July 09, 2008

Éclairs, Biscuits, No knead bread, Two years of blogging and a Summer break!

It's been 2 years of blogging at FH (on July 14th, 2006)!
I can't believe how time flies!! It seems like yesterday that I hesitantly opened Foodie's Hope blog and started posting. It's almost 2 years already! Phew!!

To fellow foodies,
I am grateful for all the good things and friends I have gained through blogging and prefer to ignore few nasty comments and petty behavior of very few. Life is like that, isn't it? Bitter sweet! Got to deal with both to make life sweeter!

Hopefully, I will continue to have your affection in future too. I never had a sister in my personal life but I can't really say that anymore! I do have hundreds of sisters now and have gained few brothers too thru' blogging! :) Please know that I always enjoy visiting all of you even though I blog 3 days and try to blog hop only 3-4 days a week to make some time for myself these days! :)

I say "thank you" to everyone,

who come to my blog to say hello to me every week! I appreciate your time, the effort you make to comment here. I will never take any of your comment for granted, hope you do the same! We are all busy in our own way, still make time to post and interact with other bloggers. To me personally, blogging is always been a two way relationship, encouraging and helping each other regardless of whether you are a brand new blogger or a 2yr old blogger like me!

Silent readers; you are most welcome to browse and try the dishes in my blogs. Do leave the feedbacks and say hello to me once in a while, so I can know you. Thanks to all of you who left feedbacks on the dishes you tried from here and at Aroma. Enjoy! :)

What makes me a bit sad is the fact that few websites are knowingly taking our photos without our permission claiming to be their own without giving us any credit or link and profiting by it too! Please be aware of the copy rights, ask for permission, link and give credits. We foodies/bloggers work too hard to do all these cooking, photographing and posting which are not easy at all. Please don't force us to make all our blogs private, it would be such great loss to many young readers who are still learning if all our blogs are not accessible to everybody easily!

Okay, I don't want to get all "emo"(emotional) as my daughter would say!:D

Few weeks ago, I posted a savory cheesy Gougère at my Aroma blog. These are similar but sweet with cream filling and Chocolate glazed with coconut topping. I made few sweet mini Éclairs last week specially for this post. Let me give you a yummy dessert before I take your leave. Hope you try!


YAY!! I remember eating these from Bangalore Iyengar bakeries stuffed with butter cream! I don't know whether these match that taste exactly but not bad at all, what with all that chocolate Ganache glaze on top, some with coconut and some with just cream, these might taste even better for chocolate lovers! :)

Éclairs are sweet puffs as you can describe them, are made of eggy, buttery pâte à choux pastry, stuffed with cream and dipped in Chocolate Ganache!! Sounds great already, huh? Eggs are a must for this recipe, there are no substitutions. In US, there is a egg substitution available like Egg beaters or Egg replacer but I don't know whether they give the same texture as real eggs since I haven't tried it. I am sorry that pure vegetarians cannot try these because of the eggs but Eggetarians can thoroughly enjoy!

I am sending these Éclairs, lightly flavored with Nutmeg to Aparna of "My diverse kitchen" blog, who is guest hosting "Think Spice..think Nutmeg" event this month. This event is started by Sunita from "Sunita's World" blog. Thanks to this event, we all get to savor different spice infused dishes every month. Glad I could send you one too Aparna. Have fun hosting!:))

Nutmeg/Jaiphal is usually added to sweet dishes and masala pd in India, also to cheese sauces and greens in moderation, too much of Nutmeg will taste bitter in the dishes.

To make these, you need:

1 cup milk or water,
(2% or fat free milk or just plain water is okay)
4 tbsp Butter, unsalted/ 1/4 cup or 1/2 stick,
1 cup Plain flour,
3 tbsp powdered sugar,
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence,
4 Medium sized Eggs.
1/4 tsp powdered or gratings of Nutmeg to mix in the soft dough for extra flavor. (Nutmeg is my non-traditional addition to Eclairs, skip it if you don't like Nutmeg, I do love the subtle aroma)


1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1 tbsp sugar pd, pinch of Nutmeg or can use store bought sweet cream or icing.

Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup Chocolate chips+1 tbsp butter.
Sweet Coconut flakes to sprinkle,
A piping bag or large zip lock bag with 1" hole cut off in the corner of the bag to make bigger Éclairs and 1/2" hole for minis . Parchment paper and rack to cool them.

1. Heat milk or water and butter in a non-stick pan until it boils, take the pan off the heat when they dissolve,. Add Vanilla, mix. Now add all the flour at once and Nutmeg pd, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or whisk to mix well.
2. Return to medium heat, keep stirring until it leaves the sides of the pan in a ball. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for 5 mins. Eggs will curdle when added, if the pastry dough is too hot!
Turn on the oven to 375F to preheat and add a parchment paper on top of a large cookie sheet, use double layered baking sheet if you manage to have one to prevent burning the bottom of the delicate Éclairs.
3. Add the dough to the stand mixer with a flat beater (or in a bowl with a wooden spoon or whisk), turn on low, add 1 egg at a time, mixing very well after each egg until all 4 eggs are used. Beat the mixture on medium speed until it's shiny, glossy, thick and smooth. When you stick a spoon into the dough, it should stand up without falling as in the picture, keep beating until then.
4. Add all the pastry dough to the pasty bag, squeeze out the dough on to the sheet about 1"wide and 4" long, pipe in 2" apart from each other for large ones and 3" long for mini Éclairs until you use up all the pastry.

I can't tell you how many you get exactly, probably about 12 large ones. I made mini Éclairs about 3" long, got about 20! Large Éclairs are better for filling than filling the minis! :)

5. When the oven is hot, put the sheet in and bake for 25-30mins or until they are golden on top. DO NOT overbake them!

DO NOT open oven while they are baking. When done, take the sheet out, put a skewer through the sides of each Éclair to release the air to prevent softening in the center as you can see in the collage, cool on the rack or slice across as halfway, so the inside dries faster without getting soggy inside.

Cream: You can add a pinch or two Nutmeg pd to the whipped cream too if you like, just whip cream with nutmeg and sugar until thick and fluffy.

For chocolate Ganache: Heat chocolate chips and butter in the Microwave for few seconds until they melt, mix well. Whip the cream with sugar until thick or use ready made cream. Keep the coconut handy and Walnuts if you like too.

You can eat just plain mini Éclairs without any filling or topping, just sprinkled with just plain powdered sugar or mixed with pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon powder!

6. When they are cold, fill the middle with whipped cream, gently dip the top in chocolate to coat or use a spoon to coat. Dip or sprinkle the coconut flakes on top. Variations are up to you.

One more look: Hope you make these at home. Cheesy spicy ones great too. These may not be as perfect as Iyengar Bakery Eclairs but good enough for homemade! Can't believe I forgot to take a close up photo of a single Eclair! :P

Now a savory to with the sweet dessert!

I am sending these Cheese and Garlic Biscuits to Aparna of My diverse kitchen", who is hosting my favorite event of all "Bread Baking day #12", an event started by Zorra at 1x umrühren bitte this month with a theme of "Small Breads". Thanks for Aparna, I had to post these for you before I disappear!!:)

Cheese and Garlic Biscuits:
I made these lovely biscuits last week with Cham's (of "Spice-club" blog) yummy recipe. I made few changes in the recipe, so I will give you that version here, enjoy and thank you again Cham, we loved these! :)

You need: 1 1/2 cup self-raising flour, 1 tsp sugar,  1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup margarine,3/4 cup +2 tbsp Buttermilk, homemade or store bought or use buttermilk pd +water, 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese and 1 tsp Garlic powder.

To make:
Preheat the oven for 450 F. Add a parchment paper on the baking sheet.

Mix the dry ingredients first and add the margarine and mix well until crumbly. Add in the cheese, mix and add liquid ingredients. It will looks sticky which is okay. Take a large cookie or Ice cream scoop, scoop the dough and drop them on the parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 mins or until puffed and golden. Take them out and cool on the rack.

Enjoy the delicate and delicious eclairs and biscuits!:)

I didn't cook too many dishes from other blogs last week to avoid any leftovers while we are gone from home but couldn't stop myself from trying this most popular "No knead Bread" recipe from Jim Lahey in New York Times I had to try last weekend!:D
Followed his recipe to bake this bread mostly except I didn't shape the dough after the first 18hrs of rising, did not use floured towel etc, just popped in the whole dough after the second rising in to my red HOT Le Crueset and after baking covered and uncovered about 85-90 mins, a perfect hard crusted and chewy bread! Thank you Mr. Lahey! :)

"No knead bread":

Inside story; very crusty outside, soft and chewy inside, slightly sour tasting bread, great with soup or with fruit preserves for breakfast!

Look what I couldn't resist making yesterday and taking these to vacation with us!!:D
Kodubale from A&N' s blog!! Thank you guys for posting this yummy classic Karnataka snack, they were wonderful, easy and different from what I usually make!:)

Here are my own Kodubales I have made before, enjoy;

I will resume cooking from your blogs when I am back home from vacation and will list a HUGE collage in September of course! :D

 While I am MIA (missing in action), if you are looking for any recipes in this blog or from Aroma, type in the name of the dish in the search button you see on the side bar in both blogs or go to my "Recipe Index" to find them easily.
If all the above fails, I will still be moderating the comments here and at Aroma atleast once a day and will be updating the events list on the side bar as they are announced, so you can ask me leaving a comment here to help you to find the recipes as well any time!

Awards: A big hug to each one of my blogger friends who showered me with many many awards last week, I appreciate them all and have listed all of you in my side bar. Thank you!

See you all in September! Be safe and have a peaceful Summer. 

July 02, 2008

Dal Bukhara and how to make Ghee, my style!

Hello everybody,
have a wonderful, safe 4th of July celebration and enjoy!!
Well.....nothing much happened last week over here apart from driving the kids to keep a few appointments, being busy renovating the house one room at a time and trying to empty the fridge as much as possible. As for as the weather goes, it rained for 5 days which was a big relief for us but now back to the usual hot and humid again! Since we have moved here, I have noticed that it rains
every year on 4th of July without fail just before the Independence day fireworks starts at the Lake, looking forward to that this year too!! :P

Updated on the 5th! Told you it would rain on every 4th of July,here are the videos! :D

For this week's post, I decided to make an easy and nutritious Dal Bukhara in the slow cooker. In North India, as the book says, they traditionally cook the whole black gram/Kali dal overnight on a little stove on low heat charcoal embers to get a perfectly cooked, soft beans and lightly season to serve with Parathas or rotis next day. Very few Indian restaurants offer Dal Bukhara on their menu, definitely not as common as Dal Makhani.
Here is a website I found which gives you few Indian dishes you can make in the slow cooker. Check it out for more ideas!

I try to make the same dish about 4 month's ago for the first time trying to replicate the traditional overnight cooking process, I cooked the dal on low heat in the slow cooker the whole night. By next morning the dal had become slimy to touch and to taste although it smelled good and tasted good! :P

Learning from the above experience, last week I started the slow cooker in the morning for evening dinner with soaked Kali dal in it on low heat, cooked for about 5-6hrs. This time it was perfectly cooked, I seasoned it and cooked for half an hr again. Here it is, a perfect tasty Dal Bukhara!! :)

Dal Bukhara:

Unlike Dal Makhani or Dal Maharani, Dal Bukhara is made with just whole black gram without any other beans added and lightly seasoned, garnish of cream or butter as an option.(I didn't add that much of cream and butter as they recommended in the book but just few tbsps for taste and some of butter for garnish. Whole black gram provides chockful of fiber and protein, makes a great brunch or dinner on weekends. This recipe is adapted from a book "Indian Menu Planner" authored by various master chefs of Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi! (I have made some changes to the recipe as I always do!)

Mansi from "Funnfud" blog is hosting an event called "Healthy Cooking" this month for which we are supposed to cook healthy food to send it to her, to eat well and live well. Here is mine!
Dal Bukhara,
a simple dish made of Black whole Urad, also called Sabut Urad, Maah or whole black gram or Kali dal, which is a slow cooked and lightly seasoned dish, is full of fiber, low in fat, high in protein and a very nutritious dish to be served whole wheat Chapatis or Parathas. Have fun hosting Mansi! :)

Health food: Hectic lifestyle makes us all easy to skip a nutritious meal and grab a fast food on the run. But it is very easy a plan a healthful dish if we educate ourself and choose the right kind of meal. Proteins are necessary addition for our health. A cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein and under 1 gram of fat, animal protein comes with bit more fat than vegs and beans. Vegetable sources of protein such as beans, nuts and whole grains are excellent choices and they offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals. The best animal protein would be fish and poultry which has naturally are less fatty. For more info, click here, here, here, here and a fun health food site for kids is here! Enjoy reading these and now, let's make some yummy Dal Bukhara, shall we? :)

Dal Bukhara, slow cooker style!
Note: I have changed the proportion than it's given in the book as we need less dal at home. You can also use a heavy bottomed dish or non-stick cast iron dish like Le Creuset Dutch oven /dish instead of slow cooker. Idea is to cook for a long time on low heat without burning the dal at bottom of the pan. It's easier in slow cooker, might even work in the oven at 200F, cooked for few hrs!
You need:

1 1/2 cups of dry Whole black gram/Kali dal/Sabut Urad (click on Dal Maharani to see the Black gram photo), soaked overnight and drained,

1 small onion, very finely minced, and 1 Bay leaf, cooked with dal (optional),
4 tbsp cream (low fat or fat free is fine or use sour cream if you like), (btw books says 2/3 cup cream, if you want to be authentic go ahead and add to the dal or skip the cream altogether but some cream added to the dal makes it delicious!),
1 tbsp of butter for garnish or skip it. (book says 1/2 cup, I bet it tastes good but ain't trying it! :D)
To season:
1 1/2 tbsp butter or Canola oil,
Ginger paste 1 tbsp,
Garlic paste 2 tsp,

1/2 cup Tomato sauce, canned is okay,
1 tsp sugar (optional but helps to reduce the acidity in tomato sauce),
2 tsp pre-made Dhana-Jeera or 1 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds pd+3/4 tsp Cumin pd (my addition), 1/2 tsp chilli pd/to your taste,
Some cilantro and salt,

1 fresh red chilli, sliced as an option, looks pretty in contrast to Kali dal! :)

To make it:
1. Soak black gram overnight, wash, drain all the water in the morning. Add beans to the slow cooker along with 4-5 cups of water, bay leaf, minced onion if you are using, cover and turn heat on low (cook on high if you want it within 4hrs), keep a timer on for 4 hrs and go do other stuff! :D
2. After 4hrs, check the dal, add 1 fresh chilli sliced to the dal, cover and leave it alone for another hr if it's not completely done. Check back after an hour. If it's 90% cooked, cover it and start making the seasoning. Beans should be soft, still somewhat whole when done but not mashed too much like a smooth gravy!

Now the book says, you have to add all the above seasoning ingredients raw to the dal directly and then cook for one more hour. I don't like the raw smell of ginger-garlic in the dal even after it cooks in the dal, so I prepare the seasoning separately and then add it to the slow cooker.

3. Heat a pan with butter, add ginger and garlic paste, let it sizzle for 2 mins. Add Tomato sauce, pinch of salt, 1 tsp sugar, chilli pd. Let it cook for 2 mins or until raw smell of the tomato sauce goes, oil shows a bit on top. Check the dal once more if it's almost cooked.
4. Add all the seasoning to the soft dal now, add enough salt, spice powders and butter. Mix the dal gently.
5. Before adding cream, add some hot dal to cream in a bowl first, mix well and then add all the cream to the dal to avoid curdling the cream and mix the dal well. Turn off the heat, let it cool down. You can take out the dal in a bigger serving bowl now.
6. To serve, add dal in a bowl, drizzle a tsp of cream on top or a dab of butter, along with some freshly made Parathas on the side!

Dal Bukhara and Parathas, a healthy and hearty meal:

Dal Bukhara tastes better the next day. Reheat in the microwave to serve, enjoy buddies! :)

********************************************************************************************************************* After all the wonderful article on Protein and low fat healthful food, why are you making a post on how to make Ghee/clarified butter, did you say? Shhh..!! Just make some ghee, will ya!! :D

About Fat:
"Fat is necessary and a concentrated source of energy. Health institution recommend that we should have not more than 30% of total calories in our daily intake and 1/3 of that 30% may include saturated fat. There are good fat like non-saturated fat, both polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated and bad fat of course is saturated fat. We shouldn't avoid all kinds of fats just because you hear fat is very bad!" Info from here, check out this site.

How I make my homemade Tuppa or Ghee or clarified butter:
Yes, we eat few tsps of this heavenly saturated fat called ghee everyday at my home. My folks have been doing that too for ages and for generations back home in India!:D
This was in my draft for ages now, I have been planning to post but never had the chance until today. This is how I make ghee/Tuppa in Kannada or clarified butter at home every 3 months or so. I add 2 tsp of ghee to the whole dish at the end of cooking everyday, it helps to enhance the taste and keep the fat to minimal. This way there is no need to add individual portions of ghee when we eat our food as we do in India! :)

Flavored butter like this recipe has a very subtle since I add whole spices, is great for adding in any savory dish and some sweet dishes as well, as I served ghee with Sojjappalu in my previous post.
If you like to add ghee to sweet desserts like Mysore Pak, skip all the other spices except salt and turmeric. You can also make just plain ghee without adding any of the spices shown above as well, ghee looks cream colored when done.

Step by step photos, click to enlarge the collage:
You need:
6 sticks of unsalted Butter or 3 cups of butter,
few curry leaves,
3 whole cloves,
2 peeled whole garlic, lightly crushed,
pinch of chilli flakes or 1 whole dry red chilly,(optional)
4 whole black Pepper corns,
1/2" cinnamon stick,
1/8 tsp of salt,
1/8 tsp of good quality Turmeric.
A clean dry Bottle, a fine meshed metal strainer, a funnel (optional but helps).

How to make Ghee:
DO NOT use salted butter, you will end up with very salty, odd tasting ghee. You can add 1-2 pinchs of salt to unsalted butter to get the grainy looking ghee!
1. Add all the above in a big pan, three times bigger than the butter mix to prevent spilling over, heat on medium until butter melts completely. Turn down the heat medium low ie #2 knob on the oven and let it simmer for an hour.
2. Heat must be on low so it doesn't foam too quickly and spill over. After an hour, check the bottom of the pan for golden bits of solids. Don't let it brown. If it is still too light colored, let it simmer for 15 mins more or until you get golden solids on the bottom of the pan. Got to watch the pan carefully at this stage.
DO NOT BURN the solids! Turn the heat off, take the pan off the heat and leave it for 3 mins.
3. Put a clean dry towel underneath a clean dry bottle (wet surface might crack the glass when hot liquid hits!), pour the ghee thru' a strainer placed on a funnel until you just have solids and spices left over on the strainer. You can throw away the solids now or use it to make seasoned Ghee rice or to temper the sambhar! :D
4. Cool the bottle completely without the lid on the counter top. When cooled, store in the fridge or you can leave it on the counter top as long as there is no moisture in the bottle. Use dry spoon to scoop every time.
5. If you have Ghee pot like above, scoop some ghee in it, keep it outside while you keep the bottle is in the fridge. Replace whenever you need into the ghee pot from the bottle.

Note: Ghee will go rancid outside the fridge if you keep it for months or you have not let solids become golden, have taken the pan off the heat early when the solids are still looking creamish. WAIT until it get golden and do not let it turn brown, that means ghee is burnt, will get a burnt smell! Add a tsp of ghee to any dish at the end of cooking to enhance the taste. Enjoy the super tasty 100% saturated fat, in moderation of course!! :))

No Kannadiga wedding is complete without a tsp of melted ghee streamed down on the hot Bisibele Bhath or a dollop on the hot white rice! As a brand new young bride many yrs ago, I was given a pot of ghee to serve when we were at my husband's estate the day after our wedding, feeding a crowd of relatives who came from near and far to see us! Wish I had a photo of me serving Ghee!! ;D

I tried these dishes last week and my last list here (hopefully!:D) as well until September! I try not to cook too much this week so we don't have any leftovers when we leave home. Thanks to all you for posting these delicious recipes. We enjoyed having them on our dinner table. Keep it up and enjoy blogging my dear buddies! :)

Dosakai Pachadi from Padma's blog (Used regular Cucumber instead of Dosakai! :D)
Baalekai paladya from Ramya's blog.
Stuffed Baby Brinjal from Latha's blog.
Pav Bhaji from Nupur's blog.
Kathirikkai Pithlai for Sowmya's blog.
Cheddar garlic biscuits from cham's blog.
Pindi Chana from Viji's blog. (Private blog)
Paneer Tikka Masala from JZ's blog.(Added some green peas)
Khasta Kachori from Lakshmi G's blog.

Have a fun weekend. One last and a special post to go here next Wednesday. Hugs to all of you!:))

June 25, 2008

Sojjappalu, Dhapalam, Poori, Murukulu, Vellulli Podi from Andhra kitchen

Regional Cuisine of India is celebrating "Andhra Festival Food" in June, here is my Andhra festival thali! Vani of Batasari is hosting the "RCI-Andhra Festival food" this month, an event started by Lakshmi of "Veggie cuisine". We have already celebrated the state of Andhra Pradesh and it's cuisine few month's ago, let's have some Andhra festival food this time! Thanks for hosting Vani! :))

Andhra Festivals and feasts:
Andhra Pradesh is a amalgamation of different religions, cultures and languages and is famous for celebrating festival of every region and religion with equal pomp and
enthusiasm, whether it's traditional Hindu festival or the Muslim festivals or Christmas!
Here are some of the festivals celebrated in Andhra Pradesh
with much joy, feasts and prayers: Deepavali, Holi, Krishnashatmi,,Maha Shivaratri, Vijaya Dashami, , Naga Panchami,Sankranthi, Sri Rama Navami, Ugadi, Vara Lakshmi Vratam, Vinayaka Chavithi, Id-Ul-Fitr, Milad-Un-Nabi, Muharram and Christmas.
Above info is from this site and to learn more about various Festivals and rituals of Andhra Pradesh in detail, click here.

Sojjappalu with ghee, Dhapalam, Pooris, Murukulu, Vellulli (Garlic-chilli) podi from Andhra festival Kitchen:
Here is a festival thali I would love to have on any festival day, may not be the elaborate kind we usually cook for festivals but I loved it! Dhapalam/Dappalam, the book says, is made on special occasion in Andhra and Sojjappalu is a classic Andhra festival sweet. Check my old post on Andhra cuisine to see the book I referred for some of these recipes.
I didn't have a clue about which festival they cook these dishes for as Vani requested us to point out! That book didn't tell me that either but after researching a bit in the internet, came to know that these dishes are cooked as prasadam to celebrate Sri Vara Lakshmi Vratam and also on Sankranthi too.(Thanks sra!)
(Thank you "mere mai baap" (my mommy and daddy!) Google
for this info, without you I am just a big, dumb, non-religious lump in the Universe! OYY! :D)

Pepper or chilli Murukulu:
Murukulu or Chaklis are crispy fried snack which is common to all 4 south Indian states in India. I love them. There are many types of Chaklis you can make using different flour combinations, this is one of them using Besan. Enjoy! :)
You need:
1 cup Chickpea flour/ Besan,
2 cups Rice flour,
2 tsp Cumin seeds crushed,
1 tsp coarsely crushed Pepper corns or red chill flakes,
salt to taste, enough Water to mix,
3 tbsp Sesame seeds,
pinch of Hing.
To make Murukulu:
1. Roast the Besan gently in a pan for a minute or two until warm, cool.
2. Add all the above ingredients and mix with enough water to make a stiff dough.
3. Put it in a Chakli maker in batches, press out Murukulu circles like here on kitchen towel and deep fry them at 375F oil. Drain, cool and store.

Vellulli Podi:
A classic Andhra powder, coarsely pounded or blended together with garlic, chilli pd and other spices is a great tasting condiment on the side for rice or rotis!
You need:
Roast these without oil:
1/2 cup dry coconut, slightly toasted,
4-6 Red chillies or less, toasted,
1 tbsp toasted Coriander seeds,
1 tbsp roasted Sesame seeds,
Enough salt,
1 tbsp grated Jaggary,
3 tbsp chopped Garlic,
2 tsp Tamarind juice or Lemon juice or 1 tsp Tamarind powder.
To make Chilly-Garlic powder:
1. Toast the first four ingredients, cool and add to a blender.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients in the list and blend coarsely.
3. Adjust the spices, cool, bottle it and store in the fridge when cooled.

To make plain flour or wheat flour (atta) Pooris,
click here!

Dhapalam, as the cookbook says, is made on special occasion in Andhra. I had never heard of this dish before. It's a very simple and delicious side dish made with plenty of vegetables and seasoned lightly. I added some south Indian masala pd I had to make it tastier as an option.

You need:
About 6 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice, peeled, chopped into cubes,
(I used a mix of Cauliflower, baby Carrots, 1 Potato, Green Beans, Green bell pepper, Green peas, few Spinach leaves, 2 cups Bottle Gourd cubes, 1 small Eggplant, 1 Tomato)
3 Green chillies,
1/2 tsp good quality Turmeric,
3 tbsp Cilantro,
2 tsp Coriander seeds powder or any south Indian masala pd you have (optional),
2 tsp Tamarind juice,
1 tsp Jaggary or sugar,
2 tsp Rice flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water.
For seasoning:
2 tbsp oil and ghee mixed, or sesame seeds oil,
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds,
1 tsp Mustard seeds,
2 red chillies,
few curry leaves,
pinch of Hing/Asafoetida.
To Make it:
1. Cook all the veggies with 2-3 cups of water, turmeric, green chillies gently until cooked thru' but not mashed in a pressure cooker.
2. Open the lid, add salt, jaggary, cilantro, spice powder if you are using,Tamarind, simmer gently for 2 mins.
3. Add rice flour mixture to vegetables and simmer until you get thickish gravy for about 2 mins. Turn off the heat.
4. Heat oil and add all the above ingredients and let it sizzle. Add to the Dhapalam and mix it in. YUMMY! Tastes even better the next day, great with Pooris!

goes to "Vegetable Of the Week", an event hosted by Pooja from "Creative Pooja" blog. Her choice of vegetable this month is "Bottle Gourd". Here is my contribution to her event, enjoy hosting Pooja!:))

Check this post for more bottle gourd dishes here!

Sojjappalu is similar to Obbattu with dal filling we make in Karnataka. Filling for Sojjapplau is made of Rawa Kesari, just like Karnataka Kesari Bhath, but thick enough to make balls. It is stuffed in sweet dough, patted to circles and cooked. Delicious!:))

I am sending Sojjappalu to Mythreyee' from "Paajaka" who is hosting a "Sweet Series-Sweet Rotis" event. Enjoy Myth!:)

For filling you need:

2 tbsp Ghee or more if you like,
1 cup Rawa/Semolina, finer the texture the better,
Pinch of salt,
1/2 cup sugar or more if you like it sweeter,
1 tsp Cardamom powder,
1/4 tsp Saffron mixed with 1/4 cup milk,
keep some more milk ready as needed to make a solid mixture.
Roasted, finely chopped Cashews and Raisins are optional, I didn't add them to keep the wrap from tearing.
To make it:
1. Heat ghee in a non-stick pan. Add chopped nuts and raisins if you are using, then Semolina and fry stirring constantly to avoid burning the rawa.
2. When you get a golden hue or smell the roasted aroma, turn the heat down a bit and add salt and sugar, mix well.
3. Keep mixing until the sugar dissolves, take off the heat, add cardamom pd, mix. Now add 1/4 cup saffron mixed milk, mix well.
4. Place it again on the heat and stir until you get big lump of Semolina, should be able to makes balls. Add a tbsp of milk at a time only if the mixture is dry and crumbly but not too much. Cover and cook on low heat until it looks like lump.
5. Let it cool and then divide into golf ball sized rounds. Keep aside.
To make the dough:
1. Mix and knead 1 1/2 cups of plain flour or wheat flour or mix of both, pinch of salt, 1 tbsp powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp Cardamom pd and enough milk or water to make a stiff dough like poori dough.
2.Cover and let it rest for 1 hour. Divide into the same amount as Semolina balls you have made already.
To make Sojjappalu:
1. Roll one dough ball in to 3" circle, place one Semolina ball and cover with dough all over the sweet filling. (Just like making Aloo Paratha)
2. Press a little to make it flat, and roll or pat with your hand until it's about 3-4" circle. It's okay if little filling comes out, you can always patch it up. Repeat with others.
3. Instead of deep frying in ghee as the book says, cook on a griddle with bit oil or ghee brushed until golden both sides.
4. Cool and serve with a tsp Ghee on top. Perfect traditional dessert to enjoy!:)

One more look!

Enjoy and hope you make some of these!


"Thank you Meera" dishes this week!

I was in her blog two weeks ago and saw few delicious Malvani dishes. I casually mentioned to her that I would love the recipe for Malvani powder. Next thing you know, sweet girl that she is, sent me a package with Goda Masala, Malvani masala and Kolhapuri Masala!
I thought I would choose and cook few dishes from her blog with the masalas she sent me. Each one of them were delicious, specially loved Malvani Tomato Saar and spicy Misal. I made some Pakodas for Misal as they served in Belgaum and loved it. Thank you for everything, including the "inspiration award" Meera!:))

My thanks to Delhi Belle, Sireesha, Cham, Madhavi, Roma, JZ, EC, Hetal, Latha N, Veggie Platter and Happy Cook for their awards given to me as well!

Meera's package, Kolhapuri Tambda Rassa, Misal and Malvani Tomatochi Amti/Saar.
Click on these above titles to go to Meera's blog and for the recipes. Enjoy!:))

Okay dear friends, have a wonderful week and weekend too! I have two more weeks/posts to go here before the vacation! YAY! :)

June 18, 2008

French Bread and Italian Panzanella!

Hiya folks!! :)
Well....Father's day went well for us last Sunday. "Da daddy" was on call but took some time off until lunch time. We went out to his favorite restaurant and then we gave a quick visit to a Indian store nearby. Quick because I buy 1/4 of the what they have in the store if somebody doesn't drag me out of there quickly, I get pre-warnings! ;D
Sometimes Indian store lady shakes her head and says I buy too many packs of savory snacks!! :P
The minute she sees me, she says "oh, so nice to see you again" and starts talking to me about her kids and their education which I don't mind at all! Her son is in Medical school, so I get some great pointers my own kids could use! :)

We loved the barn color so much that we asked the guy if he could paint our deck with the same color too and he did! Here it is, updated! Do you remember the old photo of the same deck when that Bottle Gourd plant took over last Summer?

Coming to this week's menu, I baked some "French" bread last week and made a delicious "Italian" bread salad called Panzanella , with my extra non-traditional additions like Avocado and Jicama using the French bread cubes. It's so very hot these days, I don't feel like cooking infront of the hot stove but I have no choice, somebody got to feed the family! Baking and making salads are lot easier! Hope you like these.

French Bread:
A good French bread should have crunchy crust outside and soft and chewy inside. To achieve crispier crust than the normal like you see here, you spray the French bread with water before baking and put a bowl of water next to the bread in the oven while it's baking. This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker's baking book.

Inside Twister story! :D
Rolling the dough like Swiss roll while shaping the French loaves gives twisted soft insides like this with a perfect crunchy crust outside, beautiful!
A quick tip: Always better to bake a little less than more, even though baking time says 30mins to avoid over baking. Each oven is different in terms of maintaining the temperature. If I say bake for 25-30 mins, keep the timer for 20 mins and then watch the bread to get a golden color without opening the oven door. After 25 mins, open the door, tap on the bread. If it sounds hollow, time to get them out even if it's not 30 mins! Good luck! :)

How to bake French Bread, You need:
3 to 3 1/2 cups of plain flour or Bread flour,
1 tbsp Sugar,
1 tsp Salt,
1 pack of regular active dry Yeast or quick active dry Yeast,
1 cup very warm water (115F to 120F),
2 tbsp Vegetable oil,
2 tbsp corn meal or Semolina,
1 Egg White,
1 tbsp cold water.
One French bread baking pan if you have it or a regular rectangular baking pan.
(Click on the collage to enlarge it)

To bake French bread:
1. In a large stand mixer bowl, add 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix gently. Add warm water and oil. Beat for 1 minute on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl.
2. Now beat it for 1 minute at medium speed. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour from the rest of 1 1/2 cups of flour at a time until you get a soft dough.
(Use as much flour as you need, don't have to use all 3 1/2 cups of flour. How much flour to add depends on what kind of flour you have, use your judgment to make soft dough.)
3. Knead for 5 mins until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease the oil all over the dough , cover and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until it's double in size.
(French bread needs to rest longer than the other breads to get that typical texture, so be patient! I put the bowl in the oven with oven light on, gives it a right amount of warmth.)
4. Grease a cookie sheet, sprinkle Cornmeal or Semolina on the sheet or just spray no-stick oil on the French bread baking pan.
5. Punch down the dough, divide into two equal portions. Roll out each to 15" by 8" rectangle. Roll from the longer edge like swiss roll tightly, seal the ends by pinching the edges.
6. Now, roll the whole thing back and forth gently to make the French bread even in the middle and tapered at the ends.
Place the loaves on the sheet gently.
7. Cut 1/4" deep across the top as shown at 2" apart with a sharp knife. Brush or spray loaves with water. Cover with clean Towel and let it rise again for an hour or until double.
8. Preheat the oven to 375F. For the golden crust, mix egg white and 1 tbsp water and brush on the loaves.
(If you want crispier crust, this is time you spray some more water on the loaves and place a bowl of water in the oven)

9. Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until golden. Cool them on the rack. Best eaten these on the same day. Wrap in Saran wrap or cling film if you need to to store. Stiff bread is aways good for salad! Voila!! :)

Panzanella is Italian Bread salad made with day old hard crusted bread, originating in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio, specially eaten in Summer months, according to WIKI. You can practically add as many vegs as you like including Lettuce, Celery, Carrots, boiled eggs, Tuna etc. I used my French bread for this, had a good crunch in salad!

How to make Panzanella:
Take about 4 cups of French bread or any hard crusted bread or even chunky ready made package of Croutons, cut into 1" cubes. Add some salt and saute the cubes in about 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan in batches until golden outside.Cool and set aside.

Chop these or any salad veggies you like:
1 Cucumber, peeled and chopped,
1 large Tomato,chopped,
1 cup mixed bell pepper or roasted bottled red pepper, chopped,
1 small red onion,
1 Avocado, chopped my style (not Traditional Italian)
1/4 cup Jicama, thinly sliced,
1 tbsp drained Capers (bottled),
1 tsp dry Basil and Oregano, 2 tbsp each if using fresh herbs,
1 tsp Parsley and 1 tsp finely chopped Mint leaves, dry or fresh.
To make salad oil, whisk these together:
4 tbsp Olive oil,
2 tbsp of good quality White Wine Vinegar or to taste,
1 tsp of Lemon juice,
1 tsp Dijon Mustard,
1 large Garlic, finely chopped,
salt and pepper. Few chili flakes, optional.
Get ready to toss!
In a big bowl, add vegetables and salad oil, mix well. Add bread cubes, toss everything together, season well. Cover and let it sit for 30mins before eating it. Tastes wonderful!
I even kept the left over chilled overnight and ate it for next day's lunch. Avocado gives it a creaminess and beautiful color!

Bon Appetit! :)

Book I read: Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami.
It's a story of a woman called Saroja, who is a young housewife, married to a much older Railway officer and has two daughters. She is called as "Tamarind woman" by people who know because of her acid tongue or the way she speaks to people with resentment and using hurtful words, just as sour as Tamarind.
As her story unravels by the memory of her older daughter Kamini, now all grown up, lives and works in Canada, you will start to resent Saroja but at the end of the story, as Saroja "the Tamarind woman" herself recalls her own life story, you will understand why she was so angry all her life and the secret she was hiding form her husband who is now dead.
Finally, she sells her home and all her belonging and wants "to see the World" alone by train as she always wanted but never could while her husband was alive, much to the surprise and concern of her daughters, who just think that she has gone crazy!
As you read you feel sorry for Saroja, sympathize, admire her guts and you will also understand what she has gone thru' her life and how she had to cope. When her daughters starts pestering her to go home and stay there, without trying to understand why she needs to do the things she is doing, Saroja unplugs her phone!! At last, she will do what SHE wants!!
That's where the story ends! It's very compelling story that could be any woman's story in India, even in today's World!

Dishes I tried last week:

Lasooni dal palak from Swati's blog.
Badanekayi pudi Kuttida palya from Ramya's blog.
Greens Paratha from TC's blog. (I added Red chard and fresh Rosemary, yum!)
Sprouted Moong Idli from smn's blog.
Brinjal Mooru Kootan from Prav's blog.
Udupi Sambhar from Sia's blog.
Vandana, Ranji, Kamala, Asankhana, Sukanya and Nanditha Prabhu, thank you for your awards.
Neema from "recipe swap" gave me two awards last week. Thank you so much Neema, I appreciate it!:))
One of them, you can see the "Blogging with a Purpose" award on the sidebar. I am passing this award on to Ramya, Srivalli , Meera and Ranji. Enjoy girls!:)

See you all next week!:)

June 11, 2008


Happy Father's day to all the daddies out there, enjoy your Sunday!:))

Okay my dear people,

I have finally run out of ideas what to cook and post here! :P
This is my (1-2) 3rd Chole-Bhature dish I have posted so far at FH with different recipes each time. But this time around, it's really authentic Punjabi style Chhole Aloo, Bhature and Gaajar ka Halwa. Why do I say so confidently? Because all these recipes are from Punjab da puttar (son of Punjab) "Jiggs Kalra" and from his book "Classic Cooking of Punjab"!!
If not authentic enough for ya, write to him and don't blame me, although I confess I did not use 1/2 cup Desi ghee as he recommends!! ;D
We loved the thali, some tasty homely grub these are! YUM!!

Few backyard updates:
Well..here is red barn I was talking about before, all painted and ready get stuffed with my things.It looks pretty now! I have updated my new plants since last month and with some new plants too. With 98+F temp, most plants are thriving, I see some Grape and Plum Tomatoes already, yielded huge bunches of red chards and Radishes and few delicate ones like Methi leaves burnt down completely even though we water them every other day.
Get humorous when it gets too hot for comfort!
Last weekend, it was in excess of 100F temp here. My son checks the internet and says "Mom, we are way better, Maambaay has 106F today!". That's how he calls Mumbai/Bombay and somehow he thinks India IS Mumbai, may be the influence of Bollywood item numbers he watches sometimes on B4U! :O ......I say "Tushy, we are not from Mumbai, check Bangalore weather" and he says "Ba..ga..What?!" YUP! That's the beauty of raising Indo-American kids (Americans by birth with Indian heritage), constant entertainment for us Indyan (thank you Sunny Deol for that new word, what would we do without you?!:P) parents! Hahaha!
our beautiful Lake is drying already, hope the dreaded drought stays away for a while atleast. Weather is strange these days, there is huge flood in the Mid West, brush fire in California burning down everything and extreme heat, Tornadoes in the South, snow..yes... snow in some parts of US of A, all at same time! Sigh.....

Let's not get depressed now, shall we? Enjoy Punjabi thali! De Taali!!:D
I have changed the proportions slightly. I don't really need 11/2 lb of Chhole Aloo or need to use 1/2 cup Desi ghee as the recipe says in the dish and added powdered masala than whole masala (Bouquet Garni) in the gravy since it gives more flavor than just dunking the spices. Other than these changes, spices and method of making these are the same as the book. Enjoy!:)


These Bhatures go to "Roti Mela" and to host Srivalli from "cooking for all 4 seasons", who is hosting Roti mela
Here is one more from me Sri, enjoy !:)
Makes about 10-12, depending on how big you want the Bhatura. Usually in the restaurants, they make about 15" wide round puffed like balloon Bhaturas like you see here.

You need:
2 cups plain four/Maida,
1/4 cup Fine textured Semolina/Sooji/Rava,
1/4 tsp Baking soda,
1/2 tsp Baking powder,
2 tbsp Yogurt,
1 tsp fine sugar,
1 tbsp Ghee,
enough salt.
Enough oil to deep fry.
How to make them:
1. Mix flour, Semolina, salt, sugar, baking podwer, baking soda, make a well in the middle.
2. Add yogurt, ghee, and about 1 cup or enough water to mix to a firm dough,not soft, and knead well.
3. Cover and keep it aside for an hour. Divide into 10 or 12 round balls.
4. While oil is heating at 375F, roll out each one to 1/8" thick about 6" or bigger circles.Cover.
5. When oil is hot, deep fry until puffy like this and drain on paper.These Bhaturas do not retain much oil and puffs and stays inflated for a while because of the Semolina.

Serve right away with Chhole, salad and Gajar Halwa. You can reheat in the Microwave if you would like to serve them later.

Chhole Aloo:

Chole is commonly known as Chickpeas or Garbanzo. In Punjab, Chhole is also a delicious dish made of Chickpea with Aloo/Potato, a delicious combo with beans.

You need:
2 cups of Chick peas, soaked and cooked in 3 cups of water with a bit of Baking soda and Bouquet Garni bundle or use 15oz canned Chickpeas as I did,
2 Red potatoes, I peeled, cubed and cooked or deep fry these as the book says,
2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp ghee, (or use 1/4-1/2 cup desi ghee if you are brave!)
2 Bay leaves,
1 tsp Cumin seeds,
2 small onions, grated or ground coarsely,
1 tbsp Garlic paste,
1 1/2 cups Tomato sauce,
The Bouquet Garni/Spices:
Bouquet Garni is, you are supposed to tie these in a cloth, put it inside the pan and boil with with Chick peas and water until it cooks and take it out to discard.
Instead, I ground all these to a paste and added to the masala to the pan fry in oil lightly.
2 Black Cardamoms/Moti Elaichi,
1" cinnamon stick/Dalchini,
1 tbsp roasted and crushed Coriander seeds,
2 Green chillies,
2 tbsp Ginger paste,
1 tsp Deghi Mirch pd/Paprika,
2 tbsp Cilantro.
Thinly sliced Ginger/Julienned,
Slit 2-4 green chillies, stuff with 1/2 tsp Amchur/Mango pd,1 tsp Garam masala.
(In a separate pan, shallow fry ginger slices in oil until crisp, take them out. Fry stuffed green chillies for a minute until bright green. Take out and cool.)
1/2 tsp crushed Kasoori Methi/Dry Fenugreek leaves.
1 tsp Amchur/dry Mango powder,
salt, Lemon juice.
To make Chhole Aloo:
1. Heat ghee and oil. Add bay leaves, cumin seeds, then Onion anf fry until light brown. Add green chilies, bhunno/fry for a minute.
2. Add garlic paste, saute. Add in Paprika/Deghi mirch pd, until masala leaves the sides of the pan.
3. Now add the Bouquet Garni paste, my style if you are not using in the chole cooking water, to the pan and fry lightly and add all chickpeas with it's water or 2 cups water or more, tomato sauce, simmer for 20mins or you see the pil on top of the gravy.
4. Now add cooked or fried Potato cubes, mix gently. Adjust the seasoning.Take of the heat.
5. Finally, sprinkle garam masala, Amchoor pd, lemon juice if needed, dry fenugreek or Kasoori Methi and mix well.
Before serving, garnish Chhole with shallow fries ginger, stuffed green chillies, Cilantro and serve with Bhature and Gajar Halwa!

Gajar Halwa:
Quintessential Punjabi dessert, Gaajar Halwa or Carrot pudding, is ever popular in North India. Grated Carrots slowly simmered in milk, sauteed in ghee and garnished with nuts and raisins, you can't beat the taste, served warm or cold.

You need:
3 cups Grated Carrots,
2 cups Milk,
1/2 cup sugar or as much as you like,
3 tbsp Ghee/clarified butter,
1 tsp Green Cardamom powder,
Saute Almonds in little butter until golden and raisins until plump:
10-15 Almonds, blanched and peeled or 2-3 tbsp,Slivered Almonds.
2-3 tbsp Raisins, dark or golden.
2 tbsp Khoya/condensed milk to solid,if you have it.
How to make it:
1. Boil milk in a large enough non-stick pan. Turn down the heat to medium and add carrots, cook stirring constantly until most milk has evaporated.
2. Add enough sugar to your taste, mix well and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.
3. Now add ghee and fry the carrots for 2 minutes.Take the pan off the heat.
4. Add sauteed Almond s and Raisins, sprinkle Khoya on top before serving in individual cups.

Easy peasy Gajar Halwa: Add all the ingredients given above except nuts, Raisins and Khoya in a bowl and Microwave it on high first and then at 50% power once it starts thickening, often checking and stirring until until most of the liquid is gone and then add garnishing to serve!:)

Not enough time to read last week, still reading the same book!

No movies for me either. I had planned to take kids to Kung Fu Panda, but they have made plans to go to that movie with their friends on the last day of school ie today after school is over in the afternoon.

Dishes I tried:

Karaikudi Sambhar from Latha N's blog.
Parotta from Maheswari's blog.
Chana ghassi from Seema's blog.
Uppu-Huli dose from Ramya's blog.
Varuthu Araitha Kootu from Lakshmi N's blog.
Vaighanache Upkari with Thambale Pudi from Ranji's blog.
Thank you Sunshinemom, Sailaja, Sashree, EC, JZ, Sireesha, Seema , Suma Rajesh for your various awards. Hugs to all of you!:)
Jamie of "Flavor Pantry" with her friend Beth's help, has created a beautiful "Inspiration award." She is kind enough to pass on this award to me.
Thank you Jamie. I am honored that you think my blog is inspiring you and others as well, makes it all worthwhile!:)
Sireesha, Madhu Ram, Siri, Shubha R and Sailaja awarded me this lovely award again, thank you too friends!:)
As per the award recipient requirements (you can read about them here), I have to share 4 things which inspires me and pass on this award to 4 bloggers whose blog I enjoy reading and inspire me as well.

Here are four of which inspire me:
1. Ocean waves, which are forever young and soothing, always represents new and never old.
2. Happy, shiny people; who spread cheer around and deal with life's hardships with positivity.
3. My kids; who smile ear to ear and show all their 28 teeth (yeah, 17yrs old had all 4 wisdom teeth pulled out and 13yrs old doesn't have his wisdom teeth come out yet, so it's still 28 out of 32 for them!:D), whenever they see my dishes, specially desserts!
4. Foodie Blogger community; inspite of having family demands and full time jobs, most of you still manage to tell stories, make dishes, make time to say hello to us and share your lives with us almost everyday, you all inspire me indeed!:))

And the "Inspiration award" goes to......

Here are the 4 bloggers who really inspire me by their lively posts, traditional and non-traditional dishes which makes me nostalgic sometimes and the way they share part of their lives with us. Thanks to all you gals, keep it up:
1. Sunita of "Sunita's World",
2. Latha N of "The YUM blog",
3. shn of "Mishmash"
4. Shilpa of "Aayis Recipes".

I must mention; one more fabulous blogger who inspire me, Viji of "VCuisine". Her blog is private, so I can't link but I am proud to give this "Inspiration award" to her. Thanks just for being you Viji, you are a great soul and a friend!:))

Thank you to each and every blogger friends, I am proud to be one of you. Have a wonderful week ahead!:))