Saturday, May 31, 2008
And then I began to think what she would definitely need in her kitchen - its a clean slate as far as Indian cooking is concerned. What would one who was cooking everday Indian food, absolutely need in the kitchen? What are the spices? vegetables? grains?
I came up with this list:
Dals: Urad, Toor, Masoor and Moong
Is that a fair list? What is the bare minimum you have to have in your kitchen at all times?
And then I went to the recipes part of it. I found the 10 recipes that I took with me to the US, as a student, were invaluable. I've posted two of them before: Spicy Potatoes and Bell Pepper with Gram Flour. This is a 3rd recipe. It's so easy that its almost a no-brainer, but the flavors blend so well together and everyone always enjoys it.
Spinach with Corn
1 bunch Spinach, cleaned and chopped
1 cup Corn, cooked
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Mustard seeds
Salt, to taste
In a saucepan, heat a little bit of oil. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the cumin. Brown for a minute. Add the spinach and salt and cook until it begins to wilt. Now add the corn and mix well.
That's about it. And it's always a hit!
This is off to Shriya of Spicy Tasty's Fortune Cooking Contest. This is my favorite way of eating greens.
So here we are at the end of the Recipe Marathon - it was one of the most fun events I've taken part in. Not only did we manage to cook up something everyday and post about it (which, you must admit, is a HUGE feat!), we also managed to find lovely friends in such a short time. If anyone has any doubt of whether to join this the next time around, I hope you won't hesitate - it really was so much fun. Now onto the food!
DK made fantastic sabudana vadas - oh-so-delicious! Divya made mattar paneer - an all-time favorite. Swati professed her love for...eggs.
Check out Siri's and Bhags' contribution. Lakshmi made some great looking rice. Raaga posted tons and tons of recipes! Ranji made a refreshing watermelon juice. Valli used the entire ridgegourd!
I know that there are lots of bloggers from India who are wondering how they can help. Please let me know in the comments section if you are interested in contributing to this outstanding effort. I will contact you. Let's help reach the goal of $12,000, and give Bri and her family a chance to concentrate on what's important.
The Chip In/ Pay Pal accepts International Credit Cards - ie Cards issued outside the US. So go ahead and click on the Chip In button and contribute:
For more information about the fundraiser and June's Click event, please read below:
This is an appeal on behalf of a group of food bloggers who are friends of Briana Brownlow @ Figs With Bri.
Bri was diagnosed with breast cancer two and half years ago. A mastectomy, chemotherapy and two years of relatively good health later, the cancer is back. It has metastasized to other parts of her body. At the age of 15, Bri lost her 41-year old mother to the disease. Now, she’s waging her own war against breast cancer. More about it here.
She is going through intensive chemo and other treatments and needs to focus single-mindedly on healing and finding what treatment works best for her. Her health insurance, unfortunately, does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. Bri and her husband Marc have enough on their plates right now in addition to worrying about her medical bills.
The team organising the JUNE edition of CLICK at Jugalbandi has organised a fundraiser to help Bri and her family meet her out-of-pocket medical costs for ONE YEAR.
CLICK is a monthly theme-based photography contest hosted by Jugalbandi. This month’s theme is: YELLOW for Bri
Yellow is the colour of hope. Through the work of the LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer.
The entries can be viewed HERE. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2008. The fundraiser will extend until July 15, 2008.
The target amount is 12,000 U.S. dollars. We appeal to our fellow bloggers and readers to help us achieve this. Bri deserves a chance to explore all options, even if her insurance company thinks otherwise.
There’s a raffle with exciting prizes on offer. After viewing the list, you may make your donation HERE or at the Chip-In button on any participating site.
Your donation can be made securely through credit card or Pay Pal and goes directly to Bri’s account.
This month’s photo contest also has some prizes. Details HERE.
You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser, by participating in CLICK: the photo event, and by publicising this campaign.
Friday, May 30, 2008
1 loaf bread (you could use any type of bread you like - but it must be thinly sliced)
1/2 lb mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup light cream
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp chilli powder (or crushed red pepper)
2 tsp garlic powder (or minced garlic)
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
Saute mushrooms for 5 minutes in butter on medium flame. Blend in flour and salt. Stir in cream. Cook until thick. Add spices, lemon juice and coriander.
Remove crust from bread. (Don't throw away those beautiful crusts, though. You can toast it in a 350 deg F oven for 5-7 minutes and grind them fine to make breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs can be stored in an airtight container in a freezer for up to 3 months).
Flatten each slice with a rolling pin. Add a little mushroom mixture on each slice and roll up.
Rolls can be put in Ziploc bags and frozen until ready to serve, or put in fridge until ready to serve if the same day.
When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400 deg F and toast roll for 10 minutes on each side approximately.
When toasted, remove rolls from oven, cut each roll into half and serve hot with a spicy sauce.
Alternatively you can just scoop the mushroom mixture directly onto little bits of toast and serve the traditional mushrooms on toast.
This is off to Mansi, who is hosting this month's Monthly Mingle: Appetizers and Hors d'oeuvres. Monthly Mingle was originally started by Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey? I can't wait for the round-up and lots more appetizer ideas! :)
On Day 14 of the Recipe Marathon, this is what everyone's up to:
Bhags has a lovely risotto. Ranji has a traditional spice mix. Swati makes chickens smile. DK has some fantastic melt-in-the-mouth bites. Siri did a lovely okra dish and dishes out about the status of the Open Sesame fun fun fun contest! Who could ever refuse Lakshmi's Hot Chocolate? Valli adds to her valuable LBS. And Raaga rounded it off with a great raspberry dessert.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Even now, south Indians can't make breads as well as north Indians (at least the majority). I know someone who lived in a family of about 12 people - and she was assigned the task of making rotis everyday and she would make almost 40 a meal!
So, anyways, all that stuff was to lead into the fact that until recently I couldn't make a roti at all. They would be hard and chewy and very disappointing. I then learnt from a friend, and now they're half-way decent. But I love my parathas!
Basic Roti Recipe
3 cups Whole wheat Flour
1 tsp Oil
1 tsp Salt
Water, as needed
Make a well in the middle of the flour. Add the oil, salt and a 1/4 cup of water. Mix together. Continue adding water (about 2 tbsp at a time), until the dough is formed and is elastic.
Cover and set aside for at least a 1/2 hour.
Take small portions and make balls (the size of a lime), then use a rolling pin to roll the ball out into circles as thin as possible. Keep aside.
Filling Option #1: Radish
1/2 kilo radish, washed, peeled and grated
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Squeeze the radish to remove any excess water.
Heat some oil in a saute pan. Add the garlic and toss for a minute.
Add the onion and cilantro and saute. Now add the radish and saute well until cooked. (The smell of cooking radish is truly awful - but the final result is well worth it!).
Add the turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and salt and toss to combine.
Remove from heat and shape into small balls (the size of table tennis balls).
Filling Option #2: Potato
5 Potatoes, cooked, peeled and mashed
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1 bunch Cilantro, chopped fine
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1/4 tsp Chilli powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Salt, to taste
Heat some oil in a saute pan. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two. Next add the fennel, cilantro and potatoes. Continue to saute for about 5-6 minutes.
Add the chilli powder, garam masala, turmeric, salt. Cook for another 5-6 minutes.
Remove from heat and shape into small balls (the size of table tennis balls).
To make Parathas:
Place a ball of filling in the middle of the prepared rotis. Fold the dough over the filling to cover completely.
Roll it out again. Heat a tsp of oil on a hot griddle and put the paratha on. Turn over when you see dark spots appear.
Cook both sides for 3-4 minutes each and remove. Repeat with the remaining rotis and filling.
This is for Valli's Roti Mela. I know this is such a basic recipe, but this is as far as I've gotten in my roti-making ventures! I'm glad to contribute to the Mela, Valli, and looking forward to the round-up.
Recipe Marathon Update, Day 13:
Not sure if any of you are aware of Siri's seriously good sketching talents, but that's the first thing you need to check out before sitting down for this feast. You could go Indian with lots of curries - Lakshmi's Kootu, Swati's Aloo, Valli's Chicken and Divya's Black-eyed peas, with fabulously innovative brown rice patties from DK. Or you could do Italian with Raaga's Spaghetti. Whichever way you go, you have to have dessert - and we have two choices on the menu tonight - Ranji's Chocolate Chip Banana Bread or Bhags' Oats. Or maybe both?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Her recipe uses coconut milk, parboiled rice, veggies and black-eyed peas. One evening, everyone was really tired and I wanted a one-dish meal and I thought of this one. I didn't have black-eyed peas and wasn't planning to go out and get some, so I checked the Cook's Thesaurus and it said I could substitute Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal). And I used brown rice instead of parboiled (again, just lazy).
It was ... um... let's just say I decided to follow her recipe next time.
So I made it again the next day. This time, I got the black-eyed peas and I used rosematta rice. And it came out perfectly! Thanks, Cynthia, we are going to make this very often. And the black-eyed peas are a MUST - do not substitute it!!
First brown some onions in a pan and add the black-eyed peas (the peas need to be soaked beforehand). Now add some water and cover and let it cook until the peas are almost done.
Add the veggies and a chopped tomato (I used peas and carrots, but you can use any combination you'd like). Saute for a minute or two.
Then add the rice and continue to stir for a few minutes. She suggests adding thyme, but I didn't have thyme and so I added a seasoning blend that contained thyme!
Now add coconut milk. I added about a 1/2 cup at a time - waited for it to be absorbed into the rice before adding the next 1/2 cup. That way I could control how much the rice was cooked. Stop when the rice is cooked but not mushy.
Definitely a keeper. Thanks for the recipe, Cynthia - this has truly been tried and tasted!
Let's see what the other Recipe Marathoners are up to:
Swati had a leg disaster. Valli got away with mango noodles. DK went to Morocco. Siri made rice. Lakshmi made kootu. Ranji made some authentic Kerala food. Bhags got hummused. Divya got some spicy green action going. No desserts today, sorry.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I tried several times to ask her for the recipe and she would very generously offer to make it for me, but no, I never did get that recipe! :) So, I went to the ever supportive Blog Search, and found a fairly easy recipe.
So here goes my Tosca Cake.
(adapted from here)
100 g Butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup Sugar
3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 cup Milk
Beat eggs and sugar until it becomes white (it just never happened for me - remained yellow, so I just gave up! But I was doing it with a whip, maybe in an electric contraption, it might become white).
Sift the dry ingredients (baking powder and flour) and stir into the egg mixture, adding the milk and butter. Mix well till combined. Pour into a cake pan and bake at 175 deg C for about 20 mts.
While the cake is baking, start making the topping:
100 g butter
little less than 1/2 cup Sugar
2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Milk
1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
Combine all the above ingredients except for the almonds on low heat. When it starts to thicken, add the almonds and combine.
In case you're looking at those almonds and saying those aren't peeled or slivered, you're right of course. I forgot about that step until I got to the "for the topping" part and I was stumped! And then I remembered a little passage written by Jamie Oliver in the book I was currently reading "Don't Try This At Home" (a funny collection of short stories by brilliant chefs). Jamie Oliver had written about how in the start of his culinary career he had had to peel hundreds of almonds! And I used his method: Let the almonds soak in hot water for a few minutes - and then the peel just slips off. Its very easy. So I peeled all of them and slivered them.
When the cake has baked for 20 minutes, take it out of the oven, and spread evenly with the topping. Pop back into the oven for about 15 minutes. If you can, put it on a higher rack in the oven, to get the browned effect.
It's simply fabulous, folks. I brought out my nice "China", and celebrated with a cup of tea!
This is off to Andrew @ Spittoon Extra for this month's theme of Waiter There's Something In My...Dried Fruits and Nuts. If you haven't already, hop over to his blog - its absolutely delicious!
I want to thank my dear friend, Homecooked, for the Nice Matters Award. I am so surprised and honored! Her blog is so wonderful - check out her latest gorgeous cake! I also want to thank Gaurav of Gastronome By Choice for the Yummy Blog Award. Thanks so much!
Now, lets see what the fellow Recipe Marathon bloggers have been up to:
Valli has a lovely looking roti and Ranji made some fish cutlets. Dhivya made some fantastic appetizers and Siri made eggplant rice. Swati was disappointed over her cricket teams performance, but managed to make some great curry. Raaga made some savory cakes and Lakshmi got dessert with these amazing truffles. And Bhags made some Chitrannam with lots of left-over rice.
For kitchen pans/gadgets: My dear friend Rachel pointed me to Currimbhoys and Poppat Jamals. Currimbhoys is where I got the bamboo steamer as well as the muffin pan that a lot of you asked about. A lot of stuff is also available at Lifestyle Home Center.
For food stuffs: Obviously all of you know that the everyday stuff is available at Nilgiris. But if you really looked you'd find they have ingredients that you haven't bothered to look for before (atleast I haven't). For example, Demerara Sugar. The other store that I've found to have great unusual stuff is Food World (or now Spencers) which has a section for International Foods (which is where I found the rice paper rolls), but they also have different kinds of dried mushrooms, vegetables and spices.
I also shop at Amma Naana and Maison de Gourmet, if I really have to find something and it's not available in any of the above shops. They are more expensive but the chances of them having it are very high. For specialty cheeses, sauces and jams, the place to go is Maison.
Amma Naana is great for people who have moved back to India from the US, and are still craving things like Trail Mix, Granola Bars, Starbucks Frappuccinos or Post Cereal! (I could go on, but you get the general idea). They also have lots of unusual vegetables (like asparagus and zucchini) that are not available in neighbourhood supermarkets. It's also where I found the Arborio Rice that a lot of people asked about.
If I do use an unusual ingredient, I shall include my source from now on, so that may help Chennaiites locate it. I hope that helps. Also my other blog, Rediscovering Chennai, is all about how Chennai has now become a lot more global than it used to be - stores, restaurants and mindset. (P.S. I've also just completed my 100th post there! :))
Good Luck, Chennaiites! If you know of any other really good resources for kitchen implements/ foodstuffs in Chennai, do let me know in the Comments section. Thanks.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I, seriously, cracked the riddle in One Second (and I'm usually so bad at these things!). There's one very big clue. Here's the riddle:
I am the queen or am I the King
A very little of me goes a long way
I am part of a team and we all cling
including me will make your dish yellow and gay
You can include me in all
All you have to do is to pinch and call
Tell me what you think of me and don't think twice
Cos I am royal spice of all and will cost u every single penny!
The clue that gave it away was that it would cost me every single penny - it just had to be...you guessed it, Saffron. And if you didn't guess it... um...nothing much to say about that!
I was excited about it (as much as you can get excited about saffron). I had been wanting to do a risotto for a while, and was wondering if I could combine the two. When researching on the Web, I realized this was a very common dish. I basically combined lots of similar recipes and came up with this one. I put asparagus in it because I found some great asparagus in the market (very unusual for my city!).
Saffron Risotto with Asparagus
8 cups Vegetable broth/ stock
2 tbsp Butter
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Asparagus, steamed and chopped
1/2 tsp Saffron threads
1/2 cup Dry White Wine
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Add the saffron to the broth and bring to a gentle simmer in a saucepan over low heat.
In another large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the chopped asparagus and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat (the better coated the rice, the less mushy it will be in the end).
Add the wine, and stir until fully absorbed. Add the hot broth, a 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it's almost fully absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup.
Cook for about 20 minutes. The risotto is done when it is tender, but still firm to the bite. Turn off the heat, add the parmesan and stir vigorously to combine with the rice. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately in warmed bowls.
This turned out so well, and I half didn't expect it to, so I didn't take step-by-step photos!
Also, if you don't drink wine or won't use it in your cooking, then don't make the risotto - it absolutely needs the wine. (Okay Okay, if you really really won't use the wine, here's a recipe without it - but try it with the wine - it's so much better!).
In the Recipe Marathon today, here's what everyone's cooked up: Siri starts things off with a lovely drink. Valli's dosas continue with this interesting one. There are three veggies on display - Lakshmi's eggplant, Raaga's spinach and Divya's ladiesfinger. Swati made some very professional looking chole-bhatura. Ranji contributed some chicken for those non-vegetarians out there. Bhags made a fantastic middle-eastern favorite, Tzatziki. And you can finish the meal with Dhivya's fabulous looking brownies!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Everyone loves cutlets. Especially my daughter. She gets this big grin on her face when she's offered cutlets for dinner - at her grandparents' house! I know it's really easy, but I've just never gotten around to making them.
Yesterday, she specifically asked if she could have them for dinner, and I realized I've got to learn how to make them at some point. So, I did a blog search and found this recipe by Raaga at The Singing Chef. It really did sound easy.
I made a few modifications. I didn't want it to be spicy and I didn't want to fry it. So, I toasted them on a pan and it turned out really well.
(original recipe here)
4 Potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced
1 Carrot, boiled, peeled and diced
1/2 cup Beans, boiled and diced
2 Onions, chopped fine
1/2 tsp Garlic Paste
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp Oil
1 cup Breadcrumbs
Heat some oil in a saucepan, and saute the onions until soft. Add the garlic paste and continue to saute, until the raw smell of garlic disappears. Now add the cooked vegetables. Mash them together as you stir. Remove from heat.
Let the mixture cool. Form small balls of the vegetable mixture, and flatten. Roll each one in breadcrumbs.
Heat a saute pan with a little bit of oil. When hot, add the cutlets to the pan. Flip over when one side is golden brown. Remove from heat when both sides are browned.
These came out really well, and were an instant hit. Thanks, Raaga!
Cutlets are great for dinner with ketchup. Or you can make it more substantial by layering cutlets, lettuce, tomato, mustard in a burger bun!
This is off to Madhu @ Eggless Cooking for an awesome event, Your Recipe Rocks! Her blog rocks too!
In the recipe marathon today, we have a whole meal for you:
Let's start with some soup. Bhags' made this amazing Tofu-Coconut soup. You can have that with Siri's fabulous Home Baked "fries". That's followed by Ranji's Dal and Rice, or you can have Valli's Pancakes. Maybe you can try making that with Dhivya's Masala Oil. Or you could go a whole different menu and have Swati's healthy Upma with a range of chutneys: Raaga's Onion Chutney and Divya's Ginger Chutney.
I was tagged by Lavi for this Random Facts meme. I actually enjoyed it.
1. I eat 90% of my food with chopsticks. And out of a bowl. Except for dosas and rotis, everything else is eaten with chopsticks - personally I think the food just tastes better! I have a collection of about 200 pairs of chopsticks (you'd be surprised at how beautiful some of them are).
2. I turned vegetarian to win a bet, and stayed vegetarian for now...18 years.
3. My kitchen and dining table has to be clean at all times. My friends hate that while they are eating, I'll sometimes subconsciously start wiping off the table.
4. I used to dislike anything sour - strawberries, pears, lemon... - I have only started to (marginally) enjoy the taste about a year or two ago.
5. I HATE eggplant. There's something about eating a purple, squishy mush with seeds that is gross. Sometimes, and very rarely, I will eat it if it is cooked to death and there is no hint of purple or mush.
If anyone out there is interested, please pick up the tag for this meme!
I was tagged by Swati - facts about me!! I did a shortened version of this one, Swati!
1) WHAT BOOK ARE U READING?
Don't Try This At Home - A collection of short narratives
2) FAVOURITE BOARD GAME?
Pictionary - though I am now officially banned from playing it (by people who CAN'T DRAW!)
3) FAVOURITE SMELLS?
My daughter's baby shampoo
4) WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD?
All the cookies are over...
5) WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN U WAKE?
It's always too early to think.
6) FINISH THIS STATEMENT—’IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I’D’
7) DO U DRIVE FAST?
8) STORMS–COOL OR SCARY?
9) WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR?
10) FAVOURITE DRINK?
11) FINISH THIS STATEMENT-IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD…
Go to culinary school
12) DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI?
13) FAVOURITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Cricket (Go CSK!)
14) ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?
She's very cool, writes in an easy unaffected manner and is my fellow Recipe Marathoner!
15) WHATS UNDER YOUR BED?
16) MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
Neither - I like to sleep.
17) OVER EASY OR SUNNY SIDE UP?
Over Easy. Always.
18) FAVOURITE PLACE TO RELAX?
By the beach.
19) FAVOURITE PIE?
Don't like Pie
20) FAVOURITE ICECREAM FLAVOUR?
Vanilla + hot chocolate sauce + nuts
Jamie tagged me for a Best 10 pictures Meme. If its okay, I'm going to just post the one that I liked the best (and it has nothing to do with food!)
I want to thank Notyet for passing on the "You Make My Day" award. You definitely make my day too with your lovely comments. Thank you!
I also want to thank Naina for passing on the Yummy Blog Award. I am so honored. Thank you!
And a fellow Marathoner, Ranji, has passed me the Rockin Girl Blogger Award! Thanks so much!
Happy weekend, everyone!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I like the photo because you can almost feel the heat off the screen! And I love the look of the curry bubbling and simmering - a beautiful base for lovely beans.
And it follows with a recipe too:
Garbanzo Beans Curry/ Channa Masala
2 cans Garbanzo Beans (about 3 cups), drained and rinsed
3 medium Tomatoes, chopped
2 large Onions, chopped
5 small Green Chillies, sliced lengthwise
3 tbsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Ginger Paste
1 tbsp Garlic Paste
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
3 tbsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Fenugreek Leaves, chopped
1 cup Water
1 tbsp Oil
Salt, to taste
(its a long list - but really not difficult to put together!)
Heat some oil in a pan. Add cumin and onion and saute till onions are brown. Add ginger, garlic pastes and green chillies. Allow it to cook until the raw garlic smell disappears.
Add beans and saute till well blended with the spices. Add chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder, salt and mix well. Let it cook for 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Toss in the fenugreek leaves while the water is boiling.
Reduce to medium and let it continue to cook until the curry gets a thick consistency. Add chopped cilantro leaves as garnish. Serve with rice or roti.
Day 8 of the Recipe Marathon is off to a slow start on a lazy Saturday. Valli made a south Indian favorite. Siri brought in a little sunshine to cool off! Raaga made a beautiful looking soup. And Divya made a hot spicy bhajji. Bhags' made her own mustard. Lakshmi has some roasted taro. I just want to reach in and grab Ranji's Mango Kulfi! So let's finish off this great round of recipes with a cold beer! :)