Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Peerkangai Thokku (Ridgegourd Curry/Turiya/Turai curry)

Peerkangai Thokku (Ridgegourd Curry/Turiya/Turai curry)
After our relocation more inland, it has been easier to get rid of Indian vegetables. Although we eat many of the ‘english’ vegetables, I do seek comfort in cooking and eating the veggies I grew up eating. One such was ridgegourd. Ridgegourd is rich in fibre and also said to have cooling properties. It is supposedly rich in vitamin C, making it good for our immune system and also rich in other minerals like manganese, magnesium, zinc. I was looking for ridgegourd recipes and came across a number of different versions of the ‘thogayal’ made with the peel of this goody. My grandmom makes it too and I will post that recipe sometime. Long story short, I did not see recipes that suggested the use of the inside of the vegetable (apart from the stuffed ridgegourd I had posted earlier). However, the good this about this recipe is that it uses the skin and the flesh and that means you do not have to spend time peeling the vegetable, but you can also get to consume the goodness from the skin. My husband does not usually like something like a thokku, so I made it slightly runny to make it seem like sambar and told him it was in between sambar and vegetable on the side and so pleased it went down well. This recipe is a keeper! Here it is for you to try...
1 ridgegourd, sliced thinly with skin
5-6 pearl onions, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chunkily chopped
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urd dal
1 teaspoon sambar powder
Turmeric powder
3 green chillies, slit
Few curry leaves
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
½ teaspoon tamarind extract
Salt to taste
Cooking oil, preferably gingelly oil

Heat some oil and add mustard seeds, urd dal, asafoetida and turmeric powder

Once the seeds splutter, add the onions, green chillies, garlic and curry leaves and cook for couple of minutes

Add the tomatoes and cook for another couple of minutes

Add the ridgegourd slices and required salt, some water and cook covered until ridgegourd is cooked. You may need to add water every now and then and stir every now and then

Add the tamarind paste and cook for couple of minutes

Add the sambar powder, required water and cook until raw smell goes away

Depending on how thick or runny you like it to be, add more water or wait to reduce further
Serve with rotis or rice

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Poppy Seeds Salt Cookies

Poppy Seeds Salt Cookies
If you follow my blog on facebook, you have probably read about my plan to write a book on eggless baking. Well the idea is to have atleast 20 recipes including cakes, muffins and biscuits. In my mind this book should help anyone, be it beginners or pro, start to believe in eggless baking and that it does not mean the end result is not enjoyable and delish. To draw more inspiration, I am trying a few recipes to understand them better and this is from one of the books I have. I struggled to keep myself away from the end result. I do not bake savory often because it is normally just me that likes it and can’t be bothered to please myself. This however, went down well with my son as well and I was selfish enough to keep them away from my husband (he was not even told I had made this and in my defense, he probably does not like savory bake)! I had so underestimated the flavour of these teeny tiny seeds! Here is the recipe...
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon butter
6-7 tablespoon single cream
1 teaspoon sugar
2 pinches salt
Bit more salt (don't avoid this else you are missing the kick)

Sift the flour and salt

Mix together the sugar and poppy seeds with the flour

Rub the butter so the mixture resembles bread crumbs

Add just enough cream to make a stiff dough

Roll to a disc of about 4-5 mm thick and cut into about 20 pieces (I was in a rush so could nto be bothered with regular shapes) and place on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle some salt on top

Bake in a preheated oven at 150degC for about 25-30 minutes until crisp, still pale.

Cool completely and store in air tight container

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Palak and Til Rice (spinach and sesame rice)

Palak and Til Rice
Green is such a beautiful colour that in its absence any dish looks incomplete. It is one colour that I just have to include everyday in my cooking. As I have quoted on many other posts, it is important to have a variety of colours everyday and that is because each of them carry heir own benefits an dwe need them all to be healthy. When I say colour, clearly, I am not referring to the synthetic colours. This dish is a treat to the yes with its wonderful colour and tastes wonderful. The sesame seeds add a beautiful flavour and texture to the rice. It is a combination of two recipes, Tarla Dalal’s and khanapakhana site. This is a keeper as it was liked by everyone at home.
To blanch the spinach, just put it in boiling water for couple of minutes

2 bunches palak, blanched and pureed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1-2 green chillies, chopped
Few curry leaves
Salt to taste
1 ½ cups rice, cooked so grains are fluffy
Cooking oil

Heat some oil and add the onions, garlic, chillies and ginger. Cook until onion begins to change colour

Add curry leaves and pureed spinach and cook until any raw smell goes, add salt

Add the rice and mix

In a separate pan, add the sesame seeds and toast until it begins to brown

Serve the rice with sesame seeds sprinkled on top

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Jowar Methi Muthiya (Sorghum dumplings)

Jowar Muthiya (Sorghum Dumplings)
Some days I follow a restricted diet and it was one such day that I was terribly hungry. I was wondering what to make for breakfast and was looking for nothing elaborate as time in the kitchen was precious and spending it on just breakfast for me seemed unfair. I then thought of making muthiyas with jowar as I remembered seeing a similar recipe by Tarla Dalal. I had fresh methi leaves on hand and for me, that is just about enough to make any dish very appealing. I was not sure what to expect out of jowar muthiyas so methi would be enough to atleast help me gobble the dish. Luckily, my scepticism was unjustified as the muthiyas were really good. They were full of goodness and yum! My son also quite liked it and was happy to nibble while he played, making it a good finger food. I thought presenting it like lolly pops was a good idea but could not get a good picture of it.

Jowar is called sorghum in English. It is a millet and as expected, has several health benefits. It is rich in phosphorous and potassium. A cup of sorghum is said to provide about 40% of the protein recommended per day. It is fiber rich and also has some anti-oxidants making it offer some protection against cancer. It is, obviously, wheat free so great for people with allergy or caeliacs.

1 cup jowar flour
Handful of fenugreek leaves
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon chilly powder
Dash of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Cooking oil

Mix together the flour, chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek leaves and salt. Add just enough water to make a dough

Divide into three parts and using your fist (that is why it is called muthiya), make cylinders of the dough and steam them for about 20 minutes

Cool and cut into about half an inch long slices

Heat some oil and add mustard seeds and sesame seeds

Once the mustards pop and sesame begins to brown add the cut muthiyas and roast until desired. Roast on low flame for a while if you like it slightly crispy without adding much oil

Insert tooth picks and watch them dissappear!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Persian Dill Rice/Shivid Polow

Shivid Polow (Persian Dill Rice)
I have searched over and over to check if I had posted this recipe earlier and concluded that I hadn’t. Quite surprising because I have made it so many times since I first tried it as it is very easy to make and goes very well with most gravies with legumes/beans in them. Dill is not one of the herbs that I had tried earlier and remember buying it once and deferring my attempt to use it. Eventually it ended up in the bin. The next time around, my husband was trying some dish and happened to use a small bunch and I quite liked it. The trouble with him though, is that he will not remember how he made the dish. So I looked for some rice dishes using dill and found a Persian recipe for it. It is an incredibly simple recipe and I tend to make it in parallel with some other gravy.
Dill, like most herbs have great benefits to us. It is suppose to be an appetiser. It supposedly activates secretion of bile and digestive juices. Dill also has calming properties and helps promote sleep. This herb has anti microbial properties as well as anti fungal properties, providing help with digestive problems. It has anti oxidants that can help protect against cancer. It is a galactogogue i.e. promotes breast milk production in lactating mothers. It also has calcium, making it good for bones and teeth.
Usually, I cook my rice in the pressure cooker. This recipe, though, is an exception and I used a heavy bottomed pressure pan to cook the rice, without the pressure. I just let the rice boil in required amount of water. When you do so, make sure you do not stir often as the starch in the rice will make it stick together. 
1 ½ cups rice
1 cup dill, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove (optional)
Pinch of saffron, crushed and added to ¼ cup water and rested for 10 minutes
Salt to taste

Rinse and soak the rice in 2 cups water for about 30 minutes. Cook the rise in an open pot/dish until all water has evaporate and rice looks nearly done. Note that quantity of water may vary based on rice quality so adjust water in such a way you get rice fluffy. If using garlic, add it with the dill. 
Add the chopped dill, salt and mix

Pour in the saffron water all over. Cover with lid and cook on low flame for about 30 minutes

Serve hot with spicy side dish

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Rava Laddu (semolina ladoo/rava ladoo)

Rava Laddu
With Diwali round the corner, I am quite guilty that I have not posted many recipes that signify the celebrations during this wonderful festival season. Having said that, it has been quite hard to post any recipe for that matter when we have a baby at home. I try my best to take pictures of every step and hopefully of the final dish. Diwali brings back loads of childhood memories and the ofcourse most of them centre around food and fireworks. I remember my mom used to make do many savouries and sweets although she had little children to care for. Mixture, mysore pa, murukku, thattai etc etc. Oh boy, she had so much patience! Well, as for me, I find my day filled with just the regular chores, entertaining pre-schooler and a baby, cleaning up after them and so on. However, I wish I could get a sudden burst of energy and time to make some Diwali specials just to create that festive spirit for my children, the one that we enjoyed as a child. I know I could do it next year too but I believe in the present. For that reason, I told in my son’s pre-school that i will help them with som Diwali celebration. We intend to do rangoli, paint/colour some lamps and make into festoons on one day. I will be telling them the story behind Diwali and also making a sweet with them. With suggestions from some of the lovely readers, I managed to come up with a recipe that will be enjoyable for kids and suitable for their dietary restrictions.
When I did a few experiments in my kitchen to come up with a recipe that has traditional Indian roots, yet suitable for children to make/assemble, I realised that I need to make more traditional sweets and post their recipes. Anyway, I chose this recipe because it will be easy for children to lay their hands on. The traditional rava laddu is made with loads of ghee and milk and shaped when still warm and that I thought is not ideal for children to do. For a change, I had decided to almost stick to a recipe I found on another blog as I barely and the time to experiment. However, unfortunately, the recipe did not quite work.
It is important to make sure the rava is roasted very well as that is the only way it gets cooked in this dish. This dish is quite forgiving in the sense that you could always add more condensed milk to make it thicker or add more roasted rava if it was way too soft. Treat the quantities as guidelines because different rava draw different amount of liquid and as there is no question of overmixing the dough, feel free to mix and check if you are there. The laddus will be slightly soft soon after they are made, but will firm as they rest, which however, won’t be for long. I will be skipping the nuts while making this for children due to allergies but the addition of ground almond, for those who can eat it, makes this laddu even better. If you want to skip it, replace with semolina. I had o use a bit of icing sugar as the recipe I followed did not work. However, if you find the sweetness from condensed milk inadequate, feel free to add the sugar. The quantity below will make about 15 laddus. Best kept in the fridge, but I did not have that problem as they were all gone!
1 ¼ cup semolina (fine preferably)
2 tablespoon powdered sugar/icing sugar (optional)
1/3 cup ground almond
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
Few strands of saffron, steep it in a tablespoon hot water
Few raisins
2 generous pinches cardamom powder
Any other nuts of choice, chopped
2-3 tablespoon ghee

Heat little ghee and fry the raisins until it puffs up, keep aside

Add rest of the ghee and fry the semolina on low flame until it begins to change colour and aromatic

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add ground almond, fried raisins, saffron water, icing sugar, cardamom powder. Add most of the condensed milk and mix to a consistency when it resembles a sticky dough but you manage to roll it into balls. You can always add more condensed milk if needed

Make bite size balls. You could roll them in chopped nuts or dessicated coconuts or some coco powder

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Eggless Coconut Macaroon

Eggless Coconut Macaroon
Coconut barfi is a popular south Indian sweet made for some festivals. I have a rather strange feeling for it. I like how the coconut juices just burst into the mouth for the first few bites but then as you chew, it almost dries out and becomes a bit boring. That is one of the reasons I don’t make coconut barfis. However, I thought an eggless macaroon would be a good idea and most recipes online are coconut varieties. I put my spin on it and the results were very good. I like the fact that I do not have to spend lot of time grating fresh coconut and use dessicaed coconut. I think it tasted best still warm from the oven. It can be prepared in no time, making it ideal for a quick indulgent snack or treat for sudden guests. Here is the recipe...

¾ cup dessicated coconut
¼ cup semolina
½ cup condensed milk
2-3 tablespoon milk
2-3 tablespoon nuts, chopped
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

Mix together all ingredients to make a rather stiff batter which would just drop from a spoon

Leaving atleast an inch gap between each, drop a spoon of the mixture on a lined baking tray. Make sure you do not have any peaks, just flatten using a spoon. The peaks are likely to burn

Bake at 180degC for about 8-10 minutes, until the top turns golden brown
Allow to cool completely in the tray and then serve. Do not take it from the tray until fully cooled

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Jam Custard Biscuit (eggless)

Jam Custard Biscuit (eggless)
Why I like jam biscuit, well, I don’t know. I remember one of my milestone recipes was a wholewheat jam biscuit. It was slightly elaborate but very effective in getting down wholewheat down a toddler and adults alike. I have a box of custard powder sitting on my shelves and custard is not something my son likes eating. I have to figure out other ways of using it up and thought a biscuit would be a good idea. I googled a bit and came up with this combination of mine. We do not like it being overly ‘custardy’ so I used only about quarter cup of it. I added ground almonds as the combination of nutty flavour with jam, I thought, will be good. In the end, it all came out very well and my husband said it tasted like bakery biscuit i.e. baked by professional. On that good note, here is the recipe...
1 cup flour
100g butter, softened
¼ cup custard powder
¼ cup ground almonds
2 pinches baking powder
60g (1/2 cup) icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk, if needed
Jam of choice

Cream together the butter and the sugar

 Add the flour, ground almonds, custard powder, baking powder and if required add milk to make a soft dough. You just want everything to come together and no more. Do not knead the dough

Divide the dough into two parts and roll each into about 5mm thick disc and cut using suitable cookie cutter. Then press with your finger in the centre to make a crater and place on lined baking tray

Using a small spoon, put some jam in the crater and bake at 160degC for about 10-12 minutes, edges would brown

Transfer to cooling rack after resting it in the tray for five minutes or so. Store in air tight container