At every visit to the library I squeeze in a few minutes to skim through the books in the culinary section. In fact I was pleasantly surprised to see several books about indian cusine. The best part was that these weren't by the likes of the Tarla Dalals and Sanjeev kapoors. Oh yes their recipes are good, no doubt after all they are professional chefs.But what I find more interesting is the food cooked by simple people like you and me. The recipes that have passed over generations and from one kitchen to another.
Last week I picked up one such book by Suvir Saran. The book has a fine collection of recipes that have been part of families known to the author. I love books with lots of pictures (feast to the eyes) and the book could have done better on this front. Nevertheless the author makes up with a short history about the origin of the recipe. Is there any cookbook that you referred to often ?
This weekend I tried this comforting dal from this book. There was a lot of eating out for us this past week - Office parties, birthday parties, on the go lunches and so forth. I and consequently him too were craving some light, home cooked food. Something not too spicy yet tasty and comforting.
On to the recipe for the lentil dal : -
Simple Lentil Dal with Whole Cinnamon, Cardamom and Cloves
(Inspired by recipe from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran)
1C cooked masoor dal or red lentils (pressure cook with turmeric,hing)
1 2-inch stick of cinnamon
6 cloves of green cardamom, lightly crushed to release the seeds
1 heaped tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 green chillies cut into to 2-3 chunks
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tbsp or 1/2 chopped onion
handful of cilantro
1 tbsp of lime juice
salt to taste
3-4 tbsp oil
Combine the oil with the cinnamon,cloves and cardamom. Allow the spices to release their aroma.
Then add the onion,green chillies and the ginger-garlic paste. On medium heat saute for 2-3 min.
Then add the lentils and the salt.Allow to come to a boil on medium heat.
Add handful of cilantro and lemon juice.
Enjoy with plain rice.
I poured ladles of it over plain rice and devoured it to the last bit. And did I tell you the dal tasted even better the next day. And Aamod liked it too. That gives me all the more reason to make it again.
Don't you love this time of the year ? With all the Christmas decorations at homes, offices and at the malls it seems like everyone is in the party mood, hopeful of the good times ahead. The trees are lighting up , the gift-buying is almost done and the wrapping up is in full swing. The weather has been supportive too (at least here). And I really hope it continues this way. With a few stints of chill its mostly-been low humidity and cool days for us. Oh I am so looking forward to the holidays. Just a few days to go ....
And while all of you gear up for the holidays here is one recipe that is quick,easy and somewhat healthy too.
With a limited choice of vegetables in winter I often seek different ways to serve them. A few days back I bookmarked this recipe on Monsoon Spice. Its a nice change from the way I usually make Gobi. Simple enough for a weekday meal.
With every year that passes by, life becomes all the more busier with more responsibilities and chores. Its so easy to get caught up in the routine - career,job,home,kids. We often leave behind the things we loved to do. So imagine my surprise when some of my friends teamed up to do a marathi entertainment program. I had more than respect for them - it was deep admiration too. How in the world could you have time , I said. But I agree, amongst all the things life throws at us we need some time for some own therapeutic activity. It may be just a few minutes a day , once a week or so. The challenge is in doing what you love without the guilt.
By now you must have guessed that blogging and cooking are curing for me too !! So lets get to the important issue at hand - Food.
This winter I have made a secret resolution to cook soup at least once a week. Why once a week ? Because that way I am forced to find at least one good soup recipe. If the recipes are blog-worthy you will surely see them here.
The first soup that I had bookmarked since ages is this Salmon and Beans Soup. This soup is a good combination of all the good things that one needs. Protein from the beans , heart healthy omega3 acids and whole lot of flavor making it all delectable.
We had a fun and an enjoyable thanksgiving weekend. A couple of days away from the routine was just what we needed. So I took the time to lay back and do some my kind of R&R (rest and relaxation). And that included hanging out in some gorgeous weather, spending time with family and cooking some delicious meals.And BTW delicious does not have to be time-consuming. Like this quick egg salad recipe on this blog.
On another note :- How do you boil your eggs. I keep the eggs and the water in a pan and get them to a boil. Then cover and let them rest for at least 10min. Add water to cool them and then peel. Perfectly cooked eggs every time.
The rest of the recipe calls for some basic pantry ingredients.
In a bowl combine add the onion,tomatoes,ginger-garlic paste and oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and microwave for 1 min or till the onion is translucent.
To this add the spices - tumeric,salt,chilli powder and garam masala.
Meanwhile chop the eggs. I used 2 full eggs plus 2 egg whites. Add them to the above mixture.
Finally add 2 tbsp mayonaise, 1 tsp mustard and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with cilantro to serve.
I toasted some Ciabatta and filled them with the salad. Totally delicious !!! Be sure to use the best of the bread you can find. We love the ciabatta from Panera Bread Bakery. Nothing can beat this $1.99 bread. You can use any french bread you like.
If the eggs are ready the total meal will be ready in less than 15min. Faster and way tastier than any take-out.
While this part of the world feasts on the turkey and the mashed potatoes we indulged ourselves in a very much indian Malai Kofta. It was one of those times where I attempted to replicate the restaurant like flavors at home.
An internet search for the perfect recipe resulted in almost a hundred different variations of this classic dish. I took ideas from many of these and came up with my own.
The contents for the kofta are common in most recipes - paneer and potatoes. You can add some basic seasonings if you like. The tomato based curry is enriched with ground cashews and almonds.
Here's the recipe in detail :
For the koftas :
1/2 C paneer grated ( I used homemade)
1 medium potato ( cooked and grated )
pinch of salt ( dont add too much )
1 tsp green chillies finely chopped
1 large carrot grated (optional)
1/4 C green beans finely chopped
2 tbsp corn flour or all purpose flour
oil to deep fry
For the curry :-
7-8 tbsp tomato pure
2 tbsp cashews (soaked overnight)
2 tbsp almonds (soaked overnight)
1/2 onion chopped
1 inch ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp fennel powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp sugar or honey
salt to taste
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
oil for tempering
Make a paste of cashews and almonds and keep aside
Grind the onion with ginger and garlic and keep aside.
In a pan heat the oil and add the onion paste and saute till fragrant.
Then add the chilli powder and turmeric.
Add the tomato puree and stir on high heat till oil emerges at surface.
Add the cashew and almond paste.Add enough water to make gravy.
Once the gravy comes to a boil add the salt,fennel powder,honey,garam masala and the cardamom powder.
Taste and adjust more spices if you like.
If you want to thicken the gravy further add some whole milk or cream.
Cook for a minute and the garnish with cilantro to serve. Add koftas just before serving.
I was actually quite pleased with this outcome. The gravy is creamy and slightly sweet. Serve it with rotis or a simple jeera rice to get the restaurant like experience at home. A perfect holiday indulgence to say the least.
Me in a grocery store is like a kid in a toy shop. The one who wants to touch, feel,smell and taste (if possible) all the intresting ingredients I find out there. But my better half does not share this curious behavior, at least in the grocery store. He's more of the go-getter kind. Head straight to the point of interest without looking either ways. On one such visit he happened to pick up this packet of surti val. I had listed the unpeeled ones but what I got were these....
They reminded me of the time when my mom would soak them and spend a good 1-2 hours peeling the skins. A tedious and time-consuming task so to speak.
After spending enough time languishing on the kitchen counter they finally got their due respect. I used up some of these in tangy,spicy curry. The recipe is inspired from this one on Aayi's recipes .
Though this place was quiet for sometime, my life had actually got all the more busier. The see-saw of my life kind of lost its equilibrium giving me more than I was prepared for. Diwali celebrations, extra hours at work, toddler's health all disrupted our routine for a few days. It wasn't that I was not cooking. In fact I was cooking more than usual. But somehow I was unable to grab my camera and take some shots. Nevertheless a part of me wanted to come back here and post a few lines.
Eggs - These find a place usually at our sunday lunch. Omlets,scramble,curry the combinations are endless. Easy to prepare, nutritious and Vijay loves them. Do I need any more reasons ? I like to try a new recipe for eggs each time. This time I tried this one from Indian Simmer. Prerna gets it from Madhur Jaffrey's cook book. The recipe is very simple and can be assembled in 10-15 mins.
Here it is, as promised in my last post - my version of Brown rice fried rice. Its simple, quick and healthy - everything that I ever want in a recipe.
Here are some of the secrets to Cooking the best Fried rice ( shortlisted from here ).I never realized that fried rice could be an object of so much research and analysis.
A day-old rice makes the best fried rice. Hot, steaming freshly cooked rice would end up in a mushy,sticky fried rice. An absolute no-no. Refer to my earlier post on getting the perfectly cooked brown rice.
Wok Time. I learned this term from Jaden Hair ( from Steamy Kitchen). The rice and the veggies need their time in the wok. So instead of constant stirring and mixing, leave it alone for sometime and you will be rewarded.
Temperature - A hot wok/kadai is an absolute must. Wait patiently while the wok heats up so that you get your veggies crunchy.The trick as Jaden puts it - " The high heat ensures that each grain of rice gets hot to the core"
There are several varieties of brown rice - short grain , long grain, medium grain,aromatic. Brown rice versions are also found in the popular varieties like Jasmine rice, arborio rice, basmati etc. I have used brown basmati rice and short grain brown rice so far.
Selecting and Storing Brown rice
Brown rice gets rancid faster than white rice. I generally get a pound at a time since we have it once a week for lunch/dinner. Our current stock is the short grain brown rice from Whole Foods. Its a dollar more than the one at Walmart but so worth it. Also I can buy in smaller quantities without paying a dime for packaging. I store it in a plastic jar in a dry place along with the lentils etc. Keep away from moisture and it should last well.
Cooking brown rice
There are several ways to do this. I attempted 2-3 of them and have finally settled down on the following one. This method has never failed me, specially when I used it to make the rice for fried rice.
1 C brown rice
4 C of water ( Yes, it in 1:4 ratio)
salt to taste 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
Wash the rice several time with water. Place it into a big pot / rice cooker with the salt and olive oil.
I do mine in a electric rice cooker.
Let it come to a boil. This will take around 20-25min.
Check to see if its tender and cooked. If not give it another 5-10 min.
Else drain the whole thing into a colander.
Then put the rice back into the cooker and cover with a tight lid.Switch off the cooker.
Leave it alone for 10min or more. Fluff with fork and use.
Apparently this method is very versatile and would work for most brands and varieties of rice. No guesswork on how the rice would turn out. I used it to make the rice for my fried rice. You guessed it, that's coming up in the next post.
Dassera (Dussera) is one of the most auspicious days according to the Hindu Calender. I recall my aai making an elaborate lunch on that day - batata bhaij, pakoras, puris,.. the list was long. We girls contributed by making hot puffed puris. These would then be used to scoop some cool Amrakhand.
I made some Aamrakhand last weekend as a part of the puja meal.
This is a very easy to make dessert with not much scope for mistakes.
1 32oz can of full fat yogurt ( I used readymade Dannon yogurt but homemade would work great too)
1/2 C or more of alphonso mango pulp
1 C sugar
1tsp cardamom powder
walnuts or other chopped nuts to garnish
Scoop the yogurt into a muslin cloth and tie the ends. Then hang it up so that it drains out the water. I have seen friends hanging it to the handle of kitchen cabinet or to a chair (similar to hanging paneer). Just ensure that its high enough so that the whole thing does not sit in its own whey.Overnnight is the best but 7-8 hours would also work.
Transfer the thick yogurt into a bowl. Add the sugar,cardamom and the mango pulp. Mix until smooth and there are no lumps.Taste and adjust sweetness. If you use homemade yogurt that is slightly sour you might need more sugar.
Then decorate with nuts and serve !
It had been quite a while since I made a traditional maharashtrian dessert. So we enjoyed every spoonful to the fullest.
And what's up with the toddler these days ? Here have a look.....
Yes,he plundered mommy's purse..And BTW,someone else got to wear my sunglasses too...
The most versatile vegetable in my (or in most) household(s) is unmistakenly the chubby potato. Red or white potatoes always have their place in my crisper. They readily lend themselves during times when nothing else seem intresting. Dress them up in a rich curry or dress down into a simple stir fry they are perfect in every way.
This weekend was one such instance when nothing much was planned on the kitchenfront. I poked the fridge and there they were - my potatoes, waiting patiently for their turn.
A quick look at my bookmarks folder and I decided on making Meeta's Achari Aloo - a super simple bhaji to fit a weekend lunch.
4-5 sticks of spring onions chopped (green and white parts) or 1 medium onion sliced
2-3 tbsp mango pickle ( I used Priya's Mango Thokku pickle )
salt to taste
squeeze of lime juice (optional)
2 tbsp of oil
Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in a non-stick wok.
Add the onions and turmeric. Fry for a min or so.
Then add the tomatoes and fry till the whole mixture is mushy.
Then add the potatoes with a splash of water.Cover and cook till potatoes are tender but not mushy. I like my potatoes to be slightly cruncht rather than very soft.
Then mix in the mango pickle.Since the potatoes take on the flavor of the pickle ensure that you use a good quality pickle - something that you actually like. Homemade or the one "smuggled" from India would be perfect.
Add salt and pepper and give the whole thing a good stir.
Add a handful of cilantro (I did not have any) or some more of spring onions for garnish.
We had ours with some fresh rotis.and a cucumber-yogurt salad. Both of us enjoyed this new twist. I for one enjoyed its simplicity. Would be perfect for a picnic with some parathas or as a sidedish for potlucks.
If you are a yogurt lover (like me) then read on....
I was actually a yogurt hater until I moved to US. I never liked the yogurt(curd) in India. My sister and myself detested the sour smell. We disliked all things made with it. So the neighborhood chaat-wala got strict instructions to make our sev-puri without it. And if by chance he forgot, the plate was promptly returned with "eeeee this has dahi.. make us another one..".
The yogurt tubs sold here are different though. They are thick and creamy devoid of the sour smell. So I liked it instantly. But I missed the sourness of homemade yogurt in my koshimbirs and kadhis. That was when I borrowed a yogurt culture from a friend and made my first homemade yogurt. Ever since I have churned batches of yogurt every other week.Its healthy, fresh and generates no plastic waste, and more importantly its way cheaper.
A few weeks back I read this post on this blog. The pictures got me drooling too. And finally I made us some Mishti Doi(Sweet Yogurt). Its a very sweet and comforting dessert, perfect after a nice home-cooked meal.
The recipe is very simple and uses regular pantry ingredients and the results are outstanding.Its traditionally made in earthenware so that the gradual evaporation of water through the holes thickens the yogurt. But ramekins or any other container can also be used.