Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is another thing we learnt at the Mexican cooking class mentioned here. It was delicious, perfect tasting and definitely a keeper. The kids loved it, we loved, friends who ate it loved it... you get the message...

Enchiladas are corn/flour tortillas with a filling and a spicy sauce poured on top. Now when it is said so generally, you can imagine the variety that can come up in terms of fillings. It can be meat, vegetarian, beans, cheese, vegetables etc etc either individually or in combinations....

Simple to make it calls for easy ingredients.


20 grams Butter
1 small Onion diced
2 cloves Garlic chopped
1 cup cooked Spinach ( squeezed)
100 grams Ricotta Cheese or Paneer
50 grams Cheddar Cheese
4 Corn Tortillas (recipe below)

For the Enchilada sauce:

1 teaspoon Oil
2 tablespoons Onions finely diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped Garlic
1 teaspoon Red Chilli paste
150 grams Blanched tomato puree

How to make the red chilli paste:

Soak about 5 fresh or dry red chillies (minus the stem) in 2 tablespoons of vinegar for 24 hours and grind to a paste.

How to make the corn tortillas:

1 cup Cornmeal flour
2 cups all purpose Flour
Salt to taste

Mix the two flours and salt well. Add in water a little at a time till a stiff dough forms. Roll out like chapatis and cook for a minute on each side on a hot griddle.


For the sauce:

Heat the oil.

Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes

Add the chilli paste and mix for a minute. Add a few tablespoons of water every now and then to avoid it getting dry.

Add salt to taste.

Now add the tomato puree and cook for 5 more minutes

For the enchiladas:

Melt butter in the saucepan.

Add onion and garlic and cook till translucent.

Stir in spinach and cook for a couple of minutes longer

Take off the heat and add in the ricotta cheese or paneer.


Heat the corn tortilla for a few seconds on the pan. This makes it pliable.

Place about 3 tablepoons of spinach filling on each tortilla.

Roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish.

Pour enchilada sauce over and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake/ grill till cheese is all melty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mani Kozhukattai and Vinayaka Chaturthi

Vinayaka Chaturthi is a festival looked forward to eagerly by our family ( and not just because it means a holiday at home to laze and relax, oh no not at all!!! :).. ). Vinayaka is such a cute looking god. His pot belly and cheery face just make you feel so good. You know immediately that he is right there watching out for you.

Usually we have a purohit to come home and do the puja for us. This year for some reason he did not show up. Waited for a bit and then decided to go ahead ourselves. In this day and age, life is a lot simpler. I had a little book on how to conduct the puja in English ( unfortunately, never learnt the script of either my mother tongue or my domiciled home). Just went right ahead.

The point of this story is "what?" you may ask. In my opinion, doing something with the heart is more important than making sure you do it just right. I may have made a few mistakes in reciting the names or in my methods, but wouldn't you agree it has more value as it was done in total faith and devotion? I just want to know from you, my dear readers, what your opinion on this is. Hinduism, being a highly ritualistic religion, asks a lot of its followers in terms of day to day prayers and all special occasions..What is more important here? Is it ok to take a few shortcuts here or there or make mistakes, but do it wholeheartedly or is it essential to follow everything to a T?

Anyway, to come to the equally important point of what I made as Naivedyam for the god. Every festival has its own special foods that we make. For Ganesh Chaturthi, the prasadam is of a different kind. There is very little oil used in its preparation. He is offered only foods that are steamed. This is because as per Ayurveda, steamed food is easily digested and easy on the stomach. Modaks of different kinds are offered.

This year too, Modaks featured on the menu. But I tried out something new which I had seen in a book. It is called Mani Kozhukattai. Why it is called that I have no idea and my grasp of Tamil does not extend that far. Instead of placing the stuffing inside, each is made separately and put then together. One good thing about this is that it comes out perfectly and there is not much expertise required. On the other hand, to make a stuffed Kozhukattai with a nice thin outer covering requires a lot of experience.

This turned out very well. I am sure Vinayaka was quite happy with my offering this year.
PS : This can be served as a tiffin also. Makes for a nice filling low in fat snack when you need to fill the empty pockets in your tummy.


1 cup Rice flour ( sifted well)
2 cups hot water
1 teaspoon ghee
salt to taste

1/2 cup urad dal soaked for 4-6 hours
Salt to taste
1 inch piece ginger diced finely
2 green chillis diced finely
4-5 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon oil


For the rice flour balls:

Heat water till it comes to a rolling boil.
Add the salt and ghee to it.
Add the rice flour to the boiling water taking care that no lumps are formed.
Cook till it comes together as a ball.
Leave aside till cool enough to handle.
Form little marble sized balls ( for this you need to apply some ghee on the palms before rolling them out)
Steam lightly for about 10 minutes. You know when it is done as the balls start looking little glossy and translucent.

For the Urad dal:

Coarsely grind the soaked urad dal along with the salt using very little water.
Put the paste in a plate and steam till done.
Crumble till it becomes fine crumbs and looks , well..., crumbly.

Heat oil. When hot add the mustard seeds and let it crackle.
Then add the curry leaves, ginger and green chilli to the oil and fry well.
Add the asafoetida.
Last, add the crumbled urad dal and fry for about 2-4 minutes.

Add in the steamed rice balls and mix gently till well mixed. Be careful, as you do not want to break the balls

Serve hot.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chilli Rellenos and A Cooking Class

Eating food from different cultures is now so common all over the world. It is so easy nowadays to procure ingredients to cook anything. Just check out the shelves of any grocery store in the larger cities.

They say that the Indian palate is so used to its own tastes that it is very hard to introduce new tastes. That I am not so sure is true. You find people trying out all types of food. But the thing is that it is always comforting to eat that which is already familiar to the palate.
Though from two ends of the world, isn't it strange to see the striking resemblance between the two cuisines in both the ingredients used and the methods of cooking. I guess the main reason Mexican food has an edge over the other cuisines of the world (in India) is because it is close in taste to Indian food. The use of tomatoes, kidney beans (rajma), onions, chilli, cumin, coriander (cilantro)... they are all the common factors in both cuisines. The tortiallas are very similar to our chapatis.. I think the only difference is in the use of cheese in Mexican food.

Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines and I can eat Mexican for all meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner and all other meals in between. Though I was almost 22 years old before I tasted Mexican food for the very first time, I took to it like a duck to water. Delicious is the only word that comes to mind.

Very recently, I went for a cooking class on Mexican food. It was quite a nice experience.. They taught us a few things which I came home and promptly replicated. Turned out well.

One of my all time favorites is the Chilli Rellano. Sounds foreign? Well it is simply our yummy Mirchi bajji with a different stuffing..


6 Long chillis ( Bajji Mirchi)
100 grams cottage cheese
100 grams cooking cheese (or cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
salt and pepper to taste.

100 grams toasted Bread crumbs
2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Oil to deep fry


Make a slit along the length of the chilli

Take out the seeds and the long white string inside.

Make a mixture of the stuffing.

Stuff the green chilli with the cottage cheese mixture.

Heat oil to a medium ( not smoking).

Make a paste with the flour and a little water. Put the bread crumbs on another flat plate.

Dip the stuffed chillis into the flour paste and then into the bread crumbs.

Deep fry till golden brown.

Serve hot with salsa and sour cream.