Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Diwali wishes!

Wish you all a great Diwali.

Happy cooking. I am looking forward to reading all those great posts.

Here is a small and lovely e-book on Diwali sweets, I found here: http://sify.com/downloads/diwali_sweets.pdf

Monday, May 28, 2007

JFI for Jackfruit

This month JFI has Jackfruit as the star and it is hosted by Jai and Bee. I love jackfruit, obvious isn't it... I especially love the green, unripe kind as a vegetable. I usually make it Kerala style with lots of coconut. This time I decided to try a new way as a Biryani. I used frozen green jackfruit. For this recipe, I think the frozen ones are sturdy. The canned kind would turn into a mush.

For this JFI, I made Kathal biryani and Elai adai.

I had never imagined anyone else using green jackfruit except Keralites. But from so many recipes that are available, I know I am wrong on that. The biryani actually tastes so much like a Chicken biryani. Jackfruit is quite meaty in texture when cooked.

Kathal biryani (from Sanjeev Kapoor)

Raw Jackfruit (cut Into 11/2" Cubes) 12 pieces
Rice 11/2 cups
Green Cardamoms 4
Black Cardamoms 2
Cloves 5
Cinnnamon 2 1"sticks
Sea Salt to taste
Oil 2 tbsps+to deep fry
Onions (sliced) 4
Caraway Seeds (shahi Jeera) 1/2 tsp
Ginger Paste 1 tbsp
Garlic Paste 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Cumin Powder 1 tsp
Coriander Powder 2 tsps
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Tomatoes (deseed And Chopped) 1 cup
Yogurt 11/2 cups
Coriander Leaves 1/2 bunch
Saffron a pinch
Milk 2 tbsps
Garam Masala Powder 2 tsps
Mint Leaves 1/2 bunch

Cut the jackfruit into slices. Peel and cut into cubes. Wash and soak rice. Parboil the rice with a little sea-salt and half of the whole garam masala (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves). Drain the parboiled rice and keep aside.

Heat sufficient oil in a kadai and deep-fry the jackfruit cubes. Drain and keep aside. In the same oil deep-fry half the sliced onions till golden brown and crisp. Drain and keep aside.

In another pan heat two tablespoons of oil, add shahi jeera and the remaining crushed whole garam masala. Add the remaining sliced onions and sauté for a while. Add ginger paste, garlic paste and continue to sauté. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, chopped tomatoes and continue to sauté for two to three minutes. Add the fried jackfruit cubes and stir. Add yogurt, sea salt and chopped coriander leaves. Dissolve the saffron in lukewarm milk and keep aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Take a large casserole, arrange half the jackfruit mixture. Over this spread a layer of rice. Sprinkle saffron milk, garam masala powder, mint leaves (torn),. Then repeat these layers once again. Top it with fried sliced onions and mint leaves. Cover with aluminium foil and cook in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot with a raita .

I also made Ammupatti's elai adai. Her way of making it is similar to my mom's. I used store-bought rice flour and roasted it without coloring the flour. I also used thawed frozen banana leaves available in Asian grocery stores.

It tastes so good warm with the fragrance of banana leaf. You can also make it with parchment paper but nothing to beat banana leaf.

The filling is some delicious chakkai varatti.

Another dessert I love with jackfruit is chakkapradhaman. You can make chakkapradhaman in two ways- with jackfruit varatti or without. Check out my recipes here and here. Making the jam in microwave is much easier than making it on stove-top!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chayote squash subzi , the Andhra way

This is my contribution of to RCI event for this month that focuses on Andhra cuisine and hosted by Latha. I have a great taste for the Andhra foods such as Gutti Vankaya kura, the biryani and the mouth-watering avakkai pickle- possibly everyone has. But from the many blogs which specialize in this cuisine, I have learned so much about the home-style foods that you never see in restaurants. And I make some of these simple recipes regularly at home like Indira's ridge gourd curries, Sailu's Black pepper rice. It is good to see healthy eating habits crossing state borders, isn't it?

For this RCI, I am making a dish that made me respect the tasteless chayote squash a teeny bit more. I consider chow-chow or chayote squash to be quite boring. My MIL and mom makes it as a kootu but somehow this vegetable never seems to absorb any flavors, just my opinion...

In the past year, I have learned two new ways of preparing this vegetable. And this recipe is one of them I found at Pachakam.com and I found it when I was searching for an interesting way to make this squash. The cooked vegetable is coated with a thick and coarse sesame-red chili powder. Adding groundnuts and sesame to curries is quite common in Andhra cuisine, making it very tasty. I like to make this extra-spicy because the sesame in the powder does tame a lot of the heat. We eat this with phulkas.

Chayote squash subzi (with very slight modifications from original)

2 chayote squash, peeled and diced
1 large onion
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely diced (optional)

Roast and powder coarsely:
1/3 cup white sesame seeds
a pinch of salt
3-4 red chilies

1/2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste

Heat oil. Add the seasoning ingredients except turmeric and salt. When mustard pops, add garlic, ginger and turmeric. Then add onions, and saute till translucent. Add the cubed squash and salt. Mix and cover and cook on low-medium heat till soft and well-done. Add tomatoes if using. Tomatoes make it a little sticky and watery but nice and tangy. You can leave it out if you want a dry curry.

Lastly, toss in the sesame powder. The quantity of powder may seem a whole lot but you need this to give taste. Adding a tbsp or two, will not help much...

Garnish with cilantro. Done!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Delicious recipes from fellow bloggers

I usually try out more recipes than I post on this blog. Most of the recipes are from fellow bloggers- I always prefer to hear reviews of my blogger pals than some high-flying chef.

Here are the recipes I tried in the past couple of months:

1. Vaghareli Lilva Kichadi from Trupti.
It is very comforting with kadhi and a dollop of ghee. Yum... Check out Trupti's Gujju recipes. Gujarathi food is something I highly adore and being primarily a vegetarian cook, there are several options with this cuisine. I aim to try out all her recipes from the section.

2. Besan stuffed chilies from Chachi's Kitchen

It is so so tasty and easy to make. Thanks Sajeda, I love this new way of cooking chilies without the usual deep frying. There are some great recipes, many of them gujarathi, in this blog. I love the way her roti's look. Can't wait to try the green chili pickle...

3. Masala Puri from Shilpa's Aayi's recipes

I have tried quite a few recipes from her over a year or so. I am amazed at how regularly Shilpa updates her blog! Masala puri was something I had never heard of but I just wanted to try it after reading her post. Needless to say it came out great. Btw, her date cake is a must-try.

4. Dal rice, the south Indian way from Daily Musings

Quite a healthy meal but with so much great flavor from garlic, sambar powder and onion. It lacks the heat of regular sambar rice and my daughter ate it up gladly.

5. Bread upma from Menu today

This is a tasty departure from my usual bread upma . The addition of fennel gives it the real tamilian kick and the yogurt makes the bread tangy. In my opinion, bread upma has to be the best kind of upma...

6. Gongura pachadi from Sailu

It is so tangy and spicy- it is mouth-wateringly good. This recipe has been my first successful attempt at making gongura pachadi (or thokku). I have had a lot of failures with the taste of other recipes and so this successful recipe will be repeated every time I buy gongura. The only change I did was saute the garlic a little with the rest of spices.

7. A very simple Rajma, indeed from Gopium

I followed Gopinath's advice mostly. But I may have broken his strict (witty) instructions by adding some tomato paste:-) I did not even soak the rajma at all. Such an easy, quick recipe but with all the great taste of authentic rajma. I can't wait to try the Chhole.

Thanks y'all for such great recipes!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Double apple bundt cake

The search started off as a way to use up a jar of Apple butter. But now I am so glad I had a jar to make this recipe. This author's followers are many and this book has been raved all over the blogosphere and beyond... I have nothing more to say about this book and this cake's taste was enough for me.

I usually like to make snack cakes like this with oil because it is slightly lighter. To say the cake was tasty is an understatement. The spices came together very well and I am glad now for that jar of apple butter...

Double Apple Bundt Cake, from Baking, From My Home to Yours

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup store-bought apple butter, spiced or plain
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plump, moist raisins
Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350º F. Butter and flour a 9-10 inch bundt pan.

Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through salt.

Working with stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth, thick, and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition; you’ll have a light, fluffy batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the apple butter. Add the grated apples and mix to completely blend. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts and raisins. Turn the batter into the bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter with the spatula.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding. Cool completely before serving. The cake tastes much better after a day or two.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mili Juli Sabzi (a.k.a Mixed Vegetable Curry)

Finally I made it to Nupur's A-Z of Indian vegetables. This week comes the letter 'M'. And it is not too easy to pick a vegetable with this letter for me. Mango can't be treated as a vegetable, can it?

Then one fine day I made this mixed vegetable subzi, the way my mom makes it always. Eggplant, okra and green plantains are cooked together and towards the end of cooking a coarsely ground rice-red chili mixture is sprinkled on top. It is simple with no pretentious flavors but so good.

This is my contribution to Nupur's event.

Mili Juli sabzi

10-12 small round eggplants, quartered
10-12 okra, cut into slightly largish pieces
1 large plantain, skin removed and cut into thin slices (here I mean the small plantains and not the big ones used in chips)

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp turmeric

1 T rice
3-4 red chilies

Dry roast rice and red chilies till rice turns milky white. Grind very coarsely. Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet. Add mustard and urad dal. When mustard pops, add the cut vegetables , turmeric and salt. Sprinkle little water, cover and cook until all vegetables are done. Having plantain cook as soon as the other veggies is the key here.

Uncover, add ground powder and fold them in. Saute for a couple of minutes on a high flame.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Puli Aval

I am not a big fan of batata poha. It never tastes good when I make it and I have never had a good version of it. I am prejudiced towards Puli aval, an adaptation of poha made, Kannadiga style. It is just an easier version of tamarind rice and is a great brunch item or light supper dish.

Puli aval

2 cups thick poha
1-2 tsp any spice mix you have (I use sambar powder or rasam powder)
1.5 tsp tamarind paste
handful of peanuts
3-4 red chilis broken
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
few curry leaves
1 tsp sugar or powdered jaggery
salt to taste
water as needed
hing, a pinch

Take about 2 cups of water or buttermilk. Add the salt, spice mix , sugar and tamarind paste. Mix well. Add poha and soak for a 2-3 minutes. This depends on quality of poha. Thick poha in India can take soaking for 10 min or more. But in US it gets soft in 2 minutes...
If poha is not submerged fully, add a bit more liquid.

Pour contents into a strainer while you prepare tadka. Heat little oil. Add the peanuts and toast them a little. Next add the dals, chilis and mustard seeds and let mustard splutter. Add curry leaves and hing. Next add all the poha and saute till dry like upma.

Serve hot.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chocolate Ricotta muffins

This was our pre-Valentine's day indulgence. The muffins are supremely chocolatey due to the cup of chocolate chips folded in. If you cannot tolerate so much chocolate, you can leave them out for some ordinary and moist cocoa muffins.

The recipe comes from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe. Unlike many of the baked goods I make, I have made this recipe twice. It is a great use for some leftover ricotta cheese. It can be made with oil or melted butter, some soy-protein mix can be substituted for the flour- all this making it so adaptable and versatile.

Chocolate-Ricotta muffins- I got 16 normal sized muffins

Nonstick spray for the pan
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 to 8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose (can add about 1/2 cup of soy-protein mix for 1/2 cup flour, or you can use 50:50 whole-wheat and AP flour)
1 cup ricotta
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted or oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 12 standard-sized (2 1/2-inch-diameter) muffin cups with nonstick spray. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.

Place the ricotta in a second medium-sized bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating well with a medium-sized whisk after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Pour the ricotta mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't overmix; a few lumps are okay.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Fill them even with the top of the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for to 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

They are great warm but even better the next day!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Meyer lemon- chocolate tartlets for my Valentine

I made these decadent tartlets for Valentine's day. This is from Fran Bigelow's book, Pure Chocolate. Unlike usual chocolate-only books, this book has a lot of unique recipes, not just the usual chocolate cake and brownie recipes.

You can find recipe for this tart at http://brandoesq.blogspot.com/2005/09/white-chocolate-creme-citron-tarts.html . The crust is actually a recipe for chocolate wafers. These wafers make great ice cream sandwiches, just like Klondike bars.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lake Como Biscotti

This is one plain, biscotti recipe from Maida Heatter's book of Cookies. Plain does not translate into bad, but in a world of cappuchino and Nutella biscotti this is ordinary. Maybe the kind you will eat in Italy, and that is where Maida had it too.

I have made several biscotti recipes but this recipe was quite finicky- grinding up almonds, getting the zest of lemons etc etc...

Lake como biscotti

2 cups whole blanched almonds (I kept the skin on)
2 cups sifted AP flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp b.powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup minus 2 T sugar
2 large eggs
finely garted rind of 1 large lemon
1 T plus 1.5 tsp lemon juice
scant ½ tsp almond extract

Toast the almonds in a shallow pan in a preheated 350- degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly colored, shaking the pan once or twice. You can tell when they are done by the strong smell of toasted almonds when you open the oven door. Set aside to cool.

Oven 375 F. Turn baking sheets upside down and line with parchment or foil.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, b.powder and salt. Add sugar and mix. Add about ½ cup of this flour mixture to the food processor. Add ½ cup of toasted almond and process for about 30 seconds, or until the nuts is fine and powdery.
In a large bowl, mix together the processed ingredients with the remaining sifted dry ingredients. Stir in the almonds.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with rind, lemon juice and almond extrcat just to mix. With a large rubber or wooden spatula stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until well-moistened.

Lightly flour a large board and turn dough onto it. Sprinkle a little flour on top. Shape it into a mound. With a long, sharp knife, cut into equal quarters. Flour surface and hands and roll each piece into long narrow shape, 10 inch long and 1 inch wide. Brush off loose flour. Don’t flatten tops.

Place all four rolls, crosswise on lined sheets, 2 inch apart. Bake loaves in upper rack for 20 min, reversing halfway. Mine was done in 10 min. I overbaked the logs and result was I had great difficulty slicing and things were falling apart. They should be lightly colored and feel almost firm.

Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove the sheets from the oven. Immediately, with a wide metal spatula, release a strip from the parchment or foil and place it on a board. Repeat with the second strip. Use a pot holder or a folded towel to hold one of the hot strips in place, and use a serrated French bread knife to cut the strip crosswise into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Repeat with the second strip. For me though, the longer I let the logs sit, the better luck I had slicing them. Place the slices, cut side down, on unlined cookie sheets with a little space between them. Return to oven to bake at 275 degrees for 35-40 minutes, turning slices and reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once during baking. At the end of baking, they should be a pale honey color on both sides. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Comments- The addition of ground almonds did not help the flavor in any way. It is just more work. The whole almonds look very pretty in the biscotti but made slicing difficult. For a plain-tasting biscotti, this is too hard a recipe and it yielded only around 30 for me and not 50 as stated in Maida's book. I still hear great things about her Gingerful biscotti and will be trying them soon.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Back again!

After a bit of juggling with the new blogger (most of it trying to get them send my login information and trying to get it work ), here I am . Happy new year to all of you!

Thanks so much for your wishes and emails checking on me. I feel so appreciated...

The last few months have been like a whirlwind and things are getting back to normal or so they seem. Hopefully I can get back into posting more.

As a bonus, a nice simple recipe Chai Concentrate that I love. It tastes just like the Oregon Chai Latte concentrate but without the tea in it as an ingredient. You will have to add it later!

I spent quite a few $$$ on chai concentrates (esp. Oregon Chai) but no more. I always have condensed milk around and this makes great use of it. I like to use pre-ground spices. I never seem to get them fine enough in my grinder. I add a tbsp of it to brewed cup of hot or cold tea. Yum!