May 28, 2008

CINNAROLL EARS/KAFFEKRANS for breakfast anyone?

Well....3 day long weekend went well over here, shopped a bit, watched few movies and relaxed enough to read a book since hubby was on call and had to work in the weekend but was free on Monday. We did some gardening too, made herb pot or two, sowed few Ridge gourd, Snake gourd and Bottle gourds seeds since weather is lot warmer now. Snake and Ridge gourds failed miserably to fruit last year but did get plenty of bottle gourds. Hopefully, this year there will be a flood of all the veggies in August like last year! :))

Alrighty, now back to business!

I made few Cinnarolls last week for us. These almost taste like soft Cinnabons we get here, filled with sweet Cinnamon-brown sugar but without the cream frosting slathered on them, just sprinkled with powdered sugar. The very best Makara sweet and fragrant Cinnamon pd used in making original Cinnabons is available for purchase here.
These Cinnarolls are also called "Kaffekrans" in Norway, which means "Cinnamon coffee ring", rolls are baked in ring shape, drizzled with 2 tbsp hot coffee mixed with powdered sugar on top. I didn't use coffee frosting since kids don't like the coffee flavor.
Sweet Cinnamon we use in these desserts is not the same as spicy Indian Cinnamon/Dalchini we Indians use for gravy dishes. These Cinnarolls are also rolled, flavored and shaped like ears, hence the name "Cinnaroll ears", somewhat like these Elephant ears I have made before! My son desperately wanted these Cinnarolls smothered with loads of cream cheese frosting like they serve in "Cinnabon", may be next time! :D

Ooey gooey Cinnaroll ear!
This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbook authors Beatrice Ojakangas's Scandinavian cookery book, which I love. She is a resident of Minnesota with Scandinavian heritage and has written many cookbooks with dishes as her grandmother would make in Scandinavia! Her recipes are so authentic, scrumptious and homely that I have made many desserts from her books. Enjoy these for a delicious weekend breakfast or brunch or for anytime dessert! :)

Melissa from "baking a sweet life"
is hosting this month's "Baking bread day #10" with a delicious sweet theme of "breakfast breads". Bread baking day event is started by Zorra from "kochtopf" blog. I am sending a soft, buttery sweet Cinnarolls flavored with brown sugar and cinnamon to her. Enjoy and thanks for hosting Melissa!:)

Step by step photos to make Cinnaroll ears:
If you don't like Cinnamon flavor, you can replace it with good quality Vanilla essence. Enjoy! :)

You need:
Yeast mix:
1 packet(1/4 oz) active dry Yeast,
1 tsp Sugar,
1/4 cup warm water (110F),
Other ingredients:
1 cup milk, heated and cooled,
1/4 cup melted Butter,
1/3 cup white (fine grained) sugar,
1 1/2 tsp salt,
2 1/2 cups to 3 cups of Plain flour(as much as need to make a soft dough)
For filling:
1/4 cup softened butter,
1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar,
1 tbsp sweet Cinnamon powder (or 1 tsp Vanilla essence)
To sprinkle or glaze:
About 1/2 cup powdered sugar or as much as you need to sprinkle on cooled Cinnaroll ears.
Optional; Add 2 tbsp coffee to mix with sugar pd to squeeze on the rolls, if you like coffee flavor or just powdered sugar, dry or mixed with 1-2tbsp hot milk.
To bake these:
1. Mix yeast, sugar, warm water in a small bowl and leave it for 5 mins.
2. In a large bowl or in stand mixer bowl, add yeast mix, milk, butter, white sugar, salt and 1 cup of flour (out of about 3 cups) and mix these well until smooth.
3. Gradually add 1 1/2 cup of flour to it and mix well with a flat beater or by hand. Add 1 tbsp flour at a time and keep mixing until you get a soft dough, no need to knead the dough. Don't have to add all of the flour if not needed.
4. Cover the bowl and let it rise for 1 hr or until doubled in a warm place or inside the unheated oven.
Filling: Mix soft butter, brown sugar and Cinnamon pd well, divide roughly in to two portions and keep aside for filling later.
5. Punch down the risen dough, divide into half. Roll one portion out to a 12" by 8" rectangle. Spread half of the filling evenly 1/2" away from the edges on the rolled dough.
6. From a longer side(12") roll the dough to a tight swiss roll, repeat with other dough. Cut these into 2-3" thick rolls and with the handle of the wooden spoon or with your finger, press in the middle as shown below to shape like ears.
7. Place them on the baking sheet,cover lightly and let them rise again for 30 mins. Glaze the top with Egg+water mix if you like but it's optional.

Bake them in the preheated oven at 350F for about 12 to 15mins or until the tops are golden. Do not overbake!

8.Cool them on the rack and sprinkle with just powdered sugar to serve or drizzle the 1 tbsp coffee+powdered sugar icing on them after they are cooled.

Cinnarolls freeze very well in an airtight bag for reheating in the MW any time!:)

How to shape the Cinnaroll ear before baking:
Do not cut the dough in the middle but gently press with the back of the dinner knife or even better, handle of a wooden spoon/ladle or finger just to make a indentation through the dough. It will puff after baking, slightly getting a shape of a ear.

To make Coffee ring/Kaffekrans,
If you want to make a Coffee ring/Kaffekrans, roll the whole risen dough to a 18" by 12" rectangle, fill with all the sugar+butter mix, swiss roll and cut slashes 2" apart. Place this on the bottom of a Bundt cake pan or on a baking sheet, glaze with 1 egg+1 tsp water mix for color and bake at 350F for 30-40mins. Cool on rack and drizzle on the coffee icing on top!

Another yummy look!
If you want to make the cream cheese frosting to drizzle on top while Cinnarolls are still slightly warm;
Take about
3/4 cup of plain cream cheese, softened, 1/4 cup butter, softened, 1 cup or more powdered sugar or to your taste, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence or any flavor you like and a pinch of salt. Blend all these well until it's creamy, chill in the fridge until you need it.

Updated with Cream cheese frosting on top!

and signing out! Hope you make some of these. I am very very sure your family will thank you!!:D

Book I read:
"A Simple Plan"
by Scott Smith.
It's a thriller, feels like you are reading a great thriller movie like Mystic River, very very interesting and I highly recommend it for Summer read at the beach or something. It's one of those books once you pick up, you just don't want to put it down even for few mins!
It all starts with two brothers and their friend on the way to visit their dad's grave, only to find a crashed plane in the woods with pilot dead and a HUGE bag full of money; $4.8million to be exact! What happens after that is gripping and unbelievable, with 8 murders to cover up one and a shocking, sobering end. Get the book from the library, PLEASE!!! ;D

Movies I watched:
Watched Chocolat again, loved it.
A off beat Bollywood movie called "Cyrus", has Saif Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Neseeruddin Shah etc. It was okay and movie is in English, not Hindi, probably made for Western audience like "East is East", "Bend it like Beckam" etc.!!
Latest Indiana Jones, of course! Aliens and flying saucer is little disappointing, could have done without the silliness but action is non-stop, we liked it! :)

Dishes I tried last week:
Now, before you look at these dishes you must imagine me cooking all these with my left index finger up in the air, which was sprained and bandaged last week, now healed very well! Hahaha!!! My thanks to all these bloggers for these yummy dishes! :)

Exquisite eggplant from Uma's blog.
Tomato Rice form Manasi's blog.
Irani Baida Curry from Meera's blog.
Tawa Naan from Aparna's blog.
Thalagam from Nandita's Blog.
Khara Biscuits from Namratha's blog.(added almost 2 cups of flour)

Lastly, Uma and Meera gave me a new award (photo on the sidebar) "Good Chat Blog Award". What a fun award, eh? Thank you Uma and Meera, I appreciate and accept it. Yes! I am chatty, a bit too much sometimes! :D
I would like to pass this "Good chat blog" award to Poornima who is always ready to chat with me and to Swati Raman Garg who was a 100th commenter in my last post and a chatterbox herself! :))

Lakshmi of "The YUM blog" sent a "A Giant Bear hug" award to me which you can see on the side bar. Thanks L, a big mama Bear hug back to you too! I am also hugging other Lakshmi G of "Taste of Mysore", enjoy the Bear hug award from me, my dear Mysore sistah! :D

My sincere thanks to Suma Rajesh, Kamala, Ranji, Rahin, Mythreyee,Trupti, Sangeeth, Divya, Sukanya, Purnima and others (if I had forgotten any of you to list here!) for giving me their various awards last week as well, I have added all of you in my sidebar! :)

Have fun and enjoy the week!

May 21, 2008

Dhaba style Naan from a Jewish Baker's recipe with Chicken curry

PHEW!! I never had more hectic and stressful days in my whole life like the past 3 weeks!! My daughter had 6 AP exams and 2 EOC tests, (she is done with all her HS credits a year early except English 12, is being sent to University by the county free of charge next year instead of 12th grade), her Immunization record is updated with 2 new shots for college, a half day of exhausting University tour on a very sunny Monday with class registration, college ID etc for Fall 2008 class as a "High School visiting Student" and my son went thru' 3 EOG exams (7th grade) himself this week and a booster Varicella shot for him too. To top it all, I sprained my left Index finger yesterday and I have no clue how and when that happened until I saw the swelling and felt the pain! :P
Now we are almost home free and school ends on June 12th! Hurray until Aug 25th! Looks like I am back to regular Wednesday posts again like before too! :D

Oh be it. Here they are, my newly discovered recipe for almost Dhaba style soft sour dough Naans! Dhabas are small Punjabi road side restaurants in India, very much like "Truck stop" restaurants here in US which serve authentic, delicious and inexpensive food!
You know how I am always on the look out for that elusive restaurant style Naans? I have tried and posted 4 types of Naan recipes so far, usually tried from Indian cookbooks with satisfying but "not yet there" results! This time I found this "Dhaba style" Naan recipe in a Book called "Secrets of a Jewish Baker" by George Greenstein which has traditional Jewish breads along with other World breads and these sour dough naans taste almost like restaurant naans. If I had a Tandoor which heats up to 1000+F temp. at home like the restaurants, these would look perfect. Alas! My oven goes only up to 550F but I am mighty pleased with these naans! They taste excellent with my fragrant Chicken curry or use the gravy recipe with Koftas or veggies for vegetarian curry treat with these Naans. Hope you give it a try!:)

Dhaba style Naans with Chicken curry, made with coconut milk and Almond gravy:

Naans Stacked up!
Sri reminded me of her "Roti Mela" event which going on in full swing right now. I am sending my Naans to Srivalli from "Cooking 4 all seasons" blog for "Roti mela" as well. Have fun Sri! :)

Fermented sour dough starter of flour and yogurt:
(made 24hrs in advance at room temp.)
For sour dough starter, you Need:
1 cup plain Yogurt or Sour cream or Buttermilk, 1/2 Cup plain flour, a pinch of dry yeast or 1 small piece leftover dough if you have made the dough earlier instead of yeast.

How to start:
Mix all the above well to a smooth paste in a glass bowl and leave it on counter top for 24hrs without covering the bowl (very important, do not cover it!) and let it ferment.
Note: If you want the Naans for 6pm dinner next day, mix the starter day before at 4pm and next day at 4pm, add it to make the Naan dough. Make sure to save a large marble size dough for next starter or make the starter again.

How to make these Naans:
You need: Add all the above sour dough starter, 1 Egg (skip if you are a vegetarian), 2 tbsp oil, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 3 cups to 3 1/2 cups of plain flour or enough to make a smooth dough, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt.

To make Naans:
1. In a large bowl or in stand mixer bowl, add all the starter, 1 Egg (skip if you are a vegetarian), 2 tbsp oil, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 3 cups or 3 1/2 cups of plain flour enough to make a smooth dough, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, mix them well with flat beater or by hand until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
2. With kneader attachment or by hand, knead the dough very well for 6 mins until the dough is smooth, soft and silky to touch.
3. Brush some oil allover the dough, cover the bowl and let it double in size in a warm plave for 1 hour or more. After rising, punch down and divide into 6-8 balls. Cover again and let it rest for 15mins.
While it rising for the second time, turn on the oven to your highest setting ie 550F. Place a Pizza stone if you have it in the oven.
4. Roll each Naan to about 1/8" thin 6" circle, pull one side to a tear shape, place on square foil sprayed with no-stick oil. You can bake 2 at a time.
5. When the oven is ready, place the foil with Naans on the Pizza stone using a Pizza peeler if you have it or on a non-stick baking sheet.
6. Bake for about 2 mins or until you see the golden bubbles on Naans.
DO NOT OVER BAKE which makes them crispy. If you want more color on top, turn the oven to grill and let the top get some color or lift the foil with the Pizza peeler closer to top of the grill. The base should be soft and bubbles you get on top should be crispy, a sign of a great Naan!:)
7. Take them out, brush some butter or Garlic butter with cilantro and cool and store until you need them. Repeat with others in the same way.
Almost Dhaba style soft Naans are ready! :)

Pile of Naans!
To make delicious Chicken curry:
(Make the fragrant gravy and add veggies to make it vegetarian)
You Need: 8 Chicken Drumsticks or use white and dark boneless chicken, 1 tbsp Butter+1 tbsp oil, 1 small Onion finely chopped, 1/4 tsp Turmeric, 1 tsp sugar,1 Cup of thick canned Coconut Milk.
Roast and powder:
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds, 2-3 dry red Chillies or add cayenne pepper pd or Kashmiri chilli pd to gravy, no need to roast and grind, 1 tsp Aniseeds, 1 tsp Cumin Seeds, 1" Dalchini/Indian Cinnamon, 3 Cloves, 1 Cardamom Pod seeded, a piece of Star Anise or Mace, 1/2 tsp Pepper Corns, 3 tbsp Almonds, skinless or blanched.
To grind:
2 Onions,chopped, roasted until reddish, add 1" ginger, 2 Garlic Cloves, 2 Tomato or 1 cup Tomato sauce, grind these to paste.
For garnish: Few Lemon slices or 1 tsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp chopped Cilantro.

How to make the chicken curry:
1. Heat oil and butter in a non-stick pan, fry finely chopped onion until reddish. Add ground onion, ginger, garlic etc and fry for 5 mins. Put in all the powdered spices, turmeric, stir fry till oil shows on top.
2. Add in chicken, stir fry for a minute. Add 1 cup water, sugar, bring to boil and turn down the heat to low, cook covered for 10 mins until chicken is tender on low heat.I use pressure pan on very low heat to cook for 1 whistle, so I don't burn the burn the bottom of the dish.
3. Uncover, mix well. Turn down the heat to low if it's not already and add coconut milk, mix. Simmer gently for 5 mins. Gravy should little thicker to help scoop with Naan.
3. Garnish with Cilantro and squeeze some lemon juice before serving or serve with lemon slices.
4. Serve with Naan and cucumber Raita/salad.
One more look:

Book: "The Blood of Flowers" by Anita Amirrezvani.
The author was born in Tehran, Iran but raised and educated in US, a Iranian-American. She went to Iran and researched the history for this book. This is a beautifully written book with lot of stories inside the story, describes the Iranian culture, LOT about beautiful, plush Carpets and it's impact on many lives, shocking practice of "renting brides" thru' temporary "marriage contract", the young girl's struggle to survive and feed herself and her mom and how she succeeds to be free of "Sigheh" and earns enough to survive solely by her skills of carpet making in the end !
The story is set in 1620s when Shah of Iran was ruling, gives an insight to culture and practices of Iranians at that time. Story revolves around a 14yr old girl, the only child of poor but loving family. It tells us about her life and coming of age as it unfolds after the sudden death of her father. She moves to another city with her mother to her Uncle's house where mom and daughter were treated as servants. While there, she also learns the secrets of Carpet weaving from her uncle, which only men are privileged to learn and learns to weave the most beautiful carpets with most unique color dyed wool and also gets abused by her aunt.
At 15, she was forced to "marry" a much older man for just 3 month's contract by her aunt who gets paid by this rich old man as "bride price" citing a common practice called "sigheh" and her mom says she has to do this to help her and the family members! About 10% of the book is very sexually explicit. I am not a prude but it made me very uncomfortable to read how a poor 15yr old girl trying so hard to seduce an old man just to please him so he extends the contract for 3 more months so she can please her family!
Personally for me it was ugh!.., even though "Sigheh" (a temporary "marriage" contracts, for a day or month or few month's for money!) was acceptable, but kept secretive in that society in the 17th century!! How awful and what a degradable responsibility for a child, all that for money!! Author says this practice is still goes on there to some extent although not as common as in 1600s! How sad!!
Anyway, when old man tries to renew his 'Marriage" for the third time, she dares to refuse to be his "bride" anymore since her own best friend, also a 15yrs old girl, is legally forced to get married to the same man
as one of his wives and about to produce a son for him! As a result of her refusal, she gets her jaw broken by the uncle and along with her mom gets thrown of the Uncle's home. Her own mother gets very angry with her and humiliates her for her lack of compassion for the family, makes her feel guilty for not accepting the "marriage" and of course his money!!
They move into a home of her uncle's servant, begs for money and food on the streets to survive, gets offers of "marriage" for a day from men. But she refuses the offers and finally, she goes back to her Uncle and begs him to get her some wool to make Carpets, which he does and at the end of the story, she sells her beautifully designed carpets to women of Shah's Harem, who are her biggest clientèle, which makes her rich enough to keep her mom happy again! I bet her mother didn't win any "MOM of the year" award anytime!:P
Except for "those" few chapters, it's a great read which tells a beautiful imaginative vivid story of carpets, women bonding in the bath houses and bazaars. I learned a lot about a culture. But I will not be keeping this book at home in my collection though. I don't want my kids to read it, will donate to the local library. For adults, it's a fascinating book keeps you glued to the story! Hope you read this Summer! :)
No movie until Memorial day holiday!
Dishes I tried last week:

I am very very attracted to traditional dishes in all your blogs most of the time and I absolutely love it when some recipes reminds me of my grandmothers' dishes like Mudare Kanni here. Thanks for hunting it down to post Linda and thanks to all of you who posted these wonderful traditional recipes. We are practically eating dishes from other blogs for atleast 4 days a week now! I have bookmarked so many, the list scares me! :D

Coorg style Mudare Kanni from Linda's blog.(I used Hurulikalu/Horse gram/Kollu)
Tausha Idli from RC's blog.
Pudina Pachadi with peanuts from Indira's blog.
Muttai Kuzhambu from Purl's blog.
Set Dosa and veg curry from Sagari's blog.
Thengai Vengayam chutney from Kalai's bog.
Rajma from Mandira's blog.
Kalayile Phovu with Phova Pittu from Shilpa's blog.
Saibhaji from Jyotsna's blog.
Kolombo with Kolombya Pitto from Maya's blog.
Onion-Tomato sauce Kulcha from Jayashree's blog.
Ulli Kozhi from Shaheen's blog.
Have a great week while I hunt for more dishes in your blogs! :)

May 14, 2008

Mango-Coconut Pound Cake with Mango Cream sauce, Bell Pepper-Carrot soup

First let me say how sorry I am for all the lives lost in recent Jaipur, Rajasthan bombings. My heartfelt condolences to all the victims' families.
We all did wonderful posts on Rajasthan this month, appreciating their culture and the cuisine. It is really sad that some people are so evil, they just don't care about human lives, beautiful palaces and the rich history of that state. But Indians are very resilient, I am sure they will be up again soon and survive like we always do and don't ever let the evil win.
On the homefront here, we almost got hit by a Tornado last Friday. It came rushing, missed our town by few miles and hit the next city in the North, caused lot of property damage, power outages and moved away. Fortunately, nobody was fatally injured around here. I have never been in any natural disaster of any kind so far, I was a bit concerned watching minute by minute forecast. Glad we survived that thing!
Okay, on a frivolous note, here is how I enjoyed Mother's day. We went out for lunch and Dinner, kids gave me a gift card from Blockbuster video store so I can watch more scary movies! :D
Menu today:
I made a Pound Cake on Saturday, day before Mother's day, since I was forbidden to cook at all on Sunday. We had a slice of cake with Mango cream sauce on Sunday morning for breakfast to begin the "special" day! Pound cake was delcious and moist, thought I will post this for you. Hope you like it too, give it try for any special celebratory breakfast or just for a yummy dessert!:)

Vanilla-Coconut Pound cake with Mango sauce:
The basic recipe for this Pound Cake comes from one of the Betty Crocker's Baking book. I gave this Pound cake a slight Mango twist, added lot less sugar (original recipe says to add 2 3/4 cup of sugar!) and sweetened coconut flakes, added just 2 tbsp of Mango pulp to the batter which made it moist and fragrant and topped with some more tangy, creamy Mango sauce. Enjoy!:)

My Pound Cake with Mango Cream sauce goes to Arundati of "Escapades" blog, who is guest hosting WBB#22 ie "Weekend Breakfast Blogging", an event initiated by Nandita of Saffron trail. Arundati has chosen Mangoes which is in season now for her breakfast. Here is mine for you, thanks for hosting A!:)

Pound cake with a coconut-Mango twist!

For the Pound cake:
You need:
Dry ingredients;
3 cups all purpose flour or Cake flour, 1 tsp Baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt.
Wet ingredients;
1 3/4 cups of Sugar, 1 1/4 cup Butter,softened, 1 tsp Vanilla essence, 2 tbsp sweet Mango pulp, 4 Eggs.
Lastly add;
1 cup fat-free Evaporated milk, 1 cup Sweetened coconut.
How to bake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a large Bundt cake or tube pan with no-stick oil or butter and flour it. Set aside.
1. Mix dry ingredients well. In a mixer, add all the wet ingredients, beat well for 5 minutes until light in color and fluffy.
2. On low speed, add flour and milk 1/3rd at a time alternately until well mixed.
3. Scrape well, add coconut and mix well. Pour into the prepared cake pan, tap gently to release the bubbles in the cak batter.
4. Bake in the oven for 50-60 mins or until the skewer inserted in the middle comes clean. Cool in the cake pan for 10 mins and gently loosen the edges of the cake around the tube with a knife.
Shake the pan to loosen the bottom of the cake. Invert on the cooling rack and cool. Store in a air tight box or glass cake dome. Serve a thick slice with Mango cream sauce on top and hot Coffee!

Mango Cream Sauce:
Here is a simple but delicious Mango Cream sauce which is great to eat as it is or to top on any dessert or fruits. It's slightly tangy with added lemon juice and naturally sweet when you use Alfonso canned Mango puree you get in Indian stores, try it!:)

How to make it:
1. Take 1 cup of sweet Mango pulp or puree the Mango pulp if you are using fresh Mangoes in a blender until no solid pieces left. Take out in a bowl.
2. Whisk the pulp with 2 tbsp/more or less powdered sugar depending on the sweet or tanginess of the pulp, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3 tbsp fat-free Heavy cream,a pinch of salt until you get a smooth sauce.
3. If it's too thick, add more cream or milk to thin out to desired consistency. Pour it in a sauce boat and serve chilled.

That's it, have a luxurious and exotic breakfast on a very special day! :)


Mr and Mrs Pepper soup!
I made a refreshing Summery soup yesterday with all the fresh ingredients, absolutely no cooking involved at all. Doesn't that sound good? All you have to do get some fresh veggies and blend them and serve with some garnish!

Bell Pepper and Carrot soup goes to Pooja from "My creative Ideas" blog for her two in one VOW-JFI event. Pooja is guest hosting JFI this month with her choice of Bell Peppers. JFI event is created by Indira of Mahanandi. Thanks for taking up both of them Pooja, enjoy!:)

Bell Peppers: Brightly colored green, red, Orange, yellow bell peppers are rich sources of some of the best nutrients available. Bell peppers are naturally sweet, excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A, which are very helpful when you have cold or Flu and are a natural pain killers! Here is soup which packs all the goodness of peppers, Tomatoes, Orange and Carrots with a kick of a Jalapeño!

To make the soup:
1. Wash and chop 1 Orange, 1 red and 1 yellow bell peppers, 1 large cleaned Carrot, 2 red ripe tomatoes, 1/4 of a Jalapeño, 1/4" fresh ginger, a small piece of sweet onion (optional), 1 garlic, half peeled and seeded cucumber, few mint leaves finely and add to a blender.
2. Add 1/2 cup Orange juice, 1-2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tbsp tangy bottled hot dog relish (Optional) to the blender and blend it all until smooth.
3. Adjust the seasoning, it should sweet, tangy and little spicy. Chill in the fridge.
4. Serve in a bowl, garnished with fresh mint. Excellent for lunch on a very hot day.!:)

Daughters of Kerala:
This book is translated from Malayalam to English by Achamma Chandersekaran, her first solo book so far. She has co-translated 3 Malayalam books to English before this along with Dr.R.E.Asher. She is also a political activist for Indo-Asian American community in US and worked for the establishment of "Mahatma Gandhi Memorial" in Washington, D.C.
I took a long time to read these 25 beautiful short stories of Kerala, originally written in Malayalam by award winning Kerala authors mainly about womenfolk of Kerala and their diverse lives lead in the span of 70 yrs, beautifully captured in words by early writers who were born in 1920s to modern day English lecturer like Asha Krishnan!
For me who is not very familiar with Kerala culture (other than their yummy food!:D), this book was a fascinating read, took me to this World of Appachan, Chechi, Kochamma, Sanjayanam, Manakkal, Ikka, Kuttan, Kutty, Thampuran, Achayan, Ovara, Muthachhan, Cheriamma, Namputhiri, Illam, Apfan, Oathuchollal, Kudummy, Kunjathal, Devaswam, Umma, Kafir, Iblis, Badarulmunir, Malaks etc. (Click on the title link above to see the book)
The extent of abuse and suppression of women in some stories shocks me and some stories have women characters with such a strong and independent streak, it reminds me of some of our own Kerala bloggers! :)
I think every Keralite should have this book in their collection. I am really impressed by one particular author called "Gracy", who writes VERY VERY short stories which are literally just one page from beginning to the end and the endings scares the pants out of ME and let me tell ya, that's not an easy task to do for a woman who LOVES scary movies like "SAW"! Hahaha!
I salute each one you "daughters of Kerala!" :)

Dishes I tried from other blogs last week:

Vegetable dal curry from Prajusha's blog.
Chicken Chalna from Kamala's blog.
Temple style Pulihora from Sagari's blog.
Paratha stuffed with spicy rice flour from Anjali's blog.
Beetroot Dosai from Indo's blog.
Oil free chicken from Sunita's blog.
Sev and Tomato Shaak from Saju's blog.
Dinner Rolls from Dhivya's blog.
Andhra chicken curry from Sri's blog.

Last but not least;

Thank you Deeba , Purnima, Swati , EC, Cham, Sukanya, Trupti for your sweetest "You make my day" award. I appreciate it! :)
I would like pass this on to:
Bee, Richa, Dhivya Vikram, Maya, Meera to mention a few! Frankly you all 100+ bloggers make my day everyday, so each one of you deserve this award. Thanks to all of you, have a great weekend!:)

May 07, 2008

Chiles Rellenos on salsa, Arroz con Frijoles Negros, Jicama-Avocado salad and Arroz Con Leche!!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there, enjoy this Sunday. Sit tight, relax and make others serve you for a change! You all deserve a Nobel Peace prize each for being very very patient and very very loving, even when kids throw their very very fickle mood swings in your face everyday and you still love them to death!!:D

Last weekend, we did lot of yard work, gardening and some veggie planting at almost 80F temp and survived somehow to blog today. Sneak a peek here to see what's up in my backyard! :)

Let me start with a yummy light dessert for all moms today and then a delicious vegetarian Mexican meal!

Arroz Con Leche, with Raspberries:
Arroz Con Leche (Rice with milk in Spanish) is nothing but Rice Pudding which is flavored with nutmeg and Cinnamon and mixed with Raspberries (my addition, frozen will do fine too). I have made it light for moms but traditionally made with heavy cream or whipped cream folded in and even with egg yolks, which gives it a nice creamy texture and taste. Did you know that Raspberries have the highest fiber content of any fruit?! You could add any fruit or chocolate sauce or garnish with sweetened coconut on top if you like.

A delicious low-fat Mexican dessert cinnamon-Nutmeg flavored Arroz Con Leche with Raspberries is my contribution to AFAM-Raspberries, hosted by Dee of "Ammalu's Kitchen" blog this month. Thanks Dee, great choice of fruit!!:)

You need: 1/2 cup quick cooking or medium grain rice, 1 cup water, 2 cups 2% milk or fat free Half and half, 3-4 tbsp white sugar or more to your taste, 1/2 tsp sweet Cinnamon powder, few grating of Nutmeg, 1 tsp Vanilla essence, 1/4 cup Chopped Raspberries, save a few for garnishing and curly Cinnamon sticks for garnish.
To make it:
1. Add rice, water in a glass bowl and microwave for 6 mins, uncovered or you can cook on stove top stirring all the time, which takes a long time.
2. Add all the milk and sugar, mix and MW again at 50% for another 6-8 mins or stir slowly on the stove top until rice is cooked soft and creamy with thickish sauce.
3. Take it out, mix well. Adjust the sugar and if it's too thick, you could thin it out with more milk, must heat again gently.
4. Add nutmeg, vanilla essence, Cinnamon pd, fold in. Let it cool covered in the fridge for an hour. 5. Add Raspberries pieces to rice and milk, mix in gently, chill again. Serve in a individual bowl, garnished with few Raspberries and Cinnamon sticks.

Now a yummy vegetarian Mexican meal:

Chiles Rellenos in salsa or spicy Tomato sauce, Arroz Con Frijoles Negro with Avocado-Jicama salad and serve this meal with Arroz Con Leche with Raspberries for dessert:
Chiles Rellenos means stuffed Pobalno chillies, could be stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and re-fried beans in salsa or any meat fillings as well. Arroz Con Frijoles Negro means rice with black beans in Spanish, a Mexican style dish which makes a great accompaniment with any side dish. All served with very Mexican salad which includes fresh sliced Jicama, Avocado, lemon juice on a bed of ice burg lettuce or thinly sliced fresh Cabbage as sometimes they do in Mexico! You also don't have to fry the Poblanos, can serve it stuffed and sauteed! But fried tastes better with gooey cheese inside!:)

A Mexican platter of Chiles Rellenos in salsa, Arroz Con Frijoles Negro with a Avocado and Jicama salad on the side is my offer to "A.W.E.D.-Mexico" event which is launched by DK of "Culinary Bazaar" blog. Thanks for hosting DK, enjoy!:)

Step by step photos, click on it to enlarge:
You need: 4 large Poblano chillies, 4 pieces of 3-4" long rectangle 1" thick Monterey Jack cheese sticks, about 1/4 cup of Re-fried beans to stuff, 1 tbsp of Queso Fresco or Mexican fresh cheese to garnish.
For coating batter: Traditionally, they use beaten egg white to coat but since this is a vegetarian meal, I used 1/2 cup Plain flour, salt, pinch of baking powder with enough water to make thick batter, somewhat like this snack.
Salsa or sauce: Store bought Salsa or home made as the recipe given below.

To make these: 1. Bake or grill Poblanos in the oven with 400F for 20 mins or so until you see the skin starts to get reddish. Take them out on a plate, cover with a bowl to make it sweat for a minute or two.
2. Peel the skin gently, slit one side to make a pocket with a knife or scissors. With a spoon, take out the seeds and the veins without tearing the chillies.Wash gently under the water in the sink, pat them dry.
3. Using a spoon, spread the re-fried beans inside the Poblano, place a cheese stick on top, place some more beans paste, cover it gently and seal it with a toothpick.Repeat with others, chill in the fridge for 1/2 hour to firm the beans paste.
Make sauce: Use fresh Salsa, heat it for 1 minute or blend fresh 3 Tomatoes, 1/2 onion, few cilantro sprigs, salt, 1 garlic, 1/2 tsp Cumin pd. Put it in a bowl, heat in the microwave until you get a sauce.
Coating to fry: Mix flour, salt,enough water and baking pd to make a thick mixture and let it rest for 5 minutes.
To fry: Heat oil to 375F. Dip stuffed Poblanos in batter, fry until crisp, drain on paper towel. When cool, remove the toothpicks.
To serve; place few spoonfuls of salsa or sauce on the plate, put one Chile Relleno on it, sprinkle some Queso Fresco. Serve with Mexican black beans rice and salad on the side.

Mexican rice with Black beans: (my easy way)

1. Cook 1 cup rice and pinch of salt in the microwave as usual until cooked soft and cool. Fluff to make the grains loose and separate.
2. Heat a pan with 1/2 tbsp butter, add 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup red bell pepper or green bell pepper, 1 Tomato, 1-2 garlic chopped, pinch of salt and saute for 2 minutes.
3. Add 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp dry Oregano, add drained and washed canned Black beans (one can) to the pan and mix well.
4. Add all the rice, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, bit more salt and mix everything well, it will take a darker color because of the black beans. That's it!:)

For salad:
In Mexico, they sometimes use very thinly shredded cabbage instead of Iceberg lettuce. I had lettuce at hand, so I used that. Add thinly sliced fresh Jicama, 1 Avocado pulp, coarsely chopped, 1/2 tsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Mix and chill until serving time.
Variations to to serve Poblanos: After you make the sauce in the pan, fried Poblanos are added and simmered in the sauce before serving. I just kept them separate to retain the crunch rather soggy Chiles Rellenos. Your choice!

One more look:

Enjoy and check out another Mexican platter I made last year!! :)

Book: I am still reading the book "Daughters of Kerala", which you can see on the sidebar right now. I will review this beautiful book next week.
Movie? Saw none this week but eagerly waiting for new Indiana Jones movie release and looking forward to this weekend too!! YAY!

I tried these dishes last week, thanks for posting all these yummies girls. Haunting your blogs continues!! :D

Arachuvitta Katrikai kuzhambu from Nirmala's blog.
Aloo(Baingan)Kurma from Anjali's blog.
Paneer Parathas
from Dhivya Vikram's blog.
Toaster Tandoori Roti
from Hetal & Anuja's blog.
Vatana Bateta Tameta nu Shaak
from Richa's blog.
Red chilly chutney from Sumitha's blog.
Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta from Deeba's blog.
Rava Idli from Latha and Lakshmi's blog.
Radish Kootu
from tbc's blog.
Moong dal with cucumber
from Pravs's blog.
Gowdru Pulao
from Namratha's blog.
Tomato-Carrot Dosa
from Laavanya's blog.
Aloo-white peas bhaji for Pooris
from Padmaja's blog.
Kerala Potato stew/Eshtu from shn's blog.
Kerikku dosa/Coconut Aapam from Bharathy's blog.

Chole-Bhatura from Pooja's blog.

A word about shn's Potato Eshtu: I was reheating the Eshtu for dinner y'day. My son came home from school, took a deep breath and says "something smells so GOOD! Mother, what culinary delight are you bestowing upon us today?" ;D
(Btw, the word "mother" comes out of his mouth only when I make butter chicken and Tikka masala, not for anything vegetarian until now! Hahaha! They ate this stew with toast. Thanks shn!)

Lastly, I received few lovely surprises one Sunday morning two week's ago, a YUMMY BLOG AWARD (award pic attached in my side bar) from my blog buddies Dee, Dhivya Vikram and Meera. Thank you both so very much dear Dee, DV and Meera, very cute award for my blog which I proudly accept, appreciate and display!
I also thank Latha N of "The YUM blog" for giving me the "Forever Friends" globe. I am your friend forever Latha, thank you sweetie, hugs to you! Blog more please, twice a week sounds great too! :)

"The YUM blog" award has been crated by Roopa of "My Kitchen treats":
"Yummy blog award is the award given to the blog with most yummy recipes/photos", I thank you as well Roopa! :)
As per the rules, I have to "list four of my favorite desserts that I have prepared or eaten and pass the award to four of my fellow bloggers".
Here are four of my most favorite desserts I have blogged so far......
1. Mango Cobbler,
2. Ricotta Cheese Rasmalai,
3. Texas Sheet Cake,
4. Strawberry yogurt Pie, also called "Mustikkaiiras" in Finland.

I am forwarding this award to four more yummy blogs. If you have received it already, enjoy it again! :) I hope you follow the same award rules as listed at Roopa's blog ie to display the award, list 4 of your favorite desserts and forward the award to 4 more yummy deserving blogs! It's very hard to choose among hundreds of yummy blogs but here are 4 of them.
Yummy blogs:
Maheswari's "Beyond the usual",
Lakshmi G 's "Taste of Mysore",
Ramya 's "Mane Adige",
Pooja 's "My creative ideas".
Enjoy and I will see you all again next week!:))