, jaggery and amsul. Mix well and bring to a boil. Garnish with chopped cilantro and shredded coconut.

Note - Amsul is a souring agent like tamarind/lemon juice/amchoor and is available in the Indian grocery stores.

Mung curry

2 cups sprouted, boiled mung beans

1 red potato - diced

1 tsp ginger paste

2 tsp Maharashtrian Goda Masala (Garam Masala or Sambar Masala will also work)

1 tsp cumin pwd

1 tsp coriander pwd

1 tsp red chilli pwd

2 tblsp jaggery

1/2 tsp tamarind paste

2 tsp oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Pinch of asafotida

1/2 tsp turmeric pwd

5-6 curry leaves

Salt to taste

Cilantro and shredded coconut for garnish

Heat oil and add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add cumin seeds, asafotida, curry leaves turmeric pwd. Add the ginger paste, potatoes and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook for 5-10 mins. until potatoes are cooked. Then add the mung beans, masalas and salt. Mix well. Add enough water to get desired consistency. Boil once. Garnish with chopped cilantro and shredded coconut before serving.

Note - Sprout the mung beans by soaking overnight, drain the water in the morning and put the mung beans in a colander. Cover with a lid & leave for about 12 - 15 hrs. to sprout. I boil the sprouted mung beans in the pressure cooker for 1 whistle.

I usually add some onions and garlic paste to the curry too. However, this time I made it on Thursday, when I avoid these, hence this is the "onion/garlic-less version". If using these, add after the tempering and saute till onions are transculent.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thai Tofu Curry

This recipe is from an old issue of the Eating Well magazine that I was browsing at the Dr.'s office a while back. It caught my eye since I love Thai red curry as well as spinach & tofu and this combines all of them in a quick and easy way. I immediately made a copy and have made this curry several times.

For the sauce, you need:

1 cup lite coconut milk

2 tsp red curry paste (or to taste)

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Whisk all the ingredients together.

Tofu & veggies:

1 14 oz. pack of extra-firm tofu

2 cups chopped spinach

1 medium red bell pepper sliced

1 tsp lemon juice

Drain the tofu and place between a few sheets of paper towels. Keep a weight on it (like a can of beans etc.). After about 10 mins., slice the tofu into bite-size pieces. Then pan-fry the tofu to golden brown, without oil, using this technique from Monsoon Spice. Add the bell pepper and saute till it is slightly cooked,but still has some crunch, about 5 mins. Add spinach and thai curry sauce. Boil once. Add the lemon juice.

Serve over brown rice.

Per the magazine, one 3/4 cup serving has 20% of the daily calcium requirement. Not bad, hence its going to the Calcium Rich Foods event at Sangeeth's Art of Cooking Indian Food.

Spring rolls

I usually make these and freeze them. They come in handy for a quick snack/unexpected guests. There are several varieties of spring roll wraps available. In our area, Uwajimaya is a good place for it. This time I made these spring rolls using Azumaya square wraps.

Azumaya square wraps

1 cup shredded cabbage

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup finely chopped onions

1/4 cup sprouted mung beans

1/4 cup boiled spaghetti noddles, crushed

2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ginger paste

2 tsp oil, plus oil to fry

Heat the 2 tsp of oil in a non-stick wok, add the onions and saute for 5 mins on medium to medium high heat. Add the ginger, cabbage and carrots. Saute another 5-7 mins. Add the mung beans, noodles, salt, pepper and soy sauce. Cook another 3-5 mins. Take off heat. The filling is ready, it is pretty dry.

To prepare the rolls, fill the center of each wrap with a spoonful of the mixture. Bring the opposite points together and press down. Roll from one end to the other. Use a little water to stick the end. Prepare all the rolls. Keep them covered with a moist cloth. Deep fry in hot oil.

I just happenned to have the spaghetti on hand. This is a good way to use up the small pieces of noodles that remain at the bottom of the box. You can also add green/red/orange bell peppers to the filling. I keep the filling pretty bland and serve with a spicy dipping sauce. But in the above picture, I've used Maggi Hot & Sweet and Maggi Chatpat Tomato ketchups.

These spring roll appetizers are off to the WYF event at EC's Simple Indian Food.

Pasta salad, pizza appetizer

Pasta salad -

Got this recipe from a Kraft magazine.

1 cup cooked, drained & cooled pasta - I used multicolor corkscrew pasta

1/3 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup sliced black olives

3 tbsp Zesty Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to blend all the flavors.

Pizza Appetizer -

We had these with the pasta salad for dinner Monday. I was trying to use up some leftover naans and veggie burgers as well as create something to complement the salad, that ofcourse had to be ready in a jiffy. Hence I came up with this pizza.

3 store-bought naans

3 store-bought frozen veggie burgers - thawed & cut into bite size pieces

6 tbsp pasta sauce

1/3 cup red onions - finely chopped

Few black olives - sliced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Mix the burger pieces into the pasta sauce. Spread it on the naans. Top with the onions, olives and feta cheese. I grilled these in a pan on the stove-top for 10 mins. at medium heat to crisp up the naans. Garnish with cilantro. Cut into wedges.

Though this was our meal that night, no reason not to have them as part of a bigger meal. Hence sending these off to EC's WYF event at Simple Indian Food.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Corn salad and appetizer

Corn Salad

This corn salad is simple and versatile. It can be had as a light meal or a part of a meal. It also works as a filling/topping for a toast.Or my favorite, in Tostito scoops. I have even given it to my daughter in her lunch box a few times and she has polished it off! Here's how I make the salad:

1 cup frozen corn - thaw in microwave for 1 min.

1/2 cup canned black beans-drained and rinsed

1/4 cup chopped onion- I use the sweet Walla-Walla onions we get here. Any type works, but if you want to reduce the sharpness, drain it under cold tap water.I read this trick on Nupur's One Hot Stove blog.

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1 serrano pepper - deseeded & de-ribbed if you prefer less heat

1/2 tsp salt or to taste

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Mix all the above together. That's it. Salad is ready.

Now comes the fun part. To turn this salad into an appetizer/starter/snack,simply fill it in Tostito scoops, sprinkle with some chaat masala & top with sev. These go off in no time folks. Its a quick and easy item to put together when you have unexpected can add/subtract any of the veggies depending on whats on hand. Oh and before I forget...I got this idea from Saffron Hut. This blog, though no longer active, will always hold a special place in my heart. Its the first one I visited and discovered this amazing world of food blogs. Every post on it is a gem.

Corn Tostitos Appetizer

This Corn Salad and the Corn Tostitos Appetizer are off the EC's WYF - Soups/Salads/Starters event at Simple Indian Food.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Squash Puris

Packing lunch for my kindergartner is always a challenge. What works one day may or may not work another time. But so far, these Squash Puris or 'Lal Bhoplyachya Purya' have had a high success rate. She ofcourse loves puris, so once a week its either these squash puris or palak puris for her lunch box.

The availability of frozen cooked squash here makes this a breeze to prepare. I've heard from my cousin, who is an ophthalmologist, that lal bhopla (orange squash) is very good for eyesight, hence I try to cook it once every week, sometimes in a curry (using fresh lal bhopla) or in raita (lal bhoplayache bharit using frozen cooked squash) and ofcourse these puris for N.

Here's how I make them:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp frozen cooked squash (thaw overnight in the fridge or for 2-3 hrs on the counter)
2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt

Make a slightly stiff dough with the above, using 1-2 drops of oil. Keep for 1/2 hr. Roll out into puris. I've used a star-shaped cookie cutter to make the puris in the above picture. Deep fry in hot oil. Drain on a paper towel. The addition of sugar makes these puris slightly sweetish but not overly so.

Hope you folks like these simple puris.

These puris are my contribution to the Kids Lunchbox event at Cooking Up Something Nice.

I am editing this post after my trip to India Dec. 2008. I found out that these squash puris are called 'Gharges' in Marathi. They are made pretty much the same as above, except jaggery is used instead of sugar. The jaggery and squash are cooked together and then the wheat flour is mixed into them. I made a batch of these gharges for N's lunch box after my return and she loved them just as much. I'll end this post with a picture of these gharges.

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