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.
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