Friday, June 29, 2012

Gajar vadi (Carrot burfi)

These are very similar to Gajar Halwa. I have always preferred my Gajar Halwa on the thick rather than slurpy side, so converting it into Gajar vadi is just one step further.

Here's how I made these Gajar vadis:

2 cups peeled and shredded carrots
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp ghee
1/4 cup milk pwd
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp cardamon pwd
1/4 tsp saffron (mixed in a few drops of warm milk)
handful of chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios) for mixing in and for garnishing

Heat the ghee in a big pan and fry the shredded carrots in it on medium heat for few mins till they turn a darker shade of orange and aromatic. Add the ricotta and milk pwd. Fry well till the ricotta dries up. Add the sugar, cardamon pwd, saffron and half of the chopped nuts. Mix well and keep frying till the carrot mix starts forming a big ball and the ghee can be seem oozing from the sides. This should take abt 10 to 15 mins. Take off heat and spread in a tray that has been greased with some ghee. Pat down well to smoothen the top. Garnish with the remaining chopped nuts. Refrigerate till cooled. Then cut into desired shapes and serve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Brown Rice, Masur, Quinoa Biryani

For the past few years, whenever I make plain rice, I use a mix of brown rice plus quinoa and just pressure cook them together for 3 whistles. We all love its mild nutty taste, apart from its high nutrition value. It goes well with any Indian dal or subji. I almost never use plain white rice, except when making pulavs/khichdis and such. So this time when I thought of making my Lentil and Vegetable Biryani I decided to use brown rice and quinoa instead of white rice.

Here's how I made it:

Soak 1/2 cup brown lentils (masur) for 2 hrs. Wash and soak 1/2 cup brown rice and 1/2 cup quinoa together for 15 mins.

Heat oil in a pressure pan. Add  1 tsp cumin seeds and handful of chopped onions. Saute till onions turn translucent. Add 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste and saute a few mins. Add 1 cup mixed frozen veggies, 1 chopped tomato and dry spice pwds per taste - cumin, cilantro, red chile, garam masala. Saute another few mins. Add the lentils, brown rice and quinoa. Add 3 cups water. You can use the water in which the lentils, rice and quinoa were soaked, plus additional to make 3 cups. Add salt and sugar. Bring to a quick boil, put on the lid and pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles.

Open the lid when the pressure reduces, fluff gently and serve hot with raita.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Picnic/Party Food - Tortilla Roll-Ups

Today was my daughter's end of school year class picnic and I made two kinds of Tortilla Roll-ups. They were a big hit with all the adults and kids.

Tortilla Roll-Ups with Cream Cheese Filling

Tortilla Roll-Ups with Hummus Filling

Here's how I made them:

6 tortillas - 2 plain flour, 2 spinach, 2 tomato (big burrito size)
Cream cheese filling -
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fire roasted red bell peppers
2 handfuls of canned black beans (drained, rinsed and patted dry)
Spices - salt, pepper, paprika, cumin pwd, onion pwd and garlic pwd - all to taste
Hummus filling -
1/2 cup store bought regular hummus
handful of grated carrots and green onions
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes - chopped
1/4 cup baby spinach - roughly chopped
handful of pine nuts
spices - salt, pepper and paprika

Make the fillings by mixing all the ingredients till well incorporated. Be sure to thaw the cream cheese on the counter top for atleast 3 hrs in order to soften it before making the filling. 

Heat each totrilla for abt 15 secs in the microwave or on a pan on the stove top to slightly soften them and make it easier to spread the fillings and roll them. Spread about 1/4 cup filling evenly on each tortilla.

Roll up into a tight roll. I like to fold in the sides as I roll. When you come to the end, lightly press to seal. Wrap the rolled up tortillas tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours atleast.

Just before packing for your picnic or serving at your party, unwrap and cut each tortilla into 7 to 8 pieces.

These stay good at room temperature for a couple of hours. Beyond that, or if the weather is very hot, better to pack them in the icebox.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Soy Nuggets Pulav

This is adapted from a recipe given by a dear friend.

Here's how I make it:

1 cup basmati rice - rinsed under cold water and drained
1/4 to 1/2 cup soy nuggets
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
2 tsp oil
2 tsp yogurt
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
Dry Spices - 1 tsp coriander pwd, 1 tsp cumin pwd, 1/4 tsp red chile pwd, 1/4 tsp garam masala pwd, 1 tbsp kasuri methi crushed between palms, few mint leaves finely chopped
salt to taste, pinch of sugar

Soak the soy nuggets in hot lightly salted water for 15 mins until softened.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the onions till translucent. Add the tomatoes and ginger garlic paste. As this is frying, mix the dry spices in the yogurt. Add a few tsp water to mix well. Add to the wok. Drain the soy nuggets and squeeze out the excess water with your palms. Do not throw away this water, use it later to cook the pulav. Add the soy nuggets to the wok. I like to roughly chop the softened nuggets to bite size pieces as some of them can be quite a mouthful. Fry the soy nuggets in the masala for 5 mins. Add the rice, frozen peas and carrots, salt and sugar. Add the water used to soak the nuggets and additional water to make abt 2 cups. Bring to a quick boil on high heat. Then reduce heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until rice is 3/4th cooked. At this point, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook on low heat, dum-style till fully cooked.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a raita.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mung daal khichdi

This is a simple rice dish, a kind of comfort food, easy on the tummy yet nutritious and tasty.

Here's how I make it:

1/2 cup short grain white rice (I like to use Sona Masuri)
1/2 cup mung daal
3 cups water
Tempering - 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida, 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd, few curry leaves torn roughly
Salt to taste
1 tsp cumin pwd
1 tsp coriander pwd
1 tsp goda masala
1 tsp kacchha masala (see note)
1/2 tsp red chile pwd or to taste
1 tbsp jaggery

I usually make khichdi in my pressure pan, but it can be made in a regular pot that has a fitting cover too. First wash the rice and mung daal together in 2-3 changes of water. Drain and let sit for 15 mins. Make the tempering by heating the oil and dropping the mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add the rest of the tempering ingredients one by one. Fry for a minute. Add the rice and daal mix. Saute for 2-3 mins. Add 3 cups of water. Khichdi is usually a bit mushier than say pulav or masale bhaath, but you can adjust quantity of water per your liking. Add all the masalas, salt and jaggery and stir. Increase heat to high to bring it to a quick boil. At this point, if using a pressure pan, close the lid and cook for 2 to 3 whistles. If making the khichdi in a pot, cover it, reduce heat to medium and cook abt 20 mins till well cooked.

Serve hot garnished with fresh shredded coconut, chopped cilantro and a dollop of ghee.

Note - Kacchha masala is a raw (unroasted) spice mix of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, shahjeera seeds, cloves and cinnamon. These spices are sun dried and then powdered together. I got this powdered spice mix from my MIL. In sun-starved Seattle, I don't think I can ever attempt to make this masala. Since all the spices used in this masala are also used in goda masala, you can use 2 tsp of goda masala in the absence of kacchha masala.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vaatli Daal

This is a typical Maharashtrian snack item. But I only recently started liking it, since I ate it at hubby's maami's place last December. Maybe it was the way she made it (which I have followed) or my more mature taste buds. The daal here is chana daal/bengal gram and 'vaatli' means ground up.

Here's how I make it:

1 cup chana daal
Tempering - 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida, 1/4 tsp turmeric pwd,   1 chopped green chile, 1 broken dry red chile, few chopped up curry leaves
1 tsp salt or to taste, 1 tsp sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp red chile pwd or to taste (dish should be on spicier side)
1/2 tsp cumin pwd
1/2 tsp coriander pwd
1/4 cup milk
Garnish - fresh coconut, cilantro, lemon

Soak the chana daal in water for atleast 4 hours. Drain and grind coarsely with the red chile, cumin and coriander pwds. I use my Magic Bullet blender for this.

Make the tempering by heating the oil, adding the mustard seeds and when they stop spluttering add the rest of the tempering ingredients. Add the ground up chana daal mix, salt and sugar. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 mins, mixing occasionally. Add the milk. According to maami, this makes the vaatli daal fluffy. Cover and cook for another 10 mins.

Serve hot garnished with fresh coconut, chopped cilantro and a wedge of lemon.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers

12 mini bell peppers - chop off the stem part and cut each vertically into 2, then core

For the stuffing - 1/2 cup gram flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp amchoor pwd, 1/4 tsp turmeric pwd, 1/2 tsp red chile pwd, 1 tsp cumin pwd, 1 tsp coriander pwd, 1/2 tsp fennel pwd, 1/2 cup water

For the tempering - 4 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida

Mix the stuffing ingredients (except water) and roast in a pan on medium-low heat for 10 mins till aromatic. Add the water and mix well to form a thickish paste. Cool enough to handle. Drop abt 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of this paste in each half of the mini bell peppers and spread a little.

In a large pan, make the tempering by heating the oil and dropping the mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Roast for a minute. Now add the stuffed mini bell peppers one by one with the open sides facing up. Cover the pan and cook on medium low for 10 mins. Give the pan a good shake. By this time the gram flour stuffing will no longer be runny, so it is okay if a few peppers turn face down. Infact this is good as it will sear the gram flour stuffing also a bit and ensure it does not taste raw. Continue to cover and cook, shaking the pan in between for another 10 minutes or so till all the peppers soften and are a little browned on both sides.

Serve hot as a starter or a side dish.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Savory White Bean Dip

I have adapted this recipe from a cookbook called Magic Beans by Patti Bazel Geil.

Here's how I made it:

1 15oz. can of white beans (cannellini beans)
1 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp onion pwd
1 tsp garlic pwd
1/2 tsp paprika pwd
1/4 tsp black pepper pwd
1/2 tsp red chile pwd
1/4 tsp coriander pwd
1/2 tsp cumin pwd
1/2 tsp salt or per taste
pinch of sugar

Blend all the ingredients together. I used my Magic Bullet blender, food processor should also work or you can even mash it all together with a fork. I left a few small chunks of beans. Garnish with chopped cilantro and the greens of spring onions. 

Serve immediately with chips/crackers, or cover and refrigerate. I like to eat it at room temperature so when I refrigerate it, I leave it out for a couple of hours before eating. The chips in the pictures are Trader Joe's Veggie and Flax Seed chips.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Carrot raita (Gajarache Bharit)

This is an easy side dish for poli-bhaji.

Here's how I make it:

1 cup roughly chopped carrots (I use the baby cut carrots that come in a bag, they are already peeled)
1 cup yogurt
Salt & sugar to taste
Tempering - 1 tsp ghee, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 dry red chile (broken), 1 green chile, pinch asafoetida
2 tbsp roughly chopped dry roasted unsalted peanuts
Chopped cilantro

Pressure cook the carrots for 2 to 3 whistles. When they come to room temperature, mash with a fork leaving some chunky pieces. Make the tempering by heating the ghee and adding the other tempering ingredients. Fry for a few mins, take off heat and pour over the mashed carrots. Add the peanuts, yogurt, salt, sugar and cilantro. Mix well.

Zucchini cakes (eggless)

I had been wanting to try zucchini cakes for a long time, but all the recipes I found used egg. I finally decided to try these without eggs, using chickpea/gram flour instead. They turned out pretty good.

Here's how I made them:

1 cup grated zucchini
1 heaped tbsp gramflour/chickpea flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
Seasonings - salt, black pepper pwd, cajun seasoning blend (or any other seasoning of your choice)
Chopped cilantro
Oil to shallow fry

Squeeze the grated zucchini by hand to drain off water it releases. Do not throw away the water, use in dals/gravies/rotis. Add all the other ingredients to the zucchini. Mix by hand till well blended. Form into 8 patties immediately and shallow fry until golden brown on both sides.

Serve hot with ketchup.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Curry leaves chutney

This is a dry chutney made of kadipatta (curry leaves) and alsi (flax seed). It is an accompaniment to a typical Indian meal of roti-subji or rice-dal. It is as tasty as it is healthy.

Here's how I make it:

1.5 cups curry leaves - washed and patted dry
2 tsp veg/canola oil
3 dry red chiles or to taste
2 tsbp flax seed or flax seed meal (I use the flax seed meal)
1 tbsp dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp salt or to taste

Saute the curry leaves in oil in a wide pan till they turn crisp. This should take abt 10 mins on medium to medium-low heat. Add the dry red chiles, flax seed meal and peanuts and roast another 5 mins on medium low heat. Take off heat and cool to room temperature. Dry grind to a fine powder. I use a coffee grinder specially reserved for masalas and dry chutneys, being small in capacity I have to do this is small batches. Once it is all ground up, add the salt, mix well and if necessary run it thru the grinder another time to ensure all the ingredients combine well. I always do this step, but if you have a bigger/more powerful grinder, you may be able to skip it.

Store in a dry, air-tight container. It will stay at room temperature for abt a month.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lentil kurma

This is a good protein rich side dish for rotis and rice. I have used only whole masur and moong this time, but any combination of lentils works well.

Here's how I make it:

1 cup whole masur (brown lentils)
1 cup whole moong (sprouted are better)
1 tsp veg/canola/olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 tsp ginger paste
1/4 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp cumin pwd
1 tsp coriander pwd
1/4 tsp red chile pwd
1/4 tsp garam masala pwd
1/4 tsp kitchen king masala
salt to taste
1/4 cup milk
handful of cashews and almonds

To sprout the moong, soak overnight in water. Next morning drain and leave covered in a colander. Depending on the weather, the moong should sprout in abt a day or so. Soak masur in water for atleast one hr before cooking. Now pressure cook the lentils together with 1 cup water for 3 whistles. Or you can cook them on the stovetop till well cooked.

As the lentils are cooking, soak the cashews and almonds in milk.

Heat oil in a pressure pan. Add the cumin seeds and onions. Fry till onions slightly brown. Add the tomatoes, ginger paste, garlic paste and all the dry masalas. Fry well till the tomatoes get mushy. Add the cooked moong and masur. Add upto 1/2 cup water if too dry. Add salt, check and adjust seasoning. Grind the milk-soaked nuts and add to the curry. Adjust consistency with water as needed, it should be a bit on the thickish side.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rotis or rice.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Veggie Club Sandwich

This is my take on the club sandwich, the way I remember eating it at Mumbai's roadside restaurants ages ago.

Here's how I make it, its more a method of putting it all together as there is no recipe or cooking involved:

3 slices of bread
butter, green chutney and tomato ketchup
1 veggie patty (I used Trader Joes Masala burger)
1 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 cup veggies - finely chopped onions, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage

Toast the 3 slices of bread till golden brown. I use my pop-up toaster. Apply some butter to one side of each toast. Apply green chutney to one side of one toast and tomato ketchup to one side of another. Cook the patty per package instructions. Or you can use home-made veg. cutlets - here are a couple of recipes I have posted that can be used - Vegetable Cutlets, Hara Bhara Kebab. Place the patty or cutlet between the slices with the ketchup and chutney. Mix the veggies with the mayo and mustard. Heap a tablespoon over the bread slice, press down gently with the third slice of bread.

Cut the sandwich diagonally into 4 triangles. Serve with soup/potato chips/french fries/pakodas/green salad.

Makes for a filling lunch.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bell Pepper Kadhi

A slight twist on the classic kadhi. Here's how I make it:

Tempering - 1 tsp ghee (or veg oil), 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 4 cloves, 1 small piece cinnamon, pinch of fenugreek seeds (methi daane), green and/or red chillies cut into big pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped colored bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped onions (optional, I have not used in above picture, reduce bell peppers if using)
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1 cup thin buttermilk
1 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)
1.5 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp sugar
pinch of turmeric (optional)
chopped cilantro for garnish

Make the tempering by heating the ghee/oil and adding the other ingredients. Fry for a minute on low heat. Add the bell peppers and onions. Fry well till softened. Add the ginger & fry another minute. In the meanwhile, mix the buttermilk with the gram flour, salt, sugar and turmeric pwd if using. Add this to the peppers. Now it is important to keep stirring. You can increase heat to high and let the kadhi come to a boil. Then take off heat. Till this point, keep stirring constantly. This will prevent kadhi from splitting/curdling. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with any rice dish or pulav.

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