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 bawarchi.com 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 company...you 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.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Broccoli and Cheese Tikkis

This is again a recipe I had noted down a while back, but don't know the source. You see, everytime I visit Mumbai, I pass my daytime browsing over my neighbor's vast collection of recipes. They are 2 sisters, V & T and I've known them since childhood. I call their mom Aai. All are excellent cooks. During my visits, they always cook delicious new dishes for me. In the daytime, when they are at work, I borrow their cookbooks to browse thru & note down some recipes. When I come back to the US, I try these out. Now with my blog, I have more incentive to try out all such recipes.

Here's how I made these Broccoli and Cheese Tikkis:

1 cup finely chopped broccoli

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp ginger - grated

2 tbsp corn flour

3/4th cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 tsp red chilli pwd

Salt to taste


Saute the onions in 1 or 2 tsp oil for 2 mins on medium high heat. Add ginger and garlic and fry for 2 more mins. Then add the broccoli, salt and red chilli pwd. Cook for about 5 mins. Take off heat and add the cornflour and cheese. Mix well. While the mixture is still warm, shape into small balls. Roll each in the bread crumbs and flatten slightly. Shallow fry on non-stick pan with few drops of oil.

This made about 14 bite-size tikkis. My 5 yr-old daughter loves broccoli, the smiley-face ketchup accompanies her tikkis, while it is the mint-coriander chutney for M & me.

The cheese and broccoli in this dish are both calcium-rich foods. The cheese packet said 1/4 cup serving provides 20% of the daily calcium requirement. Elsewhere on the web, I read that 1 cup broccoli provides 15% of the daily calcium requirement. Hence I am sending these tikkis to the Calcium rich food event at the Art of Cooking Indian Food.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Methi Bhaji and Methi Parathas

Methi Bhaji (Subji)-

This is a dry subji. We call it 'Methi chi peeth perleli bhaji' meaning methi subji with gram flour. I have always loved this item, so much so that whenever I visit my Dad in Mumbai, I always request the cook to make this bhaji the first day I arrive & then atleast once every week while I am there. Methi leaves have a slightly bitter taste and combining them with gram flour and jaggery in this subji wonderfully balances out all the flavors.

Luckily I found fresh methi at the Indian store this Friday, hence got 4 bunches (they were rather small) as I wanted to savor this bhaji and make the parathas too. Here's how I made the bhaji:

4 small bunches of methi leaves - after discarding the stems/roots, washing (very well as it tends to have some mud stuck between the leaves), and chopping in the food processor, it made about 2 cups. If fresh methi is not available, frozen can be used too.

3 tbsp oil (this veg. does need more oil than I normally use)

For the phodni/tadka - 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp hing, 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd.

1 tsp coriander pwd

1 tsp cumin pwd

2 tsp Maharashtrian Goda Masala

3 tbsp jaggery/gul

Salt to taste

1 cup gram flour

Heat half the oil. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter add cumin seeds, hing and halad. Immediately add the chopped methi leaves. Add about 1 cup of water. Cover & cook on medium high for 7-8 mins. Then go in the masalas - coriander pwd, cumin pwd, goda masala and the salt and gul. Stir well & let it cook for another 5 mins.  Give it another good stir. Then sprinkle the gram flour over the bhaji, mix very well, add the rest of the oil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for another 7-8 mins. so the flour gets steamed.

Thats it. The bhaji is ready. Before I go on to the parathas, let me warn you folks - we rarely have any bhaji left over to make the paratha stuffing. The methi leaves, though they seem like a big pile when cleaning, shrivel up when cooking. The addition of the gram flour does help increase the quantity of the bhaji, but rarely enough to have leftovers. Usually I get 2 bunches of methi leaves and the bhaji with that is good for 1 meal for 3 to 4 people. This time I wanted to have leftovers, hence bought 4 bunches.

Methi Parathas -

Really just an extension of the above dish. Like I mentioned earlier, this subji is fairly dry and as it cools, it becomes dry enough to use as a paratha stuffing, without fear of it oozing out. For the paratha dough, you need -

1 cup whole wheat flour

pinch of salt

water to knead to a soft pliable dough

few drops of oil

Mix the salt with the wheat flour, gradually add water to form dough. Drizzle a few drops of oil & knead some more. Leave it covered with a damp cloth for about 1/2 hr.

To make the parathas, divide the dough into 6 to 8 balls. Flatten each slightly. Cup in the palm & fill about 2 tsps of the methi bhaji. Bring the sides together & seal closed. Press between the palms. Stuff all the dough this way. Then roll out each into parathas dusting a little flour as needed. Roast on medium high tava on both sides using one or two drops of oil until golden brown spots appear. Enjoy hot or roll and pack in aluminium foil for lunchbox. My 5 yr old daughter likes this with boondi raita. I served it with a simple raita of red radishes and green onions in the above picture.
This Methi Subji and Methi Parathas are off to Redchillies Herb Mania Fenugreek event.

Updating this post to send it to the Fenugreek event at What's Cooking, this event was started by PJ.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Past event contributions

As I have mentioned earlier, in my non-blogger days I had participated in a few food blog events. I am posting all those contributions here in order to keep a track of them.

Bell Pepper Quesadilla & soup - Contributed to VoW-JFI -Bell Peppers event at Pooja's My Creative Ideas

Quesadilla, as you may know, is a part of the Mexican cuisine wherein veggies, cheese, meats etc. are stuffed between tortillas. The restaurant version is loaded with cheese, especially for a vegetarian like myself, this dish does not provide a balanced meal. Hence I started making it at home with more healthy options. Now we like the home-made version better and rarely have it in the restaurant. It is pretty easy to put together, hence a popular weeknight dinner in my home. I make several different types of fillings, for this event, it was the mixed bell peppers one. The accompanying soup is just an extension of this dish. Here's how I made it:

1 medium onion - chopped
1 each - green, red, yellow and orange bell pepper - chopped
1 15 oz. can of black beans - drained & rinsed
2 heaped tsp. cumin-coriander pwd.
2 tsp. oil

Heat the oil. Saute the onion till pink. Add the bell peppers. Saute 5-7 mins. Add the black beans, cumin-coriander pwd and salt. Mix well. Cook 2-3 mins. more. I like the smoky aroma that the mixture exudes at this point.

For making the quesadillas -

5 tortillas ( I used Mission brand Multi Grain tortillas)
Tabasco hot sauce
Shredded cheese ( I used Kraft Mexican style four cheese blend)

Fill half of each tortilla with 2-3 heaped tbsps of the mix. Drizzle few drops of Tabasco hot sauce per taste. Top with shredded cheese per taste. Fold each tortilla over into half. Roast on a skillet with 1-2 drops of oil until brown spots appear on both sides. I myself like it a bit charred, so I dry roast it on medium-high. Then cool it for a few seconds, cut into 2 or 4 wedges and serve.

I almost always make this accompanying easy soup with the quesadillas. Take about 3 to 4 tbsps. of the above mix. Add 3 to 4 tbsps of any store-brand salsa and about 2 to 3 cups of vegetable broth or water. Mix and simmer until heated thru. To serve, pour in a bowl & top with few crushed tortilla chips.

Tricolor salad - Contributed to Theme of the Week - Saffron, White & Green event at Pooja's My Creative Ideas

For the Independence Day 2008 event, I sent her a tri-color salad. The basic idea was from a recipe I had copied down a while back. I think it is from a cookbook by Nita Mehta, but I'm not 100% sure of that. Anyway, I did change it based on what I had on hand.

Its a pretty simple dish. Here's how I made it.

2 medium carrots - grated fine
1 c. macaroni - boiled with a little salt
2 tbsp. rajma - I used the canned variety
1 small green bell pepper - chopped fine
few sprigs of cilantro
1 green pepper - deseeded & chopped fine
3 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp chaat masala
Salt, sugar & Pepper to taste

Tie the yogurt in a fine muslin cloth & hang it to drip for 2 hrs. (The whey can be collected in a bowl & used for kneading roti dough.) To this creamy yogurt, add the chaat masala, salt, sugar & pepper to taste. Divide into 3 equal portions. Mix the grated carrots into one portion, boiled macaroni into the second and the chopped peppers & cilantro into the third.

Arrange the three layers in order to resemble our tiranga. Dig a hole in the center of the macaroni layer & fill with rajma beans for the chakra.

Soy Pulav - Contributed to JFI - Soya event at Sia's Monsoon Spice

1 cup basmati rice - washed & drained
1 small onion - chopped
1 cup soy granules - soaked in warm salted water for 10 mins., then drained
1 cup frozen peas & carrots
1 small tomato - chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger - garlic paste
2 tbsp yogurt
2 tsp cumin-coriander pwd
1 tsp red chilli pwd.
1 tsp garam masala pwd.
Few mint leaves & springs of cilantro
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp salt

Heat the oil. Add cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add the onion. Saute for 2-3 mins on medium high. Then add the ginger - garlic paste. Again saute a bit, add tomatoes & the frozen peas & carrots. Mix the masala powders, chopped mint & cilantro in the yogurt and add to the veggies. Give it a stir. Then add the rice and soy granules. Add about 2 cups water & salt. Bring to a quick boil on high, then reduce to medium low. Cover with a tight lid & cook for about 15 mins until rice is done.

Methi rice & Curd rice - Contributed to Rice Varieties Event at EC's Simple Indian Food

Methi Rice (Menthesoppu Anna learnt from my maternal aunt) -

1 cup rice - I used basmati and cooked it in the pressure cooker. Then cooled it by spreading on a plate.
2 bunches methi - The methi bunches I found in the Indian store that day were pretty small, hence I used 2. Wash and chop these.
For tempering - 2 tsp oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing, turmeric, udad dal.
1 tblsp. jaggery
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp dhana - jira pwd.
2 tsp sambar pwd. (home - made or store - bought)

Heat the oil. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add cumin seeds, then hing, turmeric, udad dal.Fry for a min. Add the chopped methi leaves. Add about 1/2 c. water, jaggery, tamarind paste, dhana - jira pwd., sambar pwd. and salt. Cover and cook for 10 mins. Then add to the rice, mix well. Let this sit for 1/2 hr so the rice absorbs the flavors.

Curd rice (Also my maternal aunt's speciality) -

1 cup rice - I used basmati and cooked it in the pressure cooker. Then cooled it by spreading on a plate.
Heat 2 tsp oil. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add cumin seeds, then 2 broken dry red chillies, 4-5 curry leaves, 1/2 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp udad dal. Fry for a min. Pour this on the rice. Add the yogurt, salt and sugar to taste. I also added some buttermilk to thin it out a bit. Add some fresh shredded coconut. Mix and refigerate until ready to enjoy. This is a lifesaver on a hot day.

Dal Palak Roti and Tofu Roti - Contributed to Roti Mela at Cooking 4 All Seasons

Dal Palak Roti

Tofu Roti

Dal Palak Roti -

This combines the goodness of lentils and spinach to make the everyday roti more flavorful. I made the dough using 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup pressure-cooked moong & tur dals, 1/2 cup palak puree, salt, 1 tsp dhana-jira pwd, 1/4 tsp red chilli pwd, 1/4 tsp amchoor pwd. Spices can ofcourse be adjusted to taste. No/very little water is needed to form the dough. Then I rolled out the rotis and roasted on the skillet with a drop of oil on each side. This made 7 rotis. I served this with chanya-chi-amti (brown chana curry).

Tofu Roti -

I got this idea from a friend who, during her pregnancy, would add tofu while kneading her roti dough. For this roti I used 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 12oz. packet firm tofu (drained), 4 tbsps kasuri methi, salt, sugar, dhana-jira pwd, red chilli pwd. Made a soft pliable dough (again - no/very less water in required). Rolled out and roasted the rotis with a drop of oil on each side. This was served with red chard & potato subji and cucumber-onion-tomato raita.

Coconut - ricotta burfi - Contributed to AFAM - Coconut at Tasty Palettes

1.5 cups dry shredded coconut
Part skim ricotta cheese - 15 oz. tub
1.5 cups milk - mava powder
1.75 cups sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Cook the ricotta cheese in a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat for about 8 mins., stirring frequently to avoid burning/sticking. At this point it loses most of its moisture and becomes like khoya (mava). Add the milk - mava powder. Mix well and cook another 5 mins. Add the sugar, mix well. The mixture will become liquidy again. Cook another 10 mins., stirring often. Add the coconut, mix and cook another 5 mins. Mixture will be quite thick at this time. Pour on to a greased thali. Pat down with a spatula. Let it cool completely. Then cut into desired shapes. Enjoy right away like I did or refrigerate!

Scrambled Tofu & Couscous Upma with Edamame beans - Contributed to Express Breakfasts Event at The Singing Chef

Scrambled Tofu

Couscous Upma with Edamame beans

Scrambled tofu -

Heat 2 tsps olive oil, add 1 tsp jeera seeds, then 1 small chopped onion and 1 chopped green chilli. Fry this for a few mins. In the meanwhile, drain 1 14 oz. packet of firm tofu and roughly chop it. Add this to the onions, increas the heat to high and saute the tofu for about 5 - 7 mins till all the water that the tofu leaves dries up.Then add turmeric, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Couscous upma with edamame beans -

Soak 1 cup dry couscous in warm salted water for 5 mins. In the meanwhile, heat 2 tsp oil in a non-stick fry pan, temper with mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing. Then add 1 small chopped onion, 2 dry red chillies (broken), handful of broken cashew pieces. Next go in about 2 cups of frozen edamame beans (soy beans) and few tblsps of water. Cover and cook this for about 5 mins. Then mix in the soaked couscous, salt, sugar and lemon juice. Garnish with fresh shredded coconut and chopped coriander.

Chilli Paneer Sandwich - Contributed to the Sandwich Event at Food-n-More

The basic idea for this sandwich is from a cookbook by Nita Mehta. I had noted down this recipe from my friend a while back, can't recall the name of the book. It is called Chilli Paneer Footlong in that book.

For my sandwich, I did make quite a few modifications (for the ingredients I had on hand). Here's how I made it.

4 slices of 12-grain bread (store brand)
Shredded mozarella cheese
1 spring onion - chopped

For the tomato spread -
1 large clove of garlic - chopped
2 tomatoes - chopped
1 tbsp regular ketchup
1 tbsp Maggi Hot & Sweet Ketchup
1/2 tsp ova/ajwain
1/4 tsp Degi mirchi pwd
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper

For the chilli paneer -
1 cup paneer cubes (Store-bought paneer, cut into small cubes)
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp Degi mirchi pwd
Salt, pepper

I marinated the paneer cubes in the above mix for about 1/2 hr, then shallow fried them in 2 tbsp olive oil.

Prepped the tomato spread by heating oil, adding garlic, frying till light brown, then adding all the other ingredients and cooking few mins.

To prep the sandwich, I butterred the slice lightly & grilled in on my grilling pan, then laid on some of the tomato spread, topped with the paneer, shredded cheese & finally garnished with some spring onion slices. I left it open-faced & served a simple salad of greens, cucumber & shredded carrots on the side.

BTW, I relaced the tomato spread with pizza sauce for my 4-yr old daughter, who loves paneer, but has not yet gotten used to the heat in our food. She loved her mini pizza!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Palak Paratha with Potato stuffing

I had made this for the WBB - Combi Breakfasts event hosted by Latha of Masala Magic.

These are palak parathas stuffed with shredded potatoes, slathered with hummus & served with fresh squeezed orange juice and ofcourse, chai. From all I've read & heard, I believe this combination provides the body with a good dose of complete proteins, complex carbs, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C & E, folic acid & antioxidants. I also love that with a little planning, this can be put together fairly quickly. Here's how I made them:

For the paratha dough:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup palak puree
1 tsp salt
2 tsp coriander-cumin pwd.
1/2 tsp red chilli pwd.

Knead together to form a soft, pliable dough. This can be made the previous night and refrigerated. It should be taken out atleast 1/2 hr before use.

For the stuffing:

2 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp salt
2 tsp coriander-cumin pwd
1/2 tsp red chilli pwd

Heat the oil, add cumin seeds, when they sizzle add the ginger paste. Saute 2 mins, add the hash browns, salt & masalas. Saute on medium heat till the potatoes are done (about 10 mins). Cool to room temperature before use.

To proceed - Divide the dough into 10 -12 equal portions, flatten each slightly, then cup it in your palm & stuff with about 2 tbsp of the potato mix. Seal the edges together & roll into a paratha. Roast both sides on a hot skillet, either with or without a few drops of oil. Then slather the parathas with hummus (I used store-bought), roll up & serve with juice and tea on the side.

Chaat salad

Made this yesterday as part of a friend's babyshower potluck lunch.

3 cups sprouted & boiled mung beans
1 can garbanzo beans - drained
1 English cucumber - diced
2 tomatoes - chopped
1/2 can baby beets - chopped
1/2 medium onion - chopped
About 1 cup shredded carrots
3 green chillies
Handful of roasted, lightly salted peanuts
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp chaat masala
Cilantro for garnishing

I boiled the sprouted mung beans in the pressure cooker for 1 whistle, then turned the heat off & left the cooker to cool.
The chillies can be deseeded for lesser heat.
Mix all the ingredients. Chill for 1 hr.
You can add boiled cubed potatoes too and avoid/change proportion of any of the veggies/beans. No hard & fast rules, but does turn out yummy any way & is healthy to boot!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Shri Satyanarayana Puja

Shri Satyanarayana

Naivedya - (from top right) potato stir-fry, mung usal, varan-bhaat, poli, cabbage vadis, koshimbir. Center - Masale bhaat, tomato saar. On the side - fruit salad.

Teertha - prasad

For the past few years, we have been performing Satyanarayana puja at home every April. This year, I took some pictures, hoping to post them and write about them. Now that I have finally started this blog, here they are.

The teertha - prasad, as all who have attended/performed this pooja may know, is pretty standard. The teertha is a mix of milk, yogurt, sugar, ghee & honey (panchamrut). The prasad is sooji sheera made using equal proportions of sooji (rava), sugar, ghee & milk. It is a very rich sheera folks, best enjoyed in small cupcake moulds. I can safely vouch that this special Satyanarayana prasad sheera tastes the best every time it is prepared.

The rest of the naivedya items prepared that day are also pretty standard Maharashtrian fare. Let me share with you my cabbage vadis and fruit salad:

Cabbage vadis (Kobi che vade) -

1/2 small cabbage head - shredded
1 cup gram flour
2 tbsp rice flour
salt to taste
2 tsp cumin - coriander pwd.
1/2 tsp red chilli pwd. (or more to taste)
Cilantro - chopped

Mix all the above together. Add enough water to get a slightly thickish consistency batter. Line a microwave safe container (preferably square or rectangular) with little oil. Pour batter in it. Microwave on high for about 5 mins. The mixture will set by then. After it cools, invert the container. The cabbage mix should easily slide out. Cut into desired shapes. Then you can either shallow fry or deep fry the vadis. I myself enjoy them as is, but some may find this a bit "raw".

Fruit salad -

1 each apple, banana, pear, orange - chopped
1 cup milk
2 cups of vanilla or strawberry flavored yogurt
2 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp cardamom pwd.

Fruits can be added/subtracted to taste. Mix all of the above. Cardamom pwd is the star of this salad folks.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ganpati Bappa Morya!

On this auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi, I take my first tentative steps in this amazing world of food blogs. I chanced upon them on Jan. 1 this year and have been hooked ever since. I have participated in a few events and have now mustered up courage to create my own blog.

Ukdiche modak is the traditional sweet prepared today in many Maharashtrian homes. Here's how I made them:

For the filling -

1 cup frozen shredded coconut
1/2 cup jaggery
pinch of cardamom pwd.

Mix the coconut and jaggery in a heavy bottom pan on medium low heat until the jaggery melts and the mixture comes together. Add the cardamom pwd. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.

For the covering -

1 cup rice flour (usually special rice flour made of basmati rice is used for this, it is available as modak flour, any rice flour may be used in the absence of this)
1 cup water
1 tsp. veg. oil
1 tsp. ghee
pinch of salt

Add the oil, ghee & salt to the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low & add the rice flour. Stir well, cover and steam for about 5 mins. Now the 'ukad' or steamed rice dough is ready. Take it out on a plate & knead while hot. You can initially use the back of a spoon or a bowl to knead while it is steaming hot. Keep adding a few drops of water as you knead to form a smooth dough. If you use the special modak flour, the amount of water and kneading required is lesser than for regular rice flour. All through the process of forming the modaks, be sure to keep your palms moist. I keep a bowl of water nearby and keep dipping into it often. Pinch off a lemon-size ball of ukad. You can either use a modak-mould or shape it with your hands (I did it the latter way). For this, first flatten it in the palm of your hand, then shape it into bowl while pressing the sides. Fill with 1 -2 tsp of the filling. Pinch the bowl-shaped ukad at 6 -7 equal intervals, then bring the sides together, forming a peak in the center. Perfecting this shape needs practice folks, so don't be disheartened. Remember to keep your palms moist and to cup the palm while shaping.

Once all the modaks are prepared, steam for about 10 mins.

These modaks are my contribution to the Ganesh Chaturthi Festive Food event on Purva's Daawat blog.

They also go over to the Steam Cooked Sweets series on Mythreyee's Paajaka blog.
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