Monday, September 29, 2008


I saw these great frittatas in Stephanie's Kitchen, and I wanted to reach in and grab one! It all sounded so simple, and I made a veggie version for breakfast this morning. They are delicious and simple and fun for kids too.

Mini Frittatas

4 eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Cheese of your choice
2 tbsp Milk
2 tbsp Mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp Cilantro, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Beat the eggs well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

Pour into greased mini muffin pans. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 180 deg C.

Thanks, Stephanie, for a great recipe!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mirchi Ka Salan

Mirchi Ka Salan is a thick curry made with green banana peppers, peanuts and tamarind. Banana Peppers are large green chillies that are less spicy than the regular small ones. They are also used to make Chilli Bhajjis or Chilli Fritters.

This is a delicious curry that originates from Hyderabad, which tastes great with rice or rotis.

Mirchi Ka Salan

10 Banana Peppers, sliced
4 tbsp Tamarind Paste, dissolved in warm water
1/2 cup Yogurt, beaten
2 tbsp Lemon Juice

For the Paste:
2 Red Chillies
2 medium Onions, sliced
4 tbsp Coconut, grated
1/2 cup roasted Peanuts
1/2 tbsp minced Ginger
1/2 tbsp minced Garlic
1 tsp Garam Masala
4 tbsp Sesame Seeds, roasted
1 tbsp Brown Sugar

For Garnish:
1 tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
salt, to taste

Roast onions in a skillet until they turn a golden brown. Keep aside.

Heat oil in the skillet and fry the chillies until golden brown. Remove and keep aside. Reserve the oil.

Grind together all the ingredients for the paste. Reheat the oil in the skillet. Add the ground ingredients and let it cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Add the yogurt, tamarind and salt. Mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the fried chillies, cook until the gravy starts to thicken and is the consistency of a sauce.

Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro and lemon juice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Having Fun With Whole Wheat Pasta

It's so much fun to make pasta and the flavor is so much better than store-bought plus you can control what goes into it.

This time my daughter wanted to help me. I used 100% whole wheat and made the dough, adding a little olive oil (2 tablespoons of oil for 1 cup of whole wheat flour), since whole wheat has a tendency to be dry. We also added about a tablespoon of dried basil into the dough.

My daughter helped rolling it out, and then we cut up the pasta into her favorite shapes using Play-Doh cutters (nope, I don't have cookie cutters at home - but you can use whatever you have on hand). We made moons and bears and butterflies...

Just drop into heavily salted, boiling water and cook till done (about 5-7 minutes). Drain and toss with your favorite pasta sauce or just cheese, butter and herbs. It was an easy and delicious dinner.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Savory Kozhakattai

Usually made on special festival days, Kozhakattai or Indian spiced rice flour balls, are wonderfully steamed and spicy. The dough is traditionally used to make a sweet version stuffed with jaggery. This spicy kind was made with the leftover dough. I personally prefer the savory version! (Sometimes, you've got to be glad there are leftovers - often they make a better dish than the original!).

Savory Indian Rice Flour Balls (Kozhakattai)
(Inspired by Laavanya's post on Cookery Corner)

1 cup Raw Rice, soaked for 3-4 hours
1 tsp Urad Dal
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
a pinch of Salt
a pinch of Asafetida
1 tbsp Grated Coconut

2 tbsp Dosa Milagai Podi (Here's a link to make it at home - it can also be found in most Indian stores - look for the MTR brand)
1 tbsp Crushed Red Pepper

2 tbsp Oil + 1 tbsp for mixing
2-3 Curry Leaves

Grind the soaked raw rice with lots of water into a very watery consistency.

Heat 2 tbsp oil on a pan and pour in the batter. Keep stirring until the batter starts to come together and becomes thicker, almost like a dough. Remove from heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil and the milagai podi or crushed red pepper. Combine into the dough and knead for about five minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into tiny balls (the size of small marbles). Steam for about 5-7 minutes. The balls will acquire a lovely shine. Keep aside.

Heat some oil in a pan and add the urad dal and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add the curry leaves and coconut. Stir fry for a minute.

Add the steamed rice balls, salt and chilli powder to the pan and combine the ingredients. Remove from heat after 4-5 minutes when the balls get slightly browned.

This is a perfect tea-time snack.

Related Links:
A lovely recipe with great photographs for the sweet version of Kozhakattai from Delectable Victuals.
Here's another savory version that is more commonly made, from Saffron Hut.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tomato Yogurt Curry

This more kozhambu or yogurt curry is a crowd pleaser. The rich color gets lots of compliments as does the delicate flavors. More means buttermilk in Tamil, and Kozhambu is a kind of watery curry. Its usually served with rice, or idiyappam, or sevai (a thin rice noodle).

Tomato More Kozhambu

6 Tomatoes, diced
3 cups Yogurt, beaten to a smooth consistency with 1 tbsp water
1/4 cup grated Coconut
6 Green Chillies, slit
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 pinch Turmeric powder

1 pinch Mustard seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
2-3 Curry Leaves

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped tomatoes. Toss for a minute and then add the green chillies, cumin, turmeric and coconut. Let it cook together for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and let it cool slightly until cool enough to pour into your blender. Grind until smooth. Add the yogurt and pulse again until combined.

Transfer the mixture back onto the stove and heat on low until the mixture is warmed.

Tempering: Heat a pan with a little bit of oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to splutter, add the rest of the ingredients for the tempering and stir for about a minute or two. Pour the tempering into the yogurt curry and stir to mix.

Remove from heat. Serve warm.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The No-Knead Bread

This article by Mark Bittman first introduced Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery and his No-Knead Bread. The technique took the world by storm. Everyone was trying it and it might really be the one recipe that has been tried and tested by amateur and professional bakers alike.

I've seen the recipe on several blogs, but hadn't tried it until today. It was simple and easy and as Jim Lahey says, even a 6 year old can do it. You can watch his video here, and the recipe as published in the New York Times here.

Thank you Bharti for your post and photographs and for finally inspiring me to try this. I loved the crust and crumb. The only thing I'd change is to add more salt next time. I might reduce the yeast too, since the Indian summer is really hot and the dough needed a longer rising time. I loved it though and will definitely make it often.

No-Knead Bread

3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/2 cups Water + 2 tbsp
1/2 cup Semolina or Cornmeal

Mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Add the water and bring it together loosely. It will look like a shaggy mess but as long as its holding together, you're fine. Cover and let it rise for about 12 hours. The dough's risen enough when tiny bubbles cover the surface.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and very gently fold it over itself a couple of times. Cover with a plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a loose ball. Place on a rough towel (but not a terry towel) sprinkled generously with semolina. Sprinkle semolina on top of the dough as well (be generous - this keeps the dough from getting too sticky).

Cover with another towel and let rise for about 2 hours. About a half-hour before the dough has fully risen, preheat the oven to 220 deg C. Make sure you heat the baking pan (use a 6-8 quart heavy pan - I used a Corningware bowl with glass lid) with the oven, so that its really hot when you finally put the dough in it.

When the dough has doubled in volume, quickly transfer it into the hot pan and cover with a lid or aluminium foil. Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on and then a further 20-30 minutes uncovered.

Remove from oven and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.

The crust actually crackled! And there were lovely big holes in the crumb. It was, in short, gorgeous!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Victoria Sponge Cake

I've read about the Victoria sponge in lots of books, but never got a chance to eat it. I was glad that Sweet and Simple Bakes chose the sponge as its challenge for us novice bakers this month. I loved it and so did the family. It was soft, moist and delicious.

Victoria Sponge Cake (recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes)

For the Sponge:
6 oz Butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups Caster Sugar
3 Eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour + 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 t Salt

For the Buttercream:
3 oz Butter
6 oz Icing Sugar
2 drops Vanilla Essence

Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Cream together 6 oz butter at room temperature and 1 1/4 cups caster sugar. The texture should be smooth and creamy.
Add the beaten eggs a little bit at a time and mix very well after each addition.
Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into another bowl.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture, folding it in carefully, to keep the mixture light and fluffy.

Pour into a large round cake tin or two smaller cake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cake is golden.

If you made one large cake, cut it into half. I found the easiest way to do this is with a piece of string slid through the cake - knives just don't work since the cake will begin to crumble. Either way, let the cake completely cool before cutting.

Combine all the ingredients together and blend very well to make the buttercream. Spread one side of the cake with jam and the other with buttercream.

I spread half the cake with homemade plantain jam and the other half with blackberry preserve, and topped the jams with buttercream. Sandwich the two halves together. Mmm. Delicious.

Thanks, Rosie and Maria for another winner recipe!