Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Szechuan Green Beans

Szechuan Green Beans

This is my take on the Szechuan Green Beans I had at Wild Ginger restaurant for our office holiday party this year. 

Here's how I made Szechuan Green Beans:

1 cup washed, stringed and chopped green beans - I like to cut them in diamond shape

Saute the green beans in sesame oil on medium high heat for 10 mins, stirring often, till cooked but still crunchy.

As the beans are cooking make the sauce by mixing 4 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp ginger paste, 1/2 tsp garlic paste, 1/2 tsp sriracha hot sauce, 1/2 tsp sweet and sour sauce and 1 tsp Trader Joe Soy Ginger dressing (last ingredient is optional).

Add the sauce to the beans and mix well. Heat through for 2-3 mins.

Remove to serving bowl and top with almond slivers. This goes well as a side dish with fried rice.

This Szechuan Green Beans goes to the In My Veg Box - Green Beans event at Full Scoops. This event was created by Citrus Spice.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Spicy Sprouts Curry

Spicy Sprouts Curry
 This is a healthy and versatile curry.

Here's how I make Spicy Sprouts Curry (Usal):

3 cups mixed sprouts - I have used mung bean, moth bean (matki) and brown chana. I soaked them separately 2 days in advance. The mung and moth beans sprout in a day. I let the chana soak and sprout for 2 days. Then I boiled the chana in the pressure cooker for 4-5 whistles. No need to pre cook the mung and moth beans.

Masala paste - Fry 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1 inch ginger, 2 cloves garlic in 1 tsp oil till onions turn light brown and the ginger, garlic turn aromatic. Add 1/4 cup chopped tomato and cook 5 mins. Cool and grind to a fine paste using little water.

Tempering - 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp hing, few curry leaves - torn

1/2 cup chopped onions

Other seasonings - 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp goda masala (can substitute with store-bought goda masala or garam masala), 2 tsp cumin-coriander pwd, 1 to 2 tsp red chilli pwd, 2 tbsp gul (jaggery), 2 tsp tamarind paste

First make the masala paste and keep aside. Then make the tempering my heating 1 tsp oil in a pot. Add the mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add the cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves. Fry 1 min. Add the chopped onions and fry till softened. Then add the sprouts, seasonings per taste and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for about 20 mins. Add more water if necessary to get the consistency desired.

This Spicy Sprouts Curry can be served with rice or rotis.

It can also be served as Usal - Pav - for this top the sprouts curry with finely chopped onions and cilantro. Serve with toasted and buttered pav/dinner roll/bread and a lemon wedge.

Usal - Pav
 Another popular way to eat this curry is as Misal or Misal-Pav. To use this curry to make misal, take about 2 ladleful of curry in a bowl, top with chivda or shev or any of the spicy snack mixtures available in Indian stores (I have used Haldiram's Kashmiri mixture). Then add some chopped cilantro and onions. You can also add some green chutney, dates chutney and a dollop of yogurt whipped with some chaat masala. Serve as is (Misal) or with toasted, buttered bread (Misal - Pav).
Misal - Pav
This Spicy Sprouts Curry goes to the MLLA event at Seduce Your Tastebuds. This event is run by Lisa and was conceived by Susan.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tortilla Rolls Christmas Tree

Tortilla Rolls Christmas Tree
I made this as an appetizer for a get-together we had couple days after Christmas. I used store-bought spinach tortillas and made the rolls with cream cheese per my earlier post.

Then I stacked up the rolls to form my Christmas tree. For the the stars, I cut a tomato basil tortilla into few star shapes and microwaved them for 2 mins to crisp them up.

This Tortilla Rolls Christmas Tree goes to the Savory Christmas Snacks event at Simply Food.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Pav Bhaji - Fondue Style

Pav Bhaji - Fondue Style
 I heard about Fondue Pav bhaji recently from a friend in Mumbai. She had it at a restaurant called Zomato, along with other innovative fusion dishes. The idea really interested me. Not having ever eaten it, not even owning a fondue pot did not deter me :-) I immediately set about making it. I had some leftover mashed potatoes, which proved ideal to use up in this recipe since I wanted a smooth texture for the bhaji.

Here's how I made Fondue Style Pav Bhaji:

Heat 1 tsp oil + 1 tsp Amul butter in a pan. Fry 1/4 cup finely chopped onions for 5 mins on medium heat. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, 1 tsp garlic paste and 1 tsp ginger paste. Fry another 5 mins. Add 1/4 cup tomato puree and 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes. Season with salt, pav bhaji masala (about 2 tsp each) and pinch of sugar. Stir well to mix. Add little water to prevent burning. Lastly add shredded cheddar cheese and mix well till it melts and blends with the bhaji. Garnish with finely chopped onions, cilantro. Squeeze some lemon juice onto the bhaji.

For the bread - I used pav (recently Indian stores in my area have started to carry pav). Cut each pav into 8 bite size pieces. Brush with melted Amul butter. Toast in a 350F oven for 5 to 10 mins till desired level of crispiness is achieved.

To serve - put the bhaji is the fondue pot. I do not have this, its on my list of post-Christmas sales hunting. So I just used a regular bowl. Put the toasted bread and fondue forks/skewers on the side.

My daughter and the friends who had come over for a sleepover loved it. I too loved the innovativeness of this dish. Hubby said he prefers the old-fashioned pav bhaji though. But I think this dish has a real wow factor (if you have a fondue pot) and will impress your guests at your next party.

Visiting Zomata and tasting it there is also on my to-do list next time I am in Mumbai.

This Fondue Style Pav Bhaji, using my leftover Mashed Potatoes, goes to the Dish It Out - Leftovers event at Full Scoops. This event was started by Vardhini.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baked Potato Wedges/ "Fries"

Baked Potato Wedges "Fries"
 Fries seem to be everyone's guilty pleasure. This baked version used only 2 tsp oil to make it guilt-free. Needless to say it is a favorite snack in our home.

Here's how I make these Baked Potato Wedges or "Fries":

8 baby potatoes
2 tsp olive oil
Salt, pepper to season

Wash the potatoes, dry well and cut each into 4 wedges. Again pat the wedges with a paper towel to thoroughly dry them. Pour 2 tsp olive oil and mix to coat wedges. Spread on a baking sheet and put into a 400F oven.

After 15 mins, turn the wedges over. Bake another 15 mins. Immediately season with salt and pepper. I have also used little ready made seasoning mix from Costco in the pic below. This is optional, you can use any additional seasoning of choice - Mrs. Dash, paprika, garlic pwd etc.

Serve hot/warm, with tomato ketchup.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cucumber - Pomegranate Raita

Cucumber-Pomegranate Raita
This is my daughter's favorite kind of raita. The delicate cucumber and slightly crunchy, tangy pomegranate seeds go very well together I think.

Here's how I make this simple Cucumber-Pomegranate Raita:

Take 1/2 cup yogurt (I use Trader Joe's plain low fat or any of the low fat ones from the Indian store). Add salt, sugar and black pepper pwd to taste. Whisk. Add 1/2 cup thickly grated cucumber, 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds and 1 tbsp roughly chopped peanuts. Make tempering by heating 1 tsp ghee, then spluttering 1/4 tsp mustard seeds in it, then add 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of hing and 1 or 2 chopped green chillies. You can also add 2-3 torn up curry leaves. Add tempering to the raita. Stir gently.

Garnish with more pomegranate seeds and chopped cilantro.

Goes well with any spicy curry, biryani, masale bhaath etc.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mini Mixed Veggie Utthappa

Mini Utthappa
Utthappa is a soft spongy slightly thickish Indian pancake. It can be made plain or topped with one or more finely chopped veggies. Mixed veggie utthappa is my hubby's favorite breakfast item. And ever since I bought an electric griddle, making multiple mini utthappa at once on it is my favorite weekend morning task.
Here's how I make these Mini Mixed Veggie Utthappas:

Dosa Batter -I use store bought (Shasta or Devi brand available in Indian store). Add salt if required.

In a separate bowl take finely chopped veggies of choice - in the above picture I have used red onions, tomatoes and green bell peppers.
Heat griddle to 350F (or if using regular pan heat on medium heat). Drop a ladleful of dosa batter for each utthappa/pancake and spread into a circle about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Drizzle little oil around the utthappa. Sprinkle the veggies on it. There is no specific quantity here, use less or more per your choice. In about 5 mins, the lower side will have browned lightly. Flip over, drizzle little more oil around and cook another 5 mins, pressing gently on the utthappa with a spatula.

Take off heat and serve hot with chutney of your choice. Here I have served with simple coconut chutney which I prep by grinding:

1/2 cup frozen shredded coconut (thawed)
2 green chillies
handful chopped cilantro
5-6 curry leaves
1 tbsp roasted chana/gram
1 tbsp roasted peanuts
Salt, Sugar and Lemon juice to taste

Grind with little water to get desired consistency. Temper with mustard seeds and hot oil.

These Mini Mixed Veggie Utthappas go to the Breakfast event at Srivalli's Cooking 4 all Seasons.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hash Brown Potato and Veggie Soup

Hash Brown Potato and Veggie Soup

Shredded hash brown potatoes are a staple breakfast item in my home. So when I came across this hash brown soup recipe in a recent issue of Relish magazine, I was intrigued. The idea of enjoying the same comforting breakfast flavors in a warm soup for lunch on a cold, windy day appealed to me very much. So I adapted the original recipe to incorporate the veggies and spices I use to make the breakfast version.

Here's how I made Hash Brown Potato and Veggie Soup:

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a pan.

Add handful of chopped onions, green bell pepper and zucchini and 2 cups shredded hash brown potatoes. Saute for 5 mins stirring occasionally.

Then add 2 cups vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil on medium heat.

In the meanwhile, whisk 1 tsp plain flour in 1/2 cup milk till smooth.

Add this to the soup keeping heat on low/medium low. Season with 1 tsp salt. 1/2 tsp black pepper pwd, 1 tsp seasoning mix of choice (I used Kirkland brand No Salt Seasoning Mix) and little red pepper flakes. Stir well and boil till slightly thickened.

Take off heat, stir in 1 tsp yogurt.

Serve hot/warm, garnished with green onions, red bell peppers, grated cheese and more red pepper flakes.

I enjoyed this soup with a bowl of salad.

This Hash Brown Potato and Veggie Soup goes to the DIO - Soups and Salads event at Cooks Joy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mixed Vegetable Pickle

Mixed Vegetable Pickle
This recipe is courtesy of our dear family friend Mrs. Adgaonkar.

Here's how I make Mixed Vegetable Pickle:

1/4 cup cauliflower flowerets - mini size
1/4 cup carrots - chopped fine
1/4 cup peas - I use frozen, which I thaw and dry thoroughly with paper towel
1 tsp julienned ginger
1 clove garlic - chopped (optional)

Take these in a big glass bowl.
Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp red chilli pwd and 1/4 tsp asafoetida pwd.
Dry roast 1/4 tsp mustard seeds on medium heat for 3-5 mins, keep aside to cool.
Dry roast 1/8 tsp methi seeds for 2-3 mins, keep aside to cool.
Dry roast 1/2 tsp sesame seeds till lightly browned, keep aside to cool.
When cooled grind all 3 to fine pwd and add to veggies.
Heat 2 tbsp oil, cool completely and add that to the veggie + masala mix.
Lastly squeeze 1/2 lemon over the mix.

Mixed Vegetable Pickle is ready to eat.

I store this in a glass bottle in the fridge, it lasts for a month.

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Cup" cakes - eggless

"Cup" cakes - vanilla and chocolate
 These are literally cakes made in the 1 minute! They come in handy when you have an immediate craving for something sweet and don't want to take a lot of trouble just for one person. Or if you find yourself hosting an impromptu get-together of kids (or adults for that matter) and want to impress everyone by giving them a choice of flavors for dessert.

Here's how I make these eggless "Cup" cakes"

Take 3 tbsp classic yellow cake mix (store bought) in a cup. Add 3 tbsp milk. Add flavor of choice - in the first set of pics below I made vanilla cake by adding 1/4 tsp vanilla essence. In the next set of

pics, I added 1 tsp cocoa pwd and few mini chocolate morsels for the chocolate cake. I also make mango flavor by blending about 1 tsp mango pulp or puree with the 3 tbsp milk; or pistachio flavor by blending pista essence with the milk.

Once you add the milk and flavor of choice, mix gently to incorporate. Make sure there are no lumps.
Microwave on high power for 1 mins. Set it on the counter to cool for 5 mins and enjoy!

This is so easy, you can involve kids and have them make their choice of these "Cup" cakes.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pharasbi - Batatyachi Bhaji (Green Beans and Potato Stir Fry)

This is a simple, healthy and tasty stir fry of finely chopped green beans and red potatoes in Maharashtrian style, with a slight twist in the garnish.

Here's how I make Pharasbi - Batatyachi Bhaji:

Make tempering - In a kadai or heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tsp oil, add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp udad dal, 1/4 tsp asafoetida, 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd and few torn up curry leaves. Stir for 1 min.

Add 1 heaped cup of finely chopped green beans and 1 small red potato, chopped thinly as for kachrya. Add 1 tsp salt or to taste, 1 tsp coriander pwd, 1 tsp cumin pwd, 1 tsp goda masala, 1/2 tsp red chilli pwd or to taste, 1 tsp gul (jaggery). Stir well. Add very little water, couple tbsps only. Cover and cook on medium heat. Stir occasionally. Add couple more tbsps water when needed to prevent burning. The veggies should get cooked in about 10 to 12 mins. Take off heat.

For the garnish - grind together about 3 to 4 tbsp shredded fresh coconut (I use frozen shredded coconut available in Indian grocery stores which I thaw either on the counter top or in microwave), handful of roughly chopped cilantro, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 2 tsp lemon juice. Mix into the cooked bhaji. This garnish adds a nice kick to the bhaji.

Serve hot with polis. Goes well with varan - bhaath too.

This Pharasbi - Batatyachi Bhaji goes to the In My Veg Box - Green Beans event at Full Scoops. 
This event was started by Citrus Spice.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

TriColor Mini Idlis

I had some leftover mini idlis the other day and decided to make this tricolor idli fry. Usually I use up leftover idlis by breaking them up into bite size pieces and tempering them to make phodnichi idli (idli fry). This tricolor idli recipe just takes them one step ahead and makes them party worthy - these make great appetizers for gatherings.

Here's how I made these TriColor Mini Idlis:

For the yellow color idlis - Heat 1 tsp oil in a non stick pan. Add pinch of mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering add pinch of hing (asafoetida) and turmeric pwd. Drop in 4 to 5 mini idlis. Add little salt (abt 1/4 tsp or to taste) and pinch of sugar. If the idlis are bit hard (from refrigerating overnight like mine were), add 1 tsp water. Stir gently to coast the idli, cover and steam on low heat for 3 to 5 mins. This will soften the idlis again as they are being seasoned. Take off heat and if desired sprinkle little black pepper pwd and squeeze little lemon juice on them. That way they can be served as is, no need for chutney on the side.

For the green idlis - I have used my dry Curry Leaf Chutney for this. I heated 1/2 tsp ghee on low heat, added 1 tsp of this chutney and 1 tsp water. Then added about 4 to 5 mini idlis, tossed gently to coat the idlis with the chutney, covered and cooked on low heat for 3 to 5 mins.

For the red idlis - I have used my Lasun Tikhat (Dry Garlic Chutney) for this. Procedure is similar to above green idlis.

To serve as a party appetizer skewer them onto mini toothpicks and serve.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fruit and Nut Kheer

Kheer is an Indian sweet dish with many, many variations. Here I've made kheer with a mix of fruits and nuts.

Here's how I made this Fruit and Nut Kheer:

In a heavy bottom pan, take 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk and 3/4 cup regular milk. Use full fat milk if possible for richer taste. Mix well and heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally. After the milk boils, keep stirring occasionally and heat another 15 mins until slightly thickened. Take off heat. Add 1/4 tsp cardamon pwd and pinch of saffron. Stir to mix.

Chill for 2 to 3 hours atleast. Add about 1 cup finely chopped fruits - I have used apple, pear, banana and pomegranates. Grapes, chickoo, mango would also be good choices. Also add handful of nuts - I have used chopped roasted pistachio and almonds.

Serve chilled.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Baked Bread Rolls

Made this for after-school snack yesterday. Really easy to make and you can sneak in as many veggies as you like :-)

Here's how I make Baked Bread Rolls:

For the filling -

1/2 cup mashed potatoes (I used 1/2 cup boxed potato flakes and added 1/2 cup water, mixed and microwaved for 1 min.); tomato, green onion and green bell pepper - all chopped fine; carrot and cabbage - shredded. All veggies also came to about 1/2 cup. You can vary per taste or availability.

Seasoning the filing - Add about 2 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, pinch of sugar, 1/2 tsp black pepper pwd, pinch of paprika. Yesterday I also added 1/4 tsp Thai seasoning paste, this is optional. Sometimes instead of soysauce, I give it an Indian flavor with some coriander-cumin pwd, garam masala pwd or pav bhaji masala pwd. Mix well.

For the bread roll - I used 4 slices of whole wheat bread. Sprinkle few drops of water evenly on each slice. Lay it on a damp paper towel.

Cover with another damp paper towel and roll slightly with a rolling pin using gentle pressure.

Put 2 tbsp of the filling on the bread. 

Using the damp paper towel, roll the bread to form a roll. Seal edges with water. Lay seam side down on a baking tray.

Bake in a pre heated 400F oven for about 15 mins, turning them over once. Serve warm with tomato ketchup.

These Baked Bread Rolls are off to the 37th Bake Fest at Cooks Joy.

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