Monday, July 30, 2012

Shrikhand - Puri

I made this for a cooking contest at Anandmela, a local cultural event. The theme was to cook 2 traditional dishes from your region of India. So I made this Shrikhand Puri combo which is very popular especially during Diwali, Gudi Padwa, weddings etc. celebrations in Maharashtra.

I have already posted Amrakhand recipe earlier. This shrikhand is similar, but without the mango, with just cardamon and saffron to flavor it. I used one 32oz container of Greek yogurt, hung the yogurt up in the fridge in a cheesecloth overnight to let the whey drip. The next morning, I wrapped the thickened yogurt along with the cheesecloth in layers of kitchen towels and newspapers, and placed a heavy can over it, to further drain off all liquid. After abt 2-3 hrs, I added 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp cardamon pwd and 1 tsp saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup warm milk, to the thickened yogurt (called "chakka" in Marathi). I mixed it all well and while serving topped it off with charoli (I think its a kind of nut).

One trick to keep puris puffy (even the judges asked me abt it) is to add a pinch of sugar to the dough while kneading it. This keeps the puris puffed for a long time. I made my puris 3 hrs before the cooking contest since my daughter had a dance performance there, but they remained puffed up until eaten.

We had to make 2 traditional dishes for the contest, so the other item I made was Kothimbir wadi. This time I added peanuts instead of cashew nuts, and omitted the ginger and garlic pastes, but other ingredients and procedure is same as posted earlier.I shallow fried them this time.

To round off the traditional theme, I wore my nauvari sari (it is pre-stitched) which I bought from Sadi Ghar near Dadar Stn on my last visit.

I guess the judges liked something about my dishes, since I won a prize!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paneer Parathas

Paneer Parathas are made by stuffing regular roti dough with a tangy paneer filling. They are good for lunch boxes or picnic lunches.

Here's how I make them:

For the dough - 1 cup wheat flour, pinch of salt, abt 1/3 to 1/2 cup warm water. Mix together to form a soft pliable dough. Coat with a drop of oil and keep covered with a damp cloth for atleast 1/2 hr.

For the paneer stuffing - Grate paneer to get abt 1 cup. I like to stuff my parathas to the brim, you can adjust per your liking. I use store-bought paneer, so my stuffing is quite dry and crumbly. Add 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp amchur pwd, 1/4 tsp chaat masala, 1 tbsp crushed kasuri methi, 1/2 tsp red chile pwd, 1 tsp coriander-cumin pwd. Adjust seasonings per taste. Mix all well and divide into 4 parts.

To proceed - Divide dough into 4 parts. Form each into a round hollow bowl and stuff with the seasoned paneer.

Close the bowls by bringing the dough edges together. Use flour to dust and roll into a circle. Heat on a tawa using a few drops of oil until brown spots form on both sides.

This will make 4 big paneer parathas. Serve with raita, pickles etc. Today we had this with palak raita and carrot pickle.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bread Upma

Bread Upma is a breakfast dish, quick to make and good way to use up old bread/bagels etc.

Here's how I make it:

Roughly chop the bread pieces. Sprinkle with buttermilk that has been seasoned with salt, red chile pwd and turmeric. For about 5 bread slices, I use 1/2 cup buttermilk. Mix gently. The idea is to slightly moisten the bread pieces and spice them, so do not add too much that the bread is soaking in the buttermilk.

Heat oil in a wide pan and make the tempering by first dropping some mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering add cumin seeds, asafotida, chopped curry leaves, chopped green chiles to taste, broken dry red chiles to taste. Saute a couple of mins. Add chopped onions and fry till they turn light golden brown. Add chopped tomatoes and other veggies as desired. In the above picture, I have only added frozen peas, but potatoes, bell peppers, carrots are also good options. Cook till tomatoes and veggies soften. Add the bread pieces, salt and sugar per taste. Stir gently to coat the bread with the onion/tomato/veggies. Cook uncovered on medium high heat for 5 to 10 mins, gently stirring once in a while.

Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro. Goes well with a cup of chai.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mexican Rice

I use store-bought salsa and enchilada sauce for this hence I call it Mexican rice. In the above picture, I have used cooked brown rice and quinoa, you can substitute with cooked white rice. This is a good way to use up leftover rice, salsa and enchilada sauce.

Here's how I make it:

Heat veg. oil in a pan. Fry some chopped onions and green bell peppers in it. Add the salsa and enchilada sauce. Latter can be omitted, in which case increase the amount of salsa used. For 2 cups cooked rice, I use abt 1 cup salsa depending on how chunky or smooth it is and the heat level. Add seasoning to taste - salt, sugar, cumin pwd and paprika. Stir well. Add the cooked rice (see note). Add drained canned black beans and upto 1 tbsp soy sauce. Stir gently to coat rice well. Cover and heat on medium low heat for 5 mins. Adjust seasonings to taste if needed. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro, red bell pepper and even some shredded Mexican cheese blend if desired.

Note - You can use uncooked rice, in which case probably better to go with white rice as it cooks faster. Add water or veg. broth and cook till almost done before proceeding to add the canned beans and soy sauce.

This Mexican rice goes well by itself as a one-pot meal or served along with tortilla soup/quesadilla, enchiladas etc.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Orange juice punch

I love freshly squeezed orange juice and frankly don't think there is any need to "enhance" it with additions. But if you want to serve it to guests and/or make it a little special, this Orange Juice Punch is a good way to go.

Here's how I make it:

6 oranges (mosambi in Marathi) - juiced to get abt 3 cups juice
1 cup chilled sparkling cider
1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp ginger pwd (soonth), 1 small lemon wedge

Rub the rims of your serving glasses with the lemon wedge. Dip in the sugar-ginger pwd mix. Fill each cup 3/4th way with the freshly squeezed orange juice. Top off with the chilled sparkling cider. Serve immediately.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cake Pops

We made these cake pops for my daughter's 9th b'day. I used a boxed yellow cake mix to bake the cake, following instructions on the box, but replacing the eggs with 1 cup yogurt. When the cake was completely cooled, I crumbled it up, mixed in abt 1/2 cup frosting to get a consistency that would hold its shape when rolled into balls. Using a tbsp measure, we made abt 20 round balls. Next we melted some candy melts, dipped lollipop sticks abt an inch into the melted chocolate and stuck these sticks in the cake balls. We froze these for 15 mins to harden them up so the sticks stayed put. Then came the fun part. My daughter, her friend and I had a great time dipping these pops into melted milk, blue and pink chocolate. I used Wilton candy melts and just microwaved them in 15 sec. bursts for abt a min and a half, stirring in between. We stuck the dipped pops in styrofoam and refrigerated them for 15 mins, then drizzled melted white chocolate over them using a plastic bottle with a small nozzle.

We shared these with N's friends at the dance class and they all loved it.

This is a great project to do with kids. We did loose a few pops which fell apart mostly due to excess force and/or swirling in the melted chocolate. This was our first attempt at cake pops, so we stuck to basic simple decorating, but really your imagination can run wild once you get the hang of this.

If you plan to make these for adults, my suggestion is to use semi sweet candy melts. For me atleast, the sweet cake, covered with the sweet chocolate, was a bit too much. But then again...none of the kids complained abt the sugar overload.

Updated August 14, 2012:

We made Soccer Ball Cake Pops over the weekend for a friend's kid who is very much into the game.

For this, learning from my previous experience, I used half frosting and half cream cheese to bind the crumbled cake and shape into balls. This made the end product just right in sweetness. I melted Nestle's white chocolate chips per package directions and dipped the cake balls in it. I really loved the taste of this brand. For the pentagonal design on the soccer balls, I used fruit roll-ups and stuck them on with a dab of melted chocolate. My daughter & I made a little box, with green tissue paper for the soccer field grass, and she drew the soccer nets. Sure made a tasty and unique personalized gift.

Updated Sept. 16, 2012:

Last Friday my daughter has a back-to-school event and her 4th grade class had a bake sale. For this, I made owl cake pops as the owl is her school mascot.

I used store bought butter pound cake, plus some cake I had in the freezer and made abt 40, of which I took 30 to the event. Following my earlier experience, I used a combination of cream cheese and frosting to bind the cake into balls. This makes the end product not overwhelmingly sweet. After refrigeration for 1/2 hr, I stuck the sticks in them with melted chocolate, refrigerated again for a good one hr. Then stuck semi-sweet morsels for the ears, put back in the fridge for an hr. Then dipped the pops in melted light cocoa chips and refrigerated again. I stuck bracelet candy for the eyes, rainbow sprinkles for the nose and star shaped sprinkles for the feet, all using little melted chocolate. I used a toothpick/skewer to help stick these pieces.

I was happy that all my pops sold out at the event!

Monday, July 9, 2012

No cook coconut dessert (ladoos)

This recipe is from Super Veggie Delight's You Tube channel. I had come across this while browsing and it came in very handy recently. We were cruising the first week of July and on Guru Purnima Day (July 3), I wanted to make something special and traditional. I carried all the necessary ingredients from home in a medium bowl and made them right in our cabin on the cruise ship!

Here's how I made them:

3 cups dry shredded coconut
7 to 8 oz sweetened condensed milk
pinch of cardamon pwd and saffron
food color (optional)
almonds to garnish
1 tsp ghee

Mix the coconut and condensed milk in a bowl till well blended. Add the cardamon pwd and saffron. If using food color, add to part of the mix as needed. Divide into abt 20 parts. Grease palms with ghee and shape into round ladoos. Press an almond on to each ladoos.

Thats it! Super easy and delicious dessert ready in a jiffy.
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