Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mushroom Curry

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What an eventful week this has been ! It all started with Vijay being away for first part of the week. And I was left to guard the fort. Not that I complain. Its just all the more challenging and very hectic.
Then there was the India-Australia cricket match, full of all kinds of emotions - hope, disappointment and then finally sheer joy. In the final part of the week, both Vijay and Aamod were down with cold and cough. Fortunately they are doing well now. And things should be normal soon.

In the kitchen,I had some mushrooms leftover that needed to be dealt with.They were used in this spicy nutty curry that we enjoyed over the weekend. 
If you are a vegetarian who misses the non vegetarian gravies, then this curry is for you. Spicy without the meat.
Mushroom Curry
( Adapted from this recipe )

1 180z pack of whole mushrooms sliced
1/2 an onion + 2 cloves garlic + 1/2 inch ginger - all pulsed coarsely in food processor
2 tbsp tomato puree 
2 tbsp cashews + 2 tbsp yogurt - all pulsed into a smooth paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala (optional, I did not use any)
cilantro to garnish
oil as required
salt to taste

For the tempering:
2 bay leaves
1 stick cinnamon (I left it out since I had none on hand)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 dry red chillies

  • Over medium heat combine the oil and ingredients for tempering. Allow the cumin to sizzle.
  • Then add the onion paste and mix in till brown. The mixture becomes dry and lumpy.
  • Add the chilli , cumin, coriander and turmeric powders plus the tomato puree. Continue saute till the mixture is dry and no longer smells of raw tomato.
  • Add the mushrooms,salt and give a good stir. Cover and cook till mushrooms are almost cooked. About 5-7min.
  • Mushrooms will release their moisture so no water is required.
  • Then add the cashew-yogurt mixture. Add water to get a thinner gravy.
  • Simmer and allow to come to a gentle boil.
  • Add garam masala and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Serve with rotis or rice.
I am sure to make this curry many times. We had it with some rotis and mango pickle, but it tastes best with plain rice.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reposting - Ukdiche Modak

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I posted the pictures of Modak last year assuming that the recipe was not something people would be intrested in. I was pleasantly incorrect. Several friends requested the recipe for Modaks and so here I am with the same. 
Do excuse the crappy pics. I did not own a DSLR back then.

 Army of Modaks .....
 To get the perfectly shaped modaks you can use the modak mould avalaible in Western Maharashtra. Most of the houseware stores would carry it. Buy a medium sized one with a smaller hole at the bottom and with smooth lines..
There are 2 parts to the modak. The sweet coconut stuffing and the dough made of rice flour.

Ukdiche Modak
( Our family recipe )

Whats needed for 6 medium sized modaks :-

Stuffing :-
1 C shredded coconut (freshly grated is preferred or use the dry unsweetened variety from indian stores)
3/4 C jaggery (gur) or brown sugar or castor sugar ( jaggery is preferred for the color it imparts)
pinch of cardamom powder
1 tsp of ghee
  • Combine all of the above ingredients except the cardamom on medium heat. 
  • Mix till the jaggery (or sugar, if using) melts.
  • The mixture will be pulpy. Keep at it and it will dry out. 
  • This process may take around 30 min. Do not increase heat else the coconut can burn. 
  • Once the mixture dries out add the cardamom. 
  • Set the stuffing aside and allow it to cool completely before using. You can make this a day ahead.

1 C rice flour ( fresh is preferred.Do not use the one stored in pantry for a long time)
1 C + 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp all purpose flour ( do not skip this)
1 tbsp ghee
pinch of salt
  • Heat the water in a heavy bottomed pan and allow it to bubble.
  • Add the ghee, salt and stir. 
  • Now add the floursand mix everything. The mixture will be sticky but that's ok.
  • Quickly cover with a tight lid and switch off the heat.
  • Leave aside for at least 10min.This will be our dough.

To make modaks :-
  • Once warm enough to handle empty the flour mixture into a plate. 
  • Knead wetting your hands occasionally in cold water.This makes the dough soft and elastic so that we do not get any cracks in the modak. This is slightly tricky since the dough is hot. But be patient and it will come together.After all you are trying to please Bappa so ..
  • Once the dough is soft, divide it into 6 equal portions.
  • Grease the mould with ghee. This prevents the dough from sticking to the mould.
  • Form each portion into a 2 inch log and push the log into the mould. 
  • Press the center of the log with your index finger and spread it inside the mould. See the picture below.
Modaks in the making.....
  •  Now fill in the stuffing and close with more dough. You can do some patching near the hole.
  • Open the mould to get the perfectly shaped modak.
  • To make without the mould flatten every portion into a disk around 1/4 inch thick. Fill with stuffing (the way you do for aloo paratha) and bring in the edges together. Your modak is ready to be steamed.
To steam the modaks:
  • Keep the modaks on a stainless sieve and keep it covered over a pot of boiling water for 20min.
  • Or do it in pressure cooker ( without the whistle ) for 20min.
  • Serve hot with dollop of ghee.
 Ready to be steamed

Modak for Ganpati Bappa
If the modaks stick to the sieve apply some ghee on the area before you place them.
If making the rice flour dough sounds difficult it can be made with chapati flour (atta) kneaded a little harder than chapati dough. Roll into puri sized circles and stuff. Then deep fry till golden brown.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Matar Paneer

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I consider myself lucky to have spent a better part of my life in Pune. I have seen the city grow from a small conservative town to the cosmopolitan place of today. Besides other things the city is now famous for its food. The plethora of restaurants in various parts of the city cover most of the world's popular cuisines. 

During college days we spent a lot of evenings hanging out on the famous "Jungli Maharaj Road". When we were looking for a small snack or a lite lunch we always found something within our budget - Chaat, Dabelis, sandwiches and so much more.Birthdays, get-togethers, sari days, valentines,almost every special occasion was celebrated with a lunch or dinner at some of our favorite joints located here. Most of the restaurants served classic North Indian cuisines along with the indianized chinese food. The "vegetable manchurian" at one of these places was to die for and so were the other paneer dishes.

Matar Paneer - a classic north indian preparation, is not something frequently made at our home. Not because we don't like it but it wasn't just part of the meal rotation. But a half can of tomato puree lying around in the fridge suggested that I needed to use it up quickly and this dish sounded like a perfect way to do the same.
I referred to several recipes online. Most of them used thick cream that I did not have on hand. Finally I decided to make it the following way.
The recipe uses whole garam masala along with a generous amount of ginger-garlic.A couple of teaspoons of yogurt impart the required creaminess. In all, a tasty and healthy recipe.

Matar Paneer
(Adapted from "Indian Home Cooking" by Suvir Saran)

What's needed :-

1.5 medium  onion chopped finely
1 inch piece of ginger grated
4 cloves of garlic
5-6 tbsp of tomato puree (or 3 medium tomatoes chopped)
2-3 tbsp of yogurt whisked smooth
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 bunch cilantro
salt to taste
6 tbsp of oil

For the tempering :
1 inch stick of cinnamon
5-6 black peppercorns
3-4 dry red chillies
5 cloves
7 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds

  • Mince the garlic and the cumin and set aside.
  • Over medium heat combine the cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom and wait till cinnamon unfurls. 
  • Add the cumin seeds, dry red chillies and allow to sizzle.
  • Add the onions and salt. Let the onions brown. If they get dry add a tsp of water. This may take around 10 min so be patient.
  • Then add the ginger,garlic-cumin mixture,chilli , turmeric, coriander and cumin powders. Continue to saute till the mixture is dry and lumpy.
  • Then add the tomatoes or the tomato puree. If using puree let the mixture cook for around 5-7min till the raw smell of tomato is gone.
  • Whisk the yogurt and add a tablespoon of the tomato mixture. Add the yogurt to the pan. 
  • If the whole thing gets too thick add water to get desired consistency.
  • Turn the heat to medium and cover.Allow to come to a  gentle boil. Do not cook over high heat as the yogurt may curdle. 
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the peas and cook for another 5 min.
  • Finally add the garam masala, cilantro and the paneer. Switch off after 2-3 min.

There you are- a restaurant classic to be enjoyed right in the comfort of your home. Such dishes make our weekend meals special. We love them with warm rotis and some salad.  

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Orange Basundi

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    When I was in my early teens I often asked aai  "How did you know that I was hungry". And she had the same answer "You got to be a mom to know that ..". A decade and half later I understand what she meant. Mom's are special people. Aren't they ? 
     I love how these simple things in life give so much joy. Like cooking and feeding the family.The smile on their face when they see their favorite meal, their appetite, their request for seconds and the satisfied faces after wards. This makes the menu planning, the grocery trips, the cooking all worth it.
    To satisfy the weekend sweet cravings I made some sinful orange basundi. Sinful  ? Because its too good to resist. And except your weight everyone else will be really happy.
    The recipe is very simple and can be made ahead. Perfect for a party or a get-together.

    Orange Basundi
    (Inspired from this recipe)

    1/2 can or 7 oz of condensed milk 
    3 C low fat milk
    3 tbsp milk powder
    (combination of low fat milk + milk powder can be replaced with 3 C of whole milk)
    3 oranges peeled  (sweeter variety like navel,valencia or even clementines)
    pinch of saffron
    pinch of cardamom
    • In a heavy bottomed pan combine the condensed milk, low fat milk and milk powder.
    • Get it to a boil and simmer for 45mins or so till the mix is reduced to 1/2 the qty.
    • Add the saffron and cardamom.
    • Allow it to cool to room temperature.
    • Meanwhile peel the oranges removing the all the white rinds as far as possible.
    • When the milk has cooled add the orange pieces.
    • Chill and serve cold.
    The condensed milk is very sweet and so no additional sugar is needed. I made them with some sweet valencia oranges. But you can try using clementines since they are so easy to peel. Other fruits like grapes, berries would go well too. I would not add banana though.
    Totally delicious !!

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Eggless Date Cake

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    Date cake is the most popular cake in my house. We both love it and now Aamod is loving it too. When I offered him a tiny piece he wrinkled up his nose and winked his eyes. The usual expressions I get when he tastes something new. This time he paused, thought for a moment wondering what it is. Soon he gobbled up the whole thing  and was asking for more. I made this cake yesterday and by today evening its almost over. Its really really tasty my friends !.
     I usually make this version of it. This time however I made it healthier. Replaced the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour (atta), cut down on the oil and the sugar too.

    Date Cake
    (Adapted from this recipe on Aayi's recipes)

    1 packet chopped and pitted dates ( the one you get in walmart) or use 18 fresh dates
    3/4C milk
    1/2 +1/8 C sugar ( or turbinado sugar or brown sugar)
    1/2 C all purpose flour + 1/2 C whole wheat flour
    1/4 C oil
    1/4 C applesauce
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tbl spn cashews, walnuts

    • Combine the dates and milk in a bowl. Microwave it for 3min. Let it cool. 
    • Add the sugar. Then blend the whole thing into a smooth paste.
    • Transfer to a big bowl and add the oil. Set aside
    • In another bowl sift the flour, baking soda and the nuts.
    • Now add the flour mixture to the dates mixture 2 tbsp at a time. Combine using the cut-fold method till all the flour is integrated. 
    • Transfer to a 8inch cake pan. 
    • Bake in a preheated oven 350 F for 35-40min.
    • If a tooth pick comes out clean the cake is done.
    If you are hesitant to buy a big jar of applesauce try the baby food section. You can buy a 50cent jar just enough for this recipe. Or pressure cook some apples at home after removing the skin and the stems. Or use an overripe banana. The taste might differ but it will still be very good.
    And here is one of us enjoying a piece of it...