Friday, 30 September 2011

Dates Poli

Dates Poli

I am trying to post as many sweet recipes as possible so it comes handy for the readers during the festival season. If you are a regular reader of my page you probably know that I try my best to aoid added sugar to keep even the sweets healthy. My theory is that unless not adding sugar will make the dish unpalatable, do not add it. I always look out for alternate natural sweetners which can provide some nutrition as well. Needless to say, when I came across a recipe for dates poli, I tried it immediately. It has very little added sugar and for someone like me, I would not have needed even that. Ofcourse it depends on how sweet the dates are. For those who are unfamiliar, poli is traditionally a sweet dish with a stuffing in the middle wrapped with dough made from flour. I must say this did go down well across all ages. Here is the recipe...

1 cup dates, seeds removed
2 tablespoon jaggery/brown sugar
2 pinches cardamom powder
1 ½ cups flour (maida)
2 tablespoon oil
Pinch of salt

To make the dough, put the flour in a bowl and add little oil and make it look like breadcrumbs. Then add required water and make a soft dough and add some oil and knead well. Keep aside for atleast 1 hour

Steam or pressure cook the dates and grind to a paste adding very little water if at all needed

Heat a pan and add little oil or ghee and add the dates paste, stir

Add the jaggery and mix well

Cook until it all comes together

Sprinkle the cardamom powder and mix

Divide the dough into small lime size balls and place a ball on a surface that is not sticky. I used my marble chapatti stone, you could use your worktop with cling film laid on it. Flatten the dough with your hand

Take a teaspoon of the dates mixture and place in the centre and wrap up

Add some oil on top and flatten it to desired thickness. I like to flatten until it may just break so I get it as thin as I possibly can

Heat a tava and put the poli and cook less than a minute

Turn the side and cook under a minute. Repeat until both sides are golden brown. You could add ghee or oil but I did not.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Milk Cake (Eggless)

Milk Cake (Eggless)

We had to make a fairly short trip to my brother’s place and at short notice. I had a couple of four pint bottles of milk to do something with so they do not go a waste. I had been looking at few recipes from Manjula’s kitchen and mentally bookmarked the milk cake recipe. This was very similar to the cakes that are normally sold in sweet shops. It had very few ingredients and does not need a lot of skill but does need some time as you have to stir very often. I decided to try the milk cake recipe and honestly, even looking at the ingredients, there was not much tweak possible. What one could do if add some powdered nuts like ground almond after the sugar is added or one could also add essence if liked. I wanted to keep it plain coz I knew that’s how my brother likes it. The procedure starts off with much the same as making paneer. Now that Naaratri has started, why not try this lovely cake and impress your guests! Here is the recipe...

4 pints milk (about 2 litres)
½ cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons crushed nuts
Few strands of saffron
1-2 teaspoon ghee
Lime juice (I needed one lime)

Heat milk in a thick bottom vessel and when it is about to boil add lime juice little by little. This is to curdle the milk and we just enough lime juice to curdle it and more will make it sour. Once you see clearly the coagulated milk and the whey water (which is a dull coloured water), you know it has coagulated enough and no more juice is needed

Take atleast 50% of the whey fluid away using a ladle and be sure to strain it and put back any of the coagulated milk back into the dish

Keep boiling and keep stirring often

Once almost all fluid has evaporated, add the sugar and some ghee and keep stirring

Again, wait until all fluid from the sugar has evaporated as well and keep stirring, add saffron strands and stir until it all comes together

Drop the mixture into a greased plate, sprinkle the nuts on top and allow to cool for few minutes and then slice to desired size


Monday, 26 September 2011

Carrot Cake (Indian Style Eggless Cake)

Carrot Cake (Indian Style Eggless Cake)

The Hindu festival season was kick started almost a month back and an important and colourful festival is round the corner. It is Navaratri (nine nights) aka Dashera that is to start in a couple of days. Many families have the habit of showcasing special dolls depicting events or episodes outlined in many Hindu scriptures. It is a wonderful time because we get to invite people home and serve some interesting snacks and socialise. Am quite sure one cannot get away with no sweet dish to offer when people visit us and I thought I should post a few of them now. I tried this recipe on Friday because it is a normally a dessert day at home. I started off thinking I will make carrot halwa but somehow preferred to make something like a cake or burfi so it can be sliced. This way I can serve it on one snack plate alongside sundal and not bother about cups and spoons. The carrots need something added to them so they stand firm as a slice and after a lot of thinking I chose oats. The advantage of oats I think is that it does not have a strong taste or flavour of its own but lends texture and consistency and to me that would help preserve the sweetness of the carrots. I usually roast oats and powder fine and keep that handy. The carrots I used were not juicy so I had to grind them at two different stages. My husband, who does not usually eat sweets quite like this as well and the general feedback was that it could have been a bit sweeter. For someone like me, without a sweet tooth and a huge conscience, it was good enough, but if you like it sweeter, then add maybe another 1/8th to 1/4th cup sugar. I did not want to add cardamom but you could if you like. Here is the recipe...

2 large carrots
2 heaped tablespoon milk powder
¼ cup oats flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
2-3 tablespoon ghee
2 tablespoon raisins

Grind the carrots in a food processor so it is as fine as possible. If the carrots are not juicy, you may want to add a couple of spoons of water or milk

Heat some ghee and fry the raisins until puffed up and keep aside

In the same ghee, add the carrots and sauté until it is almost done. If needed add more ghee and also if you like it finer, now is the time to grind it again in the food processor, ofcourse after cooling. I used my hand blender and ground it further.

Add the oats flour and mix well

Add the sugar and mix well. The sugar will dissolve and keep stirring until all the moisture is absorbed again

Add the milk powder and keep stirring until it all comes together and comfortably leaves the walls of the dish. Mix the raisins as well

Drop this on a greased plate and let it cool for about five minutes

Cut into required size and serve

Although you can comfortably make slices, the slices will not be as firm as mysore pa so a wee bit more care in handling them will help

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Ragi Choco-Blueberry Muffin

Ragi Choco-Blueberry Muffin

Ragi is one of my favourite millets because it has a hearty and earthy flavour associated with it. Some people may find it a bit strong and it could be dry it at times but with the right recipe, it would make a yummy dish. I always try to include some of this millet in our diet and especially in my wee one’s. Recently I came across a blogger friend of mine post a cake here made with ragi and it seemed nice. We are not real dessert people so it would be a struggle for me to finish off the cake. I then thought I could make muffins as I knew cake was feasible. My wee one and I whisked the ingredients together and made these muffins. He absolutely loved it and I tried it and honestly I liked it better than store bought chocolate muffins. It is not fatty or loaded with sugar so does not have to make one feel guilty and it also makes a wholesome breakfast. My husband, who is fond of the store/bakery bought choco muffin said the flavour, the texture and the rise was all similar to store bought but he thought it was not very sweet. I deliberately do not add lot of sugar to my kid’s dishes because I wuld rather that he develops a liking for less sweet treats just so I build good eating habits. He wouldn’t complain because I usually add blueberries or raisins or currants so it comes in every bite and keeps his taste buds satisfied. Anyway, here is the recipe...

1/3 cup ragi
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon coco powder
Handful of blueberries
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup milk
Pinch of salt

Mix all dry ingredients together

Add all wet ingredients including blueberries and make a batter to dropping consistency and pour in muffin moulds

Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for 20-25 minutes


Idli Murmura

Idli Murmura

During my early days of cooking, quantity was something I could never compromise. I absolutely dislike having to wonder whether incase I ate more of something, there may not be enough for someone else. I think it is absolutely wrong thing to do. I would rather make about half to one extra portion because at worst we can refrigerate and eat it later. It was not just things like sambar, rasam or curries but also idlis. So there were days when I used to have left over idlis. Back then for whatever reason I was not creative with recipes for left over idli although I used to fancy chilly idli that I remember having with my mom in a restaurant in Chennai. It has been a good few years since then but I still remember it clearly, we were waiting to get car seat covers fixed on my car and wanted a snack. It is a place called Sowbagya and I think it was near GP road. What a wonderful dish they make. Anyway, these days I have grasped quantity better and keep batter ready and no left over idlis. One day I managed to make more and then attempted to make chilly ildis, low fat version though. I baked the idlis mixed with some spices and that was only one part of the recipe and it did not go further. It was so nice and crispy that I started snacking on the baked idlis. And that is how this recipe came into existence! Here it is ...

4-5 idlis, cut into bite size chunks
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ - 1 teaspoon chilly powder
Pinches of kasoori methi
Turmeric powder
1-2 teaspoon cooking oil
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and be careful with salt as the idlis would already have some salt.

Place in an oven proof dish and bake at 180degC for 20-25 minutes

Serve with ketchup or just on its own.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Plum Chutney

Plum chutney

Growing up, my only exposure to plum was through the plum cake that was available in local bakery. It is not one of the fruits that I had while growing up. Although not entirely true it may explain partly why I am not very fond of them here. I buy my fruits at the supermarket mainly because they are affordable but there is always a catch. The fruits are not always the most juicy and best. Plums especially could be very boring as they inherently lack huge flavours. However, my husband quite likes plums so I do buy them every now and then. Almost every time I buy them we waste about 2-3 of them cos one or two days after purchase, their appeal fades. I have always wanted to use them in recipes instead of trashing them so thought of making chutney and rasam (soup). I had not bought any recently but someone known to me was trying to give away some grown in his parent’s garden. That was my chance to give the chutney a go and it came out quite well. Depending on how tart they are, you may want to add a dash of tamarind paste. I had this with dosa and later noticed that it tasted great with rice too. You could have it as a dip or even mix some yogurt to make a flavourful plum raita.

4-5 plums
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2-3 heaped tablespoon roasted chickpea (pottu kadalai)
½ teaspoon sambar powder
3 dry red chillies
Few curry leaves
2-3 teaspoons dessicated/grated coconut (optional)
Turmeric powder

Heat some oil and add mustard seeds. Once it splutters add the plums and dry red chillies and cook until plums turn mushy

Add sambar powder, salt, asafoetida, turmeric powder and cook for couple of minutes and turn the flame off

Add roasted chickpea, curry leaves and coconut if using and allow the mixture to cool

Grind to desired consistency and serve with dosa, idli or even with rice.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ridge Gourd and Mango Khurma

Ridge Gourd and Mango Khurma

Khurma is not a common dish on my menu mainly because my husband had said he does not like them. Turns out, that was the case until he tried khurma that I make. Well, I would not say I make the best khurma, I make something that he is happy to have. Anyway, as we all started enjoying khurma lately, I decided to be a bit bold and experiment more with it. I watched two different dishes on two programs on the television and thought it would be a good idea to combine the recipes as they were quite comparable. That is how I decided to use mango in this kurma along with ridge gourd which is usually prepared as chutney in our kitchens. I was not very sure how the addition of mango would turn out and even if I would like it so was a bit shy and just added a portion of a mango. It turned out yummy and the next time, I certainly will add more mango. The combination of the ridge gourd and mango along with the mild flavours from kurma was very good. It is a simple dish and as usual I added some ground almonds instead of cashew as almonds have more beneficial fats. I served this to one of my neighbours’ brother and explained to him how I usually see if people like the dish before posting the recipe and he told me it was good to go. He is a German and had spent a year in Uthramerur, Tamil Nadu and appreciated authentic recipes. Here is the recipe and I really hope you like it too. If you cannot get ridge gourd, try this kurma using turnip, kohlrabi or chayote squash.

1 large ridge gourd, skinned, de-seeded and cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped finely
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
Half a large mango, chopped
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Turmeric powder
Few curry leaves
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander/dhania powder
For masala paste:
4 teaspoon grated coconut/dessicated coconut
3 dry red chillies
1-2 tablespoon chopped ginger
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes)
1 tablespoon ground almond or 8-10 cashewnuts

Heat some oil and the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the onions and fry until soft

Add the tomatoes, pinch of salt and cook until the tomatoes turn mushy

Add turmeric powder, ridge gourd, mango, curry leaves and generous amount of water and cook covered

In the mean time grind together all the items mentioned for the masala paste adding required water to make a fine paste

Once the ridge gourd is cooked, add the paste, required salt and cook until raw smell goes and desired consistency is achieved. Depending how watery your paste is, you may need to add some water when you add the paste.

Serve hot with any Indian bread or rice