Monday, October 31, 2011

Fruitcake Cookies

I had been dreaming of making these cookies ever since I came across them in Ina Garten's book. These are really really rich cookies, do not spread much but taste oh so yummy !!!. These remind me of the very famous biscuits from Karachi Bakery in Hyderabad. As usual, I made some tweaks, used what I had on hand and used flax-seed meal instead of the one egg called for. For the original recipe please see Ina's recipe. Here's my version of this fruit and nut treat.

8-10 Pitted Dates chopped very fine
1/4 Cup Tutti Fruti (Crystallized candied fruit, usually papaya bits colored red, orange, green)
1/4 Cup Raisins + Dried Cherries
1/4 Cup Salted Cashews chopped in pieces
3-4 Crystallized Ginger pieces chopped very fine
1 Tbsp Honey
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Sherry / Wine (Optional)
1/4 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg Powder
1/2 tsp Dried Orange Peel Powder ( can substitute with Orange Zest)
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Butter at room temperature
2 & 2/3 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Flax-seed Meal mixed with 3 Tbsp Water

1. Mix together all the dried fruits and nuts, honey, lemon juice and vanilla extract and Sherry / wine if using. Add cinnamon pdr, nutmeg pdr and dried orange peel powder and some salt. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave it aside overnight or atleast for 4-5 hours.
2. Cream butter and sugar till smooth. Add in the flax-seed meal mixed in water and then slowly add flour and mix till just combined. Do not OVERMIX as it will result in hard cookies.
3. Now mix in the fruit-mixture from step 1 along with any liquid residue and mix lightly till incorporated.
4. Divide the dough into two and roll them out in the shape of logs about 1&a/2 inch in diameter and approximately 18 inches in length. Wrap with cling-wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for 3-4 hours
5. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
6. Slice the cookies from the log, set on ungreased baking tray and bake for 15-20 mins until lightly golden.
7. Wait to cool and serve with coffee or tea or gobble them up just like that. I betcha u can't eat just one ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sindhi Methi Machi / Fish in Fenugreek Gravy

Fenugreek leaves as a herb are not very popular in the US, however they are used a lot in Indian cooking. The slightly bitter flavor of the leaves enhances or brings out flavors in many different curries. The leaves in the dried form are often sold as Kasuri Methi at the Indian grocers. Fenugreek or Methi as we call it in Hindi is the predominant flavor used for this fish preparation. This is also one of the very popular fish dishes from Sindh, it is very versatile and can be prepared with any kind of fish.

1 bunch Fresh Fenugreek leaves, chopped fine
1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped fine
2 Med. Onions finely chopped
3 Tomatoes, finely diced
12 pods Garlic pounded to a paste or chopped fine
3 Catfish Fillets / Medium Promfret Sliced
Juice of one lime
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Corriander Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 -3 Tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
1. Clean the fish, add salt, turmeric and lemon juice leave it cover with plastic wrap aside for 10-15 minutes.
2. Shallow fry the fish until done and keep aside.
3. For the gravy, heat a little oil, add cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter, add chopped onions and fry until they begin to brown.
4. Add the washed and chopped greens and cook till methi starts to brown.
5. Add garlic and all spices and cook for a minute or two. Then add all purpose flour, stir and cook for a couple of minutes, then add chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 10-12 minutes till tomatoes are cooked through.
6. Now add the fried fish and mix slowly. Add more water for the gravy as required. Let it simmer for a while and then switch off the heat.
7. Serve with Rotis or Rice :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gokul Pithe

I am huge fan of Bengali sweets. Most of the times when we speak of Bengali sweets visions of soft pillowy rasagullas and sandesh pop up in front of our eyes. So when I came across a very different kind of bengali sweet at the Bong Mom's Cookbook, I immediately bookmarked it for my next sweet preparation round. This Navratri I made Gokul Pithe as an offering to Goddess Amba. We enjoyed this immensely.
I halved the recipe as I did not want to make so many of them. For the original recipe head over to Bong Mom's Cookbook, she has lovely pics. I forgot to click step-by-step ones happens to me when I am dealing with sugar syrup :)

For the filling
6 Oz Khoya (Milk Solids)
1 Cup Freshly Grated Coconut
1 Cup Sugar
a generous pinch crushed cardamom powder
a generous pinch saffron

For the coating
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Milk
pinch salt
Water as needed
pinch of baking soda
1 tsp ghee
a generous pinch saffron

For sugar syrup
2 Cups Sugar
1&1/2 Cups Water

a generous pinch crushed cardamom powder
a generous pinch saffron

1. In a saucepan, mix sugar, water, cardamom and saffron and bring to a boil till you reach a one string consistency.
2. In a heavy bottomed wok, on low heat, mix together coconut and sugar and stir till the sugar dissolves and coconut starts to turn golden brown. Now add khoya and cardamom and saffron and stir the mixture till it starts to leave the sides. 
3. Take a small amount and try to shape it into a disc, if it is sticky then return to heat and cook a bit more else it is done and you can set it aside.
4. Take a spoonful of the mix and shape it into a round flat disc approx 1.5 inch in diameter and thickness of a coin. Shape and keep aside.
5. In a kadhai add oil for deep frying on medium high heat.
6. In a mixing bowl, mix together the ingredients for coating adding enough water to make a thick cake-like batter.
7. Now coat the discs on both sides and dunk in hot oil, fry till golden on both sides. Remove with slotted spoon and add to the sugar syrup.
8. Remove from sugar syrup when they become a little soft. Enjoy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chana Dal Vada / Paruppu Vadai / Mixed Lentil Fritters

My mom-in-law makes these amazing chana dal vadas. These are a common occurrence during festival times and are also offered as Naivedya to the Gods. I am sure this tradition would have come from all the priests tired of eating only sweets for Naivedya but whatever the origins these vadas are to die for.

1 Cup Chana Dal
2-3 Tbsp Tuvar Dal
2 Tbsp Rice
1 Tbsp Udad Dal
8-10 Dry Red Chillies * Mix of Kashmiri and Byadagi varieties
Generous pinch Asafoetida
1-2 Twigs Curry Leaves
1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro
3-4 Green Chillies
1 Onion Chopped * Optional
Oil for deep frying

1. Pick clean the lentils and wash in 3-4 changes of water. Soak for 3-4 hours
2.Coarsely grind the lentils along with curry leaves, green chillies, red chillies using as little water as possible. It is alright if a few pieces of lentil are not ground completely.
3. To this add salt, asafoetida and chopped cilantro and chopped onion if using.
4.  Heat oil in a wok for deep frying. Turn the heat to medium high.
5. Make small flat rounds and put them in oil and fry them on both sides till golden and crisp.
6. Serve hot.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji is a sinfully delicious street food famous in Bombay. I think I just love the concept so much that I have never met a Pav Bhaji I don't like. I have been making Pav Bhaji at home for all of dogs years ..I think it was one of the first foods that me and my sis took over making in the kitchen from the adults. So here goes my version of the famous Pav Bhaji

2-3 Cups Cabbage
1/2  Cup French Beans
3-4 Potatoes
2 Cups Cauliflower
1 Carrot
2 Capsicum / Green Pepper
3 Onions
4-5 Tomatoes
1 Cup Green Peas
2 inch piece Ginger
12 -14 Pods Garlic
3-4 Green Chillies * Optional
1tsp Cumin Seeds
A pinch of Asfoetida
2-3 tsp Corriander Powder
1 tsp Amchur Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
2-3 Tbsp Pav Bhaji Masala * I use Badshah brand
2-3 tsp Red Chilli Powder
2-3 Tbsp Butter
1. Chop Cabbage, cauliflower, peel and cut potatoes in big chunks, peel and cut carrot, string and cut french beans. Rinse in running cold water.
2. In a pressure cooker, cook cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, potatoes, french beans with water and let it whistle for 3-4 times
3. In the meantime, chop onions, capsicum, tomatoes. Grind together ginger, garlic and green chillies.
4. In a wok, add 1 Tbsp Butter, add cumin seeds after they sputter add onions and saute till translucent. Now add capsicum saute for another few minutes. Now add ginger, green chilli and garlic paste and stir. Add tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes have wilted.
5. Add salt, spices and now add all the pressure cooked vegetables. Mix together and let the whole mixture come to a boil. Add the defrosted green peas.
6. Using a potato masher, mash the vegetables till they are all blended together as one red gravy and only a few green peas are visible.
7. Adjust the spices adding more of anything, add a dollop of butter and garnish with cut onions, lemon wedges and cilantro.
8. Enjoy hot with warm Pav slathered with butter and coated with chaat masala.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homemade Pav / Dinner Rolls

There are very few yeasty breads commonly baked in India. One such bread a legacy of the Portuguese is Pao or as over the years of colloquial usage has become converted to the marathi word Pav. The story also goes that the dough for these rolls was kneaded by feet instead of hands and hence the name Pav, but I am not so sure of this ... Pav is one popular accompaniment to the famous street food or should I say street foods of Bombay Vada Pav and Pav Bhaji. In Bombay where I am from, we used to have the Pav wala come every evening selling freshly baked laadi pav.  On days when we were having Pav Bhaji for dinner he would be told a day in advance to bring in X number of Pav for us. Fond memories !! I wanted to eat Pav Bhaji and decided to try my hand at baking Pav at home. I took the experiment one step further and made it using half wheat flour (chapati flour). They turned out super yummy.

1&1/2 Cup WholeWheat Flour
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Pkt Fast Rise Yeast (Hannaford Brand)
1&1/2 tsp Salt
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 Tbsp Whole Wheat or A.p flour for kneading and shaping dough
250 ml Warm Water to knead the dough * More or less may be needed
1. Proof yeast as per package directions and set aside. Approx 15 mins or till yeast froths up
2. In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt and add 1 Tbsp Olive oil. Now add the frothy yeast mixture and start kneading the dough adding as much warm water as needed.
3. Now knead knead and knead for 15 mins. The dough should no longer stick to the surface in clumps.
4. Grease a mixing bowl with a tbsp of olive oil, shape the dough into a round ball put it into this bowl and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap.

5. The dough is ready for its first rise. Set it aside for 1 to 2 hours or till it doubles in volume.

6. Remove plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Form 15 -16 round balls and set them an inch apart on a greased baking pan.

7. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for second rise approx 1 hour or till the rolls double in volume.

8. Preheat oven to 390 F.
9. Brush the tops of the rolls with milk and slip the tray into the oven. Bake for 12-15 mins till golden brown in color.

9. Enjoy warm with butter or as we did with Pav -Bhaji.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Colorful Roasted Peppers with Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Garlic and Herbs

I just can't resist the temptation of buying beautiful colorful peppers when I visit the grocery stores or farmers markets or wherever it is that I am doing my regular shopping. On one such trip I picked up a few colorful ones. I had so many thoughts on how I would like to use them and I wasn't even thinking about roasting them, as I pulled out my tray of garlic bread from the oven, it just stuck me to roast the peppers. Roast them I did  and then I julienned them and marinated them in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar infused with herbs and fennel seeds. Aren't these beautiful?