Friday, August 31, 2007
I am addicted. And I confess, I need help.
Those secret assignments with the computer.... Posting and deleting till I get it just right. Logging on furtively every hour or so just to check if there are any new comments.... Wandering around all the time thinking of what to cook next... What new thing to make and impress all my "new" friends...
I am sure a lot of you bloggers out there know exactly what I am talking about.
This started as a hobby combining many things that I liked ...Food... Internet.. Writing. Now it has become an all consuming passion. I have this fanatic desire to blog all the time. I am busy thinking up new ideas, new foods... and photography???!!! Trying to outdo myself.. I go to a store and look at the crockery cutlery and napkins.. trying to buy just those which are sold as single pieces. Imagining my next photograph against the new background...
I am not sure whether blogging has been a boon or a bane. Is there a 12 step program for blogger de-addiction somewhere? Please let me know.
The pros that have come out of it are a) kids are happy that we have come out of the culinary rut we were in and they get different things to try out, b) My photography skills have improved exceptionally and c) I simply ENJOY it.
Cons? None at all as far as I can see now :).
Now for the butter naans.
These little babies are the cutest thing you can see, tiny morsels of yumminess. Goes perfectly well with anything. Very versatile breads. Imagine scooping up a bit of paneer butter masala gravy or some dum aloo, koftas... I can go on and on but now for the recipe.
5 cups maida ( all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons instant yeast ( see note below on yeasts)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons curd (yoghurt)
warm water as needed ( warm not hot - should feel warm when you dip your finger into the water, not hot)
Mix the flour, salt, sugar , and instant yeast well. Add the yoghurt and enough warm water to make a dough which is firm. When the dough holds together, keep kneading for about 15 to 20 mins till it is pliable. Leave aside to rise for about 2 hours.
When needed, make a small ball ( maybe golf ball size)
Roll out into a 3 or 4 inch round. Pull one end till it gets a longer shape one one side.
Put on a hot tava till it gets brown spots on the bottom. Put the other side directly on a naked flame till it gets the same brown spots.
If you like, you can place it under the grill or in an oven till it gets done.
Apply a little butter on top and serve hot with gravy of choice.
Note on Yeast:
There are various yeasts you can use. I used the instant yeast which is mixed with the dry ingredients.
You can also use yeast which is called active yeast here in India. For this you must mix a little warm water with the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top along with a teaspoon of flour. Leave aside for 10 minutes till it turns frothy (if it does not turn frothy then the yeast needs to be changed.) Then mix this yeast mixture into the remaining flour, add salt and make a dough.
I am not sure on how much fresh yeast to use, but the same method can be followed as for active yeast.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
2 onions chopped finely
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Amavasai is an auspicious day in South India. But one of the most important tasks carried out on this day is taking out 'drishti' or as they say in Hindi 'Nazar Utarna'. Taking out the 'evil eye' is big business. So you have all businesses big and small, all shops both big and small, all offices, all places of work diligently purchasing the best pumpkins they can find, making a small cut in it, stuffing it with Kum Kum. At noon, they light a bit of camphor on top of this and take it all around the building and as a grand finale, smash the whole thing on the road in front of the office/ place of work...
The point now is not to educate all my readers on what drishti actually is but to wonder what happens to the road? By the evening one finds all the scooterists and cyclists trying to manoeuvre their way though the pulpy remains of all these smashed pumpkins. And the next morning the folks at Onyx are busy sweeping up everything.
Now I always wonder, how many kilos of kasi halwa or pumpkin kootu we can make with all these wasted pumpkins? Point to ponder, right?
Now onto food....
I first tasted pumpkin kootu at a wedding here in Chennai. The mild taste and flavors just blew me away. It goes so well with rice.. Finally asked around and learnt to make it for myself. It is one of the simplest dishes to make, easy,quick and really tasty and healthy as there is hardly any extra oil used in the preparation.
Now for the recipe:
750 grams White Pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
salt to taste
Grind to a masala:
1/2 Cup Coconut
1 tablespoon jeera ( cumin)
4 green chillies
1 teaspoon peppercorn
1 1/2 teaspoon raw rice
For tadka or Popu
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon urad dal ( black gram)
10-12 curry leaves
1 teaspoon Til (sesame seeds)
1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
3 red chillies
Method:Peel the pumpkin and take out the seeds. Cut into small cubes.
Put the pumpkin, salt and turmeric in a pan along with 2 cups of water. Boil till three fourths done. Add the masala paste and cook till fully done and it thickens nicely.
Heat oil add the tadka/popu ingredients one at a time starting with the mustard seeds. Pour on top and serve hot with steamed rice and ghee.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Ladies Finger ( Okra, Bhindi, Bendakaya, Vendakaya) is one of the best loved vegetables at our home. That is one veggie that the kids eat without making even a little bit of a fuss. Usually we just chop it up and fry it and it tastes very nice with typical home food of dal and rice.
But on special days, we try to do something different. Or just for a change of tastes and flavours to eat with rotis.
In my early days of cooking, I came across this recipe which sounded very easy. Few ingredients, favourite vegetable, lightly fried.....
I am not sure of the source of this recipe as it has been written in my dog-eared recipe book many many moons ago.
It is very easy to assemble. Most of us will have all the ingredients required in our pantries. But let me warn you... There is one cumbersome process. Stuffing.. It can take a while and as the quantity reduces a lot in the cooking process, we need to make a larger quantity. The advantage is that the stuffing can be done much earlier while watching TV or doing something else. But I can promise you, the end result is worth every moment of effort you put into it.
Also, for all those bachelors out there looking for easy recipes, this is for you.
1/2 kg Ladies Finger
1/4 kg Shallots (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon haldi or turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon jeera or cumin powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoon amchur powder( dried mango powder)
Oil for shallow frying.
Wash and thoroughly dry the okra.
Top and tail the okra. ie cut the top bit and bottom bit of each okra.
Make two cuts along the length of the bhindi on opposite sides without cutting through.
If using shallots, make the cuts in the form of a cross on the bottom (not on the stem side). I did not have any shallots so they are not in the picture :).
Shallots are little more painful to stuff, as they are so much tinier. But on the other hand, they enhance the taste of the dish a lot.
On a plate mix all the dry ingredients till well blended together.
Stuff this dry mixture into the cuts in the bhindi. Let there be enough stuffing to ensure a lot of taste after it is ready.
Heat a shallow pan till medium hot. Pour in about 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil gets hot, add as many bhindis as the pan can hold without crowding. Shallow fry till the colour changes to a darker shade and the bhindi is completely cooked.
Serve hot along with rotis, dal and raw onions sliced.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
When we start something new, there is always a lot of encouragement from friends and family. This was the case with me even in the case of this blog. Everyone lent me helping hand. In telling people about the blog, suggesting recipes, helping with the layout etc. But the sweetest thing happened to me today.
I was keen on submitting a recipe for one of these monthly events. Saw that this months JFI called for recipes based on rice. Sister in law suggested that I make this mint pulao. So today being a holiday, I said no time like now ( as Kabeer so wisely said - "kaal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab, pal me pralay hogi, bahuri karoge kab" ( translation- do tomorrow's work today and today's work now. If even a moment is lost, then how will the work get done? )
Started chopping, grinding etc etc... Finished making the pulao, took all the mandatory pictures and went upstairs to check them out.
Came down after a bit and saw my father in law waiting to have his lunch. It was already late so I asked him... how come so late?. He sweetly said " I was wondering if I could start eating as I was not sure you finished taking your pictures." I was just so touched.
Rice is an integral part of Indian cuisine. Every region uses rice in some form or the other whether in main dishes, or sweets or snacks...
Mint pulao is a happy mix of tastes from all round the country. This is my entry for JFI: Rice.
Masala paste 1:
2" piece of ginger
6 garlic cloves
4 green chillies
Masala paste 2:
2 bunches pudina (mint) leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
3 onions sliced finely
3 cups basmati raw rice
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
3 cardamom pods
1" piece cinnamon
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Oil
1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
2 carrots diced
1/2 cup peas shelled
Method:Make a paste adding a little water with ingredients for masala paste 1.
Next grind mint and coriander leaves together to make masala paste 2.
Heat oil and ghee together in a kadai on medium heat. When oil is hot, add jeera, when it sizzles add cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon.
Fry for 3-4 minutes till fragrant .
Add masala paste 1. Fry well till it starts looking cooked (you can add the salt at this stage as sometimes it starts sticking to the pan. Salt will help in the frying process and reduce the sticking).
Add sliced onions. Fry well till everything starts turning a light brown. Add the mint/coriander leaves paste, the carrots, peas and the rice.
Put into the rice cooker adding 5 cups of water. Cook till done
Served here accompanied by a Boondi raita.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Parathas are a North Indian staple, but we know the world is becoming a smaller place. And now the corrupted versions (spellingwise) like "Barattas", "Porottas", "Boratas" are found everywhere. Anyone who visits Sangeeta or Saravana Bhavan or the smaller eating places will know what I am talking about. Let me assure you that taste is not compromised on in these places. It is just the South Indian version of the same paratha. In fact most of these restaurants go one step further and do a nice fusion of North Indian, Chinese and of course South Indian cuisines and serve up the Chilli Paratha. Thats culinary globalisation for you!!! It tastes fantastic.
Parathas are such a versatile food. Can be served plain or with a variety of stuffing mooli( radish), gobi(cauliflower), paneer(cottage cheese), onion, and aloo(potato)... the list goes on.
One of the most comforting foods for me is a paratha taken straight off the tava still steaming. Wouldn't you agree with that? Serve it up with a raita or just plain yoghurt and a nice spicy pickle... YUMMY.
1/2 kg Atta (whole wheat flour)
salt to taste
warm water to bind the flour
1 medium head cauliflower grated finely
1 onion minced finely
1 tablespoon coriander leaves finely chopped
1 teaspoon jeera powder( cumin powder)
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon dhania powder
salt to taste
1 teaspoon oil
Heat kadai (wok). Add the oil and heat till medium hot.
Add onion and fry till it is translucent.
Add grated cauliflower. Fry for a few minutes. The cauliflower should remain a little crunchy.
Add the powders and the salt. Fry for a minute till the flavours blend together.
Finally switch off the flame and add the coriander leaves.
Mix the flour with the salt.
Make the dough by adding water a little at a time to the whole wheat flour.
Knead it till you get a soft dough ( soft, not sticky)
It should be a softish dough where when you pull two ends, it should stretch a bit.
If sticky feel free to add a little more flour a bit at a time till the right consistency is reached.
Roll out a lump of dough the size of a golf ball to the size of a puri(thought very hard at this point to get the right size. No fruit I could think of gave me that :). Any recommendations for size comparison are welcome).
Put one to one and a half tablespoons of the cauliflower mixture on top. Gather together the outside of the dough and close it making a packet, sealing in the cauliflower.
Roll out again to a chapati generously using flour to aid in the rolling.
Place on a hot tava/ griddle. When pink spots appear turn it over. Pout a little oil on top. Repeat again till both sides are golden brown.
Serve hot with raita or plain yoghurt and some pickle and a big dollop of white desi butter on top.
Cucumber Raita Recipe:
2 cucumbers grated and water squeezed out
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon jeera
1 cup yoghurt
Dry roast the mustard seeds and the jeera. Powder it .
Beat the yoghurt till it is smooth.
Add the grated cucumber and powdered mustard and jeera.
Monday, August 13, 2007
One such recipe was the Hara Bhara Kabab. I had written it down in so many different places but never tried it out. Finally I put my lethargy behind me and took the plunge and was so pleasantly surprised... It turned out extremely well.
3/4 cup Peas boiled
100 gms Spinach
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon chaat masala
2 tablespoon cornflour
salt to taste
Mash boiled peas.
Blanch the spinach and finely chop it.
(In case there are worries on high calories that this dish will entail, then it can be shallow fried too.)
I am still navigating my way through this awe-inspiring blogging world and thoroughly enjoying every step of the way( baby steps though they may be).
It has been totally satisfying to be acknowledged by all of you.
Like I said, I always welcome constructive criticism..
Thank you all so much. Please do continue to visit this site. I promise to have many more yummy foods up soon.
One of the few things I really enjoyed discovering after moving to Chennai was this concept of TIFFIN.
Tiffin usually refers to the small meal eaten in between major meals. Or any hot light snack taken at any time during the day. In Tamil Nadu, often the main meal i.e lunch is eaten first thing in the morning. So at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, when the tummy starts making demands for food, then a light snack is called for. This snack could be a variety of dosas, idly, sandwiches, upma, khichadi, pongal, vada etc. Adai features as a major dish in the tiffin listing.
Adai is a thickish dosa made of different dals ground together. Adai is traditionally served with a little blob of white freshly churned butter, jaggery and a chutney.
It is normally a dense and not too crispy styled dosa. It can be really filling.
On the nutrition front, it is a dish which is rich in proteins because of its high dal/lentil content.
1/2 cup moong dal
1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 cup chana dal
1/4 urad dal
2 cups raw rice
4 red chillies
4 green chillies chopped finely
2 onions chopped finely
handful of Coriander leaves chopped finely
3 sprigs of curry leaves chopped finely
1/2 inch piece of ginger chopped finely
a pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
Soak the dals, rice and red chillies for about 4 hours.
Grind to a coarse paste. Add the remaining ingredients.
Heat the dosa tava ( griddle) till medium hot. Put a tablespoon of oil on the tava. Spread a spoonful of the batter on the tava till flat and like a pancake.
Pour a little oil on the sides and on top of the dosa. When the bottom turns golden brown, turn over and fry the other side too. Serve hot with jaggery, butter and a chutney of choice.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Usually the concept of eating a pachadi with rice or a dry vegetable or even a podi with rice is only found in Andhra. In fact even avakai or mango pickle is a popular mixer(?) for rice. Ghee is liberally poured on to give that fabulous taste (more I think, to line the foodpipe. Otherwise the throat and the stomach will be on fire knowing how spicy Andhra food can be). It is then followed by rice with mudda pappu with a pulusu to add the required tang and then the rest of the courses follow - that is rice with sambar, rice with rasam etc ending with daddojanam or perugu annam (curd rice). The mandatory sweet will follow in the form of paravannam. To round off this fantastic meal, beeda is served.
Kandi pachadi eaten with hot ghee rice is pure ambrosia. It is a taste every telugu person craves for. It can also be eaten as an accompaniment for a number of tiffin items like dibba roti, dosa, idly etc.
1 cup toor dal (kandi pappu)
small bit tamarind (1/2 a lime size)
Salt to tatse
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4-5 red chillies
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
Roast the toor dal without any oil till it gives out a nice aroma.
Heat oil in a kadai/wok. When hot, add mustard seeds. When the seeds start crackling, add the red chillies. When they start looking a bright red, put off the flame and add the asafoetida powder.
Grind the roasted toor dal, tamarind, popu ingredients and the salt in a mixie along with a about 4 tablespoons of water till it is a fine paste.
Serve with hot ghee rice or as an accompaniment to a tiffin item.
This can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.
A horrified - " You mean you did not have computers as a kid? No internet? No computer games?"
A nervous - " At least did you have TV?"
A totally puzzled or stunned - " What did you do for entertainment?"
They don't understand, those were the years when we relied on ourselves to keep us busy. We played, cycled, played good old seven stones, 'gilli danda'( remember those games?). On rainy days, it was Ludo, Monopoly and Chinese checkers.
Above all, we read and read. All of us were such voracious readers. All types of books, comics... in the absence of anything worth reading and in the beginning of the school year, we read our English text books from cover to cover more for fun than for any serious learning.
Every once in a while one yearns for everything familiar. Don't you wish you could go back to your childhood where life was much simpler? No major decisions to take, nothing to take care of and absolutely NO WORRIES. Just gamboling through life only planning for the next hour's entertainment. Childhood is definitely synonymous with carefree summers (and winters!!!). Unlimited reading of story books, never studies....I think everyone goes through this phase now and then.
I have been on this trip for a while now. Then immediately start craving those comfort foods (cos food does play an important role in my life as you can see ;) )
One of the things my mom would make frequently was dibba roti ( literal translation - a fat dosa). It is also known as a minappa roti. Minappa referring to urad dal which is its main ingredient. It is the ultimate comfort food ... fried... full of carbs... and tasty tasty tasty. It looks like an oversized vada and tastes like a cross between idly and dosa. All things rolled into one.
2 cups Raw Rice ( any variety)
2 cups Urad dal( black gram)
1 tablespoon jeera
1 tablespoon whole peppercorn
Salt to taste
Oil to fry.
Soak both the rice and the urad dal for 4 hours separately.
Grind the urad dal very fine with minimal amount of water. Grind the rice with a little water a little coarsely. Mix the two well and add salt, jeera and peppercorns.
Heat a little oil in a kadai or wok (maybe 2 tablespoons or so). Pour in the batter and reduce the flame to sim. Cover and let fry on a very slow flame till golden brown. If required add a little more oil. When the bottom is golden brown, turn over and fry the other side adding a little oil again.
Enjoy with ginger chutney or kandi pachadi (recipe follows).
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Each family has members who are very picky about what they eat and have very definite dislikes. My husband is one such who will not eat chana/chole, banana, tindora(aka dondakai/kovakai) etc etc. He has such hatred for cooked carrot that never will he eat carrot curry in any form. But on the other hand he loves raw carrot. I guess all things crunchy are welcomed by him.
Now we all love one raw vegetable dish with lunch. So as a compromise we made up this yummy South Indian tasting carrot salad which is simple but extremely healthy and full of goodness.
4 medium Carrots
2 green chillies
1/2 a lime
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds.
Salt to taste
Grate the carrots. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add green chillies and switch off the flame.
Pour over the grated carrot. Add lime juice and salt to taste.
And thats it. Its that simple.
I have a niece who has a farm where Amlas or Indian gooseberries grow abundantly . On a recent visit, they sent me back with a carton of these sweet and sour beauties (in a size that I have yet to see elsewhere. I guess XXL would fit the bill). Not knowing what to do with them, I asked my mother for a solution. She suggested that we make Usirikai Pachadi, a very traditional Telugu accompaniment to rice or to curd rice - a staple South Indian favorite. My first time at this, it came out well even if I have to say so myself. Very tasty - tart and spicy at the same time. Perfect foil for soothing "perugu annam" or "thaiyir sadam"
Gooseberry is also known as Usirikai in Telugu, Nellikai in Tamil and Amla in Hindi. Widely used and eaten in India, it is powerhouse of nutrition particularly rich in Vitamin C. It is used in a lot of Ayurvedic medicines for obvious reasons. It is supposed to help in reducing cholestrol and in stabilizing blood pressure.
2 tablespoon salt