Friday, June 11, 2010

Guest Posts Galore...Another lovely guest post from yet another wonderful blog!

Another awesome blogger, who has been gracious enough to feed my  in my absence...she has an amazing array of recipes on her space!! Here is a great recipe(one that I have never tried before) So, here is Nithu from Nithu's Kitchen.
*******************
First of all, let me thank Meena for giving me this wonderful opportunity. This is my first guest post and I'm happy and excited about this. Today, I'm going to share one authentic dish "Idiyappam and Coconut Milk Kurma/Vellai Kurma". Idiyappam is my favourite food right from my childhood. My Mom used to make many varieties of Idiyappam. My most favourite is Idiyappam with kurma. I have already shared the Idiyappam preparation in my blog. You can see the method here. Now, for Coconut milk Kurma,



You Need :
1. Mixed cut Vegetable - 1/2 Cup
2. Coconut Milk - 1.5 Cups (unsweetened)
3. Onion - 1/4 Cup (Chopped)
4. Green Chilly - 3 or adjust to you taste
5. Bay Leaf - 1
6. Cinnamon stick - 1
7. Saunf - 1/2 tsp
8. Garam Masala - 1 tsp (Optional)
9. Oil - 1/2 tbs
10. Lemon Juice - 1 tsp
11. Salt - Needed qty

Procedure :
1. Take oil in a pan. Add bay leaf, cinnamon and saunf.Fry for a minute.
2. Now, add the onion and green chillies. Fry well. Then add the other cut vegetables.
3. Simmer the stove.
4. Add garam masala to the vegetables. Saute for few minutes.(Optional)
5. Take 1/2 Cup of coconut milk. Add 1 Cup of water.
6. Add this to the vegetables. Add salt and allow the contents to cook.
7. After 5 minutes, dilute another 1/2 cup of coconut milk with 1/2 cup of water and add it to the contents in the pan.
8. Allow it to boil well till the vegetables get completely cooked.
9. Switch off the stove. Take out the pan from the stove and then add remaining 1/2 cup of coconut milk and lemon juice.
10. Mix well.
11. Serve hot with Idiyappam.
Note : Try to use fresh coconut milk as far as possible.
Serves : 2

Hope you all like this kurma.
Thanks Meena once again...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

GUEST POST SEASON IS HERE!!!

I am very very thrilled to announce that it is Guest Post Season on this space...my kind blogger friends have graciously come to my rescue...not only to feed my starving blog when I'm busy, sleep-deprived and knee-deep in volumes of finance...I doubly appreciate this wonderful gesture from my friends because they have chosen to come to my rescue in the midst of their own crazy, busy lives...Hats off to them!

Here is a lovely guest post from a blogger, who needs no introduction at all...I cannot say that she specialises in any one type of cuisine:))...because she is so wonderful with presenting foods from just about any kind of cuisine!!! It is Priya of Priya's Easy n Tasty Recipes...Enjoy!!!


Recipe for Mushroom Manchurian:
25nos Button mushrooms (small)
1/2cup Rice flour
1/2tsp Baking powder
1/2cup Cornflour
1tsp Garlic paste
1tsp Ginger paste
1tbsp Green chili paste
2-3 Spring onions(chopped finely)
1no Onion(diced)
2nos Capsicum (cut into small square pieces)
2nos Garlic(chopped)
2tsp Soya sauce(dark)
2tbsp Tomato sauce
1tsp Rice Vinegar
1tbsp Cornflour dissolved in water
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying the mushrooms
Oil for sauce

Method:
In a large bowl, combine rice flour, cornflour, baking powder, salt, soy sauce, garlic-ginger paste and green chili paste. Mix well with water to get a batter of medium consistency.

Heat oil in a pan, dip the mushrooms in the batter and deep fry in oil. Drain the excess oil and set aside.

In a flat pan, add some oil and when it smokes add the chopped onions and capsicum and fry till they start becoming translucent.

Now add the chopped garlic,salt, pepper powder and fry for a minute . Add the soy sauce and vinegar and stir for a minute. Reduce the heat and then add the cornflour-water. The mixture will start to thicken, keep on stirring on low heat and when the mixture turns semi thick add the tomato sauce and then add fried mushrooms. Stir continuously for a couple of minute when it becomes soft, take it out from fire.

Garnish with chopped spring onions. Serve hot with noodle or fried rice or as appetizer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

MANGO MADNESS, AN ANNOUNCEMENT AND MORRRRE AWARDS!!!

So I am back with an announcement, which is, that I need the help of my fellow bloggers!! I will not be able to feed my blog with regular posts for the next month or so...(courtesy...a financial analysis exam that is approaching at breakneck speed and I will find it difficult to find time to devote to my beloved blog) That is where, I hope my fellow bloggers will step in to save my blog for the next month...I would like to request my friendly neighborhood bloggers to help me feed my blog with their valuable guest - posts...so I will be approaching you all with requests for precious inputs in the form of guest-blog posts while I am away with my nose buried between huge volumes on finance!

Now that announcement is done, here is another recipe for a delicious dessert bar, sweetened by the use of delectable mango pulp...I have been scouring the web looking for good recipes for this kind of Kalakhand...I saw some good recipes for quick-prep kalakhand on vahrevah.com and even on some wonderful food blogs I regularly  read like Priya's Easy n Tasty Recipes...I tweaked these recipes according to my liking, used evaporated milk and almond meal in place of ricotta cheese and added some mango pulp and I am posting that recipe below. The most wonderful part of this recipe is that, it is ready in  about 10 minutes including prep-time...Yay!!! Truly wonderful (and light???) dessert!!
Recipe for Quick N Easy Mango Dessert Bar(Mango kalakhand)
Prep/cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 15 to 18 pieces according to size of bar
Ingredients:
1 cup mango pulp
1 cup evaporated milk(low-fat)
1 cup non-fat milk powder
1/2 cup almond meal(almonds ground into cornmeal consistency)
few saffron strands
1 tsp cardamom powder
few slices of pistachio/almonds for garnish

Method:
Spray a microwaveable wide dish with cooking spray(to prevent the mixture from sticking) and add all the ingredients one-by-one to the dish(except for nuts which are for final garnish)...mix well till combined. The mixture should be semi-solid, if it seems to liquidy(if that is a word!), you can either add more almond flour or milk powder.

Microwave on medium-high or high power for 2 minutes initially and then take out of the microwave and stir...place the dish back in the microwave and microwave for 2 minute intervals...it took a total of 8 to 10 minutes in my microwave.

When the mixture starts to firm up and becomes puffy towards the center of the bowl...add the nuts for garnish and set aside till the dessert looks firm enough to cut into pieces and serve(takes a few minutes at room temperature)
Serve warm or chilled or at room temperature...by itself or with a little vanilla icecream on the side...heavenly!!!

I would like to leave you with some more Awards that I recently received from my fantastic blogger friends...Thanks, Nithu for the Tag Award! Thanks, Cool Lassie for the Honest Scrap Award!!! Thanks to the wonderful team from Yummy-O-Yummy, Nayna of Simply.Food, Jyoti of PanchPakwan for the Sunshine Award!
I would like to offer these awards to all my blogger friends...please feel free to accept these awards!
                                                     

Also, here are pictures of five of my favorite posts...which I am posting as per the rules of the awards I received previously!







Monday, May 10, 2010

HAPPY MOTHER"S DAY + CHERIBUNDI

On this special occasion of Mother's Day, here is another sweeeet recipe for all the Wonderful Moms out there!!! HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL MY READERS!!!

So, here is the sweet recipe I was talking about...Chocolate Cake!!!!
What, ANOTHER CHOC CAKE RECIPE??? Like there arent enough of those floating around already??!!! Well, before you yawn, here is the reason for my addition to the choc cake recipe world...first of all, I was very happy to receive this pack of Wonderful Cherry Juice from the folks over at Cheribundi!!! Thanks, Samantha!!!

Next, while trying out this unique cherry juice variety, I wanted to use it in one of my recipes, but not in a smoothie or shake or parfait....I wanted to put it to a different use altogether...now, recently, I have been reading quite a few recipes for cakes sweetened and  lightened up by using fruit juice as an ingredient. That way, the liquid ingredients become lighter in calories (as long as you dont use artificially sweetened juices) and also, the cakes end up becoming quite moist and are naturally sweeter, without the need for too much added sugar...how is that for multiple benefits??

Going onto Cheribundi...its a funny name but a very unique juice!!! According to the Cheribundi website:

"cheribundi™ starts as Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan and New York orchards. They use a proprietary juicing process that was developed with Cornell University to make a drink that retains all the power and benefits of the nutrients and antioxidants found in the little round fruits. cheribundi™ has more disease-fighting antioxidants than other juices and has been tested in the lab and field by athletes and people who just work out. Because cheribundi™ is all-natural and not from concentrate, it's a feel-better and live-healthier addition to your lifestyle."

I received a sample pack with samples of their a)Tru Cherry - which  offers 50 cherries, 2 servings of fruit and an abundance of antioxidants and nutrients(source: cheribundi.com)

b)Skinny Cherry - which offers 40 cherries, 90 calories and all-natural Stevia for sweetening(source: cheribundi.com)

and,
c)Whey Cherry - which offers 45 cherries, and 8 grams of whey protein, a powerful ratio of nutrients, carbs and protein.(source: cheribundi.com)

Verdict of taste-test of the cherry juice - all three cherry juice varieties were very, very flavorful and this juice was especially tasty, since it did not have the overpowering sweetness of  artificial sweeteners...definitely, a refreshing change from the usual juice varieties out there. For my chocolatey cherry cake recipe, I used the Whey Cherry...since I felt it struck a good balance of tartness, cherry content and sweetness.

Do hop on over to the Cheribundi website to find out more about their distinctive cherry juice varieties and to find out more about the many health benefits of cherry juice.

My family loved this light, flavorful and intensely chocolatey cherry cake...very different from the usual choc cake due to the addition of the cherry juice... yet the addition of the fruit juice did not detract from the chocolatey flavor of the cake...all in all, a recipe I will definitely try again with enthusiasm!

RECIPE FOR EGGLESS CHOCOLATEY CHERRY CAKE(using cherry juice from Cheribundi)
Prep/cook time: 45mins-55mins
Ingredients:
2 cups All purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli unsweetened dark cocoa powder)
1/3 cup Cherry Juice ( I used Whey Cherry Juice from Cheribundi)
2/3 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Thick Yoghurt
1/4 cup cherry preserves(or any other mixed fruit jam)
1/3cup melted Chocolate chips ( I used Nestle semi-sweet choc morsels)
1/3cup cooking oil( of course, you could use butter too instead of oil)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2tbsp Flax seed meal
6tbsp warm water
1tsp Baking powder
1tsp baking soda
Garnish: fresh cherries or choc chips or nuts

Method:
Preheat the oven at 350F.

Mix the flaxseed meal with the warm water and set aside for 5 - 10 mins.

Mix the liquid ingredients including cherry preserves(or any other fruit preserve of your liking) and melted choc chips in a large bowl..whisk everything well

Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl.

Add the flaxseed paste and the other liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients, a little at a time and whisk  (by hand or using blender)until well combined into a thick batter

Grease the cake mould and pour the cake batter into it.

Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

When the cake cools down, you could glaze the top of cake with melted chocolate and garnish with cherries or nuts or any other garnish of your liking.

Note: This cake stays fresh for upto a week in the refigerator.

Version with eggs: You could substitute the flaxseed paste with 2 large eggs and whisk that with the other liquid ingredients.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sweet and Wholesome Indulgences as Thank You! Updated...

Warning!!!! This entire week is going to be exceedingly sweet and indulgent because I have many thanks to give...in the past few months, I have been receiving many Awards from my wonderful fellow bloggers that I have not yet accepted...I could not think of appropriate dishes to offer as treats and thanks to my fellow bloggers...now...I think I do!!! So, here we go...I warn you that the next few posts may be exceedingly sweet!!! I have always been addicted to cacao...look at my posts for molten chocolate lava cake or chocolatey nutella cookies... so what else but chocolate comes to my mind, when I pick treats to share with my blogger pals!!!

But, you know it...always wholesome with healthful elements...like these beautiful yet truly non-fat energy bars/squares!!! After trying these, I might totally avoid the store-bought energy and nut bars...Oh by the way,  dont say I didnt warn you - these are extrrrrremely addictive.
Recipe for Chocolatey Fruit and Oat Squares :
Servings: 16 pieces(could vary depending on prefered size of bars)

Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cook time: 35-40 mins
Ingredients:
1/3 cup rolled oats(I used the old-fashioned kind)
1/3 cup (45 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup crushed nuts(pistachio, walnut, pecans, hazelnuts, and/or almonds)
1 cup dried fruits- apricots/cherries/cranberries/dates/figs and/or prunes (pits
removed and cut into quarters)...I used a mixture of dried fruits
1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I used Nestle's choc morsels)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) square baking pan that has been lined across the bottom and up the two opposite sides with aluminum foil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder  and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, walnuts, chocolate and dried fruit.

Use your fingers to make sure that all the fruit and nuts have been coated with the oats/flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat (with a wire whisk or hand mixer) the egg and vanilla until light colored and thick (this will take a couple of  minutes).

Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are coated with the batter. Spread into the prepared pan, pressing to even it out.

Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. You could drizzle some melted chocolate over the bar and then let cool.

When cooled, lift the bar from the pan by the edges of the aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 squares.

Can be stored for about 10 days at room temperature or longer if refrigerated. Makes about 16  squares.

Now, coming to my beautiful Awards: Here are some wonderful awards from some of my greaaaat blogger pals: Priya of Priya's Recipes, Nisha of Nisha's KitchenJay of Tasty Appetite and Priya Mitharwal of Mharo Rajasthan...A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL THESE WONDERFUL BLOGGERS...YOU MADE MY DAY!!!

Update: Let me also mention that these awards were also showered on me by Jyoti of Panchpakwan, whose blog features not only recipes from all over the world...but specially, recipes from Karnataka and Maharashtra regions of India.

I would like to share these awards with all my blogger friends...I appreciate all of you and the wonderful efforts you put in every day TO MAKE & PRESENT the most awesome food...do feel free to accept these awards!!!

THERE ARE MORE AWARDS TO COME...MORE LATER!!!

As part of the rules for these awards I need to mention 5 of my favorite posts...which I will, in the next post...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Variety, Variety, Variety...Yummies from Blogosphere

The endless variety that one finds in Indian food never fails to amaze me...as a child growing up in India, our family lived in different parts of the country, made friends among people of different communities and of course, had the good fortune to taste and relish food from various states in India...yet even to this day, when I am blog-hopping, I visit a blog which presents a new dish which I have not yet tasted or tried to make(sometimes, have not even heard of it!)

"Muthias" belong to that "not yet tasted or tried to make' category for me...it is a savory dish from the western Indian state of Gujarat. It is a steamed dumpling(sometimes, fried too) that is vegan...extremely healthy since it requires very little fat and is made by combining some nutritious grains and lentils.

When I found recipes of this dish on the net...of course, the first stumbling block that I faced is that...there was way too much variety when it came to the recipes...each recipe called for a different mixture of grains/lentils...some required chickpea flour, while others required a combination of wheat flour, semolina and chickpea flour, some others required millet flour...the list goes on...that I essentially think, is what boggles the mind of the beginner when it comes to Indian cooking...the endless variety...BUT, variety can be a good thing...I find that the best way to  ease the confusion, is to go with recipes that call for familiar ingredients and that is what I did...of course, the recipe of one of our wonderful blogger friends came to the rescue!!!

Here, I have used a recipe for Muthias that came from the wonderful blog Simply.Food...authored by Nayna, who has a variety of wonderful and simple Gujarati recipes alongwith other cuisines in her space.

The verdict from my family was that this savory and tangy dish is a definite keeper plus it reminded us all of our own Southern Indian idlis(pancakes). Thanks, Nayna for this wonderful recipe that has appealed to me and my family in a big way...

Links: Original Recipe for Muthias as posted on Simply Indian Food

Notes/Variations: I have used bajra(millet flour) as called for in the original recipe but one could substitute that with fine semolina in the recipe...I saw quite a few recipes that used semolina...also, for the veggies, I used a mixture of fenugreek leaves and spinach leaves in place of the bottlegourd in the original recipe. Also, for the seasonings, I added some caro seeds(ajwain), some fresh cilantro leaves and lemon juice apart from the mustard, sesame seeds and dried red chillies.

I served this dish with a tangy, chutney filled with herbs and nuts, though it would taste good with any chutney/dipping sauce
Recipe for Muthias(as posted on Simply.Food by Nayna)
Serves: 3 - 4 people(I got 12 pieces)
Prep/cook time: 30 - 40 mins.
Ingredients:

8 oz wheat flour
2 oz besan flour(chickpea flour)
2 oz bajra flour(millet flour)
2 oz fresh chopped methi leaves(fenugreek leaves)
2 medium courgettes grated with skin on(bottlegourd)
1 teaspoon ginger puree
4 green chillies finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon eno salts
1 tablespoon oil
For tadka/seasoning:
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies

Method:
1. Add wheat flour,besan and bajra flour to grated courgettes.
2.Add the ginger, chillies,salt,turmeric and chilli powder oil and eno salts.
3.Make a dough using 1-2 tablespoons water.
4. Form small 2 inch sausage shapes (muthia shapes) and place in steamer .
5.Steam for 25-30 minutes and allow to cool
6.When cool slice the muthia into 1 cm rounds.
7. Heat the oil for tadka in a wok, when hot add the mustard seeds, red chilli and the sesame seeds.
8. Add the sliced muthia and stir fry till slightly crispy and takes colours.
9. Transfer to serving dish

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recreation of a Childhood Favorite...

One of the biggest thrills I get from food blogging is the rediscovery of long-forgotten childhood favorites...I am sure a lot of us have these memories of foods tasted long ago, which we cherish for many years, either because of the unique nature/taste of that food or because of an event or circumstance associated with that food...I have such memories associated with an Indian cookie called "Nankhatai" because a lady, one of our neighbors, while we lived in Bombay, India(back when I was a kid), would bake it often and pass it onto us. At that time, we did not own an oven(baking was not a very commonly used cooking technique back then, for us)...so it was enthralling to taste home-baked goodies, hot off the oven. Plus, it was some cookie...light and crisp, almost airy and not overly sweet with a hint of nuts and cardamom...I truly loved it and I relished it many times back then...in fact, we shamelessly encouraged our neighbor aunty to make it more often!!!

After, we left Bombay and moved to Calcutta, it was forgotten and I probably never tasted it again..we had an oven at home then, still....until recently, when I was so thrilled to find recipes for it in various food websites. I was amazed to find the variety of ways to prepare this cookie...some recipes had all APFlour..some had a combination of APF and semolina flour and yet others had a combination of APF, semolina and chickpea flour...whew!!!

So, what is this "Nankhatai"? It is a shortbread-like cookie flavored with cardamom or nutmeg, a medley of nuts and was originally prepared using eggs and flour by the Parsi population in India, though later on Indian Hindus popularised an eggless version. I found a detailed video on the vahrevah blog with many interesting variations on the recipe which is what I followed, though I did make some changes to it, notably by reducing the quantity of sugar needed and ended up with a crunchy, mildly-sweet yet flavorful end-product...just like I remembered it!!! Here is to finding many more forgotten food faves...I know my family enthusiastically agrees with that thought...:))

Here is an interesting(read, detailed:)) history of this famous Nankhatai on the indiacurry website...in case you would like to know more about this delicacy(I did and I found more than I ever expected to know:)) This lovely, forgotten favorite goes to Priya's CWS - Cardamom Seeds event.

Recipe for Nankhatai:
Prep/cook time: 20- 25 mins.
servings: 14-16 pieces
Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour (plain flour or maida)
1/4 cup fine sooji or semolina
1/2 cup gram flour (besan)(optional) if used, increase sugar to 2/3 cup
Pinch of baking soda (a little less than 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds coarsely powdered (ilaichi)
crushed pistachio, almonds for topping
few saffron strands
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1tsp yoghurt
Note: all ethnic ingredients are available at Asian/Indian grocery stores

Method:
preheat oven to 325 f

mix dry ingredients separately

mix wet ingredients well together

combine both...make soft dough ball...put in fridge for few mins...then shape into discs...press the mixture of almond-pistachio on each cookie

bake for 15 mins...will appear soft when removed from oven then will crisp up.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to the Grassroots of South Indian Cuisine with a simple side-dish

"Cruciferous vegetables have it all: vitamins, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals"...so says WebMD...Here is a simple dish from the Southern part of India using Cauliflower, one of the Cruciferous "Super-foods" Vegetables. This is a very traditional dish in South India - Podimaas, to which I have given a simpler twist, to accommodate my quick cooking sensibilities.  The other vegetables that could be substituted in place of Cauliflower here, could be potatoes or raw plantain."Podimaas" means mashed and stir-fried vegetable...but here I have just finely chopped the vegetable and then stir-fried it. 

The traditional version of this recipe involves some more steps of roasting and powdering spices to add to the dish(I shall post that one of these days as well). The very traditional South Indian chef may frown upon this "quick version" of the famous side-dish, which is served at many festive meals in Southern India...but I love this...plus my kids seem to have taken a liking to this simple, tangy recipe!!! What do you know???!!! So that is why I thought it might be worthwhile to share with you all...no taste test better than that of critical, head-shaking, food-sniffing kids, I guess:))

This recipe for the South Indian Cauliflower Side-dish goes to Yasmeen's Cruciferous Challenge.
This side-dish would be great to serve with Flatbreads, Naans, Chapathis or steaming, hot rice!

Recipe for South Indian Cauilfower Side-dish(aka Cauliflower Podimaas)
Serves: 2 or 3
Prep/cook time: 15 - 20 mins
Ingredients:
Cauliflower - 1 head finely cut into very small florets or grated
Ginger - 1 to 2 inch piece minced or grated
Green chilli peppers - 2 or 3 finely cut or minced( I used the Thai chillies, sometimes I do use Serrano peppers)
For seasoning: Black mustard seeds, Salt, Turmeric - a pinch, Black Pepper, Lemon Juice - 1 to 2 tsp, Asafoetida(aka hing) - a pinch, a few sprigs of curry leaf and/or cilantro
Optional Garnish: Grated coconut(unsweetened) - 1 to 2 tsp
Cooking Oil - 2 to 3 tsp

Note: All ethnic ingredients are available at Asian Indian grocery stores or in the Asian section of most supermarkets.

Method:
In a pan, add the cooking oil and the black mustard seeds...when they start to crackle, add the finely chopped/grated cauliflower and salt and turmeric alongwith the minced green chilli peppers and minced/grated ginger.

Let cook for a few minutes( takes about 8 - 10 minutes) until the vegetable turns soft.

Finally add the remaining seasoning ingredients one at a time. Stir well. You could optionally garnish with grated coconut.

This is a great side-dish that is wonderful served warm or can be refrigerated for 3 - 4 days as well.

 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Me and Earth Day...Hmmm??!!!

So I dont believe in celebrating Earth Day...

Now, wait a minute...you are probably thinking...she is a selfish grinch who does not want to give back to Mother Earth!Like the storied Grinch who stole Christmas...am i about to steal Earth Day??

Well, before you label me like that, let me get on my soap-box and start my rant...my fave thing to do! I dont believe Earth Day should be a Single day of celebration...in my opinion, Earth Day should be more of a mind-set and a year-round celebration! What do I  mean?

Well, I believe that the best way to get our future generations to believe in the precious-ness(if that is a word) of nature is by slowly adopting a lifestyle where we Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in little ways...the other thing to  do...that is practical, would be to use more natural, simple ingredients as opposed to refined, highly-processed ingredients in our lifestyle, like say, in our cooking style(Hullo...Healthful Decadence!). Also, I dont mean throw out everything that is refined, artificial or processed...I believe in Moderation with everything in life...so I am making changes only where it is practically possible...with two kids, jobs and busy lifestyles, it is just not possible to eat all raw food, wear bark and leaves and go live in the heart of nature and extreme things like that, I think:))

What do you all think??? I would love to know!

So, here is to a more Earthy Lifestyle!!!

Now, here is a  recipe for moderation...mostly natural ingredients and one or two store-bought ones(what, I never said I am a tree-hugger:))

In this soup, I did not use any stock...just lots of Black-eyed Peas to give the soup some thickness...so this goes to MLLA # 22 hosted by RuchikaCooks and started by Susan.

Recipe for Southwestern Style Asparagus  and Black-eyed Pea Soup:
Serves: 2 or 3
Prep/cook time: 30mins - 35 mins.
Ingredients:
Black eyed Peas - 1 cup pressure-cooked till soft(takes about 3 or 4 whistles on my pressure cooker)
Asparagus - 1 bunch chopped
Green Bell Pepper - 1 chopped
Garlic and Ginger Paste - 2 tsp(or more if you like a garlicky taste, like me)
Tomato - 1 chopped
Cummin powder (jeera powder)- 2 tsp
Cooking oil - 1 or 2 tsp
For seasoning: salt, pepper, cilantro, thick yoghurt - 1 or 2 tsp per person and cilantro(tomato salsa would also be a good soup topper)


Method:
In a pan, add the oil and the ginger-garlic paste...let it cook for a minute or so.


Then, add the chopped vegs. and let it saute for a few minutes till the vegs. turn soft(takes 7 or 8 minutes)


Now, add the cooked black-eyed peas and all the seasonings except yoghurt and cilantro. Let cook for a couple of minutes and take off the heat and let cool for a few minuttes.


Finally, blend everything to a fine soupy consistency. If the soup seems too thick add a little water and let simmer again for few minutes.Serve warm or at room temperature topped with black pepper, cilantro, a few dollops of thick yoghurt(I like Greek Yoghurt here) and maybe, some tomato salsa.


This would be great served with some hearty bread, pasta or even as a dipper for tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Indo-Chinese Yummies from Blogosphere...

I am a glutton when it comes to Indo-Chinese food...in my opinion, this food reflects the perfect marriage of Indian spices with the distinctive Chinese food flavors. My best memories of this style of food go back to my college days in Kolkata or Calcutta as it used to be called. My college had a caterer who ran a food stall there and his specialities included many Indo-Chinese favorites like crispy Hakka Noodles and steaming hot & sour soup...sometimes there was the popular Manchurian and yet other times, there was Chop-suey Noodles...I vividly remember, rushing out of class at lunch-time and sometimes there were professors who would continue with their class even well into lunch-time which irritated me & my friends hugely, because we were afraid that the food stall would run out of our Indo-Chinese favorites. Of course, after such a heavy lunch, we invariably would walk back into post-lunch classes and struggle to stay awake :) )

Nowadays, I feel just as excited when I see delish recipes of the same kind in various food blogs. So, this week's edition of Yummies from Blogosphere features an awesome blogger who has a great collection of Indo-Chinese delicacies. She has a huggggge collection of beautiful recipes, but these Indo-Chinese recipes are very unique and they caught my eye.

So, here is the Chilli Tofu Recipe from Sushma Mallya's Authentic Food Delights blog.


I was so carried away looking at this recipe that (being the glutton I am) I had to follow it up with yet another yummylicious recipe for Tawa Vegetable Rice...a beautiful stir-fried rice. The stir-fried rice was extremely easy to prepare yet very flavorful and the Chilli-Tofu Recipe is unique enough to make any non-tofu eater become a convert to the other camp of enthusiastic tofu-eaters!

Notes/Variations: I did make a few additions to the tawa rice with some boiled carrots and roasted peanuts and caro seeds(ajwain) in the seasoning.
Thank you, Sushma for these awesome recipes!!!

Links: Recipe for Tofu-Chilli gravy as posted on Sushma's Authentic Food Delights
          Recipe for Tawa Vegetable Rice as posted on Sushma's Authentic Food Delights

Recipe for Tofu-Chilli gravy:(as posted on Sushma's blog)
Ingredients
For the batter
1/4 cup maida
a pinch of baking powder
1/4 cup cornflour
2 tsp gramflour
a pinch of ajinomoto(you can definitely omit this one...I leave it out in most of the recipes too)
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt to taste


For the gravy
10-12 cubed tofu pieces
1 capsicum cut into cubes
1/2 cup spring onion greens
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
5-6 roughly chopped green chillies
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp chilli sauce or chilli powder
a pinch of ajinomoto
6-7 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tsp cornflour mixed in 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
salt to taste
3 tsp oil + oil for deep frying


Method
Make a batter of the above mentioned ingredients under the list: batter with enough water to a semi-thick and a fine paste


Heat oil in a pan, dip the cubed tofu one by one in the batter and deep fry it till golden brown and crisp, drain on a kitchen towel and then keep aside. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan, fry capsicum cubes for 1-2 minutes or till tender yet crunchy and then keep it aside


For the gravy
Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add garlic, green chillies and fry till light brown


Add half of the spring onion greens,white pepper powder,sugar,ajinomoto, salt and fry for 1 minute


Switch off the gas, then add soya sauce,vinegar,tomato sauce, chilli sauce, and mix well


Switch on the gas then fry it for 3-4 minutes


Add capsicum, 1/4 cup water, cornflour mixed in water and mix well, and allow it to come to a boil, add coriander leaves and mix well


Keep it aside and allow it gravy to cool and at the time of serving, add fried tofu pieces, garnish with spring onion greens and then serve immediately with steamed rice or fried rice


Recipe for Tawa Vegetable Rice:(as posted on Sushma's blog)
Ingredients
For rice
1 tsp oil
2 green cardamom
3 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp melted butter
salt to taste


For the masala
200 gms fresh mushroom cut into quarter
1 capsicum cut into small cubes
1 onion finely chopped
1 tomato finely chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 dry red chillies
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
5-6 methi seeds
1 tsp crushed kasoori methi
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil or butter


Method
Heat water in a pan, when it starts boiling, add green cardamom,cinnamon,bay leaf,cloves,salt and 1 tsp oil and rice and cook it till 3/4th done


Drain it and allow it to cool, then mix 2 tbsp melted butter and salt and then keep it aside


Soak dry red chillies in water for 10 minutes,drain it and grind it along with coriander seeds with little water to a fine paste


In a pan, add oil or butter, add methi seeds, fry it for 1 minute and then add ginger-garlic paste,chilli-coriander seeds paste and fry for 2-3 minutes till the raw smell goes off


Add onion and fry till translucent and golden brown, and then add tomato and fry till it gets mashed, remove it from the gas and then keep aside


In another pan add 2 tsp oil, add capsicum and fry for 1-2 minutes and then add mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes till tender and then add the tomato masala , kasoori methi,salt and fry for 1-2 minutes


Switch off the gas and allow it to cool, then add the rice and mix it well


Switch on the gas again and cook it on a low flame for 10-15 minutes till all flavours get mixed well with the rice and then serve hot .

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Pearly Snack Delight

The savory snack item that was the challenge for Srivalli's ICC this month was truly unique...the Sago Murukku (Indian-style fritters) were very attractive with the pearl-like sago popping up here and there in the murukku...was a great experience for me...especially because I dont use frying as a cooking technique  much any more...it  is usually baking or stir-frying nowadays...so this challenge was a great reassurance to myself that I still know how to make fried foods:)))

So, what is Murukku? According to all-knowing Wikipedia...Murukku (Tamil: முறுக்கு, or Muruku in Telugu or Murkoo), known as Chakli in Marathi and Kannada and Chakri in Gujarati, is a savoury snack popular in India, Sri Lanka, Fiji, and elsewhere among ethnic Indian populations. Murukku is believed to have originated in Tamil Nadu[1][2], with the town of Manapparai & Karamadai best known for it. Murukku is typically made from a mixture of urad and rice flour, salt, and flavourings such as chili, asafoetida, ajawain, or cumin

The special notes/learning experiences for me with this recipe for Sago Muruku was that it ended up being better to use a relatively not-too-moist/not-too sticky dough...this way the murukku ended up being crisp...also, it actually ended up taking nearly 8 - 10 hours for the sago to soak up the buttermilk and become really soft. The end-result was very much to all our liking...very pearlescent and cute...and very crunchy indeed.

I cant wait to try out next month's challenge!
Recipe for Sago Murukku(Indian-style fritters)
Prep time: 15 mins.
Cook time: 30 mins.
Ingredients:
Rice Flour 2 cups
Besan flour 1/2 cup
Fried gram flour - 1/2 cup
Sago - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Curd - 50 gms (half of half cup)
Chile powder - 1/2 tsp or as per taste
Special Utensil:
Muruku Achu/mould
Method to prepare
Soak Sago in Butter milk for atleast 3 hrs(took me 8-10 hrs), please ensure that you soak it enough else you may risk having the sago burst.

Mix all the flour together, heat 50 gms oil, mix to the flour along with salt and chili powder. Then add the buttermilk soaked sago slowly and knead to a chapati dough consistency

Heat oil for deep frying.In the muruku achu, add the dough. When the oil is hot, press down directly as as murukus.

Cook on medium flame to ensure the muruku is cooked well.

Notes:
Ensure sago soaks in buttermilk well and is soft or else it will burst when you press it down in hot oil.
Cook on medium flame to ensure even cooking.
Fried Gram flour is fried channa dal that is available commercially. It is general sold as the dal, we have to powder it at home. This is also referred as chutney dal as it is used in making coconut chutney.

Celebrations....Two of them!!

I am not one for huge celebrations...have always been overly-practical, even when it comes to celebration...prefer minimum fuss and fanfare!!! But there are some times and occasions when even the Queen of Practicality(myself!!!) wants to cheer...

Well, for one it is the beginning of a New Year in the South Indian calendar...so, Happy Tamil New Year / Happy Vishu to one and all!!! A new season and new year are definitely big reasons to celebrate....plus, the other occasion that makes me want to celebrate right now, is the fact that I am on my 50th post with this blog!!! Yaaaaahoooo!!!!

So, here is my two-in-one celebration recipe...of course, you know me...it is definitely Healthily Decadent...you will see...also here is a little verse, my daughter (the precocious poet, herself!) wrote to help me celebrate my blogging milestone!!!

"When my Mom started blogging...
  She started with a blog about cooking,
  And wanted to share it with Everyone,
  So her experience would be Fun!
  So, I made this poem for her 50th post,
  Now let us all make a toast! Yippee"

This dual celebration recipe for Carrot Beetroot Kheer makes its way to Shama's Payasam/Kheer Festival event. I tried out a variation to the Carrot Kheer I prepare usually, by adding some beets to it and of course, nut-obsessed that I am, had to also add some almonds and cashewnuts...which to my mind...make any dish richer and creamier than it normally would be...so here is a crazy yet surprisingly tasty kheer/pudding...let the celebrations continue...I hope!
Recipe for Carrot-Beetroot Kheer with a nutty flavor(South indian style pudding)-
Serves: 4
Prep/cook time: 25-35 mins.

Ingredients:
Carrots - 3 chopped
Beetroot - 1 small chopped
Almonds and cashew nuts - 1/2  cup chopped, combined
Milk - low fat - 2 to 2.5 cups
Sugar - 1/2 cup(could add more for sweeter kheer...I like my sweets to be not overly sweet)
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Saffron - few strands
For garnish - slivered almonds roasted(would taste better if roasted in a little ghee/clarified butter)

Method:
In a heavy-bottomed pan, let the milk boil on a low flame and keep stirring so it does not stick to bottom of pan.

In the meanwhile, blend together chopped carrots, beetroot and the almonds with a few more spoons of milk till you get a fine paste.

Then, add the blended carrot mixture to the boiling milk alongwith the cardamom powder and saffron strands.

Let the mixture cook on a medium or medium-low flame until it comes to a slow bubbling consistency...which takes 8 to 10 mins...do not boil too long or the mixture could end up becoming watery.

Once you a get slow rolling bubble consistency, take off the heat and add sugar...garnish with roasted slivered almonds.

This kheer tastes best when it has been chilled in the refrigerator for atleast a couple of hours...plus the consistency becomes creamier after refrigeration...

Enjoy!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Versatile Side-dish...Back to the grass-roots of South-Indian Cuisine

Nowadays, most of the side-dishes I prepare...I try to make as versatile as possible. In the sense, that I try to serve them with breads, rice, dosas, idlis, rotis and so on. I find that by making my side-dishes as flexible as possible and switching around the main dish at a couple of meal-times, whether rice or rotis or bread...all the food I prepare is used up much faster rather than sitting in the cool comfort of the refrigerator for a while.

This side-dish I have here is one of that versatile kind...a simple bell-pepper relish also known in Southern India as thokku...this is bell-pepper or capsicum thokku. It is tangy with a hint of sweetness to it...not too spicy either...atleast my version...though you could of course, enhance the spice level by increasing the quantity of spices used. However you make it, I am sure you will continue to repeat this recipe many times over, as I have been doing...very simple and pain-free prep as well. My mother as well as mother-in-law tend to make this same relish or thokku with many different main ingredients like raw green mango or tomatoes or ginger root...they all appeal to me, equally;) I could eat this any time of day with or without a main dish:))

Notes: I used 2 to 3 tsps cooking oil but if you use a a little more oil, the end-product will stay fresh in the refrigerator for over a week.

Recipe for Sweet & Tangy Bell-pepper Relish(Capsicum Thokku):
Serves: 4
Prep/cook time: 20 mins

Ingredients:
Bell-pepper (aka capsicum) - 4 shredded in thin strips(I used the green ones though you could use any other color)
Tomato - 1 or 2 medium size chopped
Onion - 1 medium size chopped
Tamarind pulp - 2 tbsp
Jaggery - crushed 1tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida(aka Hing) - a pinch
Fenugreek(Methi) powder - 1 tsp
Coriander(dhania) powder - 1 tbsp
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Salt - As reqd
Turmeric - 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few(optional)
Cooking oil - 2 to 3 tsp(I used gingelly oil that is til oil though any vegetable oil should work fine)

Method:
In a frying pan, add the oil and mustard and when the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the chopped onions.

When the onions start to turn crisp, add the shredded bell-pepper and all the spice powders/seasonings  + salt and let cook for a few minutes.

When the bell-pepper starts to change color and becomes translucent, add the chopped tomatoes and the tamarind pulp and jaggery.

Let the mixture cook uncovered for a few minutes(should take about 7 to 8 mins on a medium flame)...stir every now and then...also add a little water so the mixture does not turn extremely dry...the end-product should be well-combined...the ideal consistency is somewhat curry-like (though not gravy-like).

Finally, garnish with curry leaves. This relish can be served warm or at room temperature with rice, on breads as a spread or with rotis or Indian pancakes like idli or dosa.

Note: Ethnic ingredients for this dish are available at Asian/Indian grocery stores.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Savory addition to Yummies from Blogosphere series...

I am constantly amazed by the creativity of recipes that I come across on blogsphere...often I find these recipes to be more original and flavorful than those featured on many professional food websites...which is why I am so extremely happy to add this very savory dish to my Yummies from Blogosphere series !

This time I chose a breakfast/snack item from the extremely creative blog penned by Swapna Sridhar. It is a very versatile...easy, breezy dosa dish(Indian savory pancake) which can be served as a breakfast, snack, brunch or even light dinner dish  - Oats Dosa.

Also, I loved this dosa/pancake because it is truly a quick-prep item...no labor-intensive soaking of rice and lentils and grinding and so on and so forth...which appeals to my multi-tasking, get-meal-ready-in-under 30 minutes-self (that is the Rachel Ray side of my personality, I think :))

Notes/Variation: In this recipe, I added a 1/4 cup of ragi flour(finger-millet flour) to the batter...hence the light pink hue on the dosa. The original recipe called for a topping of sliced onion and cilantro...I served a side of broccoli masala with the dosa instead.

My recipe  for Broccoli Masala follows...though this dish should taste great with any kind of chutney / sambhar(South Indian style soup).

Link: Original recipe  for Oats Dosa posted on Swapna's blog.

Thank you, Swapna for this awesome, creative yet healthy dish...I know I will be making it many more times for my family judging from their enthusiastic response.


Recipe for Oats Dosa(as posted on Swapna's blog):
Serves: 2 to 3
Prep/cook time: 15 - 20 mins
Ingredients :
Oats(Quick cooked) - 1 cup
Rice flour or Wheat flour - 1/4 cup
Sooji / Semolina - 1/4 cup
Red chilly powder / green chilly paste-1 tbsp
Chopped Onion -1 medium sized
Minced Coriander
Salt to taste
Water-2 1/2 to 3 cups

Method :
1.In a microwave safe bowl add oats and add enough water, put it in microwave about 1 min, cool  it for 3 mins.or soak it in warm water for 10 to 15 mins.

2.In a blender add oats and blend into smooth paste.

3.In a mixing bowl add oats paste,wheat flour,sooji,chilly powder,salt mix well.and add water...prepare the batter like dosa batter.

4.Heat the dosa pan on medium flame. Grease it,pour ladle full batter and with the help of ladle starting from the center,move the laddle in a circular motion and spread it in to circular shape.

5.On the top of dosa add onion and coriander leaves.press with spatula, spray oil, let it cook for 2 to 3 mins.Then slowly flip the dosa and let it cook for few more mins.Then remove it from the pan.

My Recipe for Side of Broccoli Masala:
Serves: 2 to 3
Prep/cook time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
Broccoli - 1 full head of broccoli cut into smaller pieces
Onion - 1 sliced thinly
For seasoning:
Cooking oil. salt, black pepper, cumin powder(jeera powder), cilantro chopped, lemon juice.

Method:
In a pan, add some cooking oil and when it starts to heat up, add the sliced onion.

When the onion starts to brown, add the seasonings and also the broccoli florets and let cook for a few minutes till the mixture is crisp and well-cooked(takes about 6 to 7 minutes)

Serve warm or at room temp. alongside dosa.
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