Thursday, 25 December 2014

Cornmeal Savory Bread

Cornmeal Savory Bread
My oven was literally gathering dust as I have barely been using it. Apart from roasting some veggies to make pasta sauce for the kids, I have just not been using the oven. So, this holiday season, I decided to bake like I used to, if possible, get better ;)

One of my close friends likes savory breads and I wanted to make one for her. I picked cornmeal bread and adapted the recipe from I smeared a piece with cheese and it went down well with my five year old so I guess it is job well done!

1. I have reduced the number of eggs so have used more milk and also vinegar. You can skip the vinegar and increase egg to two but you may not need the water in that case. 
2. I used a mixture of middle eastern herbs. 

1 heaped teaspoon dried herbs
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup cornmeal flour
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1tablespoon baking powder

1 egg
3 tablespoon oil
1 cup yogurt, beaten
¾ cup milk
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
A knob of butter

Grease an 8x8inch dish with butter (I used a rather rectangular dish but was fine with it) and preheat oven to 170degC
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl

Mix all wet ingredients in medium bowl

Pour wet ingredients into dry ones and mix. Add the vinegar and mix briefly. Scrape the batter into the greased dish. The batter may be slightly thick. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Agathi Keerai Poriyal

Agathi keerai in Tamil, scientific name is sesbania grandiflora and in English the spinach variety is called as august tree leaves or humming bird tree leaves. It is extremely nutritious like most leafy greens. It is part of the special food prepared on dwadesi, the day after ekadesi. Reason is that on ekadesi, Hindus normally fast and we are expected to break the fast next day with a certain menu. One of them is agathi keerai as it has ability to sooth stomach ulcers. Some may fear the fasting but it is interesting how our ancestors had thought through it and designed the menu around it. It is not often that I get hold of these but here is what I made with them this time…

3 tablespoon mung dal
4 tablespoon grated coconut (I used dessicated coconut)
1 dry red chilly
1 bunch agathi keerai, leaves taken off the stalk and washed well
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder

Cooking oil (I used coconut oil)

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and after it splutters, add turmeric powder, dry chilly and asafoetida. 

Add the leaves, required water and allow it to cook and add some salt half way through

In another small pan, add the dal and cook it with required water. The dal should be well cooked but not mushy

Once leaves are cooked and all water is dried, add mung dal and coconut and fry for couple of minutes
Serve with cooked rice!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Rice Pudding (with variant for Chakkarai Pongal)

Rice Pudding (with variant for Chakkarai Pongal)
I had bought couple of small tubs of cream in the hope to make ice cream. One of it fell from the fridge and went down the drain so I had the second one had to be finished somehow. I did not want to slave over it so kept looking for ways to use cream in dishes that need next to no attention. I came across rice pudding and what a finding it is! The pudding came out really good albeit for people with sweet tooth, it could have done with more sugar. Here is the recipe...
100g rice
600-700 ml rice (i used basmati but you could use pudding rice)
100g sugar
300ml double cream
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
4 small knobs of butter
Chopped nuts for garnishing

Preheat oven to 150degC
Take a deep (because shallow would let milk spill over while cooking) oven proof dish and grease with butter. Add washed rice, sugar, cream, milk, vanilla essence and mix. Dot the butter here and there and put in the oven for about 1.5 hours. You can stir half way through and add bit more milk if needed. Depending on the rice, t he amount of milk needed may vary.

Take out and garnish with nuts

I had made this and taken to a friend’s house and it was given thumbs up. I then decided to adapt this to make it south Indian and save some time while preparing other dishes for a festival.
Short cut yummy chakkara pongal:

Put a cup of rice, handful of mung dal, ¾ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup white sugar, 300ml cream and 600ml milk in a greased deep oven proof dish. Dot the butter like above and cook just like above. Add some saffron after steeping it in hot water or milk. Add milk if needed and stir in between.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Chakli (Mullu Muruku)

It is summer holiday for school now so for the first time, my son is at home. Crispy snacks can always come handy when you have a bored young child around. Rather than buying them, I thought I should give it a try myself. Afterall, it may not hurt too much to fry now and then. I picked something easy and this was it. Also, my son’s friend’s gran had made this and after trying them my son asked me to make some. What I loved about what I made is it tasted quite like ‘kai muruku’, the one shaped with hand without the labour of sitting down to shape them. Hope you like it as well. It is one of the 'batchanams' made for Krishna Jayanthi and even Diwali. Here is the recipe...

3 cups rice flour (I used store bought rice flour)
1 cup besan flour
Salt to taste
Dash of asafoetida
1 teaspoon chilly powder
3 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon ghee
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
Oil for deep frying

Sift the flours together and add chilly powder, asafoetida, sesame seeds and salt

Heat the three tablespoons of oil, ghee and add it to the flour mixture and mix to form crumb like consistency. Heated oil and ghee are used to amke sure the murukus come out crispy. Rather check the seasoning at this stage than later

Add water slowly to make a soft dough. The dough must be soft enough to be able to be forced through the mould. Rather add water little by little so it does not become to soft. Also, check the consistency by putting it into the mould and see if it comes out without problem. What you do not want is, hard dough struggling to come out and eventually forces the mould open and falls into hot oil splashing it all over you and the kitchen!

Use the star shaped mould and make murukus on a ladle as shown. This can be slipped into hot oil for frying. Check if oil is ready by putting a small piece of dough in. It is ready if it emerges up quickly. It does not have to be perfectly shaped, so you can even press it directly into the oil in random shape.

Fry both sides until golden, drain and keep aside

Cool completely before putting in airtight boxes.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Cadbury Creme Egg brownies

Cadbury Creme Egg brownies

I realised I have gotten dangerously close to forgetting the steps to blog so ready or not, here I come. This was a recipe I meant to post for Easter, but hey, I am quite early for the next one. With very little time left before I get swamped in my day job as a mum, cook, cleaner, wife etc. here is a recipe...

The basic brownie recipe was ever so slightly adapted from here

¾ cup flour
1 cup yogurt
½ cup brown sugar
100g dark chocolate, melted
4 tablespoon coco powder
4 creme eggs, chilled well and cut into half
½ teaspoon soda bicarbonate
½ cup water

Sift and bring together all dry ingredients except the crème eggs. Then add the melted chocolate, yogurt and water to make batter just about spooning consistency

Line a square pan with greased baking paper and pour the batter in. Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for about 20 minutes

Take out of the oven and gently insert the crème eggs here and there. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, just until it melts.

Cool well and slice into pieces

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Snakegourd Pachadi

Snakegourd Pachadi
Snakegourd is a ‘naatu kai’ i.e. vegetable indigenous to India. Mom used to cook it often as my dad liked it. She would sauté it and season it and mix it with rice and ghee for him. My husband, on the other extreme just does not like this vegetable. My mother-in-law says when she was pregnant with my husband, she always got sick when she went anywhere near snakegourds and looks like that has just continued. I ould not get away with making snakegourd curry so had to disguise it. To be fair, it is not a vegetable with a distinct or strong flavour, atleast for me. I came across this recipe at and gave it a try. I made it as a side dish to pulihogare as I do not like a meal without vegetables and this was a good combination. The good news is that it went down well my my better half as well. Here is the recipe...

2 cups chopped snakegourd
1 teapsoon mustard seeds
1 teapsoon urd dal
Few curry leaves
3 dry red chillies
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 cup yogurt, whisked
Cooking oil

Heat some oil and add the snakegourd. Add little salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida and cook. Covering will quicken the process.

Add the whisked curd and bring to gentle boil. Add remaining salt that is required

Heat little oil for the tempering. Add the mustard seeds, once it splutters, add urd dal, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Once dal turns golden, add it to the snakegourd yogurt mixture and it is ready to serve.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Vegetarian sausage stir fry (Masala Quorn Sausage)

Vegetarian sausage stir fry (Masala Quorn Sausage)
I grew p as a vegetarian and have never tasted non vegetarian food so there is nothing I miss really. However, I guess it is not the case in this part of the world and there is a desire to replicate the non-vegetarian content and make meat substitutes. A variety of such ingredients is made by Quorn. They apparently use a form of fungi to make the meat substitutes. I found no reason to use them in my regular cooking but my kids are used to having them a school or day care as they try to make vegetarian and non veg dishes look similar. My son started asking me for sausages (vegetarian, ofcourse) at home and that is why I buy them now and then. This dish is incredibly simple to make and can be had as a quick snack. You can also use this to stuff inside wraps. The sausage itself, being processed food, has salt in it so I tend not to add any more. I usually add very little salt in my cooking anyway so if you need a bit more, feel free to add.

1 pack quorn sausage
½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
Turmeric powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
Dash of chat masala
1 spring onion, chopped
Cooking oil

Heat some oil preferably in a non stick pan and cook the sausages as per pack instructions. Once done, let it cool and then slice into bite size pieces

Heat bit of oil and add the spring onions, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and sauté for couple of minutes until raw smell goes off.

Add the sliced sausages, the masala powder and sauté for couple of minutes and it is ready to serve.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Pasta in Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce

Pasta in Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce
I had not planned to post two pasta recipes back to back but it just so happened. These days I do not go back to my huge list of draft but rather post as and when I make something exciting (atleast for me). I made this dish for the kids today and they seemed to like it. I tasted the sauce only as I am not a pasta person and I must say that if you do not thicken to sauce consistency, it can be had as a yummy soup. You could make it as soup for yourself and thicken it as sauce for kids so they get to eat pasta. I had ordered chopped butternut squash, infact it is the only vegetable I order processed as it is quite a task chopping the squash. Instead, full squash was delivered and I failed to read the substitutes properly so am stuck with them. I managed to chop one up thought I will use them fresh for the kids. There is no reason why only they should enjoy this, ofcourse, grown ups can have it as well. If you run out of time, skip the white sauce, just use the roasted squash puree and a bit of milk to make it little creamy.

Pasta for 2-3 adults, cooked as per package instructions
2 handful of butternut squash, cubed
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
Salt to taste
Oregano or other dried herbs to taste
½ cup milk
Cooking oil

In an oven proof dish, put the butternut squash, onion and garlic, drizzle few drops of oil and roast at 170degC for 30 minutes, until cooked. Sprinkling very little salt will help speed up the process and enhance flavour. The squash should become tender

Cool and grind this to a fine paste

Heat the butter in a heavy bottom pan and add the all purpose flour and keep stirring until raw smell goes and it just begins to brown, keep the heat low

Add milk and keep stirring else it will form lumps and still keep on low heat

The white sauce will be ready when it becomes thick but nice and shiny. Now add the squash onion paste, oregano, salt to taste and some water as well and bring to boil stirring now and then.

Add cooked pasta and let it boil once. Sprinkle some cheese and serve!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Pasta in Lentil sauce

Pasta in Lentil sauce

I have the routine of making red pepper sauce on Thursdays and spinach sauce on Fridays for the kids. Apart from the fact that I was running out of red pepper today, I thought I should make something more different today. I was going to make lentil with spinach for us so decided I will make a lentil based sauce for pasta for kids. I must say that the Indian dish, dal dokhli, was an inspiration to come up with this dish. I quite liked how it came out and was satisfied that good quality protein is going down tiny tummies.

1/3 cup moong dal or red lentils, well cooked
1 onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
Dried oregano and basil as required to flavour
Dash of turmeric powder
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt to taste
Cooking oil
Pasta to serve about 2-3 people

Heat a skillet and add oil. Once oil is hot add the garlic cloves and onions and sauté for couple of minutes
Add the tomatoes and turmeric powder and cook until it turns mushy, adding bit of salt would quicken this.

Along with the cooked lentils, grind the onion tomato mixture into fine paste and put back in skillet. Add the dried herbs and required salt and bring to boil.

Cook the pasta as per pack instructions and add to the lentil mixture, mix and it is ready to serve