Friday, December 24, 2010

Shahi Baby Corn And My Dead Silent Picture




They say a picture speaks a thousand words. We have all heard this a million times over. We have also heard that every picture speaks a story. These are very clich├ęd sayings but hold very true nonetheless. In this day of instant gratification, people want to have a lot of visual stimulation along with the written word. They need to be pulled towards your blog through a lot of good pictures and pretty fonts. And definitely first impressions make all the difference. In my case of food blogging, the picture also serves a dual purpose of showing my readers what the final product should look like.

But by that criteria, when I see the picture accompanying this post, I know for a fact that my picture is dead silent. It is mute and unable to convey what it should.
Along with my picture, I am also struck speechless. It is such a bad and uninspiring picture.
I tried photoshopping it. I tried improving its looks. Increasing the exposure, sharpening it, contrasting it, cropping it.... But NO. It stayed stubbornly silent.
Leave alone conveying a story, this badly behaved picture refused to say even a word.

I pride myself on my picture taking ability (though to be very honest, I know next to nothing about the technical aspects of it). I love it when I get rave compliments for my pictures which accompany the blog posts. It keeps me motivated and always planning on the next picture.

I have only one thing to say here now. Yes it is another cliche. This post is replete with cliches. Don't judge a book by its cover...
What I am trying to say here is that please do not judge the dish by the picture. Maybe it just does not photograph well. But it tastes really good. Really really good. This Shahi Baby Corn is YUMMY to say the least. Go ahead and make it and tell me if you agree with me or not.

This recipe is taken from Nita Mehta's book, Mughlai Vegetarian Khana.




INGREDIENTS:


200 grams Baby corn
2 cups Milk

2 tablespoons Cashew nuts, ground to a paste with 1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon Coriander (dhania) Powder
1/2 teaspoon Dry Mango Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
2-3 small Cardamom Pods (seeds crushed)
100 grams Paneer grated
1 tablespoon Coriander leaves chopped

Masala Paste:
3 medium Onions
3 Tomatoes
1 inch piece Ginger
1 Green Chilli

Tempering:
1 tablespoon Oil
1/2 teaspoon Jeera (cumin) seeds
1 teaspoon Ginger, finely chopped
5-6 Almonds, sliced
1/4 Red Chilli Powder



Method:

Slice the baby corn lengthwise.

Cook baby corn in the milk along with a pinch of the turmeric powder till it starts boiling. Then simmer for about 2 minutes till baby corn is soft.

Blend all the ingredients for the masala paste in the mixie to a fine paste.

Heat oil. Add the jeera and then after it crackles, add the masala paste.

Cook till the oil separates and it is almost dry.

Add the red chilli, turmeric, coriander, dry mango and garam masala powders. Add the salt too.

Fry for a minute and then add the cashew nut paste. Stir to mix well.

Add the leftover milk from boiling the baby corn and stir for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cooked baby corn and simmer oin a low flame for 3 minutes or so.

Add 2 cups of water to get a thin gravy and simmer till the gravy starts getting thicker.

Add the cardamom seeds, grated paneer and coriander leaves.

To serve, put the hot vegetables in the dish. For the tempering, heat oil, fry the jeera and the ginger. Add almonds and red chilli powder. Pour over the vegetable.

Serve hot along with chapati, nan, pulao, rice etc.

ENJOY!!!!!!!!








Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carrot Cake - Healthy Cake?






To continue with my recurring theme of loving unhealthy foods, would you consider carrot cake to be healthy or unhealthy? Healthy is a word which is very in. Healthy living, healthy choices are all expressions to which we react with pride.

Now as far as carrot cake is concerned, it has carrot, uses only vegetable oil, brown sugar instead of refined white sugar, walnuts... I think it is healthy or at the very least as healthy as a cake slice can be. I definitely think that the carrots give the cake a shining health-halo on top. Most people consider a slice of carrot cake to be health food.





The dense and spicy taste of this cake makes it loved by all. Even though it has a healthy tag and is therefore not supposed to taste good, this cake can really surprise you - it is really yummy. The oil and the carrot in the cake make it moist even if kept for a few days.

This cake can be so easily made with whole wheat flour rather than all purpose flour. I made it with maida but I think next time around, I will experiment with whole wheat flour. I think that will only make it tastier and more dense. Also, the addition of walnut adds a crunch and some amount of omega-3 fats.

The only thing it healthy or not, this cake will tempt you beyond anything else. And then it certainly becomes very unhealthy if you finish the whole cake in one sitting. Indulgence is good only up to a point.


Now on a more serious note: PLAGIARISM. I have heard of it happening, seen it too. It happened to me once and a kind reader pointed it out. When I complained, they promptly took it off. This time a friend posted a link on Facebook about food that he loves. It looked interesting. So I went through the site I saw this picture. It looked so much like mine picture here. I went back to my blog to check. And sure enough it was mine. Now I don't know whether to be flattered or to be mad.
Anyway I took it up. Lets hope something comes of it.




Now to the recipe...


INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups Flour
2 cups brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs
3 cups Carrot grated
1 cup Walnuts chopped



METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350 deg F or 175 degC.

Sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon powder until well mixed.

Pour in the oil and mix till well blended.

Add the eggs one a time, beating throughly each time.

Blend in the carrots and walnuts.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes in a 9"X 13" pan. Or till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Frost with a cream cheese frosting if you would like (recipe follows)

ENJOY!!!!!!!


CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

225 grams Cream Cheese
50 grams Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1 cup Icing sugar

Soften the cream cheese and butter till it is at room temperature.
Cream well with the icing sugar and vanilla essence.
Frost the cake.

ENJOY!!!!!!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Carrot Capsicum Rice - The Dreaded Carbs





I love rice. Is it any surprise? Any self respecting South Indian would. I cannot do without rice. It is very very hard for me to give it up for anything in the world. In today's world, where everyone is so afraid of eating those dreaded 'carbs', I boldly go where other fear to tread. I eat rice without any qualms at all. In my opinion, rice cannot be all that bad considering us South Indians have eaten it for generations without ill effects. I think people are carrying this NO CARBS or the CaRBS ARE REALLY BAD FOR YOU a little too far.

I think the problem mainly lies in the fact that back in the day, people would eat just that. Nowadays, the variety of food available for daily consumption is mind boggling. So, in addition to eating normal everyday food, we tend to over indulge ourselves with desserts, sugars, fats etc..


Now to come to our dish of the day - Carrot Capsicum Rice. This recipe is adapted from Viji Varadarajan's book - "Samayal". This is an immensely simple but very tasty rice dish, which can be easily served up as a one dish meal along with a raita or curds. It does not have too many ingredients and so the flavor of the carrots and the capsicum really comes through. I have tweaked her recipe slightly, with the addition of onions,red chillies and asafoetida.





INGREDIENTS:


2 cups Basmati rice

400 grams Carrots grated
400 grams Capsicum diced finely
2 large Onions diced finely
3 tablespoons chopped Coriander leaves

1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds(jeera)
2-3 Dried Red Chillies
10-12 Curry leaves
4 tablespoons Oil

1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder

2 to 3 spoons Pitlai powder ( recipe follows)
1 tablespoon Lime juice
Salt to taste


PITLAI POWDER:

3 tablespoons Coriander seeds (Dhania)
1 tablespoon Bengal gram dal (Chana dal)
2 Red Chillies
1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
2 tablespoons Coconut grated
1 teaspoon Oil

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil and fry the coriander seeds, red chillies, asafoetida and Bengal gram till golden and fragrant. Keep aside.

Heat remaining oil and add the coconut. Fry till golden brown. Keep aside.

When all ingredients are cool, grind to a fine powder.

This is a versatile taste powder which can be used to flavor vegetables and other rice dishes also.






METHOD:

Boil the rice with double the amount of water till fluffy and cooked. Keep aside.

Heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the cumin, red chillies and curry leaves.

When cumin turns golden, add the onions, asafoetida and turmeric powder. Fry till translucent.

Then add the carrot and capsicum. Fry for a few minutes. Do not let the vegetables become too soft.

Add the salt, pitlai powder and rice.

Add the lime juice and turn it a few times. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita or simpler still, just curd (yoghurt).

ENJOY!!!!!!