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.

Kothavaranga - potato poriyal

This used to be my favorite dish when I was young. My dad never fancied it much but my mom would make it for me. This dish has a mild bitterness to it because of the kothavaranga but adding potato minimizes the bitterness a lot.

Ingredients:

Kothavaranga (gawar) (chopped) – 1 cup
Potato (chopped) – 1 cup
Onions (chopped) – 1
Tomato (chopped) – 1
Ginger-garlic (finely chopped) – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Jeera – 1 tsp
Split urad dal – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) – ½ tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Salt – as needed
Oil – 2 tbsp




Method:

Heat oil in a pressure pan and add mustard seeds, split urad dal, jeera and fenugreek seeds. Once the mustard starts to splutter add onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Add the tomatoes and chopped ginger-garlic. After the tomatoes turn soft add chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Finally add the chopped vegetabes (potato and kothavaranga) and 1 cup of water and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Remove from heat, wait till the pressure subsides and check if all the water has evaporated. If not heat for a few minutes till all the water evaporates. This dish goes well with chapathi or rice.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mutter Paneer

This is one of the dishes I first tried out when I started cooking. It is a very easy recipe for potlucks and for hosting a big group of friends at home.


Ingredients:

Paneer cubes – 1 cup
Peas – ½ cup
Onions - 2
Tomatoes – 2
Cloves – 3
Cinnamon – ½ stick
Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Garam masala – 1 tbsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – as needed
Sugar – 1 tsp
Jeera – tsp
Oil – 2 tbsp


Method:

Grind onions, tomatoes, cloves and cinnamon to a fine paste. Heat oil in a pan and add jeera. Once they start to splutter add the ground paste. At this point turn the heat down a little as it starts to splash. Keep stirring often. Meanwhile heat oil for deep frying the paneer cubes, in another kadai. Deep fry the paneer till it turns golden brown and immediately transfer it to a bowl with lukewarm water. Remove the panner after 2 min into a plate. Continue for the rest of the paneer. Once the oil starts to separate from the onion-tomato paste add chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, salt, sugar and peas. Add the fried paneer cubes and cook for 5min. Garnish with coriander leaves just before serving.

Variations: A dollop of cream can be added to give the dish a creamy texture. Likewise ghee can be used instead of oil to fry the onion-tomato paste. For the diet conscious ones, skip the deep frying part and add the paneer as is.

Tiramisu

I was looking at my blog and realized that I dont have any desserts listed. People may think that I am not much of a sweet person but actually its the other way round. I simply love and adore almost anything sweet. So I decided to try out this dish that I have always loved but thought was very difficult to make.

I followed the instructions on PuSiVa'S CuLiNarY StUdiO and it took me about an hr from start to finish as this was my first time trying this out. It also needs about 4hrs to set. I left it in the fridge overnight.

It was actually very simple to make although the place can get very messy with all the whipping and folding. Anyway the end result was worth all the effort and it tasted very good. I packed some for my friends and they liked it a lot.

The only variations that I made was I added rum instead of the wine. Also I used Indian filter coffee decoction instead of the espresso.

 
 

Methi-Masala vada

I've been growing methi in my garden and as the summer is ending I decided to harvest some leaves. Yesterday we had a very cold spell here in Colorado and when I went home from work I wanted to have something hot with my coffee. Bajji or vada were the two things that came to my mind and decided to go with masala vada. I tried a variation by adding methi leaves to the vada and it came out pretty well.

Ingredients:

Channa dal (soaked for 1hr) - 1 cup
Red chillies - 3
Garlic - 2 cloves
Cinnamon - 1/4 stick
Cloves - 3
Saunf (fennel seeds) - 1 tbsp
Onion (finely chopped) - 1/2
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - 1/4 cup
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Methi leaves (choopped) - 1/4 cup
Salt - as needed
Oil - for deep frying



Method:
Grind the soaked channa dal along with cinnamon, cloves, garlic, red chillies, saunf and salt to a thick coarse paste. Add very little water while grinding as this will make the vada's soak less oil. After grinding add chopped onion, coriander leaves, curry leaves and methi leaves and mix well. Heat enough oil in a kadai (wok) for deep frying. Take a small lemon sized ball in your palm and pat it flat and drop it into the hot oil. Remove the vada's after they turn golden brown. Serve these with chutney of your choice. The also taste good with ketchup.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Idli

There are about 100 recipes on the net to make the perfect idli. I use my mom's. I brought back a counter top wet grinder from India last year and its the most useful thing I own right now. I love idli and dosa and was grinding the batter once a week with my american blender. It would take forever to finish grinding the batter, the motor would heat up fast and sometimes the idlis were not soft enough. All these problems were solved with my wet grinder. So last weekend i had idli with 3 different chutneys for brunch (To be honest, i just made one kind that morning and the remaining were leftovers).

Ingredients:
Idli rice - 5 cups (can be substituted with long grain rice)
Whole urad dal - 1.25 cups
Methi seeds (fenugreedk) - 1 tbsp
Salt - 2 tbsp

Method:
Soak rice and urad dal for 6hrs along with the methi seeds. Grind in a wet grinder. Add salt and let it ferment overnight. Aplly oil to idli plates to prevent idli's from sticking to the plates and steam idli's for about 15min. Serve hot with chutney or sambhar of choice.



I served mine with red pepper-peanut chutney, pudina chutney and tomato onion chutney.

Note:
(i) It is better to grind rice and urad dal seperately to get soft idli's.
(ii) Add water in steps so that air gets incorporated when grinding urad al.
(iii) This recipe is for grinding in a wet grinder. The proportions change for the blender.

Carrot-yellow squash soup

I've been trying to add fiber to my diet but it is very difficult to consume it in its original form. Juices and soups always work better than just boiled/steamed vegetables or in salads. So I decided to use the yellow squash from my garden along with some store bought organic carrots for this soup. Soups generally need herbs and spices for flavoring. I decided to use basil and coriander as my main flavouring ingredients. Also I wanted to participate in the Spice Is Right event. So this will be my entry where the spice is basil. Even though basil (holy basil - called thulasi) can be found in India and has part of its origin there I have never used it in cooking. Probably because I have only seen my hindu friends worship it at home and I have known it only for its medicinal uses. Anyway below are some useful facts about basil.

Basil is a bright green, leafy plant, Ocimum basilicum, which is in the mint family. Basil is widely used in Italian cuisine and is often paired with tomatoes. It is also used in Thai cooking. The herb complements meat, vegetables, cheese, and egg dishes. Native to India, Africa and the Mediterranean, Basil was called "The Herb of Kings" by the ancient Greeks. Basil was said to have been found growing around Christ's tomb after the resurrection, and so some churches place it around altars and use it to prepare holy water.An easy herb to grow, basil likes warm weather and lots of sun. There are many varieties of the herb, but the three most common seem to be the Large Leaf Basil, the tiny leafed Bush Basil, and the dark Purple Basil. If you attempt to grow basil in a garden, or outside in a pot, be sure to wait until after the last frost. And also make sure you harvest your Basil plants long before the first cold snap in the fall. Basil is an annual plant, and so will not survive the winter outside. Stalks of basil can be added to bottles of vinegar and used on salads. Basil leaves can be dried and crumbled and used just like the store-bought varieties. Fresh Basil leaves can be packed into the bottom of an air-tight container, covered with olive oil, and stored in the fridge for a month or 2. Don't freeze your Basil! Freezing will render it useless.
The Tulsi (also known as Tulasi) plant or Holy Basil is an important symbol in many Hindu religious traditions. The name "tulsi" means "the incomparable one".Tulsi is a venerated plant and devotees worship it in the morning and evening.Tulsi grows wild in the tropics and warm regions. Dark or Shyama (Krishna) Tulsi and light or Rama Tulsi are the two main varieties of basil.
Its aroma is distinctively different to its close cousin, the Thai Basil which is sometimes wrongly called Holy basil, in shops and on the internet, but they can be distinguished by appearance, aroma and flavor. Holy basil has purple stems, whereas Thai Basil has green stems; holy basil is slightly hairy, whereas Thai Basil is smooth and hairless; holy basil does not have the strong aniseed or licorice smell of Thai Basil; and Holy Basil has a hot, spicy flavor sometimes compared to cloves. Tulsi’s extracts are used in ayurvedic remedies for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria. Traditionally, tulsi is taken in many forms: as an herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from Karpoora Tulsi is mostly used for medicinal purposes and in herbal toiletry.

Ingredients:

Carrots (peeled and chopped) - 3
Yellow squash (chopped) - 1
Onion (finely chopped) - 1/2
Butter - 1 tbsp (can be substituted with olive oil)
Basil (dried and crused) - 2 tsp (fresh basil leaves can also be substitued)
Garlic (chopped) - 3 cloves
Salt - as needed
Sugar - 1 tsp
Pepper - as needed
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 2 tbsp



Method:

Pressure cook the carrots and yellow squash. After they have cooled blend them to a fine puree. Heat butter in a pan. Add chopped onions and garlic and fry till they are transparent. Then add the dried and crushed basil leaves. I crush them with a mortar and this helps to enhance the herb's fragrance. Add the carrot-yellow squash puree and half a cup of water and let it cook. Once it has reached the desired consistency add sugar, salt, pepper and coriander leaves and remove from flame after 2 min. Serve with a dollop of fresh cream on top. This tastes good with a slice of bread. I prefer a slice of slightly toasted french or garlic bread.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Summer - almost over

This summer went by pretty fast. I planted a lot of new vegetables (squash, carrot, methi, eggplant) and was very happy with the harvest. Also this year I had so many flowers blooming in my garden and wanted to share these pics.