Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Comfort Food for Yummies from Blogosphere

So, it is time for another addition to the Yummies from Blogosphere series...I am really getting attached to this series and so is my family...they cant wait to see what I am going to try out next, considering there is SO MUCH VARIETY OF RECIPES on blogosphere!!!

Most of the recipes I bookmark as favorites for me to try out  later have special appeal not only because of taste and flavor and appearance but also because they have nutritional content. This week's recipe also belongs to that category...I chose an item from a blog which has been in existence for quite a while...nearly two years but this wonderful blogger still continues to post new recipes that are not only tasty but also simple and each recipe is different and unique in its own way.

So, this recipe is from our blogger friend Gita's Kitchen...and the recipe I chose is one for Palak Tofu(Spinach and Tofu Curry)...this recipe is very unique for me, because I have always made Alu Palak(Spinach with Potatoes) or Palak Paneer(Spinach with Indian Cheese) but never Palak Tofu...it was a very healthful yet completely tasty and creamy dish, that my entire family enjoyed. I wondered if the tofu would taste out-of-place in the curry but it was just wonderful...expecially because it was baked before adding to the curry to eliminate any raw smell.

Notes/Variation: I used some coriander powder and cummin powder (1 tsp each) in the curry...also seasoned the curry finally with some lemon juice(I like the combination of lemon juice with the spinach)...this is a very versatile dish that can be used as a side for rotis/bread/rice

Lovely dish...Gita! Thank you for this awesome recipe!
Links: Original Recipe for Palak Tofu as posted in Gita's Kitchen

Recipe for Palak Tofu:
Serves: 4
Pre/cook time: 25-30 mins.

INGREDIENTS:
Extra-firm tofu, 1 box.
Spinach, 1 large bunch.
Onion, medium, 1.
Tomato, 1.
Green chili, 1.
Garlic, 2 cloves.
Ginger, 1 small piece.
Red chili, 2.
Coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons.
Cloves, 2.
Cinnamon stick, 1 small piece.
Fennel seeds, ¼ teaspoon.
Salt as per taste.

PREPARATION:
Cut the tofu into small pieces. Spray a baking dish with any nonstick cooking spray and arrange the tofu pieces side by side. There should be sufficient space between each piece. Bake them at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the tofu pieces turn brown. Set them aside. If needed the tofu pieces can also be sautéed in a pan with a teaspoon of oil until they turn brown.

Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces and slit the green chili into 2. Clean the spinach leaves and drain the excess water from the leaves. They need not be chopped as everything will be blended.

Heat a pan with some oil. When the oil is hot enough, add red chilies, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds and fry them for a minute and remove them from the pan and let them cool. Now add the chopped onions, tomatoes, and green chili and sauté them for a few minutes. Then add garlic and ginger and keep sautéing until everything is well blended.

Add the spinach leaves and let them wilt along with the sautéed onion and tomato and let it cool. When the spice mixture and spinach mixture are cooled, blend them together into a smooth paste.

Put the blended mixture in the pan again, add salt and let it simmer under medium flame for few minutes until the gravy thickens. Then add the baked tofu pieces and stir everything well.

Serve hot with rotis.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Indian(ised) Pizza, anyone???

Friday nights are Fun Food nights at our house...not the usual breads or rotis or curry or rice...as the kids grow up and we keep trying to include more servings of different food groups to their daily diet, I find it necessary to come up with more interesting ideas for dinner...which is the only meal we all are together for, really(weeknights at least!)

I came up with this new idea for "Indianised "(Desi)Pizza for one of  our Friday Fun Food nights. Most of the pizza chains normally have a Hawaiian style fruit n veggie Pizza or some style of fruit-topped pizza nowadays, which gave me the idea of including fruit in this version of Indianised Pizza...hence, I came up with this Kurma-style Gravy Pizza. Plus, I was pumped up from the success of my previous venture with Indianised Pav Bhaji Pizza.

The kids thought this pizza was very colorful and so they liked it and of course, I was very happy to have taken care of a few servings of fruits and veggies with this dish...so, all said and done, a fun time was had by all that night:))

This Kurma style Gravy Pizza is making its way to Lavi's Global Kadai - Indian Flavored Pizza event...started by Cilantro.

Recipe for Kurma-style Gravy Pizza:-
Serves: 4
Prep/Cook time: 35-40 mins.(with store-bought pizza dough)


For Pizza Base/Dough: Paula Deen's Recipe and Emeril's Recipe on Food Network


For Gravy Base and Topping:
Ingredients:
Cauliflower - cut finely and cooked - 1/2
Carrots cut finely and cooked - 1
Apple - cut finely and cooked - 1
Pineapple - cut finely and cooked - 1/2
Green peas, shelled 1/2 cup and cooked
Tomatoes, chopped - 2 medium
Onions, chopped - 2 medium or 1 big size
Ginger, chopped 1 inch piece
Garlic 4 or 5 cloves
Grind the following to a fine paste: Unsweetened fresh or desiccated coconut - 3 to 4 tbsp, 1 tsp poppy seeds, 2 tsp fennel seeds
Oil - 2 to 3 tablespoons
Green chillies, chopped 3-4
Garam masala 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped 1/4 cup
Lemon juice - 1 medium or big size
Cashew nuts - 2 tbsp chopped for garnish, roasted
Raisins - 1tbsp
Cheese - mozzarella, grated 3 or 4 tbsp


Method:
Grind ginger and garlic to a fine paste. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.


Heat oil in a pan and add three fourth quantity of onions. Sauté till light brown. Add green chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Stir-fry for half a minute. Then, add the ground paste and let come to a boil.


Add half the quantity of tomatoes and cook on medium heat for three to four minutes, stirring continuously or till oil separates from the masala.


Add cooked peas, cauliflower, carrot, pineapples and apples and one and half cups of water. Bring it to a boil and simmer for seven to ten minutes, pressing with back of the spoon a few times, till all the vegetables are completely mashed.


Add Garam Masala, salt and remaining tomatoes. Cook on medium heat for two minutes, stirring continuously. Then set aside.


Now, spread parchment paper/foil on baking sheet and place the pizza base/crust on it. Spread an even layer of the gravy curry on the pizza base.


Next, add the fresh cheese, cashew nuts, raisins and cilantro on top of the curry. Optionally, you could place some butter on the top of the pizza crust. Bake for 10 - 12 mins(or according to package directions for pizza crust)


Serve hot / at room temp.
Enjoy!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Herbalicious Weekend Brunch

What is the perfect weekend brunch? Is it slices of warm toast with jelly/jam or is it golden parathas with yoghurt??? Is it light, fluffy omelettes or maybe it is steaming idlis/dosas(Indian savory snacks)??? It is so difficult to say which one is more perfect...they are all so scrumptious.

Well, we had this great weekend brunch which was enjoyed by everyone in our family recently: Herb - filled  Spinach Pancakes topped with grilled tomatoes. For such a scrumptious dish, the best part is that it is an iron-rich power-packed dish...

Hope my readers will be able to enjoy this brunch one of these days too, with their loved ones.
This wonderful spinach pancake dish goes to Priya's Pancake event and to Healing Foods Event- Spinach  hosted by Divya and started by Siri.

Recipe for Spinach Pancakes with an assortment of herbs:


Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Prep/Cook Time 20-25 mins


Ingredients
10 ounces fresh spinach, well washed and cut finely, or one 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
cilantro and/or mint- 1 bunch cut finely(you could also use dill,
parsley or basil in this, in any combination)
2 cups all-purpose flour(or 1cup wheat flr + 1cup ap flr)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda,
1/2 tsp baking powder,
flaxseed - 1tbsp
salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk or thin yogurt
1 tablespoon minced lemon zest, optional,
ginger, garlic - minced (1tsp each),
green chillies - 2 cut finely
cut onion - 1
cooking oil(or butter) for cooking pancakes


Method
1. Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. Add a little cooking oil and add onions, ginger and garlic to it...when the onions start turning brown, add the cut spinach and other herbs to it and let cook for 4-5 mins. Then turn off heat and set aside.
2.In the meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add 1 1/2 cups buttermilk(or yoghurt) to it. Add a little more buttermilk if batter seems thick; then add the cooked spinach mixture to it.
3. Place a teaspoon or two of cooking oil (or butter)in a skillet. When the skillet turns nice and hot(oil will start bubbling), ladle batter onto skillet, making any size pancakes you like. Adjust heat as necessary; first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. Add more oil/butter to pan as necessary. Flip only when pancakes are fully cooked on bottom; they won't hold together well until they are ready.
4. Cook until second side is lightly browned; and move from pan to serving dish.



Suggested garnish: lemon zest, cilantro, mint...I topped the pancakes with some grilled tomato slices and a little skimmed mozarella cheese.



Notes:
1.To make these pancakes even more protein-rich, you could optionally beat a couple of eggs into the batter.
2.If the batter looks or cooks too thin (that is, it spreads unappealingly over the pan), add a little flour, or some more spinach. If it is too thick, stir in some liquid -- milk, water, stock, whatever -- a spoonful at a time. The batter should be spoonable but not pourable.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Comfort Food Series: Fruity, Light and Flavorful South Indian Style Soup(Rasam)

I have been using fruits quite a bit in my savory foods lately, in chutneys and side-dishes and so on... and I actually find it refreshing(not to mention the fact that the fruits dont go to waste on my kitchen counter). Here is a light and flavorful South Indian style Soup or Rasam with the main ingredient being pears( I have tried it with pineapples, limes as well as apples).

The spice powder / spice mix I have used here is different from the usual Rasam powder that I use, which is available in most grocery stores or in the Asian Indian aisle of the supermarket. Here I used a simple, spice mix...a mixture of coriander seeds, some black pepper and  a touch of cumin seeds so that the fruity rasam(soup) would not be overpowering but still retain the flavor of the fruit while continuing to be tangy like traditional rasam is meant to be.

Here is the recipe and it would be a great accompaniment to hot rice as well as a warm appetiser/beverage by itself.

This fruity rasam soup goes to Nithu's Think Beyond the Usual - Fruits event as well as this month's CWS - Coriander Seeds  guest-hosted by RV and started by Priya of Priya's Easy n Tasty Recipes.

Recipe for Pear Rasam(South Indian style fruity soup):
Serves: 4
Prep/cook time: 20 - 25 mins
Ingredients:
Pears - 1 cut into chunks(any crisp variety more on the sweet side like Bartlett or Anjou or any others)
Tomato - 1 cut into chunks(any firm variety like vine tomatoes)
Green chilli pepper - 1 slit thinly
Tamarind juice - 2 cups
Jaggery - 1/2tsp(optional)
For spice powder: roast and powder coriander seeds(dhania) - 2 tbsp, black pepper - 2 tsp, cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
For seasoning: cumin seeds - 1 tsp, salt, turmeric, curry leaves - a few sprigs, cilantro


Method:
In a pan, add the tamarind juice and to it, add the cut pear and tomato, green chilli pepper, salt, turmeric , jaggery and spice mix.


Let the rasam soup boil well for atleast 10 mins, till it becomes bubbly.

In another frying pan, add a little cooking oil(or a tbsp of ghee) and when it heats up, add the cumin seeds and when they crackle, add the other seasonings and then add all these seasonings to the soup.

Serve hot or at room temperature with rice or as a warm appetiser/beverage.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eye-catching addition to Yummies from Blogosphere!!!

I love the colorfulness of this week's dish for the Yummies from Blogosphere series...one of my biggest inspirations, which propelled me towards active blogging was the immense beauty of all the foods portrayed in simple digital images all over blogosphere...it totally made my mind boggle to see Indian food and of course, other foods too(that we cook and eat everyday) presented with such elegance...and it was not just the complex, difficult-to-make dishes but also simple recipes that looked almost ethereal when captured so tastefully on film.

This week's dish was very simple to prepare, but so extremely beautiful to look at, you would think it took hours...I love almost all the dishes presented by this blogger, Tina of kaipunyam.com...in fact she is just awesome at baking up the most beautiful yummies I have ever seen. But I chose this dish because of its traditional nature and immense ease of preparation. Also, I feel the more I can add beets to our diet, packed as it is with nutrients, the better it would be.

It is a wonderful yoghurt-based beetroot side-dish wonderful with rice and curry as well as with chappathis/bread as a spread/dip. I know a lot of people who dont use beets as much as they should, just because they are afraid its deep colors are going to stain their work surfaces and require a lot of clean-up!!!! I hope these kind of dishes wil inspire more people out there to try this awesome veggie more often!

Notes/Variation: In this dish, I did very little in terms of modification, because its flavor lies in the minimal number of ingredients...the only thing was, that I added some channa dal(split yellow gram) and some grounduts to the seasoning items. Also, since I dont add much coconut nowadays to my dishes, I reduced the quantity of coconut to 1/4cup. Suggested garnish: Yoghurt topping



Thank you for this simply elegant dish, Tina!!

Link: Original Recipe for Beetroot Pachadi at kaipunyam.com

Recipe for Beetroot Pachadi
Serves: 4
Prep/cook time: 15-20 mins.

Ingredients:
Beetroot 1 big
Onion 1 med
Chilly 5 to 7
Yoghurt 1/2 to 3/4 cup
Coconut 1 cup grated
Ginger 1 small piece
Shallots 1 to 2
Curryleaves
Fenugreek
Mustard
Water
Salt
Oil

Method
Clean the beetroot. Finely grate it and cook it (in little oil) with chopped onion, ginger, chilly, salt and little water.

Grind together coconut, onion, chilly and little mustard seeds. Add this paste into cooked beetroot.

After cooling down, add yoghurt into this and mix well. Season it with shallots, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Small Wonders Series and Reposting for Event

After a hectic weekend filled with activities for the kids, I felt I needed to unwind by posting something(even if it was a repost) and do some bloghopping...my daughter also wanted me to post a Rangoli(also known as Kolam or Alpana) that was her entry for an exhibition at a temple here in the Bay Area this weekend...She was of course very excited to send in the entry(but then there is very little she doesnt get excited about) and even more excited when she got a certificate and plaque for sending in her entry...she was walking on cloud nine the whole of yesterday imagining herself as the next Picasso:))) So here it is, the medium that she  used for the Rangoli was lentils, colored powder/Rangoli powder and glitter powder:



Repost for Usha's Healthy Inspirations Event - Salads:

My first entry is a Recipe for Vibrant Mixed Fruit and Veggie Salad...this salad is not only colorful with varied flavors from fruits, vegs, nuts and dryfruits...it also packs a healthy punch of anti-oxidants and is ready in under 10 minutes...a great accompaniment to breads, pastas, rotis and even great as a snack by itself!!!





My second entry for the same event:  Easy Tangy Green Beans Salad with a crunch.
This is another 10 minute recipe and very versatile as a side-dish or salad...could be served warm or cold.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Forgotten Favorite revisited / Baking and Me???!!!

Before I post a recipe, I have a confession to make...I am a stranger to the challenges and joys of baking...until recently, my adventures in baking were limited to figuring out if the supermarket carried the mix for the baked recipe I was planning to try out...if they did not carry it...sorry!! that recipe landed in the 'forgotten recipes' folder...

But all that changed dramatically when I recently entered into the world of blogging! Just the sight of all the baked goodies made me want to rush out and go on a wild baking spree:)) But then, I hit a wall...not literally. Though, I have been known to do that on my not-so-agile (read...clumsy klutzy) days! What I mean is that, recently my husband and I decided to change our family's entire eating/food style to a healthily decadent style....well I wont get into that story now, but you can read about  it in my earlier post on the subject. So. how could I go out and exercise my passion for baking without compromising on the health aspect.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I wanted to enter whole-heartedly into the tantalising world of baked yummies but...I wanted to make sure I did not digress from Healthfully Decadent cooking...so thus began my quest for turning all the wonderful baked goods recipes into healthy ones, as far as that was possible...so when I saw this simple, tasty and healthy(!!!) recipe for muffins on the back of a cereal box(of all places!)it just called to me to be tried out!

What attracted me to these muffins was the fact that, this recipe substituted fat and butter with a wonderful combination of many flavors...the other thing was that, it reminded me of a tasty, tasty muffin that I had relished a few years back at a small coffee shop in Washington DC...my husband and I were on one of our first trips to DC after being married...the tour guide was running late one morning and instead of stopping at a regular diner or breakfast place, he just stopped at a small coffee shop and asked us to get a quick breakfast. Well, we ended up feasting on one of the best muffins I have tried...maybe it was because the muffins were so light and flavorful...maybe it was because I was looking at the world thru rainbow-colored glasses after being recently married...I dont know. But the memory of those muffins has remained with me for a while.

So, I baked those muffins based on the recipe I found on the back of the cereal box with some of my own variations, based on the flavors I remembered and ended up with a very, very tasty end-result, that was very moist because of the number of liquid ingredients!!! The best addition was the pomegrannate juice(I used POM Wonderful) which meant I could reduce the quantity of ther liquid ingredients especially the oil and plus the juice is chock-full of anti-oxidants without much sugar! See for yourself...

This recipe goes to Jagruti's Joyful Eating Whilst Traveling event and to Champa's Bake-off event.

Recipe for Muffins loaded with flavor, fruit and chocolate:-
Servings: 12 muffins
Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 15-17 mins

Ingredients:
2 cups Oat Bran cereal like Quaker(you could  also substitute with 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup oat bran cereal)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup pomegranate juice(I used the POM Wonderful brand because it has very little sugar)
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1/4 cup honey or molasses
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 medium mashed ripe banana
1/4 cup white or dark chocolate chips
a little orange zest(optional, but it gives the muffins a very fresh and zingy taste)

Method:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper cups or spray the mold with some cooking spray.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add combined milk, pomegranate juice, egg whites, honey and oil. Add all the fruit and choc. chips.

Mix lightly till everything is combined...do not overmix.

Fill the prepared muffin cups till 3/4 full.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with some fruit jam or as is.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flavors from different parts of India - Yummies from Blogosphere!!!

I am so happy to post two recipes for this week's edition of Yummies from Blogosphere...they can be served as a neat combo in a meal. The greatest thing about these two recipes is that, they represent two very diverse sides of Indian cuisine...and they also represent, I think, the essence of the blog that they were originally posted on...A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine...the dynamic duo, Muskaan and Sadhana, who are the creators of that blog, use their space to present the best flavors from Western and Southern Indian cuisine.

So I decided to try out two wonderful recipes from those two cuisines that could be paired together, last weekend...the result...a wonderful, flavorful meal that represented some of the best flavors from Indian cuisine!!!  After this successful meal, my family has urged me to do this kind of combo more often...pairing up dishes from different cuisines and cultures...shakes up things and a departure from the normal, humdrum routine is fun...dont you think???

I chose to make Vaghareli Rotli, a wonderful yoghurt gravy dish from Gujarati(western Indian) cuisine and Eggplant Gothsu, a tangy Southern Indian side-dish...I served this combo with hot rotis(Indian bread)...it was heavenly!!!The best thing was that this flavorful meal was not only tasty but also extremely simple to make...no prep-ahead...no sweat-ahead:)))

Of course, I followed the original recipes as closely as possible...but you know me:)) I did make some minor changes...thats just me!!! For the Vaghareli Rotli...I added some fennel seeds(saunf) and fenugreek seeds(methi seeds) to the items for seasoning...and to the Eggplant Gothsu, I added some tomatoes, for some additional tanginess.

Here are the original recipes as posted on A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine for Vaghareli Rotli and Eggplant Gothsu...Enjoy!!! Thanks, Muskaan and Sadhana!

Recipe for Vaghareli Rotli:
Ingredients:

6 Leftover Roti (Whole Wheat flat bread)
1 C Yogurt, preferably sour
2 tsp Besan ( Bengal gram flour)
Water to dilute
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp coriander-cumin (dhana-jeeru )powder
lemon juice according to taste if yogurt is not sour
1 Tbsp Cilantro, Chopped
Salt to taste.
For tempering:
1 Tbsp Olive / Canola Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Slit Green Chillies
Few Chopped Curry Leaves
1/4 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)


Method:
1. Mix yogurt and besan (gram )flour & add approximate of 1 Cup of water to dilute this mixture, whisk it nice to avoid lumps.
2. Heat oil in a wok, add mustard seeds, as it spluters, add cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, then pour above yogurt + besan mixture to it, while constantly stir it.
3. Bring it to boil, add the rest of the ingredients, stir it, and now with your fingers tear apart the flat bread you made (leftover roti) into medium small pieces just like size of potato chips, and put it in this boiling yogurt sauce.
4. Once you add flat bread pieces into this sauce, stir it and put the flame off. Let it sit for a while, as these bread pieces will soak up all the sauce, leaving behind some gravy. Thats perfect consistency.
5. Its ready to serve hot, with some sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
                      
Recipe for Eggplant Gothsu:
Cooking Time: 20 min

Preparation Time: 10 min
Serves – 4


Ingredients
Egg Plant (small) - 4 to 5
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Onion (medium) - 1
Curry leaves - few
Green chilly - 2 to 3 or to taste
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/2 tsp
Channa dhal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - small piece
Tamarind - goose berry size ball.
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Rice Flour - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste.
Garnishing:
Chopped Cilantro – 2 tablespoons
This is normally made by roasting the egg plant and peeling the skin and using the pulp inside. The eggplant I had was too small to roast and I didn’t have the time to bake it and peel and take the pulp out.


Method
1) Soak Tamarind in water.
2) Heat Oil and add mustard seeds, once they splutter well add urad dhal, channa dhal, and asafoetida.
3) Once the dhal browns a little add green chilly, chopped ginger, onion pieces and curry leaves.
4) Cut the egg plant into small pieces and add it to the above.
5) Now add turmeric powder and salt and cover it for a while till the egg plant gets cooked.
6) Once it is cooked squeeze out the tamarind pulp from the soaked tamarind using water and add it to the egg plant mixture.
7) This should be in-between consistency of rasam and sambhar, so add water accordingly.
8) Once the tamarind water boils well and the raw smell is gone, mix the rice flour in little bit of water and add the paste to this mixture.
9) Simmer for a minute or two till the gravy thickens and is not very watery and switch of and garnish serve with Pongal or Idli.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Celebrating Sweet Gift / Athirasam for ICC

Over the weekend I received a sweeet gift from Usha of Veg Inspirations for her Healthy Inspirations - Soups Event! I was so delighted to receive it I decided to kill two birds with one stone...I felt like celebrating this wonderful gesture from Usha plus I also had to make Athirasam for Srivalli's ICC...well so I made Athirasam for my family and they loved it...so I am posting both together...celebrating a sweet gesture with a wonderfully sweet dish! Actually,  my daughter just looooved the gift because it was a cute bracelet and earrings(something tells she will be using the gift more than I:))

In case you read this, Usha...Thanks for your wonderful gesture!!!

Coming to the Athirasam...it was a challenge alright...it takes some time to figure out the right consistency for the jaggery syrup...when I first made it, I almost added all the rice flour too soon and, then I looked at the syrup again and it was still not dark enough and had not bubbled up too much..so then I waited for a few minutes more and then it was easier to add the rice flour and get the dough to look like roti/chappathi dough.

So here is the recipe for the version I tried...
Thanks for the awesome and challenging recipe...Srivalli! I had eaten this sweet delicacy many times as a child of course...somehow never tried it at home...I loved trying it out and I was so happy it turned out alright...I have heard from many people including my mom, that it is not an easy dish to try out!

Recipe for Athirasam:
Ingredients Needed

Raw Rice - 200 gms
Paku Jaggery - 250 gms(jaggery for syrup)
Sesame Seeds - 2 tsp or less
Gasa gasa or Poppy Seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cardamom powder - a pinch

Method to prepare.
Soak rice for 6 hrs and then shade dry it. Meaning it should not become dry but should still have some wetness in the rice. You can either grind this to fine powder using your mixer. The rice flour should have that texture of soft and wet feeling when you take a handful and also it should kind of retain your fist shape. Hope you understand what I am saying. This is very important because if the flour is very dry it wouldn't turn out well.

Have all the things ready when you put the jaggery for cooking.

Take water that is enough to dilute jaggery. Dissolve the jaggery. Remove any impurities that may be present. Then again cook till the pakam(syrup) is ready. The consistency here is also very important. Hope you know that consistency of pakam(syrup) is calculated as threads.

This is how we check the thread consistency, when the jaggery starts boiling and becomes thick, carefully take a small bit and touch it between your thumb and Index fingers. A thread will be formed when you take your fingers away from each other.

Likewise when the syrup becomes thick, you can find 3 threads being formed. So after 3 thread consistency the jaggary is really cooked well and it become thick. When you take a bit and put it in water, you should be able to make a ball of it. This is when you know the pakkam is ready.

Remove from fire, and add poppy seeds, sesame seeds and cardamom. Mix well. Then slowly add the rice flour and keep mixing well. The consistency is very important, so you need to add the flour little by little. Mix till you get a chapati dough consistency. End of this, you may still have some flour left out.

Divide into lemon size balls. Grease a plastic sheet and your fingers. Place the ball on the sheet, and pat it down to a poori size.

Heat oil for frying and slowly drop these discs into the hot oil. You can simmer for a while until you know the inside is cooked. Turn to the other side and cook till its golden in colour. If you are cooking alone, you can roll out one by one and cook. Else it might get burnt. Once done, remove and drain on a Kitchen towel.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

TGIF + Unlikely Yet Scrumptious Combo!!!

So, Thank God its Friday(almost Sat...what the hey, its the weekend)...TGIF...the days seem to fly past nowadays and I love coming up with new recipes to post!!!

Its another weekend and I always try to make something fun and different on Fri. evenings!!!! Let me go back to something I served last Fri. at home...which was met with oohs! and aahs! from the kids...

Pav bhaji : According to wikipedia... is a fast food dish native to Maharashtrians and is popular in most metropolitan areas in India, particularly in the Maharashtrian city of Mumbai & Pune. (पाव भाजी, also transliterated as pao bhaji and pau bhaji). According to wiktionary... a Maharashtrian fast food dish served on (पाव) bread and garnished with coriander and chopped onions. For most desis, Pav Bhaji is a well-known dish that most of us have feasted on since childhood, even though the recipe might vary slightly in every household.

And, Pizza???...again, according to wikipedia...it is an oven-baked, flat, disc shaped bread usually topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella and then a selection of meats/vegetables and herbs depending on taste and culture. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889 cheese was added. King Ferdinand I (1751–1825) is said to have disguised himself as a commoner and, in clandestine fashion, visited a poor neighborhood in Naples. One story has it that he wanted to sink his teeth into a food that the queen had banned from the royal court—pizza.

Now, you may definitely wonder why I talk about two such diverse foods in the same breath. After all, we have all heard this..."East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet..." But I beg to differ when it comes to...Pav Bhaji Pizza!!!

This is a scrumptious dish we first ate at an entertainment/videogame arcade run by desi Indians, here in the Bay area...they have a restaurant where they sell among other things, this Indianised version of pizza... which has a pizza base and topping of pav bhaji curry and cheese, cilantro, onions...yummm! Since then, we have had three birthday parties for our daughter in that entertainment arcade(they specialise in kids' themed parties) and after the first time, when we served the pav bhaji pizza to our guests...we have requests every year from our friends to have her birthday party at the same arcade...they all say  they cant wait to try the pizza at her party:))

So, I made this last Fri. evening for my family...I used store-bought pizza base, but of course, you could make it at home...hope you all try this scrumptious dish and give me your comments.

This surprisingly wonderful recipe(normally, pizza is not my favorite dish, but loved this variation)... Pav Bhaji Pizza is making its way to Lavi's Global Kadai - Indian Flavored Pizza event...started by Cilantro.

Recipe for Pav Bhaji Pizza:-
Serves: 4
Prep/Cook time: 35-40 mins.(with store-bought pizza dough)

For Pizza Base/Dough: Alton Brown's Recipe  and Emeril's Recipe on Food Network

For Curry/Bhaji Topping:
Ingredients:
Potatoes, boiled and mashed - 3 medium or big size + cauliflower - 1 boiled and mashed
Tomatoes, chopped  - 3 medium
Onions, chopped  - 2 medium or 1 big size
Green peas, shelled 1/2 cup
Ginger, chopped 1 inch piece
Garlic 6 or 7 cloves
Oil  - 2 to 3 tablespoons
Green chillies, chopped 3-4
Pav bhaji masala 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped 1/4 cup
Lemon juice - 1 medium or big size
Onion - 1/2 cut finely for garnish(optional)
Cheese - mozzarella, grated 3 or 4 tbsp

Method:
Boil green peas in water till soft, drain, mash lightly and set aside. Grind ginger and garlic to a fine paste.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat oil in a pan and add three fourth quantity of onions. Sauté till light brown. Add green chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Stir-fry for half a minute. Add half the quantity of tomatoes and cook on medium heat for three to four minutes, stirring continuously or till oil separates from the masala.

Add  mashed peas, cauliflower, potatoes and one and half cups of water. Bring it to a boil and simmer for seven to ten minutes, pressing with back of the spoon a few times, till all the vegetables are completely mashed.

Add Pavbhaji Masala, salt and remaining tomatoes. Cook on medium heat for two minutes, stirring continuously.  Then set aside.

Now, spread parchment paper/foil on baking sheet and place the pizza base/crust on it. Spread an even layer of the curry/bhaji on the pizza base.

Next, add the fresh cut onions, cheese and cilantro on top of the curry. Optionally, you could place some butter on the top of the pizza crust. Bake for 10 - 12 mins(or according to package directions for pizza crust)

When the pizza comes out of the oven, drizzle some lemon juice on top of pizza...serve hot / at room temp.

Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Holiday Adventure and a Pasta Dish

As I mentioned in my tag awards post, Napa Valley is a favorite vacation destination in my family. We always get to see the best vista points,  also the scenery and landscape are always breathtaking...especially during the grape harvest season, the Valley is beautiful not only because of the grapes hanging from the vines but also from the sour-sweet smell of grapes in the air...plus we always have the best food at the restaurants in downtown Napa and Sonoma.


On one such trip, a few years back we also had a funny misadventure, when we traveled to Napa with some friends... we were so busy looking at the landscape in the beautiful wineries that we were late for lunch...by the time we reached downtown Napa it was almost beyond lunchtime and most of the restaurants were way too full and until we found one where there was no wait, we had to handle the fun experience of three kids with their constant "are we there yet"?

The lunch, that followed was definitely one of the best we had in Napa(probably, also because of the long drive to get there) and here is the recipe for one of the pasta dishes that we enjoyed that afternoon, which I have recreated many times, based on memory after that day, at home.

The thing that is different about this pasta is, for one, that it has a crunchy garnish from some fried sage and basil leaves on top of the penne pasta dish with ricotta and bell peppers. For my version, I just tend to saute some sage and basil leaves and garnish the pasta with it...makes for a very nice finish...Hope you enjoy it as much as we did that afternoon!


This dish goes to the Pasta Party Event hosted by Jyoti of Panch Pakwan and Jagruti's event, Joyful eating whilst traveling.

Recipe for Penne Pasta with Ricotta and Bell Peppers:
Serves: 5 or 6
Prep/cook time: 30-35 mins.
Ingredients:
1lb.penne pasta (I used whole wheat penne and some spaghetti as well)
1tsp butter
3 to 4 cloves garlic cut finely
1tbsp red pepper flakes
2 or 3 bell peppers - cut finely(I used red and green variety)
1 cup skimmed milk ricotta or low-fat ricotta cheese crumbled finely

For topping the pasta:
3 to 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
sage and/or basil - few leaves sauted in a little butter or light olive oil
breadcrumbs or toasted croutons - 2tbsp

For seasoning
1 tbsp. light olive oil
Salt, black pepper to taste

Method:
1. Start large pot of water to boil for cooking pasta. When water starts to boil, add a little salt(to season pasta) and then add the pasta itself. Let cook for 6 to 7 minutes (whole wheat pasta takes a minute or two longer than the regular pasta to cook). Take off stove and drain pasta when almost done(but not fully cooked - pasta needs to be baked finally)

2. In a pan, add the olive oil, cut/crushed garlic and red pepper flakes(and any additional salt) and saute for a minute or two. Add the vegs. before the garlic starts turning brown.  Let cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Then, add the half-cooked pasta to it, alongwith the ricotta cheese. Set aside. Now, set oven to pre-heat at 350degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Once the sauce and the pasta-veg mixture is ready, grease a baking pan with light cooking spray(or butter, if you wish)

4. Now, add the pasta-veg. mixture then, add all the seasonings and toppings over the pasta.

5.Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and bake for 15 - 20 mins(at 350F), until the top turns golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature with garlic bread or soup or side of vegs.
 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane...Yummies from Blogosphere

Here is another addition to my Yummies from Blogosphere Series...as I said last week, my family enjoys this series  immensely and why wouldnt they...considering they get to sample foods from some of the best recipes on Blogosphere???!!! I must say that this recipe was very special because it also made me walk down memory lane...it brought back memories of my high school/college days in Kolkata, India...

So this recipe is from Jyoti who blogs at The Veggie Hut. In the original post, she talks about her life in Kolkata or Calcutta, as it used to be called in the past...I enjoyed reading about her favorite street food stalls in Kolkata...that made me relate to my own college years when my friends and I would take advantage of the convenient location of our college near a busy shopping area in Calcutta and rush off, after classes to gorge on the chaats/street foods which were aplenty in Russell Street or in the stalls outside AC Market. And the temptations were many...there was phuchka(pani puri), jhaal muri, ghughni, rolls and then of course, the heavenly chilled kulfi...sigh!!

I wonder if all those stalls still exist because it has almost been 15 years or maybe more, since I last went to Kolkata...but that is how I remember the city...with it unhurried and relaxed pace, wonderful foods and friendly people.

Anyways...coming back to the recipe...it is one for Moong dal chilla(a savory crepe loaded with lovely veggies)...I have eaten it many, many times at friends' homes and my mom has made it in the past...but I had never tried it myself , even though I do make a variety of dosas at home...so when I saw Jyoti's recipe...I immediately bookmarked it and now...with the beginning of my series...I had a chance to make it at home.

It is extremely easy to make...the dough/batter being wonderfully easy to work with(once you have the right consistency)...plus it is super healthy because it does not need any rice! Just protein-rich moong dal(lentils) and of course, the vegs.

I served it with a tomato chutney that we all love in my family, last weekend... though it would taste great with any kind of chutney/dip/sauce...the kids demanded more of it the next day and luckily I had refrigerated some batter and we enjoyed it a second time, too!!

Notes/Variations to original recipe: I followed the original recipe as much as possible...however I did add some shredded cabbage also to the veggie mixture and additionally, a tsp each of coriander powder and cummin powder to the spice mix...being that I am a spice maniac!

Awesome recipe, Jyoti and thank you for it!!!
Links: original post

Recipe for Moong dal Chilla(as posted on The Veggie Hut):

This recipe makes 6 chillas:

Ingredients:
1 cup washed split moong dal(lentils)

1 onion chopped finely.
1 large tomato chopped finely.
½ cup bell pepper chopped finely.
¼ cup coriander leaves chopped finely.
2 green chilies deseeded and chopped finely.
¼ turmeric powder.
½ red chilli powder.
1 ¼ cup water.
1 tsp salt or to taste.
Oil for shallow frying.

Process:
Soak the moong dal for 2-3 hours. It will double in its volume. Drain off the water and add 1 ¼ cup of fresh water and churn in the mixer to form a liquid paste. Add turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Add the salt just before making the 'Chilla'. The batter should have a dropping consistency just like dosa.

Keep the chopped veggies aside.



Heat a non stick pan. Grease it lightly. Take a ladle full of batter and drop it on the pan and quickly spread it on the pan in a circular motion to form a 6 cm radius circle. Sprinkle all the veggies all over it.



When the chilla changes color turn it over with a spatula and cook on the other side.



When done transfer it on a paper towel. Continue with the rest of the batter.



Serve hot with chutney and ketchup.
 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fruity, sweet chutney with a tangy attitude

As I mentioned in my last post, fruits tend to be more decorative than edible objects in our house, especially for the kids:))

So, this weekend I decided to put the pretty little decorative objects sitting on my kitchen counter(read, apples and pears) in a fruity chutney that was sweet and yet tangy!

I ended up serving the chutney with rotis as well as at snack-time the next day with dosas(savory Indian crepes)...and the best thing was the kids did not have any complaints about eating fruits when there were so many interesting flavors - both sweet and tart, going on in the chutney.

This fruity chutney makes it way to Nithu's event: Think beyond the usual - Fruits.



Recipe for sweet and tangy Apple - Pear chutney:
Serves: 3 or 4
Prep/cook time: 15 mins.

Ingredients:
Apples - 2 crisp/firm finely grated with peel(I have used both Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties)
Pear - 1 finely grated(crisp variety like Asian Pears)
Ginger - 1 small piece
Green chillies - 1 or 2
Honey - 2 tbsp
For seasoning: black mustard seeds, salt - a pinch, cooking oil/butter - 1 tsp

Method:
In a pan, add the cooking oil(or butter) and when it heats up, add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, add all the rest of the ingredients, one at a time and saute for 6 or 7 mins. till the fruits become very soft and translucent. Serve immediately or at room temperature with rotis, Indian snack items like dosa/idli or on bread as a spread.



-------------------------
Also, going back to my tag awards, here are two of my favorite pics. from our family's most memorable, recent vacations...a picture of Napa Valley, California from last fall and downtown Vancouver, BC. I have many joyous memories from these trips...and that, I guess will be material for future posts...

                          
                             

Sweet and Tangy Apple Pear Chutney on Foodista

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Another Award + Fruity Yoghurt Side Dish

My fantabulous blogger friend who blogs @ Joy of Cooking...Jagruti has bestowed this Tag Award upon me...She is a wonderful blogger who has an eye-catching blog and equally eye-catching recipes...not only Indian but also from different corners of the world...Thanks, Jagruti for this Tag award...awesome of you to think about me!

This award comes with certain rules...the first rule being that you link and mention the person that tagged you(Jagruti, how can I forget you?)...secondly, I need to pass it on to seven blogger friends...so I have chosen seven blogger friends randomly by picking names after assigning consecutive numbers to my blogger pals' names and asking my family to pick seven random numbers. The toughest part always is to pick just a certain number of blogger friends to tag. So here goes:

Rachana of Veggie Fare
Shahana of Me N My Apron
Daisy Blue of  Spicy Lounge
Love2cook of Love2cook-msia

Thank you for your awesome support and hope you enjoy these awards, my friends!

As part of the rules for accepting this award, I am also required to post one or more of my favorite pictures...which I will post next week...

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Now, for today's Fruity Yoghurt Side Dish aka Fruity Raita with Dahi:

This is part of my ongoing effort to incorporate as many fruits and vegs. as possible into my family's daily diet...I always find that whenever we buy fruits, most of them tend to sit on the counter...isnt it funny how kids never reach for a fruit when it comes to snack-time...it is always the fried or sugary food that holds their attention. So now I sneak fruits just as much as vegs. into almost every meal.

This fruity yoghurt side dish or raita would be a great accompaniment to rotis, rice dishes or even as a sandwich-stuffer. The best part about this is that you can pack in multiple daily servings of fruits and vegs into one super-simple dish.

Recipe for Fruity Yoghurt Side Dish or Raita:

Serves:4
Prep/Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
Pears - 2 ripe but of crisp variety(like the Asian Pears), grated finely
Carrot - 1 grated finely
Cucumber - 1 seedless or de-seeded and grated finely
Tomato - 1 cut finely
Red Onion - 1 cut finely(optional - I have made these fruity yoghurt raitas with and without the onion)
Green chilli pepper - cut finely or slit in half
Yoghurt - 1 1/2 cups ( I like the thick Greek yoghurt variety - lowfat or nonfat for this dish but any variety should work good)
For seasoning: salt, pepper and cilantro

In a bowl, add all the ingredients and top with seasonings and mix well till well-combined.
Serve chilled or at room temp.

Asian Pear on FoodistaAsian Pear

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Easy Lunch-box Item: Fragrant Stir-Fried Greens and Brown Rice

I normally don't include rice dishes in our family's lunch-box, mostly because rice dishes are best, when served fresh and hot. But recently, I prepared a rice dish which was very fragrant and I felt it would make a good addition to the lunch-box...the fragrant nature of the rice helped it keep its freshness. Plus it is a super-healthy dish with a medley of greens(spinach, dill, mint and cilantro) and brown rice(of course, you could substitute with white rice).

When I prepare this dish for the lunch-box, I tend to put aside some cooked rice the night before so that it saves time when it comes to prep-work in the morning...also I usually refrigerate some boiled mixed vegs. the night before, because I normally cannot find more than 20-25 mins. in the morning to prepare lunch-box items.

I normally use plain yoghurt as a side for this rice dish because it has so much fragrance and veggies in it...it does not need an elaborate side dish or I might serve it with a simple okra and yoghurt side-dish(raita/dip)
So here goes with the recipe...
This fragrant and healthy rice dish goes to the FFSSL: Tiffin-box Series by RV and Sudeshna.

Recipe for Fragrant Stir-Fried Greens and Brown Rice:
Serves: 4
Prep/Cook Time: 20-25mins.

Ingredients:
Brown Rice - 3 cups(cooked)...both medium and long-grain brown rice will work.
Dill leaves - 1/2 bunch fresh(cut finely)
Spinach - 1/2 bunch fresh(cut finely)
Mint leaves - a small handful
Onion - 1 cut finely
Mixed vegs - 1 cup boiled(I used frozen mixed vegs. including carrots, peas, corn, green beans)
Ginger-garlic paste - 2tsp(could increase if you like the taste, 2tsp will give mild flavor of ginger and garlic)
Green chillies - 3 cut finely or slit in half
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Curry powder or sambhar powder - 1 tsp
For seasoning -
Cooking oil - 2tbsp(could also use butter), Saunf(fennel seeds) - 1tsp, Cummin seeds - 1tsp, Cinnamon stick - small piece, cardamom(elaichi) - 2 or 3, slivered almonds/cashews - 2 tbsp(for garnish), salt, turmeric, sugar - 1tsp(optional) cilantro, and lemon juice for garnish.

Method:
  • In a deep - bottomed non-stick pan, add the oil and when it heats up, add all the seasonings except cilantro and lemon juice.
  • When the seasonings start to brown, add the cut onions, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies and saute for a few minutes till onions turn brown and crispy.
  • At this point, add the cut spinach, mint leaves and dill leaves to the mixture and saute again for 3 or 4 minutes till the leaves turn nice and soft.
  • Now, add the mixed vegs. to the pan and let cook for a few minutes...at this point you can add all the spice powders like coriander powder and curry/sambhar powder to the mixture.
  • When the vegs. are well mixed with the spices, add the cooked brown rice and mix well.
  • Turn off the heat and add all the garnish items like cilantro and lemon juice.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature with yoghurt, salad or raita.
  • Note: All ethnic ingredients are available at Asian/Asian Indian grocery stores or in the International Foods aisle at any grocery store.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yummies from Blogosphere: A sweet start to a new series!

As I mentioned in my post last week to my readers, here is my new series: Yummies from Blogosphere - where I am delighted to showcase beautiful recipes from Bloggerworld which I have tried and relished with my family and friends. I feel that this is the best way that I could show appreciation for all the inspiration that I get from my fellow bloggers.

I have bookmarked wonderful food creations from almost every food blog I read regularly...so, naturally I had a humongous variety of dishes to choose from, to try out last weekend...I did not know which one to choose because they are all foods to die for!  I wanted to start this new series with something sweet... I could not believe that I had bookmarked so many recipes!

I just could not fix on one recipe to try out. Finally, I ended up making a serially numbered list of favorite sweet recipes (one from each of the blogs that I regularly read) and had my daughter give me a random number and tried out the recipe corresponding to that number. It just goes to show what amazing talent we have in Blogosphere, I think.

Without further ado, let me go on to the recipe that I tried last weekend...

It was a wonderfully sweet recipe for Microwave Cashewnut (Kaju)Peda originally posted by Priya of  Priya's Easy n Tasty Recipes. I will provide a link to the original recipe below. It was posted almost a year back by Priya. She has provided some great info on cashewnuts - their nutritional benefits and method of storage and so on...what attracted me to this recipe was the fact that it is probably one of the quickest and fastest sweet/dessert recipes that I have made in a while, not to mention the fact that is also extremely healthy... I started making it with 10 minutes to spare for dinner time and it was still ready, well in time to have as a tasty, bite-size dessert. The pedas were easy to shape into round discs(actually my 9 year old daughter helped me with this step...it was easy enough to shape for her!)

NOTES AND POSSIBLE VARIATIONS:  I followed the original recipe as much as possible. The only change I made to the original recipe is that, I ended up using 4 tbsp of water in place of the original recipe (which required 2 tsp water) That was mainly because I used totally non-fat milk powder which was very crumbly and needed some extra water for the cashew and milk powder mixture to come together. I also used some raisins as well as pistachios for the garnish. Plus, I was thinking it might be good to use some saffron strands the next time I make this for an extra touch of flavor...talk about icing on an already beautiful cake!

The taste of course, was unbelievable inspite of the fact that it is almost totally devoid of butter/oil. Needless to say, my family loved it  - even my toddler!


Thanks, Priya for this fabulous recipe!
 I so love this series...I(and of course, my family!!!) cant wait to try the next Yummy from Blogosphere!


Recipe for Microwave Kaju Peda(as posted on Priya's Easy n Tasty Recipes):
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1cup Cashew powder
1/2cup Milk powder
2tsp Water
3/4cup Sugar
Few pistachios (garnishing)


Take a wide microwave bowl...add the cashew powder, milk powder, water and sugar together and mix with a spatula, microwave for 2 minutes in high, stir in between..Keep aside and let it cool..


Now it will look like soft chappathi dough, roll or shape them as u desire..Garnish the pistachio..
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