Thursday, 28 March 2013

Shortcrust Pastry

Shortcrust Pastry (Vegan and non Vegan/Low fat variant included)
This is a basic recipe that one may chose to use for sweet as well as savory dishes. If one wants the pastry to also be sweet, you could add couple of spoons of sugar to the flour. I have given below two versions of the pastry. One is the most common and ‘original’ recipe and the next one is suppose to be a more healthy version as it has wholewheat flour and also made using olive oil rather than butter/margarine. You could choose which version you like for the dish you are preparing...

1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup butter/margarine, cold and diced
Pinch of salt

Using your fingertips mix the butter/margarine with flour. If needed add couple of spoons of ice cold water and make a soft dough

Use as mentioned in the recipe

Wholewheat shortcrust pastry
½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
50-60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
Pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar
Cold water

Add the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and add the olive oil. Mix so it looks like breadcrumbs and add water and make a soft dough that is well combined
use as mentioned in recipe

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Tomato Thokku (Tomato pickle)

Tomato Thokku
Pickles have had and continue to have an important part in my meal. There are almost no readymade pickles that I like and there are almost no home made pickle I dislike. I am usually not a curd rice person but if there is a nice pickle, I will go for it. Tomato thokku is one such pickle that makes me drool even as I post the recipe. It was often made by my mom and grandmother. It is quite versatile as one can have it with idli, dosa, bread, chapatti and ofcourse rice. It comes quite handy when you are short of time as you could just mix some pickle with rice to have a yummy tomato rice with some raita. You can adjust the oil and chilly powder according to your preference. Here is the recipe...

20 tomatoes, medium size
About ½ cup gingelly oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
½ teaspoon powdered roasted fenugreek seeds
2-3 teaspoons chilly powder
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
Turmeric powder

Heat some oil and add the mustard seeds. When they are about to crackle, add the asafoetida and fenugreek powder and turmeric powder.

Add ground tomatoes. If you have the time and energy, put the tomatoes in hot water for couple of minutes and peel its skin and then grind. If not, just remove the stalk end and grind. Be careful as there will be a lot of splashing and you may want to stay a step away when pouring the tomatoes

Boil until it just starts to reduce stirring occasionally and add the tamarind paste

Allow it to reduce well and add some oil and salt. Also add the chilly powder

Now stir often and make sure it all comes together and when it begins to leave the pan on the sides, it is done. You need to add some oil every now and then

Cool and store in clean and dry air tight container. 

Try to store pickles in glass containers. Clean them well and dry them thoroughly
When stored with a bit of oil on top of them, they last a but longer.
Try not to use metal spoons and stick to plastic or wood.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Wholemeal Bread

Home made Bread

Bread is probably a staple in most houses. As common as it may be in everybody’s grocery list, it is a bit of a shame that a number of additives actually go into stor brought bread. Ofcourse, same may not be the case if you buy it fresh from a bakery but as it usually has a shelf life, atleast on the label of only one day or so, I end up buying branded factory bread. It was a doctor friend of ours, a pediatrician who suggested that I start making bread and motivated me saying if I can whip up over 300 dishes on my blog, bread must be easy. When the doctor says I should rather make our own bread to avoid the additives for the benefit of the kids, there can’t be any appeal right. So I started looking up recipes and came across one on this website.

It is only by gut feel that I chose the recipe suggested in that website. Also, the fact that it does not need much kneading made it even more attractive. Anyway, when I tried the recipe, it did come out quite well but I was not quite pleased with the crust. When it comes to baking, practice alone can make one perfect so I tried a few more times. Every time  there was something to learn. I altered the oven temperature so the crust is actually better. I will strongly recommend that you try the recipe atleast twice or thrice so you know how much water works for you and also what oven temperature works for your oven. Resist cutting into the loaf soon after taking from the oven, the aroma will be difficult to control yourselves though. Anyway, here is the recipe
400g strong wholemeal flour
50g strong white flour
2 tsp easy fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tsp brown sugar
400ml warm water
50g melted butter or oil

Put together the flours, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add about 300 ml water. The water should be hand warm. Stir well and add the butter. Mix to form a sticky and soft dough adding more water if needed. Make sure the dough is indeed sticky, you may feel it is not quite right but that is ok.  You could do this in a food mixer with dough hook. I have done by hand as well as with mixer. The photos do not quite show how sticky the dough is, will change them to better pics when I get to it.

Tip out on to a lightly oiled work surface and knead for about 10 seconds, then put back in the bowl and cover. This kneading will help make it less sticky and more smooth. While kneading the dough, I tried to do what Paul Hollywood showed on a TV show. You are suppose to stretch the dough pressing it with your wrist and pulling it, then fold back. Repeat twice more at intervals of 10 minutes, then leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes, until it doubles.

Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle about the length of your baking tin, then roll up tightly, and put into a greased tin, with the join facing downwards. If your dough has adequate water, you should not need a rolling pin to flatten, just hand is enough. Cover and leave to rest in a warm place until it has doubled in height (at least 1½ hours). I left it near the stove as I was cooking and the warmth will help the yeast.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Bake for about 30 minutes. You know the bread is done when you tap it in the bottom (out of the loaf tin ofcourse) and it sounds hollow. Cool completely on a cooling rack, slice and store in air tight container. I prefer to store them in fridge and warm them before eating.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Mushroom Methi Curry

Mushroom Methi Curry
Methi is one of those greens I absolutely love. Although it is suppose to be bitter, there are only a very few instances when I found it bitter. I think it is down to how it is prepared. I absolutely love the aroma and flavour it adds to a dish. This time around I tried to make a slightly rich gravy and combined methi with mushrooms. I was such a delightful dish, I was hoping no one saw me licking the saucepan! I have added melon seeds to this dish in the past but in a rush and lack of concentration, did not cook them enough. So, try not to make that mistake else you will get bits of the seeds while chewing and that is not quite pleasant.  Here is the recipe…

1 pack mushrooms (I used btton mushrooms and halved them)
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoon melon seeds or use poppy seeds soaked for about 10 minutes in hot water
4-5 cashew nuts
1 teaspoon chilly powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 bunch methi leaves
Turmeric powder
Cooking oil or butter

Heat some oil and add the onions, ginger garlic paste and green chillies and fry until onions soften

Add the tomatoes, melon seeds, cashew nuts and some water and cook until all ingredients are well cooked, especially the seeds must have softened

Cool and grind this to paste

Heat the pan and add oil and the mushrooms and in a couple of minutes add the methi. Cook until methi is almost done and mushrooms soften

Add the ground paste, turmeric powder, chilly powder, cumin and coriander powder, salt to taste and some water and bring to boil. Simmer until desired consistency is achieved

Serve hot with rice or naan or and Indian bread