Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Khatkhaten - Vegetables in a coconut base (Konkani style)

Making this is easier than trying to say the name of it !
You pronounce this as 'khat-khat-ein', where the 'ein' needs to be said with a real nasal twang, which we Konkanis are famous for !!
My dad's very close friend's family lives in Goa - they are like an extended family to us. On one of my visits, I happened to go to their place for a self-invited lunch on Monday. The lady of the house was so upset because Mondays are 'Shivraak', its the vegetarian day of the week and she could not make her famous prawn pulav or fish ambotik for me. My son was about a year old and I told her I wanted just simple home-cooked food.


There was Solkadi, dal, rice, chapatis and this khatkhaten - it was a lovely meal, though I was invited the next day again for the fishy spead !!
My son loved the khatkhaten, and its so packed with veggies, that I have started making it very often after that...

Khatkhaten (Mixed Vegetables in a coconut masala)

What you need -

2 cups cubed red pumpkin
1 cups cubed potatoes
1/2 cup beans
1 cup cut carrot
6 triphals / sichuan pepper
10 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated coconut
3 red chillies
1 tsp coriander seeds
small ball of tamarind
2 tbsp grated jaggery
salt to taste

What you do with it -

Steam the pumpkin, potaotes, beans and carrots
You could do this in a cooker, but keep it for just 1 whistle, or it could get overcooked
Add salt and jaggery to the steamed vegetables
Grind together the coconut, red chillies, 3-4 pods of garlic, coriander seeds and tamarind to make a smooth paste
Add the ground masala to the vegetables
Crush the teppals lightly in a spoon of water and add (Dont grind the teppals - they are too strong in taste)
Simmer on a low flame till it comes to a boil
Heat oil and add the remaining garlic pods and fry till they turn reddish-brown
Add the seasoning to the dish
The teppals can be discarded before you serve. Its used just for the aroma and taste it adds to the dish

This can be had with a simple dal and rice.
Teppal has a very sharp and strong flavour. It tastes great with the fish curries, but I love it in this dish too.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Bread and Potato Mushroom stew

It was another of those weekdays, when I was done with my work, little one was asleep and S was working late.
I wanted to make something different, something interesting - the boredom of seeing the same vegetables was getting to me. I didnt have the most interesting vegetables, other than mushrooms, (my vegetable vendor always gives me this - i seem to be his only customer for mushrooms in this area) and I had decided I will not go out buying any more, because I was well stocked, but I didnt want to cook anything that I had made earlier..

Scanned the 'fridge, surfed for recipes, rummaged through recipe books, looked thru my grocery, but still couldnt make up my mind about what I wanted.
After spending close to an hour on this fairly mindless searching, I decided on making the pumpkin bread, but i knew i didnt want it sweet.
I had to use up the mushrooms too, before they got blackish in colour - i like them really clean and as white as possible.

Tweaked around with the recipe i saw here and came up with this really nice spicy pumpkin bread. The fennel seeds and mustard gave it a really nice taste

Made a mushroom and potato stew to go with it - i had always made the Indian 'ishtew' with coconut milk, but wanted this one to be really different - the dinner turned out really good - i was terribly apprehensive about my 'different' menu, but S and I enjoyed it so much, that I have promised myself to make these 'different' menus more often

What you need -

Spiced Pumpkin bread

1 cup wheat flour
1 cup oatmeal (I used quick cooking oats and powdered it in the blender)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups pumpkin pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

What you do with it -

Make a purée of the pumpkin. I scooped out the seeds and the peeled the skin and microwaved the pumpkin pieces in 1/2 cup water for about 7 mins and then mashed the pieces with a fork
Mix, in a large bowl, the wheat flour, oatmeal, salt and baking soda
Preheat oven to 180 deg C
Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, cinnamon powder, mustard powder
Combine with the dry ingredients (Do not beat / blend)
Stir in the nuts and fennel seeds
Pour into a greased loaf pan
Bake 30-3 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean
Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack

Mushroom Potato Stew

What you need -

15-20 mushrooms
2-3 medium potatoes
1 onion
4-5 pods garlic
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 tsp crushed pepper
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup stock / water
1/2 tsp salt

What you do with it -

Wash the mushrooms well and chop in 4 quarters
Peel and chop potatoes into cubes
Chop onion into big chunks and chop garlic lengthwise
In a deep pan, heat the olive oil
Add cinnamon, onions, garlic and stir till onions are translucent
Add mushrooms, potato cubes, salt and pepper
Fry till the mushrooms are done, then add water or stock and cover till potatoes are cooked
If its too watery, mix a tsp of flour / cornflour in water and add to this to thicken
Add the oregano and mixed herbs and the chilli flakes
Adjust salt if needed

Sending the spiced pumpkin bread recipe to BBD#18-Quick Breads hosted by Mansi of the Fun and Food Blog

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Street Food - Pav Bhaji with Masala Pav

We were out shopping, on one of our visits to Bombay. Had a look at the new malls, walked near Haji Ali and shopped till we almost dropped out of exhaustion and hunger..
We had heard of this place called Sardar Pav Bhaji which was around the same area, so went straight there. The pav bhaji was really nice, but i must have added on a zillion calories with the butter they add - they have this little refrigerator which is full of 500gm packets of amul butter, and they are very very generous with the butter, which I think we could have easily done without.
The bhaji was mashed really well and had been on the tava, getting cooked and recooked with a whole lot of butter (again), so you get this really nice flavour..
If you can afford to forget about the calories, this is a great place to go to..

I had never really made pav bhaji at home - its easily available here and I always thought it would involve too much effort.
Had a little of all these veggies at home, so finally made it and it was a nice spicy meal

This recipe is adapted from Tarla Dalal's website and has a few different ingredients from thre regular recipes i have seen - gives it a nice spicy, tangy taste.

What you need -

1/2 cup peas
2 carrots
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 onions chopped
1/2 cup capsicum
2 tomatoes
2 potatoes
1 inch piece ginger
1 green chilli
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4 turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp pav bhaji masala
2 tbsp butter
2 red chillies (Kashmiri ones if you have them)
2-3 garlic pods
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves

Masala Pavs -

8 Pavs / Buns
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp pav bhaji masala
pinch of salt

What you do with it -

Steam all the vegetables. I put it in the microwave with half a cup of water and cooked for 7 mins
Make a paste of red chilly and garlic
Heat butter in a large pan
Add onions and capsicums, green chilli and ginger to the same pan and cook for 1 min
Add the chilly garlic paste & cook till onions turn golden brown
Add the tomatoes & cook till oil separates
Add the pav bhaji masala, salt, black salt, chilli powder & turmeric powder
Cook for 1-2 mins
Add cauliflower, carrots, peas and potatoes
Mash using a potato masher or a large ladle
Stir and mash adding little water (as needed) and cook till done
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice

For the pavs -

Cut the pav in half horizontally
Heat the butter and add the salt and pav bhaji masala
Spread it over the inside of the pavs
Roast the pavs on the tava till it turns a bit brown

Serve pav bhaji with chopped or sliced onions and wedges of lime and a dollop of butter

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kadi for the soul - Solkadi / Kokum Kadi

Just thinking of Goa puts me in a better mood...great place, amazing food and fantastic memories..

This is where I took the big decision of saying yes to S :)
I dont have to tell you about the place - the weather the people and the beaches make it India's top holiday destination
And of course, the food - its really really amazing - you get all sorts of cuisine here, but I totally pig out on the local Goan cuisine..

Sol / Kokum is a berry like fruit, and the rind of this is dried and preserved. This is popular in Goa and the Konkan area. With its tangy taste, its used as an alternative to tamarind in these regions.
This is what the kokum rinds look like

Kokum infused water is also used to treat allergic rashes - i remember when we were younger, my brother used to break out into a rash because of the 'pitha' and ma would rub his hands with kokum water and the rashes would disappear in no time

My favourite form of kokum is SolKadi - coconut milk with kokum
Saar or 'phooti kadi' which is just kokum water with seasoning.
Solkadi with ice is great as a drink in the hot summers and the saar is great with rice

I made a combination of this - i love it as kadi, but didnt want to make another curry for the rice, so made the coconut milk version with the seasoning used for the saar, tasted fantastic as a drink and with rice !

Hey, this is a nice pink too, so Priya, you have one more entry from me for FIC- Pink. FIC or Food in colours is the brilliant idea of Harini, more famous as Sunshinemom

What you need

10-12 kokum rinds
1/4 coconut grated
4 cloves of garlic
4 pepper corns
1/2 tsp salt
5 cups water (approx)
1 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 curry leaves
1 tbsp grated jaggery

What you do with it

Wash the kokum rinds in water and soak in water
You can keep this for 5-6 hours or overnight
(If you dont have the time, boil the water and then add the kokum rinds
Allow it to stand for a 4-5 mins and then remove the rinds
The water should have a dark pink tinge
If its black, it may mean that the kokum rinds are really old)
Remove the rinds from the water and dissolve salt and jaggery in the water
Grind the coconut, garlic cloves and pepper corns with about 1/2 cup water
Strain thru a fine sieve or a muslin cloth
Add this to the kokum water
To make my husband get the 'rasam feel', i seasoned it with mustard seeds and curry leaves

You could skip the seasoning and just garnish with coriander leaves and a slit green chilli. Put in 4-5 ice cubes per glass and have it as a refreshing drink

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Feast with the yeast - Focaccia, twice in one week

After drooling over a whole lot of blogs where people baked with such ease and made awesome looking breads, I gathered up all my courage to try baking bread at home
I even had a 20 minute call with Miri, who is a dear friend and an inspiration for a lot of things in life, cooking being one...

She told me it was all about the yeast and that if I got that right, nothing could stop my bread from coming up beautifully !

I still dont possess a loaf tin - and decided I would buy one only if I baked something that was successful enough. Miri had this lovely focaccia on her blog, and I thought that would be a perfect beginning to my baking adventure.

It was a Sunday afternoon - perfect time for an experiment in the kitchen. I had the dry yeast (granules) and the first step was to see if the yeast was good enough. Said all my prayers and waited for about 10 minutes - the yeast got all bubbly and frothy - my prayers were answered !!

The final product - a slice of heaven in my plate

I know I am gushing a lot about this, but honestly, I never thought I'd be able to bake bread and this was a first try and successful, am so totally kicked about it, so bear with me...

I made it again, three daya later when I had friends over for dinner. This time I mixed the onions, garlic and spices in the dough and it tasted better than this one. It was all over before I thought of taking pics, but I did manage to take pics of the pasta salad and the strawberry yoghurt which was part of my menu that day...

This attempt is all thanks to Miri and also to Deeba, who is simply amazing with her baking and has the most drool worthy pics on her blog !!

Here's the recipe for my focaccia with fried onions and garlic(adapted from Deeba's)

What you need -

1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsps soya flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil


1/2 cup basil leaves
2 onions
5 pods garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp crushed pepper

What you do with it -

In a bowl, stir together yeast, sugar and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water and proof yeast for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy
Stir in flour, wheat flour and soya flour, 1 tbsp olive oil and the salt, adding as much of the flour as necessary to form a soft and slightly sticky dough
Transfer to a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with cling film or a muslin cloth and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour until double in size
Knead dough down and press with lightly-oiled hands into a well greased round pan, keeping it to the centre as much as possible
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Set rack in center of oven.
Chop the onions lengthwise
Chop the basil and garlic
In a small pan, heat a tbsp olive oil and fry the onions and garlic
Add the basil leaves, oregano, chilli flakes, crushed pepper and salt
Smear a bit of olive oil on top of the dough and sprinkle this fried onion mix on it

I cant get over how brilliantly the dough literally doubled...i was like this eager child, running every 5-10 mins to check whether its rising - and wow, rise it did !!

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden

It turned out really nice and golden and the onions tasted really nice, crunchy and spicy, which is how i love it...

Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting
Serve warm or at room temperature

Sending this to Susan@WildYeast for her Yeastspotting

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pink Mania

Recently "pink" has been a lot in the news here -
Firstly, the pink carpet event for the premiere of Pink Panther 2, all the hype the media created earlier when Aishwarya signed up and the flak she got after release about the length and nature of her role
and then the famous 'Pink chaddi campaign' in bangalore after some 'rama sene' people decided to take the moral policing in their own hands and went about hitting and abusing girls who wore 'western' clothes, spoke english and well, were employed, unlike the many 'ram sene' activists !

And on a happier note, there's also the FIC - PINK this month.

Got two entries to send across to FIC - Pink hosted this month by Priya. FIC or Food in colours is the brilliant idea of Harini, more famous as Sunshinemom

A simple and easy Beetroot Raita, which is an add on to a meal during the hot summers. Moms always tell you to eat this so you'll get pink cheeks :) and I do this to my son now, who shows me his cheeks after every bite of the beetroot raita and i have to tell him how pink his cheeks are :)


Strawberry flavoured yoghurt - this was the dessert I mentioned in Pasta Salad post

Here are the recipes -

Beetroot Raita

What you need -

2-3 beetroots
2 cups yoghurt / curds
1/2 tsp jeera powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp chopped coriander leaves

What you do with it -

Cook the beetroots
Peel off the skin and chop into small pieces
Whick the yoghurt with jeera powder, sugar and salt
Mix the beetroot pieces into it
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves

Strawberry Yoghurt

What you need -

10-12 strawberries
1 ltr curds (6 cups or so i guess)
3 tsps sugar

What you do with it -

Tie the curds in a muslin cloth and hang the cloth, so that all the water drips away
You will need to keep this for an hour or longer
Meanwhile, wash the strawberries and take off the stems
Keep aside 2-3 to decorate on top
Chop the remaining strawberries into large pieces
Run in a blender with the sugar till its a smooth liquid
Once all the water in the curd has drained out, mix in the curd with the strawberry pulp
Beat to get a smooth consistency
Garnish with cut strawberries
Refrigerate at least for an hour before you serve

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kasuri Methi Bhindi

Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - This is one of my magic herbs ! I just love the smell of it and it just transforms the taste of any vegetable and takes it to a whole new level. The best way to make a regular dal-rice dinner more interesting is to have a nice side dish with kasuri methi in it - the slightly bitter-pungent taste always seems to work for me

kasuri methi bhindi

I've always used potatoes, cauliflower or a combination of the two with kasuri methi.
The other day, I had bhindi lying around and had made dal-rice for dinner, so tried a kasuri methi bhindi and it tasted so good.
Simple, fast and really yum - good for dinner on a week night.

Sometimes just the way a vegetable is cut makes so much of a difference to way it looks finally. I had this girl who helped out at home in Bangalore and she was always innovative in the way she cut vegetables - she always cut bhindi into longish pieces and slit it into four pieces length-wise. For some reason, I always cut bhindi into round small slices and I loved the way the bhindi looked when cut into these strips. So thats what I did this time...

If you have always avoided bhindi because of the sliminess, just ensure that you wash the okra first, dry it well using a kitchen napkin. Fry it with little oil, and cook without using any water. Always use something sour, like tomatoes, lemon or amchur powder, it helps get rid of that sliminess. Cover with a lid and cook and you really should not have any problems.

What you need -

1/2 kg bhindi
2 onions
1 tomato
2 tsps kasuri methi
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp chaat masala (optional)
2-3 tsps oil
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste

What you do with it -

Wash and wipe the bhindis dry
Cut off the edges and then cut into inch long pieces and slit lengthwise
Chop onions and tomatoes lengthwise
Heat oil in a kadai and add the onions
When they turn a little brown, add the kasuri methi and fry for 2-3 mins
Add bhindis and stir for another 5 mins on medium flame
Add more oil if necessary
Add salt and all other powders except the chaat masala
Stir and allow bhindi to cook
When the bhindi is almost done, add the tomato pieces
Cook for 2 more mins and turn off the heat
Sprinkle chaat masala and lemon juice on top and serve hot

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pasta Salad with honey and mustard dressing

We had our friends over for dinner last week, on Holi.
We had a very scrumptious Gujarati thali for lunch, and they had a 'bhaang' party lunch, so preferred to go light with the dinner.
After the wonderful thali lunch of aamras (yes, mangoes are already in the market), puri, dal, rotli, 3 sabjis and more farsaan and sweets, I realised I could get high on aamras too, which is a good thing considering this is a dry(non-alcoholic) state!!

After we got back and got over with all our praises for the aamras, I decided to start thinking about what to make for dinner. My otherwise well-stocked refrigerator seemed fairly empty - the little that was there was not so interesting.
Went out and realised that most places were closed for Holi - managed to pick up grapes, apples, strawberries and capsicum !!
Got back and thought hard about what I could come up with for dinner. Digged into the refrigerator again and was quite happy with what I finally managed to make.

After going thru a lot of blogs trying to decide on the menu, I finally settled for
spaghetti with cilantro pesto from Mansi's blog and Spiced rustic bread with some modifications from Miri's blog

The baking was my second attempt(the first happened a week before that) - thats what baking does to you - it really had me hooked !

Made a pasta salad to go with it and strawberry yoghurt for dessert - you could add pineapple and other vegs too, but I was working with limited stock.
The grapes in it tasted really nice - this was the first time I tried it with grapes

Here's my pasta recipe

What you need -

1 cup fusilli (I had the three-coloured ones)
1 capsicum
2 carrots
1 apple
1 cup green grapes


1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp crushed pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt

What you do with it -

Drop the pasta in boiling water with a pich of salt and a spoon of olive oil
Cook till al dente (follow instructions on the pack)
Drain and rinse in cold water
Add a tsp of olive oil and keep aside
Chop the capsicum, carrot, apple and grapes into small pieces
Toss in the pasta
Mix all the ingredients listed under dressing and whisk well
Pour over the pasta salad
Chill for about an hour and serve

Friday, March 13, 2009

Corn and Methi Pulao

There was this really nice restaurant called Bombay Post in the Indiranagar area of Bangalore. The decor was very Bollywood, with pictures of movie stars and old movie posters adorning the walls there. Nice old Hindi film music generally playing in the background, though people trying to talk above the music, always created a bit of a din.

methi corn pulao

This place was one of standard ones for team lunches and one of the places where I met up with my friend from college, for our 'weekly lunches', at least thats what we hoped it would be, but we did try and meet up at least once a month.
Very very nice food, though during our lunches, the food really did not matter, it was more to chat up non-stop, share our woes about the men in our lives, gossip a bit and generally have a good time.

This one pulao we had there was really nice - it did have a fancier name though and had fried paneer instead of corn, but when I made this pulao the other day it reminded me a lot of the one from Bombay Post. This one's for you Maya...

What you need -

2 onions
2 tomatoes
1/2 cup curd
1 bay leaf
1" stick dalchini
3 cardamoms
5 cloves
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 cup fresh methi leaves
2 cups corn
2 cups basmati rice

Masala -

2 green chillies
1 small piece ginger
5 cloves garlic
1/2 tomato
1/2 tsp chilli powder

What you do with it -

Soak the basmati rice in water for about 30 mins
Chop onions lengthwise
Chop the tomatoes
Grind together all the ingredients listed under Masala, to a smooth paste
In a large kadai / handi, heat 2 tsp of oil
Add the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and fry for 2 mins
Then add the ginger-chilli-garlic paste and fry for 3-4 mins
Add onions and fry till the onions are slightly brown
Add tomatoes and fry till they get a bit squishy
Then beat the curd till its smooth and add it to the kadai with the chilli powder
Stir and heat till the oil starts separating
Add the soaked rice, methi, corn and salt into the kadai
Fry for 5 mins and then add water
Cover and cook on medium flame
Should get done in about 12-15 mins
Or it can be cooked in the microwave or a pressure cooker

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Capsicum Upma

Upma was one thing I really did not enjoy for the longest time. My mum made this for breakfast and on those days I would always come up with some excuse to skip breakfast. I preferred that to making a sad face and fiddling with my spoon forever in a valiant attempt to finish the upma.

I promised myself that once I was married and in charge of my own kitchen, this is one thing I definately would not make.
I decided that about a few other things too, but have got to eat my words now, because I actually make, and enjoy my upma these days !

capsicum upma

It all happened during one of my business visits to the US - I was sharing an apt with two other friends and we always took turns in cooking. One day, one of my friends announced she would make Capsicum upma. I, was not thrilled about the upma, and thought it was a complete waste of the capsicum, though I must admit, I was quite curious how the upma would taste with the capsicum in it.

When I had a look at it, i thought perhaps, it was worth a try and am I glad I tried it - it was really really nice, had this lovely flavour and the capsicum made it so crunchy

My friend made this without onions and I still make it that way - it turns out really nice, do give this a try if you are someone who thinks you would never like upma.

What you need -

1 cup rawa (semolina)
3 cups water
2 medium sized capsicums
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsps curry leaves
1 tomato
1 green chilli
small piece of ginger
a pinch of asafoetida
1/2 turmeric powder (For a spicier version, add vangi bhath masala)
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp salt

(You could use carrots, peas, potatoes instead of / with the capsicum)

What you do with it -

Roast(without oil) the rawa on low flame till it turns a little golden
Chop the tomatoes and capsicum into small pieces
Chop the ginger into strips
Slit the green chilli lengthwise
Heat a little oil in a kadai
Add mustard seeds and asafoetida
When the mustard splutters, add the slit green chilli, curry leaves and ginger
Add capsicum pieces and fry for a 2-3 mins
Add the water, chopped tomatoes and turmeric / vangi bhath masala
When the water starts boiling, add salt and the roasted rawa
Stir so that no lumps are formed, adding more water if needed
Once its done, switch off the stove and add the lemon juice

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cracked Wheat and Mint Salad

From the time I have started on this blog, I realised I have started cooking and eating more...In the quest to try out newer recipes, I have gone a bit overboard with the eating !!

Was looking thru my recipe books, and found this one, which was ignored and lying somewhere at the back - i realised I had never tried anything from this book "Low Fat Cooking" by Anne Sheasby
Now was definately the time to go the low-fat way. The pics in this book are really lovely and inviting, the recipes are simple, tasty and low fat - why didnt I ever try this - no idea !!
I guess the "Low-Fat" made me think bland, healthy, not-so-tasy food.
But not any longer, here's a recipe I adapted to begin with.

Nice healthy crunchy salad, perfect for the hot weather here

Sending this as my entry to JFI Wheat, hosted this month by Roma of Roma's Space. JFI - Jihva for Ingredients, is the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi

What you need -

1.5 cups cracked wheat (dalia/lapsi)
3 tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
1 cucumber
1/4 cup raisins
3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
(the recipe suggested zucchini and spring onions - i used cucumbers and capsicum instead)

What you do with it -

Put the cracked wheat into a large bowl and add enough boiling water to come 1 inch above the level of wheat
Leave to saok for 30-40 mins and drain excess water
Plunge the tomatoes in hot water for 1 min and then in cold water
Remove the skin, remove seeds and core and chop
Puree 2 of the 4 tomatoes
Peel and chop cucumber
Chop the capsicum, remove core and seeds
Add the raisins, chopped tomatoes, cucumber and capsicum to the cracked wheat
Whick together the tomato puree, lemon juice, chopped garlic, salt, pepper and chooped mint leaves
Pour over the salad and mix well
Chill for an hour and garnish with mint sprigs

Monday, March 9, 2009

Palak Paratha stuffed with paneer

My three year old has learnt this rhyme in hindi which goes..."aloo bola mujhko khalo, mein tumko mota kardoonga, palak boli mujhko khalo, mein tumko taakat doongi..." which translates to "potato said -'eat me, i will make you fat', spinach said 'eat me, i will make you strong'..."

Everytime I make something with spinach, he has to sing this rhyme and the decibel levels go higher with the "palak boli..." and he shows off whatever little there is of his biceps !!
Thankfully he likes spinach and this rhyme makes it more interesting for him to have it, and its part of our cooking, at least twice a week.

This palak paneer paratha is a favourite with him and its such a wholesome meal packed with iron, carbs and protein.

As a side dish, i made this lovely gajar matar from A_and_N's wonderful food blog
Made slight changes though - added a spoon of kasuri methi while frying the onions
and added the remaining crumbled paneer with the carrot and peas

What you need -

2 cups chopped spinach
3 cups wheat flour
1 tsp carom seeds/ajwain
2 green chillies
small piece of ginger
3 pods garlic
1 cup curd
1 pinch asafoetida /hing

For the filling -

1/2 cup paneer crumbled
1 tsp jeera powder

What you do with it -

Blanch the spinach in hot water and then puree it
Grind together the ginger garlic and chillies to make a smooth paste
Add all the other ingredients and make a soft dough with it
Add more flour if its too sticky
The puree and the curd is enough to make the dough, but if necessary, add a little water
The curd in the dough makes the rotis / parathas real soft, so dont skip it
Mix all the ingredients for the filling
Roll out the dough and fill in with the paneer
Cover, seal up and roll out to make parathas
Fry on tawa with a little ghee / oil /butter

I made the stuffed parathas for my son and I has phulkas made out of the spinach dough, without the paneer

Friday, March 6, 2009

Eggless date cake with whole wheat flour

Its amazing how little kids can be the starting point to broaden your social life, or even begin on one, especially when you move to a new place.

Once we moved to Ahmedabad, after being in Bangalore for almost all my life, I realised how difficult it is to find people you can talk to / hang out with when you are thrown into a new place. Since I am working from home, and really dont know anyone around here, my only opportunity to really meet people is at my son's school.
Thankfully, the school my son studies at, has a lot of parent interaction and this is where I got to know this real nice person whose daughter is my son's "best friend". After a few play dates, we were invited to their place for dinner over a weekend.
Since it was all thanks to our kids, I baked a cake to take along.

My aunt who is a fabulous cook had given me this recipe long back which I had sincerely jotted down (and actually found it - this was my lucky day!)

date cake with oil

Updated the picture and the recipe, using oil instead of butter

What you need -

15-20 dates
2 cups maida / 2 cups wheat flour / 1 cup maida (APF) and 1 cup wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter / cream or 3/4 cup oil (I used rice bran oil)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts and almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

What you do with it -

Remove seeds from the dates if you don't get the seedless dates and chop the dates
Warm the milk and dissolve the sugar in it
Soak the dates in this and keep for 30 mins
You could also grind the dates with milk if you like
Then add all other ingredients and mix till forms a thick batter
You can add about 2 tbsp of milk, if it gets too thick
Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C
Grease an 8" square pan or a loaf tin
Pour the batter in and bake at 180 deg C for about 25-30 mins
This may not rise too much, but it turns out nice and moist

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sunday lunch : Dhansak, brown rice and veg kebabs

We were in Bombay for a wedding last May and my cousin had raved about this lovely Iranian restaurant called Britannia in South Bombay
She had said the food was awesome and the people who ran the place were even more awesome !! The restaurant is open only for lunch and only on weekdays because the owner believes in spending evenings and dinners with his family. I thought it was so nice that someone believed that it was more valuable to spend time with family as opposed to making more money by keeping it open for dinners.
Very basic and functional, but packed every day because of the authentic Parsi food they serve, this place is a little treasure of a restaurant.

The berry pulav here is simply fantastic, very fragrant and mildly spiced - an absolute must if you visit this place. The "patra-ni-machi" fish wrapped in banana leaf is another amazing creation here and of course the eternal Parsi favourite of dhansak and brown rice.
Not really a place for vegetarians, but believe me, its worth converting for this one meal here..

Last Sunday, I was all set to spend the entire morning cooking for lunch and since S was away at work (even on a Sunday *grrr*), I had all the time. Decided on a dhansak, brown rice and veg kebabs.
The picture does not do justice to how great this finally turned out - it was really fragrant and even S, who can be a hard core non vegetarian, said it was really authentic, but of course added that the lamb kebabs were the only thing missing !!

Recipe for the brown rice and dhansak adapted from parsionline.com

What you need -

For the dhansak

Dhansak masala
4 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
4 dry red chilies
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
2 cardamoms, peeled
4 black peppercorns

2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1 tsp jeera powder
1/2 cup tur dal
1/2 cup moong dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
(You could use 1 and 1/2 cup of tur dal and skip the other dals)
2 small brinjals (i used the purple round ones)
100 gms piece of red pumpkin cut into 4 pieces
A few sprigs of fresh methi leaves / spinach
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tbsp grated jaggery
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil/ ghee

For the brown rice -

2 cups basmati rice
2 onions, finely sliced
4 tsp sugar
2 pieces cinnamon sticks of 2 inches each
6 cloves
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp oil / ghee

For the kebabs -

3 raw bananas
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp cumin powder
1 small onion chopped fine
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ajwain
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
1 cup bread crumbs
2 bread slices (optional)

What you do with it -

Dhansak -

Grind together all the ingredients mentioned for dhansak masala
(Try and do this instead of using ready powder - its really worth the effort)
Heat oil or ghee in a deep pan and fry onion in it till brown.
Add masala paste, tumeric powder and cumin and coriander powder and cook for 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes
Add the 3 dals, brinjal, methi/spinach leaves and mix well
Add 6 cups water and salt and boil
Cover and cook on a slow fire
Soak tamarind pulp in 1/3 cup and extract pulp
Mash the dal as much as possible
Add tamarind juice and jaggery to the dal and cook on slow fire for 10 minutes Add a little more water if it is too thick
Garnish with fried onion and chopped coriander leaves

Brown rice -

Soak the rice in water for 1/2 hour
Heat oil or ghee in a pan and fry onion in it till brown
Remove pan from fire and drain excess oil
Put sugar in a small pan and heat over a low flame till its dark brown
Add two tbsp of water to the sugar to form brown caramelized liquid
Place pan with fried onion back on fire, drain water from rice and add to onion
Stir and allow to cook for 5 minutes or more till rice is nicely fried
Add caramel water and cook 4 or 5 minutes till rice is well blended
Add cinnamon stick, cloves, salt and 3 1/2 cups water
Bring to boil, then cover, lower flame and continue cooking till water is absorbed and rice is cooked
Sprinkle some fried onion over rice before serving

Kebabs -

Peel the raw bananas and steam till they are soft
I had two bread slices, so soaked these in water and drained it
Mash the raw bananas and add all other ingredients except the bread crumbs
Make round pattie shaped or kebab shaped pieces
Roll in the bread crumbs and shallo fry in a pan with oil

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pathrode / Patra (colocasia leaves)

I cant tell you how totally proud I am of myself !! This is one dish I never saw myself making - not that it is complicated, but it is a longish process and i always had someone make it for me back in bangalore, so never felt the need to make it myself.
Pathrode (in Konkani) or Patra (in Gujarati) is made from the same leaf in pretty much the same way and when I saw those leaves here, I was quite tempted to try making it myself. This is not the authentic Konkani way of making it, its a combination of the Konkani and Gujarati style.

The biggest factor that has stopped me from trying this has been that these leaves can sometimes be itchy - after all the effort, you could have a itchy throat if you picked the wrong leaf and for me, strangely, just knowing that something can itch is enough for me to feel all itchy.
Yam was another vegetable i was terrified of cooking, because that too can give you a bad itch or even a rash if its the wrong one you picked up.

Over the years, I managed to get over the yam-itch-phobia, and now after making this, I think I am over this itch-phobia too !!

See that you get leaves where the stem is dark in colour. the ones with lighter coloured stems are more likely to itch.

What you need -

6 leaves of patra / pathrode
3 cups besan
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida
handful of tamarind
2 tbsp grated jaggery
salt to taste

For the ghasshi -

1 cup grated coconut
4 red chillies
small all of tamarind
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

What you do with it -

Cut the stems below the leaf and flatten the stem in the centre of the leaf
Wash the leaves and wipe them dry
Soak tamarind in warm water for about 20 mins and squeeze out the tamarind
Dissolve the jaggery in the pulp
Mix together besan, rice flour, red chilli powder and asafoetida and add to the tamarind pulp to make a thick paste
Place the biggest leaf with the dark green side facing downwards
Apply the besan paste all over it, except towards the ends of the leaf
Place the next leaf over it and apply the masala again
Do this for one more leaf

Repeat the steps above for the next three leaves

Fold in the edges of the leaf so that the masala doesn't spill out and roll inwards
Do this till it looks like a little bundle

Cut in half and place in a steamer / cooker and steam cook for 15-20 mins

Once its done, let it cool for a while and then cut into half inch slices

In a kadai, prepare a seasoning of mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves
Shallow fry the pathrode pieces till they turn a golden brown

For the ghasshi, grind all the ingredients with a little water till it turns smooth
Season the ghashi with mustard seeds and curry leaves
Dip the pathrode pieces in the ghasshi and enjoy !


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