Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Instant Khaman Dhokla - Microwave

Sometimes my early days in Gujarat re-surface and so do my cravings for Gujarati snacks especially Khaman and Khandvi two of my absolute favourite items. My mom has been making the traditional style khaman for years and it is essentially her recipe that I have tweaked a little bit. I have also deviated from her way of steaming the dhoklas to making mine in the microwave to save the time and effort. Another under 30 minutes recipe which I am very proud of ..

Khaman Dhokla

For The Batter
1 Cup Besan aka Chana Dal Flour or Gram Flour
1 1/2 Tbsp Sooji  or Rava (Semolina)
1 tsp lime or lemon juice * (My mom sometimes uses citric acid crystals or nimbu ke phool)
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp ginger-green chilli pounded ( For best results pound them or grind them very coarsely)
salt to taste
1 1/2 tsp Eno Fruit Salt or  1/2 tsp Baking Soda
For the Tempering
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds ( rai / sarson)
1/2 tsp Sesame seeds (til)
2 Green Chillies , chopped
A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
A few curry leaves (optional)
1/3 Cup Water
2 tsp Sugar

For the Garnish
1 Tbsp chopped coriander (dhania)
1 Tbsp dry unsweeted coconut even freshly grated will do

Implements / Utensils
Mixing Bowl
Tempering Bowl
Microwave safe pie dish or
Traditional Steaming pot and plate

1. Mix together all the ingredients for the batter except Eno or baking soda using enough 1 cup water to make a thick batter.

2. Add in Eno or soda, sprinkle a little water over Eno and mix well.

3. When the mixture rises, mix well and pour it into a greased microwaveable pie dish. I use the salad takeaway container and microwave on high for 2 to 3 mins. Let stand for one minute and then again microwave for 1 or 2 mins

Since each microwave is different, you will need to check the timing a little. Check for doneness using a toothpick till it comes out clean.

4. For the tempering, heat the oil in a small wok and add the mustard seeds, sesame seeeds, green chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida. When the mustard seeds crackle, slowly add 1/3 cup of water a tsp of sugar and pour this over the steamed dhoklas.

5. Cut into pieces and serve with green chutney.

1. Traditional steamer would take 8 to 10 minutes

Coconut Ladoo or Coconut Barfi

I am usually terrified of trying  to make Indian sweets at home, especially the ones that involve making sugar syrup to a certain thread consistency. Heck baking is so much simpler ;) and less daunting. Even then come the Indian festive season and I still get the urge to make Indian sweets for prasad. There are a few stock pile favourites of mine and no Kheer or Payasam is not one of them. I am totally and mortally scarred of trying to make it at home ...
One of the recipes that has become tremendously popular among my colleagues and friends and kind of my signature trademark is that of white melt in your mouth coconut ladoos. These are a snap to make and there is certain pleasure to see them disappear really fast. Like I tell my friends half an hour of effort makes you look like a star. So here I am sharing this recipe on my blog. Hope you enjoy making and eating them as much as me and my friends ...

Photographs for this post taken by my friend Lahiri when we made these at her place. Thanks, Lahiri.

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (In India- Milkmaid or here in US Nestle Carnation, Eagle or any other)
1/2 C Milk (2 % or whole or skim any will do)
1 Tbsp Ghee
2 Tbsp Raisins
1 Tbsp Broken Cashews * (Optional)
2 Elaichi (Cardamom) Powdered or just opened
2.5 Cups Unsweetened Dry Coconut
0.5 Cup Unsweetened Dry Coconut
Some water

Kadhai or Wok
2 Plates
Can opener

1. Heat the ghee in a wok / kadhai. Add the elaichi, then cashews (if using) let them brown a very little then add raisins. As soon as they puff up empty the can of condensed milk
2. Stir for 1 - 2 mins on med to low flame, the milk should start to bubble around the corners. Now start adding unsweetened coconut and mixing. I find that adding small quantities and mixing them as you go along is easier than emptying the entire amount at one go.
3. Add half cup milk and mix it well.
4. Since the texture of unsweetened coconut varies, the quantity required may need to be adjusted a bit. So after adding milk if you think it is a bit runny add some more coconut a tablespoon at a time. If it is too stiff add a bit more milk.
5. Now switch off the heat and take your wok off the heat.
6. Spread the dry coconut in a plate and fill a cupful of water.
7. Wet your palms with water an take a tablespoon of mixture at a time and roll them round, now roll the ladoo in the dry coconut and keep them on a separate plate. Repeat till you have exhausted all the mixture.
8. Enjoy

1. Alternatively, you could grease a thali or a baking tray and sprinkle half of the dry coconut. Then spread the cooked mixture and sprinkle the remaining half coconut on top. Cut this into pieces for a coconut barfi.
2. I sometimes garnish each ladoo with a raisin on top. Or
3. Use Saffron water and a toothpick to make design on top of each ladoo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grilled Chicken Flatbread with Feta, Olives and Roasted Peppers

Something exotic yet simple was what I wanted for dinner today. So while I was rummaging through my thoughts and trying to put a finger to what to put together for dinner to satisfy my craving, I remembered a recipe for Chicken Flatbread which I had put together on a spur of the moment standing in the aisle of a super market to convince K why I must absolutely buy that flatbread ;). It was an ode to the flatbread staring in my face and calling out to me "Pick me". So finally, Mr. K was convinced and we got the flatbread home. Ever since then the flatbread has become a frequent addition to our shopping cart.

Chicken Flatbread
3-4 loaves Southwestern Flatbread
1 Pkt Perdue Shortcuts Carved Chicken Breast (Roasted Garlic with White Wine) or any other flavor
Roasted Red, Yellow and Green Peppers (I used homemade ones)
Olives Green and Black sliced
1 Tomato diced
Salt, Pepper
Shredded Cheese
Feta Cheese
Few sprigs Rosemary (Mine was homegrown)

Utensils and Implements
Sheet Pan
Aluminium Foil

1. Cook the chicken as per packet instructions. I prefer to make it in the skillet instead of the microwave.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Prepare a sheet pan by covering it with foil
3. Lay the flatbread on the sheet pan. Drizzle some oil and vinegar mixture from the roasted peppers. Alternatively you can use olive oil and balsamic vinegar
4. Then add roasted pepper, sliced olives, diced tomatoes, season as per taste.

5. Add a few sprigs of rosemary.
5. Place the pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes. Remove add shredded cheese and return to oven for 4-5 minutes till cheese melts.

6. Remove from the oven, add Feta cheese if using.

7 Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Photographs Courtesy - Krishnan

1. You can skip the chicken and add some more veges.
2. This can also be made with Naan (especially good for using leftover naan)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bible Cake

I already wrote about the Bible Cake in my previous post on the Edible Book Contest and also posted the pics with a promise to share the recipe in my next post. I found three or four different variations for this cake on the internet but wasn't able to zero in on any single one. So finally what I made was a mish-mash of ingredients from multiple recipes. The resulting cake was awesome.

Bible Cake
3/4 C      Butter
1&1/2 C Sugar
5 Nos.    Eggs
3 C        Flour
3 tsp      Salt
3 tsp      Baking Powder * Referred as Levain in the Bible verses
1 tsp     Cinnamon Pdr
1 tsp     Mix Spices Pdr  (Nutmeg, cloves, ginger and all spice)
1/2 C    Milk * Add more if required
1/2 C    Almonds Crushed coarsely
3/4 C    Figs chopped * I soaked them in water and pureed them
3/4 C    Raisins
2 tbsp   Honey

Implements / Utensils Required
Mixing Bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Cake Tin either 1 10 inch or 2 9*5 loaf tins

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and Flour a 10 inch cake tin.
2. Sieve flour, salt, bakking powder, spices and set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar. Then add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Beat till a thick custard consistency is reached.
4. Then add dry ingredients in three or four additions mixing well after each addition.
5. If you feel that mixing is getting difficult add milk in between the mixing. Once both the dry and wet ingredients are mixed, fold in the almonds, raisins and fig puree. Add honey and mix. Adjust the liquid consistency of batter as needed by adding more milk if needed.
6. Pour into a prepared cake tin and bake for almost 55 to 60 mins or till a tester comes out clean.
7. Let cool for 5-10 mins before attempting to remove from the pan and onto a cooling rack

For the contest, I had used chocolate buttercream icing and white butter cream icing to give the appearance of the cover of the book and its pages. However, this cake tastes just as good with a sprinkling of powdered sugar or a drizzle of honey. Read about the history of the cake and actual Bible verses here: http://www.abetterhope.com/funpage.html

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Edible Book Contest

On Saturday, April 16, 2011, our Mount Laurel Library held its Second Annual Edible Book Contest. Well when I read the brochures inviting patrons to participate in the contest - I went almost like "Edible Book Contest What is that!!!!".  Rules and details here:

Then I got onto doing some R & D yeah the techie in me urges me to google
everything before accepting it ;) and true to it's word, the Google God gave me the answers in the form of a myriad of links filled with information. According to the information I found, Edible Book festival has been held internationally since the year 2000. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_Book_Festival

The event had already caught my fancy and I had an idea albeit an half baked one emerging based on an Indian cookbook by the name of Spice Box. Despite that I decided to google out and find out more ideas and if possible photographs to compare notes to take ideas and inspiration for the contest. And I stuck gold - I came across Bible or Scripture Cake. The cake was made entirely out of the items listed in the Bible. Now that I found to be very very interesting and I couldn't shake of the idea of making it. I found myself at crossroads on one hand was an absolutely original idea that had stuck me the minute I decided to participate in the contest and the other hand was the Bible Cake. In the end, I decided to participate with two entries. Then to my horror I forgot to register for the event before the registration deadline. I was not sure I would be allowed afterall the event was on the morrow. I took my chance and spoke to the librarian. She was very kind and said that they still had a few open places and she can put my name as a participant. Phew!!! I breathed a sigh of relief and set-out for the event to be held the next day.

I participated with both the entries - Spice Box and Bible Cake

Spice Box made with hash brown potatoes for the box base, roasted potatoes were the seven cups of the spice box and each cup was filled with paneer flavoured with a single spice.

And the next entry was Bible Cake made from Flour, Eggs, Figs, Almonds, Spices and a few other things. I will post the complete recipe in the next post till then here are the pictures.

For photos of all participating entries please check out the library Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23684224@N08/sets/72157626401483865/

This event was also covered by the local newspaper:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Punjabi Samosa

A few weeks ago, I got this sudden craving for garma garam Samosa's - the kind you get in farsan shops in Bombay or more like the ones we get on almost all vada and samosa pav joints in Bombay. Now being so far away from India and in the America's didn't help the matter till I decided to take the matters in my own kitchen and come up with a variant of the ubiquitous Punjabi Samosa made at my home. I enjoyed making and eating them and have captured most steps in pictures.

Punjabi Samosa

Ingredients for the Crust:
1 cup Maida a.ka. All purpose flour
2 tbsp Melted Ghee
1 tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
Salt to taste
Water (as needed)

Ingredients for the Filling
4 medium sized Potatoes boiled, peeled and mashed with hands
1/3 cup Peas boiled and drained
1 tbsp Ginger crushed
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Amchur powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder *Adjust to taste
1/2 tsp Chat Masala
1 to 2 tsp Lemon juice
1-2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp jeera

Dry Roast and crush to a coarse spice mix using a rolling pin or pound and pestle
1 tsp Jeera
1 tsp Fresh Crushed Pepper
1 - 2 tsp Whole Sukha Dhaniya seeds
1 -2 tsp Anardana
Oil to deep fry

Implements / Utensils Required
1 Saute Pan
1 Wok /Kadhai
1 Mixing bowl to knead the dough
1 Rolling Pin
1 Slotted spoon / jali
 Paper towels


1. Add ajwain and salt to the flour and mix with fingers.
2. Add the melted ghee to the flour mixture and rub till the mix resembles bread crumbs.
3 Add water 1 tbsp at a time to make a stiff dough. Knead and keep covered with a wet muslin cloth.

4. In a kadhai add ghee splutter jeera, saute ginger then add potatoes. Cook for a couple of minutes
5. Add salt and all dry spices leave for a couple of minutes then add boiled peas.
6. Switch of the gas and them add lemon juice.
7. Optionally you can also add some corriander leaves (cilantro) or some mint leaves finely chopped and / or kaju and kismis though I personally like my Samosas without kaju and kismis

8. Divide the dough into small balls. Flatten each ball and roll like a chapati.
9. Cut into half shape it into a cone.

10. Fill each cone with the filling mixture and seal the samosa.

11. Fry on low temperature oil for the first 5 minutes and then increase the heat and fry till golden.

12. Serve with Tamarind and Date chutney and Green Chutney

New Beginning ...

My friends Rujuta and Shreeta and my husband Krishnan have been encouraging me to start blogging for quite some time now and finally I have relented. So here I am with The Good Life ...

Usually we in India start any new venture by praying to Lord Ganesha.  I bow to Lord Ganesha "Om Ganeshaya Namah:" and thank him for all his blessings. I hope that He will bestow on me enough writing skills to keep this blog The Good Life rolling :)