Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year



I meant to post this yesterday but was busy cooking from 11 in the morning, as I had friends coming home for dinner. It was a very white christmas in Denver and looked pretty. Few pics from the dinner.


Clockwise from top: Tomato-mint raita, Curd rice, Vegetable kurma, Egg masala, Chicken fry, Vegetable biriyani, Chicken biriyani, Gobi 65

For desert it was Black Forest cake that I make every year for Christmas. I will try to post the recipe as soon as possible.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Diamond cuts and Ribbon Pakoda

Having to stay indoors because of the snow, I decided to make more Christmas goodies today. Diamond cuts are a tradition back home and my mom would make kilos of these to distribute to our neighbors. Since I had taken out some oil to fry the diamond cuts, I decided to use the remaining oil to make ribbon pakoda. I had to call my aunt back home to get the recipe as I've never made these before. Both the treats came out well and I've already started distributing these to my friends. I will be baking my special black forest cake on Sunday and will try to post the recipe as soon as possible.
Diamond cuts
Ingredients:

Wheat flour - 2 cups (all purpose flour can also be used or half of each can be used)
Salt - 1 tsp
Water - enough to make a dough
Sugar (powdered) - enough to coat the fried diamond cuts
Oil - for deep frying

Method:

Add the flour, salt and enough water to make a soft dough. Make small balls and roll out each ball into thin circles. Cut diamond shape by diagonally making lines with a sharp knife. Deep fry the cut diamonds till they turn golden brown and crunchy. Remove from heat and immediately sprinkle powdered sugar on top while they are still hot. Let it cool and store in an air tight container. They will stay good for about 2 weeks. They are easy to make if you have an additional hand to sprinkle the powdered sugar, on top of the hot diamond cuts removed from the oil. This is an important step as the coating of oil sticking onto the diamond cuts will absorb the sugar and help in providing an even coating of sugar.

Ribbon pakoda:

Ingredient:

Gram flour - 1.5 cup
Rice flour - 1.5 cup
Salt - as needed
Chilli powder - as needed
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Oil - for deep frying

Method:

Heat oil in a pan. In a mixing bowl sieve together gram flour, rice flour, baking soda and salt. Add 2 tsp hot oil and enough water and mix to form a soft dough. Fill either a cookie press or muruku press fitted with the flat thin ribbon pakoda disc, with enough dough and squeeze on top of the hot oil. Fry till they turn golden brown. Remove from heat, let cool and then store in air tight container. Because of the gram flour the dough becomes hard easily, so you need to mix a little water every time you are refilling the cookie press or the muruku maker.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Snow, Snow and more Snow: Solution? - A Moist Christmas Fruit cake

I've been in the US for about 6yrs now and have never seen so much snow. It started early yesterday morning and continued for more than a day. Everything is now covered with snow here, in Colorado. My car got stuck in the driveway yesterday and leaving it out was a big mistake. This morning I woke up to find my car completely buried in snow. It took about 4hrs of shoveling and finally my fiance and I managed to pull the car out and clear part of the driveway. As a result of the drifting snow we saw about 3 to 4 feet of snow in some places and it was very difficult clearing it. The amount of snow that most of Colorado received was about 25 inches and in some places, upto 50 inches. That is a lot of snow for one day. The Denver International Airport closed yesterday and will remain closed till about noon tomorrow. There are about 5000 people stuck at the airport and are waiting to reach their destination in time for Christmas. All news channels have been covering this and have also named it "THE HOLIDAY BLIZZARD" but honestly it doesn't feel very holiday at all. Here are a few pictures from this morning.


First look from my garage

A neighbor having a fun ride in his snowmobile

The lump in the middle and the black spot are the only indications of my car.


Finally my car breathes fresh air again

The roads in our community have still not been cleared which simply means, if you don't have a truck you have to stay indoors for a day or two. Staying inside means, I get to finish most of Christmas treats now. Nothing cheers me up better than a freshly baked sweet treat, so decided to make a fruit cake. I baked about 2 big cakes and cut each into halves and packed them to be given as gifts for Christmas to a few friends. This is a simple fruit cake recipe that my mom makes every yr and I've made this for the past couple of yrs. It does not have a dark color to it, as it uses normal sugar instead of brown sugar (which I've never seen in Indian shops). I did make a few changes to the cake but for the most part its the exact same recipe as my mom's. I soaked the dry fruits in brandy for about 3 days and added a cup of orange juice, 3hrs before baking. This ensures that the fruits become very moist. Also the liquid can be used for brushing the cake after baking.



Ingredients:

Flour (maida) - 250gm
Sugar - 250gm
Butter - 250gm
Eggs - 5 (I used 6 eggs to compensate for the high altitude baking)
Vanilla essence - 2 tbsp
Baking powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Butter - 1 tbsp (for coating the baking pan)
Maida - 2 tbsp (for coating the baking pan and sprinkling on the fruits)
Candied fruits/peels, Chopped dates, raisins & dried plums - 2 cups
Fruit flavored liquor or brandy or orange juice - 1 cup

Method:

Soak the chopped fruits in liquor or rum or orange juice for two to three days. Drain the fruits and sprinkle a tbsp of flour on top, as this stops the fruits from sinking to bottom of the cake while baking. Save the drained liquid for latter use. Beat together, room temperature butter and sugar till creamy (about 15min). I use powdered sugar as it mixes fast with the butter. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating till all the eggs are incorporated and the mixture is creamy (about 10min). Add the vanilla essence and mix. Sieve together flour, baking powder and salt. This helps to prevent lumps. Fold in the flour mix to the wet creamy mixture in small batches. Finally fold in the fruits and bake in a 350F oven. Baking time depends on the size of your baking pan (about 20-30min usually). Bake till the top surface of the cake turns light brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Finally after the cake cools down, you can brush it with the saved drained liquor. This adds moisture to the cake. You can continue brushing the cake with the liquor for a couple more days and that helps it stay fresh longer.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Coffee cake - Getting into the Christmas mood

Lately I've been very busy as I am going to India for 5 weeks in Jan and so have to finish up a lot of stuff at work. I still try to visit all my favorite blogs and keep myself updated but don't have the time to comment. Will try to be more proactive. I am getting married to the love of my life in Jan, so am very excited about this India trip and that also means there might be a big blogging break. I am trying to write up some additional entries so that I can post those in Jan but don't know if I will have the extra time to do that amidst my crazy shopping and wedding preparation schedule.

Christmas is a time when I get the most home sick and miss my family a lot. No matter how much I decorate the house with trees & stars or cook, it is not the same as celebrating it with my family back home. Its my 6th Christmas away from family. I always play some Christmas music in the house in Dec, start baking from the middle of Dec, start wrapping gifts early and invite friends for a Christmas dinner. This helps forget missing family a bit. So this year I started with a Streusel Coffee cake, that I wanted to take to work. Went home early yesterday and it took about 30min preparation time and 35min to bake. I brought it to work today and shared it with my colleagues and everyone seemed to like it. The recipe is from the net with a few changes to suit my taste.



Ingredients:

For the topping:
Maida (or All-purpose flour) - 1 cup
Brown sugar (tightly packed) - 1 cup
Butter (at room temperature) - 1/2 cup
Walnuts or Pecans (chopped) - 1/2 cup

For the Cake:
Butter (at room temperature) - 1 cup
Brown sugar (tightly packed) - 3/4 cup
Granulated white sugar - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 2
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Maida (or All-purpose flour) - 2 cups
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Milk - 1/3 cup

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the topping just combine all the topping ingredients together with hand to get the consistency of moist sand. For the cake, in a large missing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. It took me about 15min. Always remember to use room temperature butter for making cakes. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating. Add vanilla essence and mix well. Sieve together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this dry mixture to the moist ingredients a little bit at a time. Add milk as and when necessary and mix well. Pour the batter into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan that has been buttered and dusted with a light coating of flour. Sprinkle the topping over the batter and cover the batter completely. I used maida and light brown sugar for this cake. Bake cake for 35 minutes or until the edges just begin to turn light brown. Insert a fork in the middle and pull out to see if the cake is cooked. Cool and slice and serve. This cake is not too sweet and is a good early morning coffee cake. A tsp of cinnamon can be added to the topping to give it a more festive flavor.



A few pictures of my Christmas tree. I just love to decorate it as it really brings in the Christmas mood.



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Moong Dal Vada

Ive been trying to experiment with differnt types of dal and so bought whole moong dal (the green colored dal with skin on). My first attempt with this dal was vada which came out pretty well.

Ingredients:

Moongdal(soaked for 2 hrs) - 1 cup
Channa dalia (powdered) - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Green chillies - 2
Onion (finely chopped) - 1/2
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 1 tbsp
Salt - as needed
Oil - for frying

Method:

Gring the moondal with ginger and green chillies and without adding any water. If you are using an Indian mixer this should grind fine, else you need to sprinkle little water to grind this into a coarse paste. Add chopped onions, coriander leaves, curry leaves and enough channa dalia powder to get the consistency of a stiff dough. Make lemon sized balls out of this, pat it into flat patties in your palm and deep fry it till golden brown. Serve as an evening snack or appetizer with chutney or sambar of your choice.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mutton suka varuaval (mutton dry fry)

Mutton used to be my favorite in India and also readily available. Here in Colorado, I have to drive 1hr one way to get goat meat, so its becoming an exotic dish lately. Also because of this I end up buying it in bulk and hence will be relishing on mutton for a whole week. So this week I will be posting a few goat meat recipes. This is a very dry dish which is a bit spicy but can be served with rice or just as an appetizer.

Ingredients:

Mutton (1 inch cubes) - 200gms
Onion (finely chopped) - 1
Green chillies (slit) - 2
Curry leaves - a sprig
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) - 1 tsp
Saunf (fennel seeds) - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 tbsp
Jeera (cumin) powder - 1 tbsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Oil - 3 tbsp
Salt - as needed

Method:

Pressure cook the mutton with jeera, saunf and a pinch of turmeric with just enough water to cover the meat, for about 8 whistles. Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions. Once the onions turn translucent add green chillies, curry leaves, ginger garlic paste, pepper powder, jeera powder, coriander powder, garam masala, salt and the cooked mutton. Fry in low heat till all the raw smell disappears from the powders and the mutton gets coated and roasted evenly. Serve hot with rice and sambar.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Beetroot-Jaggery halwa

Honestly I was not happy with the JFI-jaggery announcement by Kay of Towards a Better Tomorrow, as I use jaggery only for chakara pongal (sweet rice) and dont experiment with it at all. But after days of thinking I decided to make beetroot halwa with jaggery. Ive only made carrot halwa in the past so decided to try something new as suggested by kay. I was sure that the method was almost the same, but decided to replace sugar with jaggery. The end result was very tasty and different.

Some more useful information about the goodness of jaggery that I obtained from the net. Jaggery is often used for ayurvedic medicinal purposes.It is very useful for dry cough, cough with sputum, indigestion and constipation. Jaggery has potassium, which conserves the acid balance in cells and combats acids and acetone. It is also rich in iron, and especially recommended for expectant and lac­tating mothers.

I am thinking that from now on I will be using more of jaggery in my dishes, thanks Kay.

Ingredients:

Beetroot (grated) - 2 cups
Jaggery (powdered coarsely) - 1 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Half and Half - 1 cup
Cardomom powder - 1 tsp
Cashews (broken) - 20 pieces
Raisins - 20
Ghee - 3 tbsp
Water - 1 cup

Mehtod:

Boil water in a pan and add the jaggery powder and let it melt (This can be done in the microwave too). Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel and roast the cashews and raisins to a golden color. Remove and keep aside. In the same pan add the remaining tbsp ghee and fry the shredded beetroot for a few minutes. If your'e kitchen is well lit you will notice a change in color. Add the milk and half and half and cook in medium heat till most of the liquid evaporates. Add the jaggery water and cardomom powder and continue stirring till the halwa reached desired consistency.I like mine a little semisolid. Add the roasted cashews and raisins and remove from heat and serve it warm. Remember that the beetroot shrinks so not matter how much quantity you start with the end product is always less. But definitely a small portion of this halwa goes a long way.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tomato Rice

It feels like forever since I posted an entry. Ive been crazily busy at work and my brother visited me for Thanksgiving, so was busy showing him around and cooking for him. I did take pictures of dishes that I made but did not have the time to post. I hope to post more regulary now.

This is one easy instant recipe that I make a lot when I am too tired to cook after a long day at work. You can either start it from scratch or use already made tomato thokku. I store 2 bottles of tomato thokku in the fridge and use it whenever necessary.

Ingredients:

Basmati rice (cooked with a little salt) - 2 cups
Green peas - 1/2 cup
Tomato thokku - 4 tbsp
Onion (finely chopped) - 1
Cashews (roasted) - about 10 pieces
Salt - as needed
Oil - 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves - for garnishing

Seasoning ingredients:
Mustard seeds
Split urad dal
Curry leaves

Method:

Heat oil is a big pan and add the seasoning ingredients. Once the mustard starts to splutter add chopped onions. Fry the onions till they turn translucent and then add the peas. Once the peas are half cooked add the tomato thokku and cashews. Simmer in medium heat for about 10 min and then add cooked rice and stir well. Lower the heat and cook till the rice mixes well with the thokku. Remove from heat, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with raitha and chips. This is an ideal dish to pack for picnics.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Shredded chicken fry

Last Friday was my dad's birthday and I decided to cook one of his favorites. It took me a long time to decide what to make and finally chose to make pichu pota kozhi fry (shredded chicken fry). My dad took us often to a restuarant called Ponnuswamy in chennai. Most of the times he would order this dish and so I thought why not try this dish out. I did not have a recipe for this but just went with my instincts and came up with this dish. It did come out well and I am sure I will be making it often in the future. So this one is exclusively for my dad.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD

Ingredients:

Chicken (cut into small pieces) - 200gms
Turmeric - a pinch
Onions (finely chopped) - 1
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Green chillies - 3
Cumin (Jeera) powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp
Salt - as needed
Oil - 4 tbsp

Method:

Boil 2 cups of water and add salt, turmeric and the chicken pieces and let cook for 15 min. Remove chicken from water, let it cool and then shred into small pieces by hand. Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions and sliced green chillies. Fry till the onions turn golden brown and then add curry leaves, shredded chicken, coriander powder, cumin powder, pepper powder and salt. Fry in low heat till the chicken pieces are coated well with the masala and the dish becomes dry. Serve hot with rice and sambar. Infact it tastes good just by itself.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chow chow (chayote squash) kootu

I never used to like eating kootu back in India. I always had to choose betweek kootu or chicken fry, mutton fry, fish fry, aloo masala, bindi masala. So naturally I opted for one of those and my mom would forcefully put a spoonfull of kootu in my plate and make me eat it. Now living here for about 6 years I crave for anything Indian. So I do make kootu atleast once a week with different vegetables. Cabbage, Spinach, Snake gourd and actually most vegetables can be used to made kootu. I used chow chow, also called bengaloor kathirikai (bangalore brinjal) in tamil. The first time I saw it in walmart, I was really surprised but then realised that its used in mexican cuisine too. Kootu can be served as a side dish (cooked a little dry) or as a main curry dish to go with rice. I prefer the dry variety.

Ingredients:

Chow chow - 2
Moong dal - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 3
Tomato (chopped) - 1
Jeera (cumin seeds) - 1tsp
Coconut - 3 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - as needed

For seasoning:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Split urad dal - 1 tsp
Red chilly - 1
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Method:

Remove the inner white seed portion of the squash and chop it into small cubes. Pressure cook the chopped squash along with moong dal, turmeric, 2 slit green chillies, chopped tomato and enough water, for just one whistle. After pressure subsides remove the lid and let it cook in medium heat till most of the water evaporates. Meanwhile grind the coconut, jeera, 1 green chilly with little water to a paste. Add the ground paste along with salt to the squash dal mixture and heat till the dish becomes as dry as required. In a seperate pan heat oil and add the seasoning ingredients and once the mustard splutters, remove from heat and add the seasoning to the squash mixture. Serve with rice and dal or rice and sambhar or just with rice as a curry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A great new website - NewsGulp.com

I have a tough time keeping up with fellow bloggers and their recipes. There are so many Indian cuisine related blogs that its not fun anymore to go check out each of them for new recipes. Add to that the need to keep yourself updated with all sorts of news and current events, so that you dont feel like an ignorant idiot during those lunch discussions and arguments with co-workers.

NewsGulp.com is a new aggregation site focussing on the content that would interest the Indian community on the web. NewsGulp provides news from a varity of sources and also features blogs, videos and podcasts. In the blogs section, they have sections featuring popular tech,personal and food blogs. I was amazed to see recipes from my blog listed with other popular Indian cooking blogs. :-). The Food blogs section, though currently limited to recipes from only 12 blogs, is very useful. I am hoping that more food blogs would be added once they realise that a lot of users are interested in food related blogs.

So guys check out NewsGulp.com and let me know if you find it as useful as i do.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gobi (cauliflower) manchurian

I have a friend who loves gobi manchurian. So I make this often with fried rice or vegetable noodles. I tend to make mine with a little gravy so that I goes well with the rice. If needed, it can be made dry and served as an appetizer or an evening snack.

Ingredients:


Cauliflower (cut into small florets) - 1 big
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Corn flour - 4 tbsp
Maida (All purpose flour) - 2 tbsp
Rice flour - 2 tbsp
Soy sauce - 2 tsp
Ajinomoto - a pinch
Chilli sauce - 2 tsp
Tomato ketchup - 2 tsp
Spring onions (chopped) - 1 bunch
Onion (sliced) - 1/2
Capsicum (sliced) - 1
Garlic (chopped) - 2 cloves
Salt - as needed
Oil - for deep frying

Method:

Heat water till its boiling point and add cauliflower florets. Reduce heat and let it cook for 10min and then drain on a kitchen towel. Mix 3 tbsp corn flour, rice flour, maida, chilli powder, ginger-garli paste and salt with the cooked cauliflower florets. Just sprinkle enough water to coat the florets evenly. Heat oil and deep fry the coated florets till they turn golden brown. Finish the whole batch and then heat 2tbsp oil in another pan and add the chopped garlic. Add sliced onions and capsicum and fry till they look soft and cooked. Add chopped spring onions, soy sauce, chilli sauce, tomato ketchup (I use maggi's hot and sweet), ajinomoto and salt and stir for 2 min. Mix 1 tbsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp of water to make a thin paste and add it to the pan. Add a cup of water and cook till the gravy thickens. Finally add the fried cauliflower florets and serve hot with fried rice. Those who like it dry can reduce the amount of water added.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Era varuval (Shrimp fry - dry)

I used to love shrimps back in India but the ones that I get here dont have the same flavor. But still once in a while I cook shrimp with a lot of Indian masala to compensate for the lack of flavor. Shrimp also cooks fast hence this recipe is a definite time saver.

Ingredients:

Shrimp (de-veined and tail off) - 1 cup
Chilli powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Lemon juice or vinegar - 2 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) - 1 tsp
Saunf (fennel seeds) - 1 tsp
Onion (chopped) - 1
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 3 tbsp
Salt - as needed

Method:

Wash shrimp and marinate for an hr with chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste and lime juice or vinegar. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard, jeera and saunf. Once the jeera starts turning color add chopped onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Add curry leaves, the marinated shrimp and salt and fry in medium heat till the dish turns a little dry (about 15min). Remove from heat and garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice and sambar. For those who like spicy food, either chilli powder can be increased or dry red chillies can be added along with the onions.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mango icecream

I had some leftover mango pulp and decided to make mango icecream. I dont have an icecream maker but this method always gives creamy delicious icecream. A friend of mine gave me an easy kulfi recipe and I made a few changes to it and made this icecream. I will post the kulfi recipe soon

Ingredients:

Condensed milk - 1 cup
Whipping cream - 1 cup
Mango pulp - 1 cup (can be increased or decreased)

Method:

Beat all the ingredients for 5 min till they mix well. I used swad ready made mango pulp but I am sure fresh mango pulp will taste much better. Freeze for atleast 3 hrs and serve. It tastes out of the world.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Diwali

This year I had a few friends staying with me and a few friends who came for dinner. So the day was filled with good food, good company and lots of joy and happiness. I made mysore pak, rawa ladoo, ras malai, thattai, kara sev and dinner was bisibele bath, masala vada, curd rice, potato podi fry, cabbage poriyal and appalam. Some pictures from the day.



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thattai and kara sev

No festival is complete without some crunchies. So decided to make thattai and kara sev.

Thattai

Ingredients:

Rice flour - 500gm
Grated coconut - 1 cup (I use the frozen shredded coconut)
Urad dal powder - 1/2 cup (dry roast ural dal and powder in spice grinder)
Red chilli powder - 2 tsp (can be increased or reduced as per taste)
Bengal gram dal - 4 tsp
Ghee - 2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds - 3 tsp
Salt - as needed
Oil for deep frying

Method:

Soak bengal gram dal in enough water for one hour. Mix all the ingredients except the oil for frying with enough water and make a dough. This should almost have the same consistency as chapathi dough. Take a small ball of this dough and pat it on a plastic sheet of paper (ziplock is fine) or if your making smaller thattai's, you can just pat in in your palm and deep fry these in hot oil. Keep turning until it turns golden brown and is fully cooked and crisp.



Note: After cooling these if you notice that they are not crisp enough you can fry them once more in hot oil until they turn crisp but be careful to not let it turn dark brown as they will taste burnt.

Kara sev:

I followed the same recipe from Menu Today except for the fact that I used half the measure as I did not have the time and energy to prepare a bigger batch (I was making this at 10 in the night after coming back from a long work day).

Mysore pak

Second on my diwali list was mysore pak. Ive attempted to make this thrice (this being my third attempt) and succeeded only now. It came out well, was soft and tasted exactly like the Krishna sweets mysore pak. The only difference this time was I added ghee very slowly and kept stirring it continuously so that the ghee mixes evenly. It actually took me about 25-30 min of continues stirring (yes I dint do much after that as my hands were hurting). Also note the first time I asked someone about this sweet they said its too complicated and difficult to make. With practice and patience (read attempting many times) it can be mastered. This is my entry to this month's JFI - Diwali treats hosted by Vee of Past, Present and Me.

Ingredients:

Bengal gram flour - 1cup
Sugar - 1cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 1.5 cups



Method:

Heat sugar and water in a heavy bottomed vessel (a normal sauce pan is good enough) till one-string consistency is reached. This is not a complicated term, all you have to do is take a drop of the sugar solution and press between your forefinger and thumb. When you pull your fingers a little away from each other, the sugar solution should form a thin line between the fingers. Be careful when you do this as the solution is going to be hot. Even though the solution takes a while to reach the one-string consistency it moves to the next stages very soon so be careful to add the other ingredients at the right time. After this consistency is reached add the besan flour in small batches carefully stirring each time to make sure no lumps are formed. This starts an elaborate stirring process so make sure you are prepared for it. Once all the flour is incorporated start adding ghee again in batches and keep stirring till you see all the ghee being absorbed by the mixture. If you see most of the ghee floating then you have not stirred enough. That was the mistake I made in my first attempt cos I was thinking how could it absorb so much ghee so I stopped stirring. The mysore paks did not turn out to be very soft. Anyway once all the ghee is incorporated pour it onto a greased plate. Cut into desired shapes when it is still a little semisolid and let it cool completely. This is where patience is needed cause I mostly dig into mine before it cools down completely. All of this takes practice so dont loose heart in your first attempt. Also if you miss something and it turns out to be a little hard you can always microwave it and have it warm. If you dont get the right sugar solution stage the mixture might never solidify. So what, you can still serve it as besan halwa and the taste is still the same. Good luck to everyone trying this "so called difficult dessert".

Rawa ladoo

Last weekend was spent mostly on cleaning as I have a few friends staying with me for a few days for diwali. Sunday afternoon I found sometime to start making my diwali treats. First on the list was rawa ladoo. The only sweet I would make for Christmas back home was rawa ladoo and that too only the making balls part, out of the already made rawa mixture. My aunt always made the right mixture and she was the one who taught me how to make these.

Ingredients:

Fine Rawa - 1.5 cups
Sugar (powdered) - 1.5 cups
Ghee (melted) - 1/2 cup (can be increased upto 3/4 cup)
Cashews (chopped finely) - 2 tbsp
Raisins (chopped in half) - 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

Method:

Dry roast rawa in a pan till the raw smell disappears. Be careful to not let it turn brown. Heat 1 tsp of ghee in a seperate pan and fry cashews and raisins till they turn golden brown. Add this to the rawa mixture. Finally add the ground sugar to the mixture and mix well. Since I used fine rawa I did not grind it else both rawa and sugar have to be ground together and then cashews and raisins should be added. Let the mixture cool to a warm temperature that you can handle. I usually take a part of the rawa mixture and then add a little of the melted ghee and sprinkle milk and make small balls with it. I do this in batches as it is easier to make and the mixture doesnt get too dry before making the balls. Let the balls harden a bit and serve. You need to know the right proportion of ghee and milk to make the balls and that takes practice. If you add too much milk the ladoos turn out to be too hard. If that happens dont loose heart, just microwave the ladoos for a few secs and they will turn soft again.

Coconut chutney

This is very easy to make especially if you have frozen shredded coconut. It tastes best with fresh coconut though.

Ingredients:

Coconut scrapings - 1 cup
Channa dalia - 1/4 cup (also called pottu kadalai in tamil)
Red chillies - 2 (can be subtituted with green chillies)
Salt - as needed

For seasoning:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Split urad dal - 1 tsp
Red chilly - 1

Method:
Grind coconut, channa dalia, red chillies and salt. Heat oil in a small pan and add the seasoning ingredients. Once the mustard starts to splutter add to the ground coconut mixture and serve with dosa or idli or vada.

Onion rawa dosa

I love dosa's in any form be it rice dosa, wheat dosa or rawa dosa. This weekend I was craving for dosa and decided to make rawa dosa as it does not take a lot of time.

Ingredients:

Rawa (fine) - 2 cups
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Maida - 1/4 cup
Butter milk - 1 cup
Salt - as needed
Onions (chopped finely) - 1
Green chillies (chopped finely) - 2
Coriander leaves (chopped finely) - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - tsp
Split urad dal - 1 tsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Oil - as needed to make dosa's

the batter

Method:

Mix rawa, rice flour, maida, salt with buttermilk and add enough water to make a paste in the same consistency as dosa batter. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, split urad dal and jeera. Once the mustard starts to splutter add chopped onions and green chillies. Fry till the onions turn translucent and then remove from heat and let it cool. Once this has cooled add it to the batter along with the chopped coriander leaves and let it rest for 15-30min. Heat a dosa tawa (flat griddle) and make dosa's with this batter. It tastes best if a tsp of ghee is used for each dosa. Serve hot with chutney and sambar of choice. I served mine with coconut chutney and onion chutney.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Spinach dal and Beetroot poriyal

Since the E-coli scare ive stopped buying spinach. When I looked into my pantry I found a can of collard greens that I had bought a while ago. So decided to make spinach dal with it. Also I like beetroots a lot but grating them usually messes my counter and my hands turn red too. So I dont buy it often but since its very healthy I decided to make it along with the dal.

Spinach dal

Ingredients:

Spinach(chopped) - 1.5 cups
Thur dal - 1 cup
Green chillies(slit) - 2
Onion(chopped) - 1
Tomato(chopped) - 1
Tamraind extract - 2 tbsp (optional)
Sambhar powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt - as needed
Oil - 2 tbsp

For seasoning:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Split urad dal - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 1 tsp
Asoefetida (hing) - a pinch

Method:

Heat oil in a pressure pan and add chopped onions and green chillies. Once the onions turn translucent add chopped tomatoes and wait till it starts to turn mushy. Then add spinach, thur dal, sambar powder, turmeric, chilli powder, tamarind extract and 3 cups of water and pressure cook for 3 whistles. In a seperate pan add 1 tsp of oin and the seasoning ingredients. Once the mustard starts to splutter add the seasoning to the spinach dal mixture and serve it hot with rice.



Beetroot poriyal

Ingredients:

Beetroot(grated or finely chopped) - 2 cups
Onion(chopped) - 1
Green chillies(chopped) - 2 (can be increased as needed)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Split urad dal - 1 tsp
Salt - as needed
Oil - 1 tbsp

Method:

Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and split urad dal. When the mustard starts to splutter add chopped onion and fry till it begins to turn golden brown. Add grated beetroot, salt and 1 cup water and cook in low heat till the beetroot changes color and the raw taste disappears. Serve with rice or roti. This can also be used as a filling for veggie rolls or Indian burritos.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pepper chicken fry

Chicken is always a safe bet as you can never go wrong cooking it most of the times. If I am short of time I always make chicken as it cooks fast and tastes awesome.

Ingredients:

Chicken (cut into small pieces) - 1/2 lb
Onions(thinly sliced) - 2
Tomato(chopped) - 1 (optional)
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Saunf - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Salt - as needed
Pepper - as needed

To Powder:
Red chillies - 3
Pepper corns - 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) - 1 tsp
Saunf (fenugreek seeds) - 1 tsp
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon - 1/2 stick

Method:

Dry roast all the to powder ingredients and grind. Heat oil in a pan and add saunf seeds, curry leaves and cut onions. Fry till the onions turn brown and add tomato and ginger garlic-paste. Once the tomatoes are cooked add the ground powder, chicken and half a cup of water. Cook on low heat till gravy reaches desired consistency. Add salt and pepper as needed and remove from flame and serve with both rice or roti.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Channa Batura

Since Oct16 is world bread day I decided to post a recipe of my favorite Indian bread. The reason its my favorite is I always thought that it was too difficult to make but once I learnt the right way Ive been making it often.

Batura

Ingredients:

Maida flour (All purpose flour) - 2 cups
Wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Salt - 1 tsp
Curd - 3 tbsp
Oil - for deep frying

Method:

Mix all the ingredients with enough water to make a soft dough. Wrap the dough in a moist cloth and let stand for anywhere between 3 - 4 hrs. The dough should have raised by then. Roll out big puris and deep fry till golden and serve with channa masala.

Note: While rolling out the puri dust with litte wheat flour so that it does not stick to the rolling pin.

Channa masala:

Ingredients:

White channa dal (garbanzo beans) - 2 cups (i use the canned variety)
Potato (boiled and cubed) - 1 (optional)
Onions (minced in a food processor) - 2
Tomatoes (minced in a food processor) - 3
Jeera - 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Chilli powder - 2 tbsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Channa masala - 1 tsp (optional)
Kasoori methi - 1 tsp (optional)
Salt - as needed
Oil - 3 tbsp
Coriander leaves - for garnishing
Lime - 1/2

Method:

Heat oil in a pan and add jeera. Once it starts to turn golden brown add minced onions and tomatoes and fry in medium heat till the oil starts to seperate. Add chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, channa masala, coriander powder and salt and fry till the raw smell disappears. I use store bought garbanzo beans as it is already cooked. Else kabuli channa can be soaked overnight and pressure cooked. Add channa and potato cubes to the pan and 1 cup of water and cook in medium heat till the gravy reaches desired consistency. Add kasoori methi and squeeze juice of half a lemon and remove from heat. Finally garnish with coriander leaves and serve. I served mine with batura but this can be served with any kind of bread (chapathi, naan) or pulao.

Masala idli snack

Most weekend evenings I try to make some light snack. I had some leftover idlis this weekend and hence decided to make masala idli snack. This tastes good as is or can be served with chutney or even just tomato ketchup.

Ingredients:

Idli (chopped into 1 inch cubes) - 10
Curry leaves - a sprig
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Split urad dal - 1 tsp
Idli podi (powder) - 2 tbsp (can be increased for more spiciness)
Salt - as needed
Oil - 2 tbsp (can be substituted with ghee for additional flavor)
Coriander - for garnishing

Method:

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, split urad dal and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds start spluttering add idli cubes, idli podi and salt and fry till the idli cubes turn golden brown. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Note: Idli podi can be substituted with a tbsp of chilli powder and a pinch of turmeric.

Podi Potato Fry

This dish is a great recipe for potlucks and also tastes good with any kind of rice dish. Spiciness can be increased as needed.

Ingredients:

Potato (boiled and chopped into cubes) - 5
Onions (thinly sliced) - 2
Salt - as needed
Oil - 4 tbsp

To Powder:
Channal dal - 2 tbsp
Thur dal - 2 tbsp
Red chillies - 4
Dhania (coriander seeds) - 2 tbsp
Methi (fenugreek seeds) - 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) - 2 tbsp

Method:

Dry roast the "to powder" ingredients and grind into a coarse powder. Heat oil in a pan and add sliced onions. Once the onions turn golden brown add the ground powder, salt and chopped potato cubes. Fry in low heat till the potato turns color and absorbs the masala. Serve with rice and sambar.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pineapple kesari

Kesari is a very easy dish that can be prepared quickly. Kesari can also be made with fruits just to add extra flavor. I chose pineapple, as its tanginess contradicts the sweetness of the kesari. Sometimes I also make this with mango pulp. This will be my dish for JFI-ghee event.

Ingredients:

Fine rawa - 1 cup
Sugar - 1.25 cup
water - 1.25 cup
crushed pineapple - 1/2 cup
pineapple syrup (from tin) - 1 cup
ghee - 2 tbsp
lemon yellow color - little
cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
cashews & raisins - to taste

Method:

Heat one table spoom ghee in a deep frying pan. Fry cashews, raisins and remove from ghee. Remove it and keep it aside. Fry rawa in that ghee itself for one minute till it turns color and the raw smell goes. Remove from the pan and keep seperately. Heat water, pineapple syrup, sugar together in that pan. Add color and when sugar is dissolved completely and it starts boiling add fried rawa. Keep stirring constantly till it forms a thick mass. Add the remaining ghee and crushed pineapple and keep stirring continuously. When it doesnt stick to wet hands and gets a shine remove from fire. Mix fried cashews and raisins and serve hot ot cold. I like mine served hot.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rasmalai, Onion Pakoda and Red Bell Pepper Chutney

Iam sure the title of this blog seems weird as the combination doesnt match. I didn't make all of this together but these dishes are from recipes from my fellow bloggers. I usually experiment my dishes on my friends and they all loved these dishes.


Rasmalai

The only modification is that I didnt have a muffin pan handy to bake the ricotta cheese. So used a cake pan instead and then cut the cheese into squares before dropping it into the ras





Onion Pakoda

These are very common in chennai where they sell these in sweet shops and even in some tea shops. I used to love these back home. Have always tried to perfect this but was never succesful until now. The trick was to add the besan, all the masala stuff and sprinkle very less water to mix. It came out crispy and crunchy just like in chennai sweet shops.





Red Bell Pepper Chutney

This was a very innovative recipe. The minute I saw it I knew I had to try it. It tasted good with idli and dosa and also takes very less time to make. The only variation I added to it is that I omitted the jaggery.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Shrimp fry

Most exciting news of the weekend is I bought a stainless steel cooking set. After much research on the net decided that this 100$ was a good investment.



I used to love prawns in India. Coming from a coastal city we always got fresh prawns in the market. Somehow the shrimp that we get here dont have the same taste and flavor as the Indian ones. Decided to make a spicy shrimp fry with my new stainless steel set.

Shrimp fry

Ingredients:

Shrimp (shell and tail removed and de-veined) – 1 cup
Onions (chopped) – 2
Tomatoes (chopped) – 2
Ginger/garlic paste – 2 tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Lime – ½
Cinnamon (broken into smaller pieces) – ¼ stick
Clove – 4
Saunf (fennel) – 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin) – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – for garnishing
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt – as needed

Method:

Heat oil in a pan and add clove, cinnamon, jeera and saunf. Once the jeera turns color add chopped onions. Fry the onions till they turn translucent and then add tomatoes and ginger/garlic paste. Fry in low heat till the oil starts to separate and then add the chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder and salt. Add cleaned shrimp and half a cup of water. Fry in medium heat till the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon from top, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.



Back home both me and my brother would love to have the rice that was mixed with the masala left behind in the pan that was used to cook the actual dish. My mom would add a litte white rice to the pan after removing the dish and fry the rice a bit with the masala sticking to the sides of the pan. I like doing it and recommend it to people who are hungry by the time they finish cooking for a big list of guests and are waiting for their arrival. Just mix up a little rice and a spicy masala rice is ready for snacking.