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.
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