Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Batatyacha Kees

This is an Indian version of shredded hash browns. It makes for a good breakfast item or snack and is very popular during "upaas" (fasts).

Here's how I make it:

1 large russet or baking potato - peeled and shredded
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafotida
Green and/or red chillies per desired heat level
Roasted peanuts - coarsely ground
Salt and sugar to taste
Lemon juice
Chopped cilantro & fresh shredded coconut to garnish

I use the food processor to shred the potato.
Heat oil in a large wok. Saute cumin seeds until fragrant. Add the asafotida and chillies. Fry 2 mins. Add the shredded potatoes, stir well, cook uncovered on medium till done, about 7 - 10 mins., stirring in between. Do not let the potato shreds turn mushy. Then add the ground peanuts, salt, sugar. Mix well. Serve hot garnished with lemon juice or lemon wedges, chopped cilantro and coconut.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Spicy Baked Penne

This recipe is adapted from one of Giada De Laurentiis' cookbooks.

Here's how I make it:

1 cup uncooked penne - cook per package instructions
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped spinach
Seasonings to taste - salt, pepper, red chilli pwd/flakes, pinch of sugar, pinch of nutmeg, any Italian seasoning blend, basil, oregano, parsley
2 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp shredded mozarella cheese
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
a little butter

To prepare the sauce, heat the oil and saute the onions until softened. Add the garlic and stir 2 mins. Add the tomatoes and cook another few minutes until they soften slightly. Add the chopped spinach and the desired seasonings. Stir well and cook till spinach wilts.

Add the cooked pasta to this sauce while it is hot.

If you are in a hurry, like on a busy weeknight, this can be served as is, topped with some shredded cheese.

If you have more time on hand or want to make it extra special, tip the pasta with the sauce into a lightly buttered casserole. Top with a mix of the bread crumbs and cheeses. Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 15 to 20 mins. until cheeses start bubbling and bread crumbs brown lightly.

Serve warm. Leftovers can be easily re-heated in the microwave and enjoyed. 

This Spicy Baked Penne goes to Ruth's Presto Pasta Night # 192.

Any kind of pasta dish usually goes down well with my daughter. For this reason, I keep the heat level fairly low in this dish. This makes it an ideal entry for the Kids Delight Holiday Special event at Spicing Your Life.

Palak Paratha

This is another of our favorite parathas. The basic idea is from Manjula's Kitchen.

For the stuffing, I fry cumin seeds in a tsp of oil till fragrant. Then I add ginger paste, chopped spinach (usually I use fresh) and other seasonings like salt, pinch of sugar, cumin pwd, coriander pwd, red chilli pwd and amchoor pwd (all per taste). I cook this mixture on medium low heat for a good 20 mins or until completely dry. Sometimes if I am in a hurry, I sprinkle a little gram flour which absorbs the excess moisture. Cool this mixture before use. To make the paratha, pinch off a ball of dough and shape it into a bowl-shape in your palm. Fill 2 tbsp spinach stuffing and close the ends of the dough by bringing them together. Gently flatten the ball. Let it rest for 5 mins before rolling out into a paratha, use a little flour to dust while rolling. Cook the paratha on a non-stick pan with a drop of oil until brown spots appear on both sides.

This Palak Paratha also goes to the Complete My Thali - Roti event at Torview. This event was started by Jagruti of Joy of Cooking.

Spring Onion & Peas Paratha

I make this kind of paratha atleast once a month. The idea for the delicious spring onions and peas stuffing is from Musical's Kitchen.

For the stuffing, I fry cumin seeds in a tsp of oil till fragrant. Then I add ginger paste and chopped spring onions (white and green parts) and saute 5 mins, then go in some frozen peas and other seasonings like salt, pinch of sugar, cumin pwd, coriander pwd, red chilli pwd and amchoor pwd (all per taste). Cook another 5 mins, mashing the peas a little along the way. Cool this mixture and use it to stuff the parathas.

When my dad visits, I always make extra spring onion - peas mixture as he loves to eat it just by itself.

For making the paratha, I roll out 2 equal circles of the regular roti dough, spread the above mix out on one circle, line the edges lightly with water, place the other circle on top and seal the edges together. Lightly press the paratha with my palm, then using a little flour, roll it out a little more. I cook the paratha on a non-stick pan with a little oil on each side until brown spots develop.

These Spring Onion & Peas Parathas go to the Complete My Thali - Roti event at Torview. This event was started by Jagruti of Joy of Cooking.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Broccoli Soup with Potato-Sesame Triangles

After the heavy Thanksgiving meal, we decided to go light the next day...with this quick Broccoli Soup and Potato-Sesame Triangles. Besides, the snow had finally melted and we were eager to get some shopping done for our Mumbai trip.

Here's how I made the Broccoli Soup:

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup broccoli heads
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1 tsp plain flour
1 cup water/vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
Few springs of cilantro and/or few spinach leaves
Seasonings - salt, pepper, Italian seasoning (optional), pinch of sugar, lemon juice

Heat the oil and saute the onions until softened, abt 5 mins. Add the garlic and broccoli and saute 5 mins on medium low until broccoli turns bright green. Add the flour and cook 2 mins. Add the water/broth. Cover and cook for abt 15 mins. Take off heat and add the cilantro/spinach. Cool and blend. Then pour it back into the pot, add the milk and the seasonings. Simmer gently until hot.

We enjoyed this soup with Potato-Sesame Triangles that I think I had noted down from a cookbook by Nita Mehta.

4 slices of bread (I used multi-grain) - crusts removed and cut into triangles
1 cup boiled, peeled and mashed potato
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a mix of mozarella and cheddar)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp sesame seeds

Mix the potatoes, cheese and seasonings. Spread desired amount on one side of each bread triangle. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds. Cook this side on a non-stick pan with a drop of oil. Press gently with back of spatula to ensure the potato mix sticks to the bread. While this side is cooking, cover the other side with the potato mix and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Flip over to cook the reverse side.

Enjoy warm, makes a good accompaniment to soups.

This Broccoli Soup goes to the Healing Foods - Broccoli event at Spice Mantra. This event was started by Siri.

Also sending this Broccoli Soup with Potato-Sesame Triangles to the Souper Event at Kahakai Kitchen.


This was the dessert for our Thanksgiving dinner. The original recipe is from Kraft Foods. I would call it Faux Tiramisu, especially the kid-friendly way I made it. Nevertheless, it was so heavenly that I licked off the bowl later, something I never do.

So here's my take on it:

1 tbsp instant coffee pwd
2 tbsp hot water
1 8oz. packet of cream cheese - softened to room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 8oz tub of Cool Whip
32 - 35 Nilla wafers
For garnish - grated milk chocolate

Dissolve the coffee pwd in the hot water in a big bowl. Add the cream chese and whisk till well blended. Add the sugar and mix well. Gently fold in the Cool Whip.

Arrange half of the Nilla wafers to cover the bottom of an 8x8 square dish. Top with half of the above mix. Spread it evenly. Repeat these layers.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, I sprinkled the grated chocolate. 

Paneer Pasanda with Whole Wheat Naan

I first saw Paneer Pasanda on Wah Re Wah where the chef made pockets in large paneer triangles and stuffed them. That method did not work for me as the paneer triangles kept breaking up as I tried to stuff them. Then I saw this recipe on Sangeeta's Banaras Ka Khana - she sandwiched the stuffing between paneer triangles and also gave good step-by-step instructions. So this time I tried it her way. The sandwiched paneer stuck together beautifully and stayed stuck well.

For the stuffing, I used ground cashews, finely chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. I used a thin mixture of flour and water to bind the sandwiches.

For the gravy, I had some frozen extra dum aloo gravy, so I used that.

I served the Paneer Pasanda with Whole Wheat Naans that I learnt from Monsoon Spice. I pretty much follow her method, except for the cooking part. Since I have electric coils I am very scared to flip the pan with the naan stuck to it - what if it falls on the coil and creates a mess? So I just cook it on the pan like regular rotis. But one of these days I will muster up the courange to try cooking it her way. I also saw an interesting way of using the pressure cooker as a tandoor on Charan's Creative with Clay. I am determined to try that too.

Paneer Pasanda and Whole Wheat Naans were part of my Thanksgiving Indian menu.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cabbage Rice

For our Thanksgiving dinner, in addition to the Stuffed Braided Bread, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans Casserole that I posted before, I also cooked some Indian dishes since we had company and I was not sure how much those items would be appreciated.

This Cabbage Rice was part of the menu. The recipe is from Vaishali's Holy Cow blog. I loved it the instant I saw it there. The only change I made was to use cumin - coriander pwd and goda masala in place of garam masala. This is surely a keeper. It is very versatile, highly aromatic, healthy and tasty. I will surely make it over & over again, I will probably add some frozen green peas to it.

Everyone at the table enjoyed it...infact I had only a little leftover for this picture.

I have many more recipes to post before I leave for my Mumbai trip on Tuesday. My dad would say in Marathi "Ratra kami, songa phar" (Too much to do, too less time). I already have a couple items from my Thanksgiving menu in draft, those will be coming up soon. Hopefully I can atleast cook the rest and have drafts ready before I leave. Once in Mumbai, I will certainly not be doing any cooking, I'll let my family and friends pamper me for the whole month.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stuffed Braided Bread

Recently, inspired by various blogs I frequent, I have started baking breads. I find it very relaxing working with yeasted dough, kneading it, watching it swell, punching it etc. And the aroma of freshly baked bread is so heavenly.
I started with Pumpkin Bread that I have blogged about earlier. It has become a fall favorite in my kitchen.
I've made wonderful Zucchini Bread from Chef in You and Plain Flour and Whole Wheat Pav (Dinner Rolls) from Chef in You.
Getting a little more daring, I made Buns with Potato - Paneer Stuffing from Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen. Infact I made these for one of our Diwali potlucks where the hostess had a bread theme this year. They created a wow factor and went down very well with every one - young and not-so-young.
I have even made a Braided Bread with Mushroom stuffing from Super Yummy Recipes. Recently I saw another Braided Bread with Pizza style stuffing on Pari's Foodelicious.
I instantly decided to try it.
I had 1/2 a bottle of tomato and basil pasta sauce sitting in my fridge that needed to be finished before our upcoming Mumbai visit. So for the pizza-style stuffing for my bread, I cooked this down till thickened, it took over an hour on medium low heat. For the topping I used onions, colored peppers and shredded mozarella cheese.
For the bread recipe, I actually followed the Stuffed Buns recipe from Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen as it worked so well for me earlier.
For the stuffing, my inspiration was ofcourse Pari.
And for the idea of making a stuffed braided bread, I'd give the credit to Satya.

This Pizza style Stuffed Briaded Bread actually fit in great in my Thanksgiving menu. This year I had determined to try some of the traditional dishes cooked at this time. So instead of stuffed turkey, it was this pizza style Stuffed Braided Bread on my vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner table!

This pizza style Stuffed Braided Bread also goes to Nupur's Holiday Buffet table for the BB9 event.

I also made green beans casserole - could not believe how easy it was to make - just mixed lightly steamed grean beans with mushroom soup, fried onions, seasonings - salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg, topped wth more fried onions and baked at 400F for 15 mins. - turned out so delicious and was polished off along with the bread.
Made a mashed potatoes dish also, from a recipe I had cut out long back from my newspaper. I'll leave you with a picture of these items.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quinoa Idlis

Until this week, I had practically given up trying to make idli batter at home. After many many attempts to get my batter to ferment, I had finally concluded that this was beyond me. I had pinned the blame on my mixie. People that heard me lament about this consoled me saying that I am too calm & mild mannered, that the batter rises well only for hot headed people!

So when I tried out these quinoa idlis, I had assumed that I would fail once again. But imagine my surprise and elation when my batter actually fermented well and the idlis turned out soft and fluffy. That too on a record breaking cold day here in the Seattle area!

The basic recipe for these Quinoa Idlis is from Sumadhura. I halved the quantities of the ingredients, which yielded me about 20 idlis. The other change I made was to soak the Quinoa, Brown Rice and Udad Dal together.

Here are a few tricks I used to coax my batter to ferment (not really sure which one did the trick):
  • I blended the ingredients little by little, starting with 1/2 cup and adding another 1/2 cup at a time.
  • Used just 2 - 3 tbsp of water for each batch to blend.
  • Pre-heated the oven at minimum temperature, then turned it off and kept the batter in it.
  • Gave my batter more than the standard "overnight" time to rise. Where earlier I have thrown away batter if it had not risen when I first checked it in the morning, this time I let it sit some more. I would say it took about 15 hrs.
  • When my batter had not started rising after an overnight's rest, I filled a large bowl with hot water (steaming, not boiling) and placed the vessel with the batter in it. Maybe the fermentation had already started by then, but this seemed to speed it up quite a bit.
I will definitely be trying out more idlis from now on, using all of these tricks. So if anyone out there is having a hard time with idli batters like me, do not be disheartened.

We had these healthy Quinoa - Brown Rice Idlis for Thanksgiving Day brunch with coconut chutney and sambar. Certainly worth being thankful for! As for the taste, please note that they do have a distinct quinoa flavor, ever so slight bitterness, but went down very well with hubby and me.

I would also like to send a couple of archived dishes for this event.

Before I end this post, I have a quick tip for including Quinoa in your everyday meal. For the past several months, whenever I cook plain brown rice in the pressure cooker, I add quinoa to it. For example, with 1/2 cup brown rice, I add about 1/4 cup quinoa, rinse both together under cold running water, add about 2 cups water and pressure cook it for 4 whistles. The quinoa gets well blended with the rice and picky eaters will not notice any difference in the taste.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baked Vatana Na Ghughra

Yesterday was another 'snow day' here. As a result, both hubby and child were home. So I made these Baked Vatana Na Ghughras to go with afternoon chai.

Here's how I made them:

For the stuffing -

1.5 cups frozen peas
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt or to taste
pinch of sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp green chilli paste or 1/2 tsp red chilli pwd
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I use frozen)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For the covering - I use ready made pie crust.

To prepare the filling heat oil and saute the cumin seeds for 2 - 3 mins. Add the peas and cook uncovered for 5 mins till they soften. Add ginger paste, green chilli paste/red chilli pwd, salt & sugar to taste. Mix well and let it cook 2 more mins. Take off heat and stir in the lemon juice, cilantro and fresh coconut scrapings. Let this mixture cool before using for stuffing the ghughra.

To proceed, thaw the pie crust sheet per directions on the box. Divide into about 12 parts and roll each into a ball. With a rolling pin, flatten each ball into about 3 to 4 inch circle. Fill with 1 - 2 tbsp of the peas filling. Fold over and press the edges together to join. You can trim off excess edging with a knife or karanji-cutter. Pinch & slightly fold the edges at small intervals to get the pretty ghughra edge pattern.

Bake in a preheated 425F oven for about 15 mins, turning the ghughras over once during the baking.

Serve warm with chutney or ketchup.

This yielded 12 ghughras. I did have little peas filling left over, which tastes good just by itself too. Also, I tend to make the filling mild and serve the ghughras with spicy chutney or hot ketchup.

This Baked Vatana Na Ghughras go to the AFAM - Green Peas event at Richas Kitchen. This event was started by Priya.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Corn Bhel

Yesterday we had snow and freezing conditions here in the Seattle area. As a result, hubby came home early, in time for afternoon chai. To go with the chai, I made this Corn Bhel. It is adapted from Tarla Dalal's recipe. If u have frozen corn, it is very quick to prepare. It can be served warm or at room temperature, making it ideal for cold winter days and as well as for summer picnics. In fact, I had made it several years back for my daughter's 2nd b'day party (in July) which we celebrated at a nearby park.

Here's how I make the Corn Bhel.

3 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup onion - chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes - chopped
1/2 cup boiled potatoes - peeled and chopped
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafotida
1 serrano pepper - chopped fine or 1/2 tsp red chilli pwd
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tsp salt or to taste
pinch of sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Prepared or store bought green chutney and dates-imli chutney
For garnish - sev, fresh shredded coconut, chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large non-stick wok. Fry the cumin seeds for 2 mins. Add the asafotida, green chilli and onions. Fry on medium heat for 5 mins. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, corn, salt, sugar and chaat masala. Mix well and cook till the corn gets slightly softened, about 5 mins. Take off heat. Add the lemon juice.

To serve warm, put the corn mixture in individual bowls, top with chutneys. Garnish with sev, shredded coconut and cilantro.

To pack for a picnic, mix the chutneys, coconut and cilantro into the corn mixture. Just before eating, top with the sev.

This Corn Bhel goes to the Only Chaat event at Foodelicious.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dhabey Ki Daal and Green Peas Pulav

This Dhabey ki Daal recipe is adapted from an old issue of Tarla Dalal's magazine. It reminded me of Dal Makhni, without the cream/butter, kinda like a low-fat version of it. It pairs very well with the simple peas pulav. Not sure if this is an actual combo-meal at any dhaba, the only dhaba I've eaten at is Preetam Da Dhaba in Dadar TT, Mumbai, that too a long time ago. But it sure makes for a great combination!

Here's how I make the Dhabey Ki Daal:

1/2 cup urad dal with skin
1/4 cup chana dal
1 can rajma beans - drained & rinsed
1 cup onions - finely chopped
3 cloves garlic - minced
1 cup tomatoes - finely chopped
1 tsp oil
1 serrano pepper - slit lenght wise
1/2 tsp red chilli pwd or to taste
2 tsp cumin pwd
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp kitchen king masala
2 tbsp kasuri methi
Salt to taste
pinch of sugar
Chopped cilantro to garnish

Soak the dals in water for atleast 6 hrs and pressure cook for 1 whistle.
Heat oil and fry the chopped onions till golden brown. Add the garlic and green chilli and fry till garlic is aromatic, about 2 mins. Add the tomatoes, red chilli pwd, cumin pwd, salt and sugar. Cook on medium heat for about 7 mins. Add the cooked dals and the rajma beans. Add water to get desired consistency. Simmer for another 7 mins. Add the kasuri methi, garam masala and kitchen king masala. Adjust seasonings as desired. Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro.

Like I said, I love to pair it with peas pulav. Here's how I make the peas pulav:

1 cup basmati rice - rinse 2-3 times in cold water and drain
1/2 cup onions - sliced lenghtwise
handful of cashew
1 cup frozen peas
whole masalas - 1 tsp cumin seeds, 4 cloves, 2 bayleaves, 4 cardamons, 1 1/2 inch stick of cinnamon, 6 balck peppers
1 serrano pepper - slit lenghtwise
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp sugar or to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp oil

Heat the oil, fry the onions till golden brown, drain. Fry the cashew pieces for 2 mins, drain. If required add some more oil. Add all the whole spices and stir for 2 mins. Add the pepper and the washed rice. Fry on low heat for 2 mins. Add 2 cups of water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add salt and sugar. Lower heat to medium low. Cover and cook for 10 mins till rice is partially cooked. Add the frozen peas, fried onions, cashew and lemon juice. Add a little additional water if required. Mix gently. Cover and cook another 5 mins till the rice is fully cooked and the water is absorbed.

Serve hot.

This Dhabey ki Daal and Peas Pulav combo goes to the Flavors of Punjab event at Foodelicious. This event was started by Nayna.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Walnut Diamond Cookies

I have adapted this recipe from the Dec. 2009 issue of Prevention magazine. As I was browsing thru it, this recipe instantly caught my eye - for one, it was eggless and secondly the combination of nuts, spices and sugar seemed irresistable to me. The original recipe used pecans and cinnamon, but I instantly decided to replace with walnuts and all-spice blend. I always stock both these since they are on top of my favorites list. All-spice is usually a blend of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

Here's how I make these cookies:

1/3 cup walnuts - microwave at 30 second intervals for 3 mins in all and cool
1/2 cup plain flour
2 heaped tbsp whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp all-spice powder
2 heaped tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter - at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp powdered sugar

In a clean, dry bowl, mix the plain flour, wheat flour, salt and all-spice.
In a mini food processor, chop the toasted walnuts with 3 tbsp of the flour mixture until the texture of fine crumbs is achieved.
Add this nut-flour mixture back into the flour mixture in the bowl.
In another bowl, combine the granulated sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Beat together until well combined. This can be done either manually or with an electric hand mixer. For the quantity given above, I usually do it manually, but use an electric mixer to make a bigger batch.
Gradually add the nut-flour mixture to the butter-sugar mix. Mix well and form into a big ball.
Pat this ball down on an aluminium foil. Then using a rolling pin, roll it out till it is about 1/4 inch thick evenly. The cookie dough is not at all sticky and you should be able to easily roll it out. Also, it does not really matter if you roll it out into a square/rectangle/circle.
Then cut the rolled dough into diamond shapes or any other shape per your choice.
Place on a baking sheet (along with the foil)
Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 20 minutes or till the edges are golden brown.
Cool the cookies, sift powdered sugar lightly over them and enjoy.

This quantity yields about 1 dozen diamond-shaped cookies.
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