Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Palak chi paatal bhaji

This is a simple spinach curry that goes well with rice and rotis.

Here's how I make it:

2 cups chopped spinach - fresh or frozen
Tempering - 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida, 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd
handful of chana dal - soaked for atleast 2 hrs
handful of cashew nuts and peanuts
1 cup buttermilk with 1 tbsp gram flour mixed in
Salt to taste, pinch of sugar
2 tsp goda masala

Make the tempering by heating oil and dropping the mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add the cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric pwd. Fry for a min. Add the soaked and drained chana dal, fry 2-3 mins. Add the cashew nuts and peanuts and fry another 2-3 mins. Add the chopped spinach. Cover and cook on medium heat for 7-8 mins, stirring in between. Add the buttermilk-gram flour mix, salt, sugar, goda masala. Simmer on low heat for 5-10 mins.

Serve hot.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Picnic Food - Pasta Salad and Fruit Salad

With the Memorial Day weekend just behind us and summer ahead, thought I'd post some of my fave picnic food recipes....starting with this Pasta Salad and simple Fruit Salad I took to a picnic recently.

Here's how I made the Pasta Salad:

1 cup uncooked rotini pasta - cook per package directions
1 to 2 cups chopped veggies - onions, tomatoes, colored peppers, zucchini, mushrooms
Dressing - 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves garlic - minced, 1 tsp black pepper pwd, 1 tsp fennel pwd
1 tsp chopped basil (fresh or dried)
2 tbsp prepared pesto (I used Trader Joe's)
2 tbsp Italian dressing (optional)
2 tbsp parmesan cheese (optional)

Mix the ingredients for the olive oil dressing in a small bowl. Pour over the chopped veggies. Spread the veggies in a glass baking dish. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 20 mins. Sprinkle the chopped basil and stir the veggies around. Bake another 20 mins, stirring in between. As the veggies are roasting, cook the pasta. Drain and mix with the roasted veggies. Add the pesto, Italian dressing and parmesan cheese. Adjust salt/pepper as needed.

This pasta salad tastes good warm, at room temp or cold.

The Fruit Salad I took along is really simple. I used a dressing of 3 tbsp honey and 2 tbsp lemon juice, poured over fresh cut fruits I had on hand - strawberries, blueberries, oranges, apples, mangoes and watermelon.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Goda Masala

Goda Masala is a spice mix commonly used in Maharashtrian cooking. It is an essential part of my kitchen, I use it in several bhajis (veggie dishes) and amtis (daals). I have tried many different kinds of goda masala - homemade and store-bought, but am partial to my MIL's recipe. I only recently started making it at home.

Here's how I make it:

3 cups coriander seeds (dhane)
1 cup sesame seeds (til)
1 cup shredded dry coconut (khobra)
Cinnamon sticks 3 or 4
2 tsps cumin seeds
1 tsp shah jeera (black cumin seeds or caraway seeds)
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup dagad phool (stone flower)
Handful of bay leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp methi seeds
3 or 4 black cardamons
1 tbsp asafoetida (hing)
1 tbsp turmeric pwd
1 tbsp red chile pwd
1 tbsp salt
few tsp veg. oil

Take 2 woks. In one, dry roast the following ingredients individually on low heat until aromatic - sesame seeds, dry coconut, cumin seeds, black cumin seeds and mustard seeds.

In the other wok, fry the following ingredients individually on low heat with a little vegetable oil until aromatic - coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, black pepper, dagad phool, bay leaves, methi seeds, black cardamons.

Once well roasted, you can keep the dry roasted ingredients together and the oil fried ones together. Let them come to room temperature. Then first dry grind the dry roasted ingredients, followed by the oil fried ones. Mix the two well and again grind them to incorporate all ingredients well. Add salt, turmeric pwd, red chile pwd and hing and mix well.

Store in a dry, air-tight glass/plastic container. It will last for a year.

It is no doubt a time-consuming process, involving lots of ingredients and patience. But for me it is worth the effort 'coz I can't do without it. A little goes a long way here, the above quantity lasts for abt 6 months for me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chilli Soy Nuggets

I adapted this recipe from a magazine called New Woman that I was browsing thru on my trip to India last year. It can be served as an appetizer or side dish with fried rice.

Here's how I made it:

1 cup soy nuggets - soak in warm salted water for 15-30 mins
Veggies - Onions, colored peppers, carrots - cut into matchsticks or smaller pieces as desired
Oil - 2 tsp
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
additional salt if needed
pinch of sugar (I used brown sugar)
Spring onion, cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a large wok. Fry the veggies till slightly cooked but still crunchy. Fry the ginger-garlic paste for a minute. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and hot sauce. Drain the soy nuggets, squeeze out as much water as possible. Add to the wok. Stir fry on medium high heat till nicely coated with the sauces. Add salt and sugar. Take off heat. Garnish with cilantro/spring onions and serve hot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Orange Cake (Eggless)

I adapted this recipe from a Clementine Cake recipe from Mache magazine. A co-worker had made it & brought it in, I loved the moist sweet-tart combo so much, I immediately made it at home converting it into an eggless version. At that time I had a bag of clementines that were begging to be finished. This time I made the cake with oranges, with equally good results.

Here's how I made it:

1 cup Flour
1 tsp baking pwd
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp all spice pwd (all spice is a mix of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg - can substitute or omit)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tbsp grated orange zest

7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup melted butter or veg. oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

First mix all the dry ingredients (from flour to zest) well in a big bowl.
Mix the condensed milk, butter/oil and orange juice in a separate bowl.
Then add the wet ingredients to the dry mix. Fold in gently. Pour into a cake pan and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 1/2 hour. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Glaze - As the cake is baking, make the glaze by heating 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice and 1/3 cup sugar until simmering. Do not heat on very high heat. Take off once it starts simmering.

Pour the glaze over the cake right after you take it out of the oven or when it is still hot and in the cake pan.

When it cools, slice and serve.

Updated 11/29/13 - I make this cake very often, below is a recent picture. I've dusted with some powdered sugar and  garnished with orange peel cut into flower shape.
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