Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Simple Dal Fry

Pin It Now! Dal at my typical maharashtrian home was called "Varan" and it was simply toor dal cooked with a few minimalist ingredients - turmeric and hing. After adding salt and water it was served on top of hot rice for a comforting "Varan-bhat" that we relish till today.
 Recently I gave a new twist by adding some veggies and fruit. Also went in is a tadka of pure ghee, cumin and a handful of jaggery taking the simple "varan" to a whole new level.
 Here's how I make it :-

 1. Pressure cook 1/4 C toor dal or red lentils with :-
  • pinch of hing
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 chopped apple\mango (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped vegetables ( I use a mix of carrots,peas,green beans and corn
2.  Make a tadka with 2-3 tbsp ghee. When the ghee is hot add the following:
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 small pieces of green chillies 
3. Mash the toor dal and add water to get desired consistency. Add :-
  • 2 tbsp chopped tomatoes
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped jaggery
  • salt to taste
4. Finally add the tadka. Microwave on high for about 2-3 minutes till the jaggery melts.

There you have it. We have this dal with some pickle and rice for a comforting end to a meal.
Sending this dal to Delicious Dals event started by Suma of Veggie Platter. I cannot wait to see the round up here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Raspberry Preserves and some cake

Pin It Now! What's lurking in my kitchen ? - Raspberry Preserves ! They have been lying their untouched for months now. They are still good though but they are not finding their way into our systems. Actually it so happens that since the birth of our son we have somehow lost our sweettooth. So the jam-bread that I loved as breakfast has been replaced by a warm bowl of oats.

I found this recipe for jam cake on Framed.Its a very straightforward recipe and did not take long to assemble.

 The result was an absolute indulgence. The crumb was sweet and slightly tart and complements very well with the vanilla cake below.
 Here's how I made it :-

Jam Cake ( Adapted from this recipe at Framed)

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk 

1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1C Red Raspberry preserves ( anyother preserves or jam like strawberry or apricot will also work)

2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped almonds

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour in melted butter and mix until mixture is crumbly.
2. Add egg,vanilla and milk and fold in until all the mixture is incorporated.
3. Pour batter into a buttered 9-inch square baking pan. Spoon the jam over the batter, then swirl through the batter with a knife.
4. Mix topping ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle evenly over batter.
5. Bake at 400° for 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve while still warm. 

The cake was ready in almost 23 mins. If kept longer the top browns up. The cake can be served warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream or some whipped cream for a quick dessert !
This cake goes to BlogBytes 4 - What's lurking in the kitchen ? started by Nupur of OneHotStove . Nupur, I join you in this trip in using up the lurkers in the kitchen. Thanks for the excellent idea !

Friday, May 21, 2010

Punjabi Aloo Bhindi

Pin It Now! Okra was something I loved while in India. The one sold in India was always fresh and tender.But here in the US its not as fresh and is not easily available in grocery stores. So whenever I find some fresh and tender okra I always pick it up. I remember my mom making fry bhindi that use to be crispy and a stuffed bhindi that we kids called as "Crocodile".

A few months back though I learned another way of making it. Like the way they make it in restaurants and call it as Bhindi Masala. I took the recipe for "punjabi aloo" from this website and added okra with the aloo. 
The result was delicious !

Punjabi Aloo Bhindi


10-12 okra/ladyfingers cut into 1 inch pieces
1-2 potatoes boiled and roughly chopped
1-2 tsp chilli powder
1 tomato roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp curd/yoghurt
oil to fry
2 tsp cumin seeds

Make a paste of the following w/o using  water:-
1-2 green chillies
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 onion sliced

1. Heat oil in kadai. Add cumin. Once seeds sizzle add the onion paste and chilli powder.Fry for a minute till mixture leaves oil

2. Now add the okra and toss to coat with the mixture. Fry for 2-3 min.Do not cover.

3. Mixture will become sticky so add yoghurt. And mix again.

4. Once stickiness reduces add the tomatoes and potatoes and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can also add 1-2 tsp of coriander powder to make it more spicy.

5. Fry for a few more minutes till okra becomes slightly soft but not mushy. It should still have a bite/crunch.
6. Serve hot with rotis.

This recipe goes to the event Blog Bites: Adaptation Edition hosted by Nupur of One Hot Stove.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hotel Sambhar on a rainy day

Pin It Now! The rains are good not when you are on the road but when you are at home, its a weekend and you have planned for a nice hot brunch. Perfect. Somehow I love the combination of idlis with piping hot sambhar on a rainy morning. The slightly cold outside and the warm feeling inside is very relaxing to me. This was one such weekend where the weather gods smiled at us and showered some much needed moisture. It was a great welcome after the hot days we have had so far.

This time rather than using my own recipe to make sambhar  I thought to try the "Hotel Sambhar" recipe on this site.I made it in my rice cooker and set it on warm setting to have a continuous supply of hot sambhar throughout saturday morning. This slow cooking not only improves its taste but saves the in and out from the microwave.
Here is my version of the recipe- 

1C Toor Dal pressure coked with pinch of turmeric and hing
1/2 onion sliced
1 tomato chopped
lime sized tamarind ball soaked in hot water for 10min
1tsp mustard seeds
1-2 tsp sambhar powder
some jaggery/gur
2-3C water
Paste of 1tsp coconut + 1 garlic clove+ 1/2 inch ginger+1tsp jeera

1.In a rice cooker or a pot heat 3C of water and add the tamarind pulp. You can use store-bought tamarind paste also. Let it come to a rolling boil.

2. Then add the sliced onions,tomatoes and let it cook for 10 mins or so.

3. Once the raw smell of tamarind is lost add the tur dal,salt,sambhar powder and gur. You can 1-2 tsp of chilli powder to make it more spicy.

4. Then add the coconut-ginger-garlic paste to the mixture and let it cook for 10-15 mins. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

5. Heat oil in a small kadai and add mustard seeds. When seeds cracked add curry leaves and whole red chillies.Pour over the rice cooked. I did not use curry leaves since i did not have those at hand.

6. Serve with warm idlis.

We had ours with some rava idlis for a satisfying brunch. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rice Paper Rolls and my latest food obsession

Pin It Now!
Patience - that's what I am cultivating and loads of it, enough to handle all the pranks and discoveries of a one year old. Needless to say am also looking to spend less time in the kitchen without compromising on variety and quality. To satisfy my craving for quick and healthy recipes I made this quick appetizer over the weekend.
It so happened that I brought back a bag of rice paper sheets on my recent visit to an International grocery store. I was eying them for quite sometime now. You see, for the past few years we often ordered these rolls at Thai restaurants. They were sold for almost $2.50 a piece so i often thought that they were really time-consuming to make. 
However I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that they are actually very easy and healthy too.  They are everything you want an appetizer to be - easy, quick,healthy,make-ahead and simply superb for the summer since they can be served cold.

What you need is : -

2C shredded vegetables( I used a mix of red cabbage,carrots,spinach leaves)
1/4C finely chopped cilantro and mint
Rice paper sheets
Warm water and a napkin
 Hot and sweet dipping sauce

1. Pour warm water on a shallow plate and place the rice paper for 20s till it becomes soft.
2. Now spread the rice paper on a cutting board lined with a clean kitchen towel
3. Place the veggies and cilantro-mint mixture.
4. Carefully fold the edges and bring together in a roll.
5. Chill in fridge for 1 hour and then serve with dipping sauce

There are endless combinations of fillings for this roll. Like this one on One Hot Stove that uses Tofu or this one that uses chickpeas. 
This almost a no-cook recipe that can be assembled in less that 20mins for a regular home cook. So this goes to Twenty-20 Cooking Event hosted at Kitchen Samraj.

And now my latest food obsession - Sun dried tomatoes. I picked up a jar this weekend and ever since the ingredient is finding its way in most of my cooking.
I am loving its sweet,tangy and moist  flavor. So far I have used it in salads and sandwiches. I will post some blog-worthy recipe soon. Have you been using it for any other recipes ??

Monday, May 3, 2010

Read it, Make it, Blog it - Ven Pongal and Gosthu

Pin It Now! Yes, this is what happened today. I happened to read several posts with recipes for pongal and gosthu. Coincidentally I also happened to have all the ingredients at hand. So this became our dinner for today and my lunch for tomorrow.
The recipe of my choice is from this beautiful website Tasty Palettes by Suganya. If you have never been to this blog take my word you are missing one of the good looking blogs in the blogging world.
In fact the way she describes the pongal "Smooth like butter, it should reach the stomach directly, without any effort to chew. It should neither be too thick, nor runny " got me completely sold. It seemed like a comfort food perfect to beat my monday evening blues.You know those evenings where you know you have a week to go before you say TGIF.
Anyways where were we.. at the recipe i suppose. I followed her recipe closely for Ven pongal and Gosthu and did not make any modifications.The mild and simple flavours were taken very well on a hot summer evening.
 Gosthu ( Recipe adapted from Tasty Palettes)
Moong dal – ¼ cup
Mixed vegetables (eggplant, carrot, potato) – 2 cups, cubed
Onion or shallots – ½ cup, sliced
Tomato – 1, chopped
Tamarind – 1 tbsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – few
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, chopped
Oil – 1 tbsp
1tbsp - sambhar powder
Pressure cook moong dal until soft. This can be cooked along with rice and dal for the pongal.
In a sauce pan, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds. Add onion and tomato along with curry leaves, and sauté for about 2 minutes. To this, add tamarind paste, turmeric powder, jaggery, salt and 2 cups of water and stir until the tamarind paste is completely dissolved in the water. Add the sambhar powder and cover and cook till the vegetables are cooked.
Finally, add the cooked dal. Bring it to a boil. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with pongal.
Another look at it...

Since the Gosthu uses tamarind I would like to send a helping to the Think Spice - Tamarind event started by Sunita at Sunita's World and hosted by PJ at Seduce Your Taste Buds.