Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hubby's Aloo Matar / Potatoes and Peas

My dear hubby is a good cook. He is not a fancy schmancy chef but he certainly has a few signature dishes which in his words "..are a repeatable process". You can see he has been in the IT industry for far too long ..sigh!! On days when I feel rather bored to cook something or when I am not in a mood for eating my own food(oh how I wish mom would be here on such days) my sweet hubby offers to make something for us. This time he made his signature aloo matar which is very very different from what I make but it is mighty simple and finger licking good.

Ingredients
4 Small - Medium Boiled Potatoes
3/4 C Peas / Matar
1 Tbsp Hunts Tomato Paste
1/4 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Corriander Powder
1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder / Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
Method
1. Peel the potatoes and cut them lengthwise.
2. In a saute pan, heat oil, add cumin and let the seeds sizzle and give out a good aroma. Add the potatoes and stir till well coated with the oil cumin mixture.
3. Now add peas, salt, turmeric, corriander powder, red chilli powder and mix well. Stir well and cook for a few minutes till the peas are nearly done.
4. Now add a tablespoon of the hunts tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes till tomato paste is well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
5.Serve hot and gloat ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Favourite Breakfast

I am not too much of a breakfast person - all I prefer in the mornings is a good big cuppa chai and a couple of my favourite Parle-G biscuits. That said, I still do have some favourite breakfast items and almost on top of my list is a delicacy which I have been extremely fond of since my childhood days. The white steaming fluffy white cloud like idlis in my opinion are one of the best things we can have for breakfast. There are enough and more recipes for Idlis in the blogosphere so I am not going to put a recipe for this one. This will just be a simple photo post with Idli, Molgapodhi, Sambhar and Tomato Onion Chutney a feast for breakfast.








Baingan Bharta / Ringan No Oro / Smoked Eggplant with Onions, Tomatoes and Fresh Garlic

Ages ago when we were children growing up in an India when cable television and cartoon network were not so prolific and Doordarshan channel was our only source of entertainment there was a children's program called "Baingan Raja" where the eggplant being the king's favourite veggie was elected as the king of the vegetable kingdom. I have much forgotten the story but what lingers on in my memory is that how as a child I could not relate to Eggplant being the king of any kingdom as it along with bitter gourd was one of the least of my favorites. Now the roles are reversed and if not baingan then karela surely should be treated as a king of vegetables ;). My hubby is already grinding his teeth ...grr...he dislikes both these veggies, but this is my blog and sometimes it is about my favorites. So yes today I am going to share one of my favorite eggplant recipe and one that is common to western as well as northern parts of India and is known by various names - Baingan Bharta, Ringan No Oro which translates in English as Smoked Eggplant with Onions, Tomatoes and Fresh Garlic.

Ingredients
1 Big Eggplant
1 Big Red Onion, finely chopped
1 Bunch Scallions / Spring Onions, white and green parts separated and finely chopped
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Green Chilli, Ginger and Fresh Green Garlic paste
1/2 Cup Green Peas boiled, if using frozen thawed and microwaved for 3-4 mins
1/8 tsp Hing / Asafoetida
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Amchur Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1-2 tsp Corriander Powder
1-2 tsp Red Chilli Powder * Adjust to taste
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Sprig Curry Leaves
Method
1. Wash and wipe the eggplant. Now coat it with some oil, place it in a baking tray and broil till the skin turns black and starts to peel. Time to remove the eggplant from the oven and switch of the oven. I prefer doing this on a gas flame but since I have an electric stove I have to use the oven.
2. Place an inverted baking tray, remove the eggplant with tongs and place it on this. Now place a baking tray on top of the eggplant and press it down with some heavy weight object. This will remove the juices from the eggplant. As per traditional Indian cuisine, the juices of the eggplant are supposed to be heat intensive and by removing the juices and seeds the supposed heat is removed from the eggplant. Peel the eggplant and separate the pulp.
3. In a heavy bottomed pan, add a Tbsp of oil, let it heat then add mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Now add the onions and white part of spring onion saute till they change color to pinkish brown, Now add the pounded green chilli, ginger and garlic paste, saute for a couple of minutes before adding the eggplant pulp. Saute for additional 3-4 minutes till nicely mixed.
4. Add all the spices and then add tomatoes. Allow to cook till tomatoes are cooked through and the whole looks like a homogenous mass.
5. Now add green peas and cook for additional 3-4 minutes. By now the bharta should start leaving the sides of the kadhai. Garnish with the green parts of spring onions. Optionally add a little lemon juice and serve with Bajri No Rotlo or phulkas.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Collard Greens with Mung Beans

My world view of the greens was limited to Spinach, Fenugreek and Mustard leaves (sarson) and may be a couple of others. All of which I happen to love. The greens here in the grocery store always caught my eye and beckoned to me but I was always reluctant or hesitant as to what will I make with them? This time the collard greens looked so fresh that I just couldn't stop myself from reaching out and plonking them in my shopping cart much to the consternation of my hubby whose mute question was "What in the world are you going to do with that?" I ignored it and brought these home. Next began a war for space in my usually packed refrigerator. The bunch of collard greens was occupying a third of my veggie drawer and after a couple of days of jostling for space with other veggies, my husband finally asked me "What are you going to make with that broom?" Broom did I just hear you say broom to such beautiful greens, well it is blasphemy and so went the war of words. Finally I got to thinking of what I would make with these, the internet search was not too helpful as most of these were relegating the greens to a secondary side dish whereas wanted them to be a star. Finally I decided to try and use collard greens instead of spinach in the traditional manner in which our very famous Sindhi Sai Bhaji is made. Well this seemed like a win-win since hubby likes Sai Bhaji ok not just likes "loves". Trust me this turned out to be so beautiful. The only thing I changed from the traditional recipe was instead of chana dal (split chickpeas) I used mung dal since it is quicker cooking. For more on lentils see Food Subs. Do not be daunted by the list of ingredients, this dish has just a unique flavor and surprisingly with not as many spices as one expects from an Indian main course dish.

Ingredients
1 Bunch Collard Greens *It actually had 4 separate bunches so it was really a big one
1/4 Cup Yellow Mung Dal
1 Small Potato peeled and cubed
1 Small Onion peeled and diced small
1/2 Zucchini or any other squash, cubed same size as potatoes
1 Carrot peeled and cubed
4 Medium Tomatoes small diced
1 - 2" piece Ginger Root chopped fine
6-7 Thai Green Chillies * Adjust heat according to your own taste buds
a pinch of Asafoetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
2-3 Tbsp Kasuri Methi Dried or a handful if using fresh leaves
1 Tbsp Oil
Method
1. Wash and soak mung dal in water for 15-20 minutes till you finish all the prep work. Wash and chop the collard greens.
2. In a pressure cooker, add a tablespoon of oil let it heat then add the ginger, green chillies and asafoetida. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the onions, potato, squash and carrot. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
3. Now add half of the collard greens, then add the mung dal follow with the rest of the collard greens.
4. Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric and kasuri methi do NOT mix.
5. Close the pressure cooker and cook for 2-3 whistles.
6. Switch of the gas and allow to cool completely before opening the pressure cooker. If you are in a hurry you can use the cold water treatment but be very careful.
7. After you open the pressure cooker, take a whisk or a handheld immersion blender and mash the veges. At this point it is very very easy to mash them. Add salt and switch on the heat and reheat till it starts bubbling.
8. Enjoy with soft warm rotis or with Garlic Rice or Plain Rice.

Notes:
1. You can use Chana Dal instead of Mung Dal. It requires a longer soaking time than the mung dal
2. You can also use a small bunch of dill leaves, it takes the taste to the next level
3. Some people also enjoy adding a tempering of almost browned garlic on top of the cooked greens.



Friday, November 18, 2011

Mini Cake Doughnuts - Two Ways


I brought a mini doughnut pan purely for its cuteness value. It looked so cute that I had to have one. I bought it home and then had it stacked away with all my other baking pans. Now me and my friend R love doughnuts. we have spent many of our lunch breaks walking down to a donut chain called Mad Over Doughnuts in Mumbai to ogle at and share a donut and coffee for lunch yeah you heard me LUNCH or at other times just like that. So when my dear R, sent me a one liner telling me about a new job offer for her, I decided to remove my doughnut pan and bake donuts for her. So what if  I can share them only virtually ..it's the thought that counts right.

I basically followed the recipe that came with my pan and varied it only to add a couple of spoons of maple syrup to one part and a 1/4 tsp of vanilla essence to the other batch.

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour *original recipe called for Cake flour, since I didn't have any ...
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk * I used 2-3 Tbsp Plain Yogurt diluted with water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1-2 Tbsp Maple Syrup * See method below
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract * See method below
Method
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray mini doughnut pan with cooking spray or oil.
2. In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and stir with a whisk.
3. In another bowl, add all wet ingredients, whisk till egg and buttermilk have blended. Now add butter and whisk it nicely.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk well. Do not overbeat.
5. Now divide the batter in two bowls, to one add maple syrup and to the other add vanilla essence.
6. Take a ziplock bag and fill the contents of the vanilla batter to the bag, snip a small hole and fill in the each donut cavity about 1/2 full. Bake for 4-6 minutes till the top of the doughnut springs back to touch.
7. Since I wasn't very happy with the color on top, I flipped the donuts on the other side and slipped the pan back into the oven for 2 minutes. This is strictly optional.
8. Now remove the donuts and fill in the maple batter bake for 4-6 mins.
9. For Sugar Glazed donuts - in another ziplock bag, fill in 2/3 C Sugar and dunk a few minis at a time, shake the bag till well coated, remove and repeat till all vanilla donuts a dozen of them are coated with sugar
10. For the maple glaze, in a bowl mix 1/2 C powdered sugar, 2-3 Tbsp Maple Syrup and mix well, glaze each donut and set it on a serving platter.
11. Enjoy with coffee - our choice Black with no Sugar added.

A special note for R: Remember NSE cafeteria?? Instant black coffee and "Are you girls insane looks?" of the cafeteria guys ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Zucchini Pancakes

This has to be the fastest that a recipe I have made has made it to my blog almost instantaneously after I made it. OK well it's been a few hours since breakfast but whatever ...
I love pancakes I can have them for breakfast, for lunch or for dinner doesn't matter - but my dear hubby is not so very fond of them. He challenged me to come up with a savory version of the pancakes for him and I am proud to say this one here has won his approval :). As for me I think this sure is a good way of getting some veggies in early in the morning.

Ingredients (For 6-7 pancakes)
2/3 Cup Bisquick Pancake Mix
1/2 Zucchini, washed and grated
1/2 Yellow Onion, peeled and grated
1 Thai Green Chilly, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper
A dash of Italian Seasoning
A dash of Red Pepper Flakes
2/3 Cup Water
6-7 tsp Olive Oil


Method
1. In a mixing bowl, measure of the bisquick, add salt, pepper, seasoning and red chilli flakes and mix them together.
2. Add grated zucchini, onions and thai green chilli. Now add 2/3 Cup water and mix it well.
3. Adjust the liquid till you get the perfect pancake batter. Optionally you could use eggs instead of water.
4. Heat a skillet on medium high, pour out a ladleful of the pancake batter, add a little olive oil and cook on both sides like pancake.
5. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream or just plain ol' ketchup.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roasted Tomatillo & Hot Pepper Salsa


I have decided to explore nature's bounty and expand the horizon's for my taste buds or unwillingly, grudgingly also those of my hubby's :). Every regular grocery trip I have decided to pick-up atleast one vegetable that I have not used in my kitchen before. Last week I picked up tomatillos. I have always been fascinated by the way they look like green tomatoes but with a papery husk. I used to shy away because I didn't know what to do with them ... then I had Salsa Verde and that was the turning point. So armed with tomatillos and some really hot peppers I set out to make salsa
Ingredients
6 Tomatillos husks removed, washed and halved
1-2  Red Fresno Pepper (These are super hot)
1 Jalapeno Pepper
4 cloves garlic peeled
Cilantro a big handful
1 Small Red Onion or a quarter of a big one chopped fine
Cumin Powder
Corriander Powder
Salt

Method
1 In a baking sheet pan, place the cut half of tomatillos, chilli peppers and 2 cloves garlic and roast them at 400 F for 10-15 mins till the outside of tomatillos has charred and inside is soft to touch.
2. Let cool for 5 mins, then put all the ingredients in a blender and pulse.
3. Transfer to a serving bowl serve warm or let cool some more and serve with chips.

Notes: 
1. This one is super delicious but super hot. Feel free to reduce the number of chillies or substitute milder ones.
2. I believe this will make an awesome marinate for fish like tilapia fillets for a smoking hot grilled fish.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Queso

What is gooey, creamy, cheesy,spicy and absolutely irresistible? Ya you guessed it's Queso pronounced kay-so  aka Chili con Queso or cheese with spices. I serve it with tortilla chips, pita chips or fresh veggie sticks and even some Indian appetizers. Did I hear you say it's versatile - you bet it is.

Ingredients
8Oz Velveeta, grated
4Oz Cream Cheese
1 Can Rotel Original Tomatoes with Chillies
2 pods Garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1-2 Jalapeno Peppers, diced fine
1 tsp Black Pepper crushed

Note: This is an ideal recipe for a slow cooker, since I don't own one I made it on the stove-top, if you have one by all means use it :)
Oh! The cream-cheese shied away from posing :(
Method
1. In a heavy bottomed pan, add grated velveeta, cream cheese and set it on medium-high till melted.
2. Now add the can of Rotel tomatoes, diced jalapenos, garlic and mix well.
3. Mix thoroughly and lower the heat and let it bubble for a few minutes. Add crushed black pepper. Mix well.
4. Serve warm with chips of your choice.

Note:
1. In case, of leftovers, you can reheat in a microwave and again use it as a dip or
2. Dilute with milk and use as a sauce for mac n cheese or pasta ;)
I like making penne pasta, coating it with diluted queso, adding mushrooms and broccoli and baking them till there is a nice golden layer. Yummy !!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Butterscotch Cookies

Butterscotch has been one of the earliest flavors - the times when ice-cream options were limited to Vanilla, Chocolate and Butterscotch. I used to be almost torn between chocolate and butterscotch and more often than not chocolate would win out. The same happened when I decided to bake cookies for the spirited trick or treaters but instead of chocolate butterscotch chips won out and the little tricksters were treated to some delicious butterscotch cookies.
Oh well a big bad monster stole a cookie ;)

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Butter softened or cut into pieces
1/4 - 1/3 Cup Sugar * I baked 2 batches, used 1/4 C for the first I felt they needed a tad bit more so upped to 1/3 Cup for the next batch
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Butterscotch Chips
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Salt * Alternatively use salted butter
1 Tbsp Milk * May or may not be needed

Method
1. Cream butter and sugar till smooth in texture. Add vanilla extract and salt and stir them together.
2. Slowly incorporate flour into the mixture. The dough should resemble bread crumbs at this point.
3. Add the butterscotch chips and try to form a dough. If it does not come together add a little milk.
4. Roll into a log, wrap with cling wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for 15-20 mins till firm.
5. Preheat oven to 350 F
6. On an un-greased cookie sheet, slice and arrange the cookies from the log. It made 24 cookies for me each time. These spread beautifully so leave some space between each cookie.
7. Sprinkle some plain sugar or any colored sugar on top of the cookies and bake for 10-12 minutes a little longer if you like me like crisp cookies.
8. The wonderful aroma that comes out of your kitchen will tempt you to eat one as soon as it comes out of the oven, but trust me let them be for 10 minutes and then gobble them up. 
No one can eat just one !!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Maple Roasted Almonds with Sea-salt

Fall is slowly turning to winter and my love for all things nutty is re-kindling. Just as I was thinking of another seasoning for nuts I thought of maple syrup and oh la la ..a wonderful snack was born. Take a cup full of Almonds, set them to roast at 350 F for 5-8 mins. Remove toss with a 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Maple Syrup and coat well. Put it back in the oven for another 5-8 mins of till the syrup is well absorbed. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Sea-salt.