Saturday, 27 October 2012

Soya Vegetable Biryani

Soya Vegetable Biryani
Biryani is a very popular rice dish, especially he non vegetarian ones are a favourite for many. I have tried vegetable biryani in many places but there are very few that I liked. In general, it takes a bit of time to do it the traditional way. Traditionally one will have to grind spices, partially cook rice and vegetables and layer them and cook them until done. However, these days, I barely get time to cook and often, I get time in bits and bobs so any dish that needs constant attention is out of question. Today was no exception, we had a long night and grabbed the opportunity to sleep in the morning leaving me very little time to cook. I had a packet of hyderabadi biryani masala powder by MDH in my shelf and like all spices, it is better to use them as soon as possible. For that reason, I thought I will make biryani. My previous attempts to make biryani were not particularly successful as I was not very happy with the results. This box of spices was for lamb biryani, hold on, it is only a spice blend and there is nothing non-vegetarian in the spices itself. I wanted to substitute the lamb with some other protein instead and soya chunks caught my eye. I am not sure I will buy soya chunks again as it is processed soya after all, but am undecided about it. I wanted to use what I had but have to sneak it as my husband does not quite like it. With all this together, came along a wonderful biryani and it tasted absolutely spot on. Certainly a keeper! I have observed that using spice blends meant for non vegetarian dishes is quite good in vegetarian versions. Now for the recipe...

Handful of soya chunks, boiled and cooked till done
2 cups mixed vegetables
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspooon coriander powder
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilly powder
4 cloves garlic
1 heaped teaspoon biryani masala
1 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon yogurt
2 teaspoon ghee
Cooking oil
2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
1 cup rice, cook so grains are fluffy

Heat some oil and some of the ghee mentioned. Add cumin seeds and once it browns, add the onions and crushed garlic

After the onions begin to change colour, add tomato and turmeric powder

Once tomato starts turning mushy, add the vegetables and cook until almost done

Add the cooked soya chunks, coriander powder and chilly powder

Heat the remaining ghee and little bit more oil and fry the briyani masala, this will wake up all the spices in it and make it more flavourful

Add the masala and yogurt and cook until it is aromatic and all moisture has gone

Add rice, salt, mix and garnish with coriander leaves, serve!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Carrot Cake with Curd Cheese topping (eggless)

Carrot Cake (Eggless)
I have been seeing Rachel Allen’s cake diaries whenever I get time these days. I have become her fan as she makes cake making seem so simple and easy. The other reason I like her recipes is because I think it is easier to make it to my taste and preference i.e. reduce fat and eggless etc. I saw her making this carrot cake and knew straight away that I have to make it. Her recipe called for couple of eggs and loads of sugar. I thought this could be my opportunity to try other egg substitutes.

Although I am a food blogger, sometimes I am a bit wary of trying new ingredients for fear of allergic reactions. After some deliberation and postponing for a long time, I finally gave flax meal a try. Flax meal is nothing but ground flax seed. Flax seed has incredible health benefits ranging from high fibre content to providing some good fat. When some flax meal is mixed with water and allowed to sit for a short time, it forms a gelatinous fluid and this is what makes it a good egg substitute. However, it is said to impart a nutty flavour and said to make the baked dish dense. In this case, it was not a problem for me so went ahead using it. I replaced one egg with flax meal and other with milk.

Her original recipe called for cream cheese icing, however, I did not want to add that much fat and chose to make hung curd. Or those who do not know hung curd or curd cheese, take a colander and put a kitchen towel on it and pour the yogurt and sit on a deep dish so the liquid from yogurt drips. To prevent it from going sour, sit this in the fridge.

I chose almonds and mixed dry fruits instead of walnuts and loads of sugar. I cut down the sugar quite a bit this way. I also reduced the oil but I think it could be reduced further as this is an incredibly moist cake. Addition of wholemeal self rising flour was also my tweak. In the end, the cake was incredibly moist and you will not know it is eggless. The icing was irresistible and I was in love with the cake. This is my favourite cake I have ever created. A must try!

2 grated carrots
100g self rising flour
75g wholemeal self rising flour
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon flax meal
75g chopped almonds and mixed dry fruits
½ teaspoon baking powder
160ml oil (2/3 cups)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom or mixed spice
Pinch of salt
120g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoon water

For icing
300g yogurt hung to make curd cheese
2 tablespoon icing sugar
Zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 150degC. Line and grease a loaf tin
Mix the flax meal with 3 tablespoon hot water and keep aside

Sift the flours and add salt, sugar, nuts and dry fruits, baking powder and spice powder

Add the milk, flax meal mixture, carrot, oil and water as required to make a batter to spooning consistency

Pour this into the loaf tin and bake for about 1 hr 10 minutes, the top will be nice and brown

Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then on the rack
For the icing, mix together all ingredients mentioned and spread it on the cooled cake

Friday, 19 October 2012

Gatta Curry

Gatta Curry
Gatta is suppose to be a Rajasthani preparation and this recipe is based on Vah chef's version. I have posted gatta kadhi and gatta pulav in the past. In both cases I chose not to fry the gattas although most recipes suggest so. In this recipe, I made the gattas slightly differently. Addition of coarsely ground coriander seeds and roasting it in the oven before adding to gravy are the key differences. The gattas are quite nutritious as they are made of chickpea flour, a good source of protein. I served this with corn methi rice and it was very yummy.
For gatta:
1 cup besan
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted and coarsely crushed
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon chilly powder
Turmeric powder
½ teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons yogurt

For gravy
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup yogurt
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon chilly powder
2 green chillies, slit
½ teaspoon coriander powder
Cooking oil

To make the gatta
Mix together all ingredients to make a stiff dough, use water as needed

Divide into three and roll into cylinders and dump this in boiling water. Make sure the water is already boiling. The gattas will be done when they begin to float

Take them out of the water and cool them. Slice them, about 1/2 centimeter wide. You could use the gattas straight away or bake it in the oven or deep fry it (this is how I believe it is traditionally done)

I drizzled it with little oil and baked it at 200degC for about 20 minutes, until it becomes slightly crisp

For the curry:
Heat some oil and add cumin seeds. Once it browns, add the onions and cook until it just changes colour

Mix together yogurt, turmeric powder, chilly powder, coriander powder and asafoetida

Add this mixture to the onion and allow to boil lightly

Add salt and the gattas and simmer for a few minutes. You may need to add some water

Serve with rice

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Cassata Ice Cream (eggless home made ice cream)

Cassata Ice Cream
It probably sounds cliché but seriously I did not think I will manage to sustain my blogging for this long especially considering I am now a proud mother of two children. I must admit, it takes a lot of energy and drive to keep the blog going and getting better given the non availability of most important ingredient – time. With oodles of support from my family, I have managed to keep my interest going. I was trying to figure out what will be my 350th recipe post on my blog although I had a few in drafts already. I wanted something simple but special. I had a cookie in mind, making it eggless, but later thought it may not be ‘the’ one. I had a tub of double cream to use up after my earlier ice cream experiment and put some thought into what to do with it. Bingo!
When I was little, my mom would take me and my brother to my grandparent’s house. It was not far off by any means but we always asked to be taken by auto. Some days my mom would steer us away from auto by tempting us with ice cream from Arun ice cream parlour on the way. It was almost at the mid point of the route so there would be no point nagging for an auto from there. Anyway, she was the one who suggested I try Cassata ice cream. It was such a delight to the eyes and mouth. The wonderful streaks of different flavours are probably the most attractive bit about this ice cream. I must however say that I was not a fan of the sponge that was part of the ice cream. I know, you are probably rolling your eyes because the sponge is one of the characteristic features of casatta. However, it was being made in my kitchen, I could have it my way. I then wanted to make this dish that has nice memories associated with it as my 350th recipe. My mom always wonders what touch I have added to my dishes, especially milestone dishes. Thi recipe is no exception because this ice cream neither needs ice cream maker nor eggs. With very few ingredients, this dish is easy to whip up. That said, you could do with an electric beater or you need to sue some elbow grease. Alternately, you could use whipped cream readily available so save some energy whipping it.

Here are few notes about this recipe. The main problem with home made ice creams frozen in a regular freezer is the formation of ice crystals. These will be visible and also affect the texture of the end product and you will notice them while eating. Addition of alcohol will help lower the freezing point and prevent crystallisation; however, it may not be suitable if serving children. No doubt, if mommy makes ice cream, son obviously needs to try it. So had to find a different solution and it was a simple one. Addition of little salt does the magic, so do not skip the salt in the recipe. Surprisingly, this recipe does not need to be whisked after about 2 hours of freezing like most home made ice creams. I chose to make pista flavour, chocolate flavour and vanilla. The middle layer is pista but you probably don’t see that clearly as I did not add any green food colouring.
With thanks to all readers and my family for all the support, encouragement and warmth extended, here is the 350th recipe...
600ml double cream (two tubs of cream)
1.5 tins condensed milk (a tin being about 400g)
2 tablespoon pistachio ground to paste
3 teaspoons coco powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Little over ½ teaspoon salt

Bring together double cream, condensed milk and salt. Divide into three equal parts
Add vanilla extract to one part and whisk until it becomes thick, it will look like melted ice cream

Pour this into a loaf tin or any other container of your choice.  I lined the loaf tin with freezer cover to make it easy to unmould. If using sponge in your recipe, put this at the bottom of the box/tin

To another portion, add the ground pistachios and whisk until it thickens and resembles melted ice cream
Pour this on top of the vanilla layer

To another portion, add sifted coco powder and again whisk until it thickens and resembles melted ice cream
Pour this on top of the pista layer

Freeze for about 12 hours

Cut into slices, serve and indulge

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Ammini Kozhukattai

Ammini Kozhukattai
This recipe has been in my draft for a month or so. With this post, I think I would have covered important recipes for Vinayaga Chathurthi. This dish, I would say is a cousin of ‘pidi kozhukattai’. Very simple to make but it tastes really good. It could make a great after school snack and left over can be had for breakfast. I was running out of regular rice flour so mixed red rice flour as well, so next time I may make it using red rice flour or brown rice flour only just to make it that bit healthy. You could try a few other tweaks to the recipe too. For instance, use some sesame seeds in the tempering, or top it with coarsely crushed roasted groundnut. So here is my basic recipe...
1 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon grated coconut/dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon sambar powder/idli milagai powder (gun powder)
Gingelly oil, preferrably
Salt to taste
Curry leaves
1 green chilly, coarsely chopped

In a saucepan, combine the rice flour, boiling hot water and salt to make a soft dough. Add some oil to make the dough less sticky

Make bite size balls with the dough and steam for 15 minutes

Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds. Once it crackes, add green chillies and coconut.You can turn the flame off while adding coconut

Add the kozhukattais and add gun powder and mix but ensure you do not break the kozhukattais


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Apple Dates Roll (eggless)

Apple Dates Roll (eggless)
For some reason, I have ended up with loads of apple at home. Well, that’s not entirely correct, I know why it is the case. It is because everytime I went food shopping, I thought I will get better at cutting and eating apples at some point during the day but that did not happen. Anyway, I thought this is a good excuse to bake some apple based dishes. Couple of days back I make apple crumble cake and that came out very well. I then wanted to make apple turnover but could not be bothered with the pastry then. I also fancied making something like cinnamon rolls but had a suscpicion that it may not go down well with my folks. So, a hybrid recipe had to be created. I decided to make rolls with apple in them and also added dates as I wanted to finish them off and ofcourse I thought natural sugars from it would be better than added sugar. With all this in mind, I set out to make an eggless roll. Like many moms who have babies, I struggle to find a good length of time in the kitchen and for that reason this recipe was good. I would prepare the dough and get away, then make filling, then another time make the rolls and a while later, bake them. However, I promptly ate them! Here is the recipe and I would appreciate if you could try it and give me your feedback.
1 cup all purpose flour or bread flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 pinches salt
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cup warm milk
¼ cup warm water
2 tablespoon soft butter

For filling
½ cup chopped dates (about 15 dates)
1 large apple, chopped finely
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon flaked almonds

Firstly, activate the yeast by dissolving it in the warm water. Give it about 10-15 minutes so it becomes frothy
Mix together the flours, salt, sugar

Add the yeast mixture, warm milk, butter and make a dough. It will be a sticky dough

Dust with some flour and knead the dough for about 8 minutes, by now it would not be sticky. 

Cover with wet tea towel and keep in a warm place for about an hour or until it doubles in volume

For the filling, bring together all ingredients except almonds and cook in water until well cooked. Mash it down

Make sure all the water has evaporated and the fruits are paste like and allow to cool

Now punch the dough that has proven and knead for couple of minutes

Roll this into a rectangle as thick as the 5-8mm thick

Put the fruit mixture evenly on top and sprinkle the flaked almonds

Roll this up starting from one of the longest edges, seal by pressing down

Using a sharp knife, cut into about 1.5 inch wide pieces

Arrange these on a lined baking tray and cover with wet tea towel and allow to rise for an hour

Sprinkle some white sugar on top if you like. Bake at 175degC for about 12-15 minutes and rest in the oven for another five minutes, with oven turned off