June 03, 2009

Beloved Bengaluru & Mysuru, cooking Rainbow Red Chard and a long Summer break!

Hello everybody, hope life and warm Summer has been great to all of you so far.
Well....for me it was wonderful. I had been in India, to super HOT, humid Summery Bangalore and Mysore to be precise for few weeks and now back home to reality ie dog tired after 19hrs of flying, sniffling with cold and exhaustion, not wanting to start cooking and cleaning again. But I did come back to my beautifully flourished veggie patch, my little "happy to see you" family with not so clean kitchen at home. Although I enjoyed visiting India fully, I am so very glad to be back in clean, cooler and less populated America! :D

Kids have coped well while I was in India. My husband worked, came home as usual and took kids out on weekends as I hear from my kids. Thank God for Trisha, she has been a great "little mommy" to her brother while I was gone! Apparently my son almost had set my brand new kitchen on fire trying to warm a canned food with the lid on in the Microwave! :P

Visiting India, family and friends after many many years (almost 18tyrs!), I had an eye opening experience about life there. Mostly good things with most beautiful visual treats, whether they are clothes, Temples, Artifacts or food and some facts really makes me sad like how kids are pushed relentlessly by most parents there to achieve academically whether kids are capable or not, along with a ridiculous amount of school and college fees as "donation", shocking to hear first hand of blatantly asking us for bribe by most officials without a trace of shame for even a small thing they do which is supposed to be their regular work and not to mention the smells (good and bad!), shoulder rubbing mass of (mostly smiling!) crowd everywhere, deafening noise of honking vehicles every second, death defying traffic and pollution you can almost touch!! I am sure I have partial black lungs now! HeHe!!

I bought back a lot of Indian style "Kurtis" for us, some gold and brought back some of my wedding jewelry and Sarees too which were sitting in India for years. Of course, bought loads of Kannada cookbooks and books written by author BeeChi! Also enjoyed meeting my 6yr old nephew whom I hadn't met before, my beautiful SIL and of course my parents, few aunts and my only brother.

Anyway, now that I am trying to recover slowly from exhaustion, Flu and Allergy, we have a fully engaging Summer this year. Starting with both Kids' graduation in June, a Hawaii vacation in July, a college orientation and daughter's's move to college dorm in August, we are very busy this Summer. I will not be able to blog surf or blog until Fall. I will see you all again soon, starting with my 2009 Summer garden post.

Here are few photos from Bangalore and Mysore:(Click on all the images to enlarge)

Food I ate!! Yes, I need to walk and lose lot of lbs too this Summer! :D
I met Latha of "The YUM Blog" there. She has been a wonderful friend, cooked lunch for me, took me around to meet her friends near her home and took me around to show me places there as well. She has a beautiful house, filled with antique "Thippalai" and "Jhola" etc., loved them all. The first photo you see in the collage is her lunch for me the first day I met her of Adai, Avial, Payasam etc on a solid silver plate!! She also made her popular Rava Idli platter and Pani Puri next time but I was so eager to eat, forgot to take pics! :D
I also talked to Lakshmi, Latha's daughter and SRA on the phone as well, met my college friends and sampled some of the south and North Indian food in B'lore and Mysore.
We sampled Jolada rotti oota, Holige oota, Masale dose in "Nalapaka", "Janata", "Adyar Ananda Bhavan", "Halli Mane", "MTR", "Iravata", chaats at "Thindi Beedi" in V.V.Puram, Gobi and babycorn Manchurian, Gulkan Kulfi and "Siddhartha" in Mysore, Maddur vades, Bisibele Bhath, Poori Saagu, MTR Rava Idli and many many more. I don't like to eat sweets much, didn't sample those really but I gifted many boxes of sweets to friends and family including that delicious Mysore Pak.

Here are some beautiful images which represents Bangalore and Mysore. Temples, Palaces, Veg market, Flower market, colorful powders, Bangles and exotic fruits and artifacts!

I do have more than 250 photos but tried to post some of them just to show you. That was a great trip to India all in all and hope I can make it there in about 4yrs again when my son starts college and stay longer than few weeks! :)

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My veggie garden has grown so much in just few weeks I had been gone!
I had spread some Rainbow Red chard seeds before I left US and now they are grown like a jungle! You can see the Red chard leaves on your left corner on the bottom of the photo.
As soon as I came back home, I ran to the backyard, took this photo and then cooked a simple but tasty dal with a whole bunch of red chard and chana dal, a Red Chard stir fry, right after 2-3 days of sleeping at odd hrs to catch up the time difference betn India and US!

Red Chard dal, Red Chard stir fry, Eggplant Pachadi/Bajji and Rice rottis:
I am sending this platter to Indosungod's event "The Chard Challenge-Calling all Gardeners". Thanks for hosting Indo, enjoy! :)
Well.. it doesn't take much work or preparation to grow Swiss Chard or Rainbow Chard in your backyard at all. All you need is a well prepared pot or ground with loose soil with Miracle grow or good fertilizer added and Chard seeds to sprinkle. Water occasionally and there you have it! They grow profusely, just snip only the leaves as you need them, don't pull the whole plant. They grow very well with minimal effort, very nutritious and beautiful to look at too.

To make Swiss Rainbow Chard dal:

1. Wash and then chop a big bunch of Red chard with it's softer stems roughly. If you are not using a pressure cooker, you could precook 1/2 cup Chana dal in the Microwave with 2-3 cups of water until soft but not mashed to paste. Keep aside.
2. Heat 1 tsp ghee and 2 tsp oil in a pressure pan or cooker or a pan. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, let it splutter. Add and fry 1 small onion, chopped, 1 garlic, chopped.
3. Add Chana dal if you are using a pressure cooker, stir, add chopped chard and 2-3 cups of water. Cover and pressure cook this on medium heat just until 1-2 whistles.
If you are using regular pan, add cooked Chana dal and Chard, cover and cook until greens are soft and not much water left.
4. Add enough salt, Chilli powder, 1 tbsp Coriander powder, 1/4 tsp Tamarind paste or 1 tomato and let it cook for 5 mins on medium heat.
5. Serve with Parathas, rotis or Bhakri.

Swiss Chard stir-fry:
1. Chop Chard roughly and keep aside.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add 1 tsp each Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, 2 tsp Urad dal, 2 dry red chillies, until they splutter.
3. Add 1/2 cup onion, 1 garlic, fry until reddish. Add chopped greens, stir once and add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until they are wilted and soft. Open the lid, simmer until just a little water left in the bottom.
4. Add enough salt, mix. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice to serve as a side dish or light lunch.

Recipe for Eggplant Bajji or Pachadi and to make Akki rottis are here in this post.

Thanks to all of you who awarded me and tagged me for MeMe(I have stopped doing MeMes long back, but thanks for tagging!), I will slowly add you to my sidebar when I can. Right now, I have to rest and be ready for graduations this month.

That is all from me until Fall, see you all soon. Have a wonderful Summer, enjoy blogging! :)

May 06, 2009

Clicking Cookies, Strawberry Spring Cake, Carrot-Bell Pepper Rice and Summery Mosaru Vade.

Happy Mother's Day to all you sweet mommies, enjoy your Sunday! :)
Well....last week I told you I am planning for something special. Here it is! I know for most of you it may not sound THAT exciting, but for the first time in almost 18yrs after my kids were born and never leaving the husband for not more than a 5-6 days at a stretch in 20yrs, I am going away to have few weeks for myself alone, will tell you where I was when I come back!! Can you believe that? Great Mother's day gift for me for me from my family, can't beat it! YAY! See you in June! :)

Christmas cookies:
I made these a year ago for Christmas, click on the title to get the recipe. Dough is the similar to sugar cookies but lighter with added red and green colors and sprinkled with color sugar to make them Christmassy. This is my entry to Bee's "CLICK-Cookies"(Links and logos are below).
Camera used is Sony Cyber-Shot 8-1 mega Pixels.

X Mas Cookies

Strawberry Spring Cake:
I am bringing this Spring cake to Meeta's Monthly Mingle! I used a recipe for a regular white or yellow cake and added fresh Strawberries blended to smooth puree instead of milk. Strawberry puree gives a very beautiful pinkish color to the cake and flavor is wonderful. I didn't feel like eating too much sugar, so instead of icing I just sprinkled some powdered sugar on top. You can't believe the aroma of this cake! Spring is here alright! :)

You need:
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) softened butter, 2 eggs, 1 cup regular white sugar, 1 tsp vanilla essence,
1 3/4 cups plain flour, 1/8 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 2/3 cup fresh red ripened Strawberries pureed.
Few sliced Strawberries to garnish which I forgot to save to decorate the cake! :D
You can also sprinkle 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes on top on the cake before baking but optional.

How to bake:
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a Bundt cake pan or any 9" cake round or square pan with no-stick oil or butter well and keep aside.

1. In a mixer bowl, beat the sugar and butter first until fluffy. Add in the eggs,mix. Then add in the vanilla.
2. Sift flour and baking powder, add to the creamed butter mixture and mix again gently on low speed until everything comes together.
3. Now, stir in the strawberry puree, beat until batter is well mixed and evenly pink. Pour into the prepared pan, tap on the kitchen counter to top get the bubbles out.
4. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden and skewer comes out clean form the center. Take it out of the oven, let it sit for 5mins.
5. Invert gently on the cooling rack. When cool, sprinkle powdered sugar on top to serve or you can use Vanilla icing.

Carrot and Bell Pepper Rice:
Here is a quick version of Tomato Bhath I make with added red bell pepper and Orange Carrots, which gives it a sweet and spicy taste. I usually buy baby carrots in a pack for using them quickly in Sambhar or Pulao without too much work of cutting etc. This time I found a few regular size organic Orangey Carrots, I peeled them slightly and sliced into 1/4" rounds to use them in this dish. It's quick to make, sauce can be made in the MW to mix with rice too if you have any leftover rice already. Here is my elaborate Tomato Bhaat!

To make spicy Veg rice:
Cook 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice with 1 tsp butter and water as usual, spread it on the wide plate and let it cool to separate the grains.

Microwave 2 Carrots, cut into round 1/4" thick pieces with 1/4 cup water and pinch of salt, 1 small Potato, peeled and cubed, covered in a bowl for 5 mins or until almost cooked and but not mashed, drain if you have any water left. Keep it aside.

Make the sauce:
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan, add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, let them splutter.
2. Add finely chopped onion, saute. Add 1-2 minced garlic and 1" grated ginger, 1/2 an Jalapeno, sliced, stir fry for 2 mins, and then add cubed 1 large red or any color bell pepper, 1/4 tsp salt. Fry for 2 mins or until they are soft a little, not too soft to keep the crunch.
3. Add 1/2 cup Tomato sauce, 1 tbsp Coriander seeds powder, 1/4 tsp or more chilli pd, 1 tsp MTR Rasam or Vangi bhath powder (optional) and 1 tsp Garam masala, mix and cook well.
4. Add Carrots and stir fry gently until sauce becomes thick, leaves the sides of the pan with oil shows up on top.

Mix with cooled rice:
5. When the sauce is ready, mix with rice, adjusting the salt. Serve with slices of Lemon, Potato crisps and a salad.
Tastes better after few hours when the spices get a chance to mingle.

Karnataka style, cooling Summer snack Mosaru Vade/South Indian style Dahi Vada:

Mosaru Vade is a Karnataka style Summer snack which literally means vadas soaked in yogurt in Kannada, one of my favorite snack to make and chill to have on Summer days. It's basically fried and cooled vadas soaked in Spiced Yogurt. It can be chilled to serve or served at room temperature.
I make it once or twice in Summer every year. Since it involves deep frying don't feel like making it often although I would love to eat Mosaru Vade. Sometimes I freeze some vadas for later use. When thawed and warmed in the Microwave, it's ready to go into the spiced Yogurt.

Make plain Urad dal vadas first without adding any onion, herbs etc. Recipe for vadas are here and here. Cool them before you add to the spiced yogurt. Here is the Rasa vada if you would like to try. You can make vadas in any shape like round vadas, vadas with a hole in the middle to make this Mosasru vade. Since they are soaked in the yogurt sauce, shape doesn't matter. If they are too big to soak in the yogurt, tear them into big pieces. To grind without adding much water, you can use either Sumeet mixer or ULTRA grinder or any grinder which is tough enough to make fluffy thick Urad dal batter. Some add hot vadas to a bowl of water, let it soak for few seconds and squeeze out the water to make it soft and then add to the yogurt. I don't do this, I just add to the yogurt and chill for few hrs.

Spiced Yogurt:
1. You need 6-8 Vadas for 4 people. Add whole vadas or tear them in to big pieces if vadas are large.
2. Take a wide mouthed deep bowl, add 2 cups of plain Yogurt (I use Dannon) and 1/4 cup water, beat well until it's smooth with no lumps. Add enough salt to taste.
3. Take 1/2" fresh ginger and 1 large garlic, pound in a mortar Pestle with pich of salt and 1-2 tbsp of water, squeeze only the juice to add to yogurt, mix.
4. Add seasoning and 2 tbsp finely chopped Cilantro. Mix well. Add Vadas, make sure they are immersed in Yogurt. Top the vadas often with yogurt to soak them well. Chill in the fridge as an option, delicious to dig into a cold snack on a warm evening sitting on the deck! :)
Heat 1tsp of oil in a pan, add 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1-2 sliced Green chillies or 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes, few curry leaves. Fry until they splutter, cool before adding to the yogurt, mix well. Adjust the salt and heat and thinness too, can add more yogurt if it's very thick.
When Mosaru Vades are soft and plump, serve scooped in a bowl with some of the Yogurt sauce on top.

Logos of all the events and link to event hosts, enjoy hosting girls! :)

X Mas cookies, goes to Bee's "CLICK-Cookies" event.
Strawberry Spring Cake, goes to Meeta's "Monthly Mingle #32-Spring cakes" event.
Bell Pepper-Carrot Rice, goes to Sanghi's "FIL-Carrots" event.
Mosaru Vade, goes to Priti's "Festive Food-Summer Treats" event and to Sweatha's "FIC-Favorite color" event which is started by Harini.
I am also sending Bell Pepper and Carrot rice, to EC for her "WYF-Quick meals" event.

Tried and tasted from other blogs. My thanks to all of you ladies for posting all these delicious dishes, we all enjoyed them! (Click to enlarge both the collages)

Pesarattu, from Vaishali.
Spicy dal-Potato fry, from Subhie Arun.
Doi Dim, from Sandeepa.
Capsicum Peanut curry, from Supriya.
Egg curry in Milk sauce, from Aquadaze.
Potato Curry with Podi, from Cham.

A and N jodi of "Delectably your's" blog sent me a pack of their homemade spicy Rasam powder last week. It was very flavorful, lovely red color and aromatic. I made some Rasam for Idlis using this Rasam pd, it was super delicious. Thank you so much to both of you to take time to send it to me. Hope I didn't bully you into sending me some too N! Hugs to you! ;D

Movie I watched:

"Last chance Harvey"

Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, both are excellent actors as you know, play the lead roles in this movie. Both are tired, hopeless and middle aged (old?), doing mundane jobs and caught up in routine lives in their own countries meet in London accidentally as strangers in a bar when Harvey lands there to attend his estranged daughter's wedding.
His daughter prefers her step father to give her away rather than him which makes him feel left out, skips the wedding, tries to leave London but had to stay back when he misses his flight and gets fired from his job in US as well, decides to make amends as his last chance after his daughter gets married by attending her reception
instead. He asks Emma Thomson to be his date on a whim to attend the wedding reception and what goes on after that is the story you have to watch. All goes well in the end, no tragedy here, so great movie to watch if you like the actors! :)

Guitar concert links:

Here is a photo and the video of Tushar's wonderful 8th grader Guitar concert with his classmates and his Technology teacher Mr.P who sang on that evening of April 28th, 2009. This is the last concert for all of them before they move on to High school this Fall. Videos are 3 1/2 mins long, had to cut it short to 1 1/2 mins upload there. It sounded much better in the auditorium than you see here in the video with my shaking hand holding little Sony camera and all! :P
8th graders did better than High school Guitar major students! Here is the video of the second song. Well...my son is the tallest at almost 5'10" and "super model skinny" 14 year old kid there, sitting second from left! He saw Hugh Jackman the other day in the movie. Now he wants to go the Gym this Summer to train with wts etc to have muscles like a mini "Wolverine!! :D

Sayonara for a while!
Here are each and every post from "Foodie's Hope" blog and all posts of "Aroma" blog from my recipe Index if you want to browse. I have updated few current events on the sidebar and will not be updating the rest until June 3rd. I will be not able to answer your question or email you back as PC is not available to me while I am away, Trisha will just publish the comments if any. If you do have any question, hold on to them until I come back please.

See you all later then, be good. Bye! :)

April 29, 2009

Iranian Baghali Polou with Borani-Ye Esfenaj, Moong-Coconut milk Soup, MW Almond Rabri

Did I ask for Sunny days? :D I asked and I got them!! Man! It's so hot here, had a headache running around the town doing chores but my plants are growing fast and furious, it's a joy to watch. All the herbs and Curry leaf plant are on the deck and loving the heat. One drawback of hot and sunny days is you don't feel like standing in front of hot stove now and cook which was a comfort in Winter but have to do at least 3 meals a day anyway! Tushar had his Guitar concert last night, his last concert in middle school, enjoyed that too! :)

You must be wondering why am I so busy these days that I am even missing few posts to comment because of lack of time! Well..I will tell you next Wednesday! :)

I made some slightly familiar sounding Iranian dishes last week, loved the taste of the rice and cooling Spinach salad, mainly influenced by the book "Rosewater and Soda bread" by Marsha Mehran, which is second book. I loved her first book "Pomegranate Soup", so read her second one too curious to know what happened to 3 Iranian sisters who escaped form Iran to Ireland. Moong gravy was yummy and dessert with bread slice made it so easy to thicken faster in the MW. Enjoy the feast!

Iranian Baghali Polou with Borani-Ye Esfenaj, spicy Moong and coconut milk gravy and Almond Rabri for dessert on a platter:
Baghali Polou/Polow/Polo and Borani recipes are mostly adapted from a Iranian cookbook by Najmieh K. Batmanglij with my slight changes, who is also the author of "Silk Road Cooking-A vegetarian Journey". Fava beans are added to this rice dish usually but I didn't find those. I replaced it with green and white baby Lima beans. Moong dish is from Lisa's kitchen and Rabri of course is an easy traditional Indian dessert, I made it easier using Microwave and improvised the recipe too. Enjoy making them, always good to try new tastes! :)

Moong and coconut milk soup from "Lisa's Kitchen":
I know most Indians love green Moong and make various tasty dishes with it for rice dishes or Parathas on the side. I chose this recipe from Lisa's kitchen for "T and T"event which looked so delcious, added 1/4 cup thick coconut milk and some Yogurt but mostly followed the rest of the recipe as same as the original. Soup or bhaji as we say is delicious and spicy. It tasted great with the less spicy Dill and Lima beans rice and very nutritious too and also tastes good with Pooris. Here is the original recipe for Moong soup from Lisa's Kitchen.

Iranian Baghali Polou/Dill, Lima beans (could also use Fava beans) and saffron rice:
Here is a very simple and very flavorful with Polou/Pulao Iranian style. With added Dill and Lima beans (Fava beans) and hardly any strong spices, it makes a wonderful accompaniment for any spicy dal or meat gravies along with a salad. You can also add Gosht/Lamb into it to make a non-veg Polou. Usually, all the the ingrdients are added to a dish, covered and cooked in enough water just like Biryani/Pulao to serve.
But I cooked rice separately and then mixed with seasoned Dill and Lima beans which retains the brilliant color of Dill and beans and they don't get too mushy. I reserved some rice and mixed with saffron and salt to serve on top of Dill rice to make this dish attractive as they do in the restaurants. You can mix all this up with Saffron milk and cook for convenience.

You Need:
2 cups Basmati or long grain rice, 1 tsp butter, salt, Pepper, Pinch of Saffron soaked in 1 tbsp hot milk. 1 Cup frozen Lima beans covered and cooked in the Microwave for 5 mins with 1 tbsp water.
1 tbsp butter, 1 small onion, finely chopped, 2 garlic, minced, 1/4 red chilli flakes, 2 cups chopped Dill leaves, cooked Lima beans, salt and pepper.
Here is how I made it:
1. Cook 2 cups Basmati or long grain rice with 3 1/2 cups of water or cook as usual you do for yourself with 1 tsp butter and 1/4 tsp salt added. When cooked, take out 1 cup of rice, add a pinch of saffron mixed with 1 tbsp of warm milk and mix well. Let it cool.
2. Heat 1 tbsp butter, saute 1 small onion finely chopped, 2 garlic chopped fine, 1/4 tsp red Chilli flakes for a minute. Add cups of fresh Dill leaves with a pinch of salt, saute.
3. Add cooked Lima beans and enough pepper to taste.
4. Add this to cooked white rice and mix well, adjust the salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the Dill rice first and then top with Saffron rice or you can mix both these and serve with spicy gravy and cool Spinach-Yogurt salad.

Iranian Borani-Ye Esfenaj/Spinach, onion and Yogurt salad:

A popular Spinach and Yogurt salad from Iran, this is served with Baghali Polou on the side. Borani is salad and Esfenaj means Spinach. Very simple and quick salad to make, tastes great with any knid of Indian Pulavs too.

You Need:
1 cup thick plain Yogurt, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 tsp Cumin pd (my addition),
For seasoning:
1 tsp oil, 1/3 cup well packed chopped Spinach, fresh or frozen (sqeeze it dry and chop finely), 4 tbsp finely chopped onion, 1 plump Garlic, finely chopped.
To make the salad:
1. Beat Yogurt, salt, Pepper, and Cumin powder well and keep aside.
2. Heat oil, add onion and garlic, saute for 1 minute until soft. Add the chopped Spinach, pinch of salt and stir fry for 2 mins. Take off the heat and cool this down.
3. Add cooled Spinach to Yogurt. Mix well and serve.

Moong and Coconut milk Bhaji:
Same as the above Moong recipe but I made it thicker than the soup consistency and added 3 tbsp thick plain Yogurt at the end of cooking to give it a little tang instead of adding lemon juice and simmered it down on low heat until the sauce is thick. Other than that, I followed the same recipe as it is at Lisa's Kitchen.

Microwaved Almond Rabri:
Rabri or Rabdi, traditionally is a thick concentrated milk with sugar, Cardamom and nuts added. I made an unusual and non-traditional Rabri in the Microwave with fat free Evaporated milk, Almonds, lot less sugar (you can add as much as you want) and a surprise ingredient!! Enjoy.

You need:
1 1/2 cup or 12oz canned Fat-free Evaporated Milk, 1/2 cup Almond, skinless and chopped, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 slice crustless bread (I added a slice of Cinnamon and Raisin bread, didn't add Cardamom pd in this Rabri), 1/2 tsp ghee, few strands of saffron and 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder.
To make it:
1. Grind Almonds, sugar and bread slice with 1/2 cup of Evaporated milk until smooth, add rest of the milk and process until mixed.
2. Add this to a deep tall microwavable bowl or glass bowl along with ghee and Saffron, heat for 5 mins making sure it's not spilling over. Stir and heat again for 2 more minutes.
3. It thicken faster because of the Almonds and bread, so be careful not to cook it for too long. Add Cardamom pd and mix well.
4. Exactly how mins to cook depends on your Microwave. Just MW until you get the thick sauce of Rabri. Adjust sugar as well to your taste.
Serve Rabri garnished with Almonds or Pistachios if you like. You can serve this warm or chilled.

Logos, Hosts and events, my thanks to all of you guest hosts and hosts, enjoy! :)

Iranian Baghali Polou, goes to Smitha's "Colors of Taste-Flavored Rice(World)" event.
Almond Rabri, goes to Mythreyee who is guest hosting "MEC-Nuts", an event stated by Srivalli.
Moong in coconut milk soup, chosen from "Lisa's Kitchen", goes to Aparna who is guest hosting "T and T-Lisa's Kitchen", an event initiated by Zlamushka.
Borani-Ye Esfenaj, goes to Mahimaa's "15 minute cooking" event.

My own tried and tasted recipes from other blogs. Thanks to all of you for posting these delicious dishes, loved them! :)

Vangya cha Rassa, from Anjali.

Spicy Carrot Chutney, from Arch.

Varutharacha Sambhar, from Divya Kudua.

Peanut Chutney, from Sowjanya.

Movies I watched:

YAY! I was waiting to get my hands on this movie for a week now, I got it y'day at last! :)

You will love this movie if you are into politics, know about Watergate and 37th president Richard Nixon scandal, only president who resigned from "office" in his second term in the history of USA. It's amazing how a president can be so blatant, in denial, arrogant (drunk too sometimes but doesn't remember what he said next day!) and shameless, NEVER really apologized to people for his involvement at all when he resigned but reluctantly admits guilt only when cornered by David Frost at the end of this interview after rambling about everything else for hrs and hrs, even blaming others for all that too! Well... reminds me of another "somebody" we all know who didn't resign from the office or apologized for his mistakes!!:P

Nixon gets paid $600000 in 1977 for this now widely watched interview, which made British journalist David Frost a household name, who is also the only journalist who has interviewed many leaders of the World including Shah of Iran. It makes you angry when Nixon says to David Frost "when the President does it, it's not illegal!" regarding the cover up etc.,
in this interview.

Very well acted by Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in the lead roles, Kevin Bacon is great as usual. Fascinating movie to watch, I can imagine how stressful it must have been to both Frost and Nixon to get thru' this one at that time! You also feel sorry for Nixon when he says to Frost when they meet privately, "I am just not suited to be liked, I don't have that kind of charm. Do you know how fortunate you are?". Ex President Richard Nixon died in 1994.

Bride Wars
One of those Chick flicks which I usually don't like to watch but watched this one for kookie Kate Hudson and my new fave actress Anne Hathaway. It's very funny and entertaining movie!
Two "best friends" who dream about their "perfect weddings" since they were little girls, grow up, fall in love and get engaged. When they hire a wedding planner for their "perfect" weddings, she accidentally books the same date for both weddings! Best friends then get competitive "best enemies", even try to destroy eachother's wedding plans, not willing to give up on anything which is hilarious to watch. Now it's war, girly style!! After all that drama, what happens in the end is for you to watch, I don't want to spoil the fun!! :D

Have a great weekend, see you all later! :)

April 22, 2009

Puducherry Indo-French Butternut Squash and Potato Bisque, State Fair Funnel Cake, Ajji's Halli Mane Huruli Kattu and Hurulikalu Usli

This week at FH, we are going to visit Pondicherry/Puducherry in Tamil Nadu to have a Indo-French vegetarian Butternut and Potato Bisque, then we will taste the most popular American State Fair dessert "Funnel Cake" and then we visit my paternal grandmother's halli mane for some authentic Karnataka farm food, Huruli Kattu and Usli. Are you ready? ;D

About Puducherry:

Formerly known as Pondicherry/Pondichéry (in French), Puducherry (means new Village) which is located in Tamil Nadu, was renamed in 2006, is a "Union Territory of India" . It is a former French colony, consisting of four non-contiguous districts, two in Tamil Nadu, one in Andhra and one in Kerala and it's named after the largest district, Puducherry. Because of it's beautiful coastal/beach location, a very popular resort area, it is also known as The French Riviera of the East.

The 4 official languages of Puducherry are Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and French, with English as the connecting language of 4 districts. As a result, cuisine of Puducherry is influenced by French, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam cooking. Indo-French is a one of the popular cuisines. Here is the photo of beautiful house in Puducherry and these infos are from here and WIKIPEDIA.

Indo-French Butternut Squash and Potato Bisque:
I made the vegetarian Bisque with Indian touch using Butternut Squash and Potato with lots of fresh herbs form my pots. It smelled so good and was very tasty. Usually, Bisque is made of Heavy cream which I am sure tastes creamy and delicious. But I used some Buttermilk for tanginess and fat free Half and half to make the sauce in this recipe to cut down the calories.


To make veg Bisque:
1. Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp Canola oil in a deep pan. Add the "French Trinity" or "Mirepoix" as it is called; 1 medium, onion, 1 Celery and 1 Carrot, all chopped, along with 2-3 minced garlic, saute until just soft.
2. Add 2 cups peeled and cubed Butternut Squash and one large Potato (red or Russet will do), peeled and cubed, stir for 3 mins.
3. Add 3 cups of vegetable stock or just water, 2 tbsp of fresh mixed Herbs, pinch of salt, 1 tsp Cumin seeds pd and 1/4 tsp dry red chilli flakes (Indian touch!). Cover and let it cook.
4. Add Herbs of your choice or Herbes de Provence, simmer on low heat. Add 1/4 cup Buttermilk, 1/2 cup Half and Half or heavy cream, mix well and simmer gently, never let it boil.
5. Once cooked, use a hand blender stick to smoothen the sauce to creamy or pour the sauce into a blender carefully and blend until smooth. Pour back into the pan, simmer for 2 mins.
(If you are adding small cleaned Shrimps (1 cup), add them now and simmer the Bisque for 5-7mins, until the Shrimps turn pink.)
6. Serve with fresh Chives, parsley sprinkled on it and with a few seasoned Croutons.
Enjoy! :)

Herbes de Provence:
2 tsp fresh Thyme, 2 tsp fresh Marjoram, 2 tsp fresh Summer savory, 1 tsp fresh Rosemary, 1 tsp fresh Tarragon.
(I used 2 tbsp fresh mixed Herbs from my herb pots, like Pineapple Sage, Thyme, Tarragon, Balm Lemon, Rosemary, Chives and Parsley. Bisque smelled and tasted wonderful!)

State Fair and Carnival Funnel Cake sprinkled with sugar pd and served with fruity low sugar Strawberry jam on the side:
Gigantic American style Indian Jalebi anyone? Hahaha. Funnel cakes are exactly that, without dunked in Safforny sugar syrup but sprinkled generously with Confectioner's sugar/powdered Sugar. Every State Fair and Carnival in USA has these Funnel cakes, freshly fried and loaded with sugar, huge enough for 4-6 people to eat. Even (Dolly Parton's) Dollywood Theme park in Tennessee has these cakes sold there, my kids love to eat these loaded with sugar pd!
They say that Funnel cake batter is made of "pâte à choux" pastry batter but I made this the easy way, adding egg is optional. It's crispy on the edges and soft in the middle. For pouring the batter, you can use Plastic Mustard or Ketchup bottle with a 1/4" small hole in the lid or pour the batter thru' a small funnel, basically anything with narrow spout atleast 1/4" to 1/2" opening. Batter should be thick but pourable like Jalebi batter. Watch the video I have linked below.

Here is how you make it: (makes 2 or 3 Funnel cakes)
1. Whisk 1 Egg (optional, makes it fluffy if you add Egg), 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, 2 tbsp Sugar, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp Baking powder and then add 1 1/4 cup plain flour, mix well until you don't see the lumps and batter is thick but pourable consistency.
2. Heat oil to 365F in a deep bottomed Kadai or small deep fryer to get a perfectly round cakes. Pour the batter into a Ketchup or Mustard jar, squeeze the batter into the oil quickly, first in 3-4 circles and then crisscross over the circles to make a big lacy circle.
3. Let it get golden on one side, flip gently and cook the other side. Drain, cool it and serve generously sprinkled with powdered sugar.
You can pile up the fresh fruit or whipped cream or drizzle with chocolate Ganache on top of the Funnel cake to serve. Enjoy.

Watch this video to see how to make these Funnel cakes. Here is a site where you can buy all those gadgets like plastic Funnel and ring you may need to make these yummy Funnel cakes, these are not necessary things as I made without them but good to have options! :)
Shama wanted us to talk about our traditional village food and say something about the village. Well...I was born and raised in the cities around Karnataka, only visited my grandparents' once a year during Summer holidays, mostly visited my maternal grandparents near Belur almost every year, but I am most influenced by my parental grandparents who own and live in a coconut, sugarcane (made golden colored Jaggery in the farm too), Mango grove and Paddy farm few miles away from Mysore. My father moved away from his birthplace as a teenager for schooling, graduated from Law college, practiced Law and became a Judge eventually. So we always lived in the cities, visited the farm once a year.

Although I don't want to reveal the name (with what else but a very Lingayat name of course! :D) of the farm here for their privacy, our visits to them were not more than 2 days in a year. My thatha was a "Gowda", a Panchayat chief of 8 villages (a 5 men elected for a small scale village court), a loud mouth with a big heart, also was a much feared man in his community too! Somebody has to take care of the stuff before it hits the fan (or the city court), right? Can't blame him! ;P

I loved that simple, rustic, uncomplicated, non-pretentious and peaceful life of my paternal grandparents' place, learned a lot about unselfish, unconditional, pure love (to them, love is also to make you drink freshly "squeezed/milked" warm frothy cow's milk loaded with homemade Jaggery! That's whole another story about "feeding" the loved ones in the villages! OYYY!:D) from my Thatha, ajji, aunts and Uncles. As a result, most of my traditional Karnataka cooking is influenced by my Mysore ajji, from whom my mother learnt basic cooking as a very new young teenage daughter in law!

I have copied most of the recipes of my ajji from my mother's old notebook and now I am writing down one of them, which is authentic and very rustic recipe made from the reduced stock of Horse gram or Hurulikalu water reduced to paste with spices and eaten with homemade Ghee and rice.

What can I say about the village/farm itself? Well..my paternal family own most of the village since all of my grandfather's brothers, sisters, their kids and grand kids lived there for years! They all own their own piece of property with their homes built inside their farms and they literally live few yards from each other. So once we visit the village, it's like visiting the half of the family in one place and we are constantly fed by each one of those families, mostly coconut filled sweets and more coconutty savory dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner with loads of fresh of the tree coconut water to sip!
I still remember the sweet aroma of Sugarcane juice bubbling in the gigantic Cauldron until it turns into dark thick molasses first and then turn into golden (my thatha had his "secret" recipe! :D) square Jaggery cooling in the wooden moulds.Whole village would be filled with sweet smell of Bella/Jaggery!
I remember my mother being petrified every time we kids ran off to the farm which has a huge uncovered irrigation well, a pump house and deep water tank always filled with water. She always was afraid of us drowning in one of these since we loved to get in the tank and sit there neck deep in the water for hrs in the hot afternoons. Great memories! :D

Halli mane Oota; Anna, Tuppa, Huruli Kattu, Hurulikalu Usli, Happala. Slurp!!

Phew! That's some family revelation! Okay.. Here is my Hallimane oota aka"village food", a wonderful thick and spicy sauce which is delicious and can be kept bottled up in the fridge for few weeks. You need dry Hurulikalu/Horsegram/Kulith/Kollu and a pressure cooker to make this. Don't know whether we can use any other beans, may be Avarekalu/Field beans/Lilva but this Huruli Kattu always made with Hurulikalu by my ajji. Kattu literally means "reduced sauce" in Kannada, a loooong process, cooking and boiling down the beans stock for days in my Ajji's kitchen but why bother with all that when we have Microwave? ;D

Anna/Rice, Tuppa/Ghee with thick and spicy Huruli Kattu/sauce:

Cook the beans first to get the stock:
1. Take 2-3 cups of dry Horse gram beans, make sure you clean to carefully pick the stones off of the dry beans. Most of the time if you bought the pack from Indian store, you do find tiny stones which look exactly like the beans but will cost you a tooth or a root canal if you don't take them out.
Spread a handful of beans at a time on a wide plate, look for stones, tedious job but necessary!
2. Soak overnight in lots of water in a big pot. Next day, wash the beans and drain all the water.
3. Add about 10 cups or more water to the soaked beans, 2 tsp salt and pressure cook the beans on a medium heat for about 15mins. Beans must be soft cooked but not mushy. These beans are tough to cook, so you need longer time on medium heat.
3. Once the pressure is out, open the lid and pour in to a colander to drain all beans stock into another bowl, let the beans sit until all the water is drained. Keep the dry beans separately to make Usli (seasoned beans) later. If you have too much Beans for your family, you can freeze some in individual zip lock bags for later use or make Huruli chutney, Rasam, Saaru, side dishes etc with the beans. Idea here to get the as much stock as you can out of the beans, use the cooked and drained beans for seasoned side dish. We will use the stock to reduce with spices until you get a thick sauce.

Huruli Kattu/thick sauce made of Horse Gram stock and spices:
Serve hot cooked rice with a dollop of home made ghee on top and a tbsp of Huruli kattu on the side or on top, a crunchy papad and Hurulikalu Usli on the side. To eat, mix rice with ghee and Kattu to a thick sauce coated bite sized rice morsel and chomp away!:D

Dry roast and powder these first to use as much as you need in the sauce:
Roast 4 tsp cumin seeds, 6 tsp Corinader seeds, 1 tsp Mustard seeds, 3 tbsp rice grains, 3 tbsp Tuar dal, 2 tsp Pepper corns, 2-3 dry red chillies, 1 tsp Fenugreek seeds, bunch curry leaves, 1/2 onion, 3 garlic and 6tbsp dry coconut until golden. Cool the spices and grind to a powder and use it as needed. Don't need to add the whole amount to the Kattu but just enough to your taste.

To make thick and spicy Huruli Kattu:

Add salt and masala pd only after the sauce is reduced to 1/3rd, adding before might make it too salty when concentrated to thick sauce.

1. Instead of cooking for hours on end on the stove top (you can do that too if you like), take all the reserved stock water from the cooked gram in a big deep enough dish, add 1 tsp oil to prevent spilling over and put it in the Microwaveand cook on high 100% for 20 mins, uncovered.
2. Keep repeating the cooking time in the MW until the stock is reduced to 1/3rd. Add salt, 1 tsp or to your taste thick Tamarind paste from the jar and 2 tbsp ground masala powder, mix well.
3. Once you add the masala pd, be careful not to burn the sauce in the MW, cook 2 mins at a time and less until you get a thick pouring consistancy like you see in the photo. Add 1 tbsp Ghee, mix well. (You see some Horse gram Beans in my sauce above which is okay, adds to the texture but should use only the stock/water from the cooked beans to make the traditional Huruli Kattu)
4. Adjust the salt, chilli and masala taste by adding more powder if you like. Heat one more minute after adding powder, cool completely and store in the glass jar. (sometimes, my mother used to add 2 tomatoes too when reducing this sauce, but always optional)

To make Hurulikalu Usli/seasoned Horsegram/Kulith:

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan, add 1 tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves, 3 slit green chillies, fry until they sizzle and pop.
2. Add 1-2 onions, chopped fine and fry until they golden brown on the edges, add 1/4 tsp salt, mix.
3. Add 4 tbsp chopped Cilantro, mix. Add 2-3 cups of cooked Beans now, stir fry well for 1 minute until heated thru'.
4. Take off the heat, let it cool. Adjust the salt. Cover and keep it aside to serve with Kattu , ghee and rice or you can serve this Usli with any other Sambhar and rice on the side.
5. This Usli is also a favorite to serve with Ragi Mudde and Uppusaaru (I will post that recipe some other time)

Logos and event list, my thanks to all of you ladies, enjoy! :)

Butternut Squash and Potato Bisque, goes to Lavi's "RCI-Pondicherry", an event started by Lakshmi.
Funnel Cake, goes to Srivalli's "Mithai Mela" event.
Huruli Kattu and Usli, goes to Shama's "Village special dishes" event.
I am sending Huruli Kattu recipe to Deesha for her to try if she wishes as a part of her "South Indies" , a fun concept to try south Indian dishes and post.

Movies I watched:
"Maine Gandhi ko nahin Maara!"

I watched this movie thinking that it's about the Gandhi's assassination but movie is about a retired man who is suffering from Dementia and haunted by a childhood memory/abuse and keeps saying that he didn't mean to kill Gandhi when he shot at him with a toy gun. He was dragged into court on suspicion of participation in the killing although he was little boy at that time. Well acted by Anupam Kher as usaul and Urmila Matondkar is great too for a change!

"Mistress of Spices"

Voodoo spice queen, Aishwarya! :D
Story is little weird as the book is but I like that spunky, beautiful Ash girl, so I watched and liked it. Just glad that at least one actress from Bollywood has the guts to deal with different subjects however foreign it feels and do well at that instead of wear short shorts and run around the trees singing in Hinglish!

"The Wrestler"
Mickey Rourke's come back film after many years, who plays middle aged down on luck pro wrestler. He was Oscar nominated for best actor. Movie gets you very emotional to see his struggle with his career and with his daughter and great movie to watch (very very bloody, violent and gory tho'). Rourke is excellent in it, movie is specially great for people who love Wrestling, but personally I just couldn't get past how he looks in this movie. It's very weird to see him, felt like I am watching a wax robot walking around because of his botched cosmetic surgery on his face. I think guys surely will enjoy this movie than us girls, but good movie to watch at least once! I love Marisa Tomei in any film! :)

I watched many many Horror movies but nothing worth mentioning except may be SAW V, so I am not listing any here! :D

Book I am currently reading:

"Dreams from my father" by Barack Obama.
Just started reading this book. Very interesting and articulately written by our Prez when he was still a law student. I read in a magazine that he wears a Hanuman charm on his bracelet he wears, it always puzzled me. Not anymore!! As he says in the book, a 6' Hanuman statue was the first thing his stepfather (Lolo, who was a Indonesian) showed him when he first moved from US to Indonesia with his mother after she married her second husband and he was told that Hanuman is a great warrior Monkey God and has the strength of hundred men, nobody defeats him! :D
Obama seems to have a great time in Indonesia playing with kids there as he grew up, talks about having eaten dog meat, Snake meat etc and having lot of exotic pets like an Ape to play with too and later moving to Hawaii to be with his grand parents when his mom divorced her second husband too. We can read about him meeting his father's family in Kenya, college in New York (when he hears that his dad in Kenya died in an car accident) and then career move to Chicago and meeting the Mrs etc., rest is history!!
Barack Obama talks about his Kenyan Father as a charming guy and a scholar student who attracted everybody's attention when he talked but Obama never really knew him as a young child. He seems to have a very confused and emotionally insecure
childhood, not knowing where he belonged. I heard him once call himself a "Mutt" on CNN, comparing himself to the Animal shelter dogs when they were talking about adopting a dog for his kids!
Well..I am still reading the rest, intriguing book to read which lets you take a peek of his past and present life, his life experiences, why he is so charming and readily accepting of all the other cultures and religions. A global President, thanks God for that! Isn't that cool? Let's see how well he manages and where he takes us from here! :)

Thanks to all the bloggers who awarded me last week. Hugs to all of you, I have added your names on the side bar. Thanks again, mush appreciated by me.

Okay, enjoy the Earth day today and let me sign off quickly before all Y'all good people hit me for writing the longest post! Have a wonderful fun week and weekend. Our weekend will be hot, almost 89F as they tell us! :)

April 15, 2009

Chana Dal-Dill Fritters with spicy Dal Dip, Vegan Tofu Pad Thai, Green Tea Cooler with Lemon,Ginger and Honey, Mango Frozen Yogurt

Hope you all had a wonderful long relaxing weekend, Vishu and New Year's celebrations yesterday as well! :)
We had sunny days last weekend and some rain too here at NC. We decided to drive to Chapel Hill U, walked around the campus and the the dormitory just to get feel of the college my girl is going to move in at the end of August. Campus was serene, lush green and quiet, loved it. Then we went to a Indian restaurant called "Kandas", (name of a God (Skanda/Muruga?) in Tamilnadu as the waiter told me, when I asked him how to pronounce it and the meaning of Kandas as I never heard of that name before, food was authentic and very tasty!) for lunch buffet and caught up with the new "Fast and Furious" movie.
Since we were there, we visited "little India" in a nearby city and shopped a lot for, YES, Indian snacks and Mangoes!! We stopped for dinner at a Udupi restaurant (What else but for Mysore Masale dose!!:D) and drove back to reality again! ;D

Menu this week:
Chana dal fritters with dal dip for starter/appetizer, Vegan Tofu Pad Thai for main course served with Green Tea (Hara Masala Chai? :D) cooler and Mango frozen Yogurt for dessert. Sounds good, huh? Let's get on with it without chatting too much, shall we? :)

Chana dal and Dill Vadas with spicy Dal dip/Rasam:

Chana dal is called Bengal gram in English, they look similar to yellow split peas but different. Chana dal is split peas of Garbanzo or chick peas, usually from the smaller and reddish chickpeas. You can see the picture of Chana dal here.
Spicy Chana dal vadas mixed with aromatic Dill leaves are a classic Karnataka fritters, made often during Monsoon season and festival days or for evening snack with coffee in South India. They make a great starter/appetizer for any lunch or dinner party or cocktail parties. I have already posted the recipe but these new photos are taken when I made these again recently. Enjoy.

Recipe for Chana dal and Dill vadas or Fritters is here in this post.
Recipe for spicy dal dip in the vadas is here in this post,
or serve vadas soaked in the thinner version of dal, Masoor dal Rasam/Red lentils dip.
or you can also serve these Vadas with green Coconut and Mint Chutney.
or make these vadas into round bite sized small balls, fry and stick few colorful toothpicks to serve as cocktail party appetizers with Ketchup like
the Hush Puppies you see in this post.

Closer look at Dal and Dill vadas:

Hope you try.......

Vegan Tofu Pad Thai:
Pad Thai is probably the most popular of all the dishes from Thailand, cooked often with Shrimps or Seafood. Sweet, spicy and tangy taste with Fish sauce is typical of Thai cooking. Tamarind sauce gives this a authentic flavor of Thai.
Since this dish is supposed to Vegan for the event, I have added Tofu, skipped all the Fish sauce, eggs etc but have given you the option of adding in the (parenthesis), so you can add them and make it more authentic. This Pad Thai recipe is mostly adapted from this video with my own changes to make it Vegan. My kids LOVED the taste even without Shrimps, Fish sauce and Eggs!

Sweet and spicy Tamarind Sauce:

To make the sauce:
Boil 2 cups water mixed with 2 tbsp thick Tamarind paste,(I used Laxmi brand "Concentrated Natural Tam paste" which has a reddish color) 1/4 cup Jaggery (or brown sugar), 1/2 tsp or more red Chilli flakes, (add 2 tsp fish sauce now if you want), 1/4 tsp salt until thick/pourable sauce consistency and adjust the spices.
You can also Microwave this mixture for about 10mins. Be careful not to burn the sauce. Once it reduces to 1/3rd from the original 2 cups, MW for 1 min at a time, stir often and check for the pouring consistency and keep aside to use in the noodles and use as much as you need with the noodles.

To make Pad Thai:

Noodles first:
Heat 1/4th pan of water until very hot, add 1 pack of Asian flat rice noodles about 2-3 cups dry Noodles and soak for 6-10 mins and drain and keep aside. You can add some Sesame oil and mix well to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.
Pad thai:
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a Wok, fry 3 tbsp minced onion, 2 minced garlic, stir for 2 mins.
2. Add 1 cup Tofu, diced to 1"cubes, fry until slightly golden on the edges. (Optional to add 2 eggs, stir fry, then add 1/4 cup grated Turnips, 10-15 shrimps to this now)
3. Add Noodles, 2 tbsp of water, pinch of salt, mix well. Add 6 tbsp Tamarind sauce, mix 1 cup bean sprouts, 1 cup Garlic chives or green onions, , 2 tsp Sesame oil, 2 tbsp minced Cilantro, cook for a min. When done, sprinkle 4tbsp roasted and crushed Peanuts on top, mix.
4. Serve delicious Pad Thai with thinly sliced lettuce, Tomato, Chives or green onion, grated carrots, cucumber and a lemon slice on the side.

Green Tea cooler with Ginger, Honey and Lemon:
I love Green tea. Unlike our Indian masala Chai, we don't need to add milk at all to green tea, made just with water. I made southern style Iced Tea with Green tea with Indian style fresh ginger and added fresh Lemon juice, Honey, Mint to taste. Not only it tastes and feels like a cool breeze hits you on the face a hot day and Green Tea is good for you too!!

You need: Serves two.
1. Boil 3 cups of water with 1/2" crushed fresh Ginger for 2 mins, take off the heat and add 3 bags of Green Tea leaves. Let it seep for 5 mins or so to get as much dark tea as you like. Take out the tea bags, strain the liquid to take out the ginger solids and cool the Green tea.
2. Stir in 1 tbsp or more freshly squeezed Lemon juice, 1-2 tbsp of honey and taste to adjust the sweet and Tang of the Tea and serve in tall glasses with ice cubes and crushed Mint leaves to garnish. Ahhh....! Refreshing!!

Mango Frozen Yogurt:

Who doesn't like Mangoes? Specially frozen Yogurt made with fresh mangoes is fabulous. I had 2 Spanish Mangoes which are not as sweet as Indian Mangoes. If you have canned Indian Mango pulp, you can use 2 cups of that here, color will be darker and tastes yummier than you see here in the photo. Making frozen Yogurt is very easy, like eating frozen Mango Lassi with more sugar added than Lassi of course. I did have a nice peak of frozen Mango on top the frozen Yogurt in there but it melted out by the time I took this photo in a warm room! :P

To make Mango Frozen Yogurt:
1. Add 3 cups chopped fresh Mango cubes or 2 cups canned Mango pulp, 1/4 cup (or more or less to your taste) sugar or use powdered sugar to make it faster and easier to blend, 1 tsp Lemon juice and 1 cup plain Yogurt (make sure it's very thick and creamy) to a blender and blend until you get a very smooth mix without any lumps.
2. Strain this if you are using fresh Mangoes. Then pour this in to Gallon size freezer bag and freeze this for about 3 hours. If it's very solidly frozen, you can't squeeze out or scoop the Yogurt. Let it thaw a bit ti serve.
3. Take it out, press the Mango yogurt to see if it's semi solid and smooth, not very hard and icy. Cut a small hole in the corner of bag or put a "star" icing nozzle even before filling the bag with Mango mix and squeeze out the frozen Yogurt into a bowl or scoop with Ice cream scooper and serve immediately with a slice of Mango to garnish.
4. You can sprinkle some crushed pistachios on top before serving if you wish for little crunch. Enjoy! :)

Logos, hosts and the events list:

Chana Dal-Dill Fritters with spicy dal dip, goes to Cococooks who is guest hosting "MLLA-10th helping", an event which is started by Susan.
Vegan Tofu Pad Thai, goes to Priya's "It's a Vegan World-Thai", an event started by Vaishali.
Green Tea with Ginger, Honey and Lemon, goes to AnuSriram's event "Refreshing drinks for Summer".
Mango Frozen Yogurt, goes to Aquadaze who is guest hosting "My favorite things-Frozen desserts" an event started by Bindiya.
Green Tea cooler and Mango Frozen Yogurt, both go to Mahimaa's "15 Minute cooking" event.

Movies I watched and liked:

I LOVE Meryl Streep! I don't care which film she is in, I just love that woman's talent. She is such a fabulous actress, so convincing in every role she plays. She didn't disappoint me in this film either.
She plays a nun who runs a Catholic school and suspects that one of the male teachers is getting too close to a student and even without any concrete proof, she tries to prevent the "ultimate sin" believing that Father Flynn is taking advantage of a troubled boy's circumstances. He protests and says he is innocent. When she finally succeeds in getting that teacher out of that school, she is in turmoil because she doubts herself that may be she made a mistake! Loved the film personally, may not appeal to everybody.

Fast and Furious: (New)
Non-stop action and I bet every husband and son on this Earth would flip for this film! :D
We had some time to kill last weekend between lunch and dinner, so we decided to go and watch this movie, loved it. Although usually, I don't go to movie theater to watch Fast and Furiuos movies, I am glad we watched this on the big screen. Great thriller and action movie.

Mary, Queen of Scots:
After I saw the movie "The other Boleyn Girl" about Anne Boleyn and her daughter Elizabeth I, I got interested in reading about the history of England. Mary, Queen of Scotland is the grand daughter of Henry VIII who ends up imprisoned and beheaded in the end for plotting against(falsely accused) her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England.
I borrowed this DVD from the library and watched both of them, loved them. I adore costume dramas and historic theatrical movies like these! Beautiful and talented Vanessa Redgrave, who plays Mary won an Oscar for this movie!
If you want read the books about English history, best books are written by Alison Weir. I have few and ordered a few more to read when we are on vacation in June.

That's all this week, see you all later! :)

April 08, 2009

Rumali Roti, Bell Pepper Korma, Kalonji Naan, Kalamata Olives, Artichoke hearts,Walnuts Spread/dip

Happy Easter!
We had almost 80F almost Summer like temperature last weekend, hot, humid and very windy after going thru' a long cold Winter and chilly early Spring weather. We had BBQ on the deck in the evening for dinner on Sunday, had to hold down the Lettuce and napkins on the plate from flying off of the deck though! :D
Although temp went down drastically on Tuesday, still very sunny here. To add to the joy, Tar Heels (UNC Chapel Hill athletes, Trisha's college) won their 5th NCAA championship!! YAY!! Feels great, our little white and Blue Tar Heels flag is still flying in our front yard as you can see and you can listen to the UNC fight songs here. Curious to know why North Carolinians are called "Tar Heels? Read here and here. Go Tar Heels, you made us very proud! :)

Spring Tulips:
Most beautiful of all the Spring flowers are Tulips in my opinion. Who can forget Tulip fields in Amsterdam, Holland every Spring and Fall once you visit when they are in full bloom? We visited there once about 12 yrs ago, still remember the beauty, Heaven on Earth.

Spring Tulip showcase at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC:
In Asheville, a beautiful city nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains of NC, there is a palace like largest home in America and also a luxury hotel called Biltmore Estate, built by George W. Vanderbilt, which showcases colorful flowers in "Festival of Spring" from April 4th to May 17th, 2009. They say;
"The gardens will be bursting with color and fragrance—thousands of tulips, flowering shrubs and trees, and spring bulbs dazzle your senses. Enjoy music in the gardens and in Biltmore House along with bright floral displays, springtime dining specials, and unique shopping opportunities."
Colorful Spring Tulips from my neck of the woods:

Spring Tulips
One of the weekend projects, prepped up our veggie patch:
For a starter, we topped up 3 huge bags of soil to the veggie patch, fertilized and then planted Husky red Cherry Tomato, Bush Goliath Tomato, Mint and Cayenne Pepper plants in the ground. My 4th Herb pot is ready to go with Pineapple Sage, Sweet Basil, Lemon Thyme. Right now, Herb pots are still in the garage just to be safe until temp goes up and stays up there at 70F. One single morning frost will destroy them all if they are kept outside now, may be we will get them on the deck next month. Last month, lawn was yellow and brittle and after many rainy days and fertilizing, look at that green color of that lawn now! :)

Let's get cooking!
Rumali Roti, Bell Pepper Korma and Bharwa Baingan:
I made some Rumali rotis this week. "Rumaal" which literally means "Handkerchief" in Hindi, these rotis are made to look like Rumal because of their very thin and wide square or round shape. These are rolled out very thin and as wide as you can and baked quickly on a hot inverted Wok/Kadai to serve with gravy dishes or Kababs. I made Bell pepper Korma and stuffed masala Eggplants to go with Rumali rotis. Enjoy the recipes!

Recipe for Bharwa Baingan masala/stuffed Eggplants I have already posted last year is here.
Usually I don't get small round Eggplants here, so the recipe I posted before is made with chopped Eggplants with the same ingredients. This time, I bought some round Brinjals from the Indian store last week. I slit these round Eggplants halfway still attached to the stem and stuffed with the same ground masala and pressure cooked them on low heat to cook them just until soft but not mushy. This is my favorite masala Baingan to have with rice rottis or Rotis.

My favorite "Royal Doulton" stainless steel and non-stick Wok I used to make Rumali rotis, didin't dare to invert it! :D
Although I have a beautiful huge Wok, I didn't dare to invert it to expose the non-stick interior to direct heat which will destroy the non-stick coating. So, I heated the Wok as usual and cooked the wide thin rotis inside the Wok instead. They came out fine, not as good as you see in these videos but not bad at all. You can see how to make traditional Rumali roti here and here and here.

To make Rumali rotis:
1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of Wheat flour, 1/2 cup of plain flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp oil, add enough water and knead well to get a firm plaible dough. Cover and rest the dough for 30mins.
2. Divide into equal portions, roll out the dough as thin as and as wide as possible to fit into the Wok you are using.
3. Take a Wok/Kadai, invert on the medium to high heat, let it get hot or heat the wide Tava or Wok until hot. Iron Woks without handles on a gas burner do very well to invert and bake these.
4. Add the thin rotis, let it cook and bubble, quickly flip and cook the other side, fold the sides into a square like handkerchief and serve immediately if you can with veg and non-veg gravies or wrapped around the Kababs.

Bell Pepper Korma:

A south Indian "Kurma" usually has ground coconut, poppy seeds etc., slightly different ground spice masala than a North Indian "Korma" or Mughlai style "Qorma". Korma has aromatic spices mainly spices like Fennel, nut paste, little cream added with vegetables or various meats. Since I had bought green, red and orange Bell Peppers, I made a Korma masala and served with Rumali rotis.

To make Korma:
1. Chop 3 large red, Orange and Green bell Peppers/Capsicums in to large pieces. Idea is not to cook them too many but just until soft and still holding their shapes.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil, add 2 onions chopped and fry it until they are slightly golden. Then add 2" chopped Ginger and 2 large chopped garlic to onion mix and stir fry for a minute. Add these to a blender and let it cool for 2 mins.
3. In the same pan, add 1 tsp Fennel seeds, 1 tbsp Coriander seeds, 2 tsp Cumin seeds, few seeds of Cardamoms, 14-16 whole Almonds, saute slightly for 1 minute or so, add to the blender. Add 2 tbsp Yogurt and blend all these to a smooth paste. Add enough water if you need it to grind but not too much.
4. Now, heat 2 tbsp oil+butter mix in a non-stick deep pan, add the Bell pepper pieces, little salt and fry just until they get soften a bit, take them out on a plate.
5. Add ground onion masala to the same pan, fry until it smells good making sure you don't scorch the masala. Once the masala leaves the sides of the pan, add 1/4 cup Tomato sauce, 1 tsp sugar, fry again for 2 mins. Add salt, chilli pd, sauteed peppers and 1/2 cup water to the pan, simmer.
6. Lastly, mix 3 tbsp warm heavy cream and 1/4 tsp Saffron strands, add to the Korma gravy along with 1 tsp of good quality Garam Masala, simmer gently on low heat.
Garnish with Cilantro and serve with Raita and Naan or Rumali rotis.

Kalonji/Nigella seeds Naan:

Kalonjis are Nigella seeds (also known as black onion seeds although not related) in English. It has a pungent taste when eaten and is widely used in Bengali "Panch Phoran" (click on the link, Bong mom Sandeepa has a wonderful post on PP with recipes) as one of the five seeds. Kalonjis are usually added on top of Naans before baking in Tandoor. I had plans to cut and toast one of these Naans to serve with Olive spread I made below but they didn't last long enough since we had chicken masala for dinner to go with these! :D

To bake eggless Naan bread with black onion seeds:
This recipe for Naan is adapted from a cookbook by Tahera Rawji. I didn't add the Egg which was mentioned in the recipe but replaced the sesame seeds with Kalonji and followed everything else just as it is in the book. Milk pd gives it a nice texture and makes it rich, don't think it needed an egg but will add next time I make these just to see whether eggy Naan tastes any different.

1. Mix 1 pack of dry Yeast (2 1/4tsp), 1 tsp Sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water, set aside for fermenting for 5 mins.
2. Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp Kalonji/Nigella seeds, 5 tbsp dry milk powder to a mixer, mix for a second and add 1/4 cup vegetable to it, 5 tbsp yogurt and yeast mix to it, beat well for 3 mins until you get a firm and pliable dough. (You can add 1 egg to this dough too but it's optional, I didn't add it.)
3. Brush some oil on top of the dough,cover and let it rise in warm place for an hour or so or until double.
4. Divide this into 6-8 equal portions, knead well. Take a ball, roll out or press out with your hand to about 5" circle, pull one end to make a tear shape. Brush the top with melted butter, sprinkle some Kalonjis and press them down gently. Repeat with other balls, place them on a foil 2 at a time, cover with a kitchen towel and let them rise again for about 10mins.
5. Heat your oven to the maximum up to 500F or more with the Pizza stone or cookie sheet in, slide the naans with the foil on hot cookie sheet or Pizza stone. Bake for 7-8 mins or until they are golden on top. Do not over bake.
6. Serve as soon as possible to get the best out of these Naans.

Kalamata Olives, Artichoke Hearts and Walnut Spread/Dip:

I love Olives, will snack on them them just like candies if you give me a bowlful. Of all the Olives, Kalamata Olives are my favorite kind. Since they are relatively expensive to buy, I add some Artichoke Hearts, Walnuts etc to make a spread and enjoy it with Bagel chips, crisp Veg Crackers, any homemade toasted bread or even with sliced and toasted Naan.

To make the Spread:
1. First take about 10-15 Kalamata Olives (bottled is okay too, don't add salt and Vinegar too much since Olives are already soaked in it), slice them roughly and take the seeds out, put these in a bowl.
2. Open a can of Artichoke Hearts, drain well and chop them roughly, discard the rough and stringy parts of Artichoke. Add to the bowl with Olives.
3. Now add 2 tbsp crushed Walnuts, 1/4 tsp Garlic powder or 2 chopped Garlic, 3 tbsp or more Mayonnaise, 2 tsp Sour cream, salt (careful not to add too much if Olives are out of a bottle), plenty of freshly crushed peppercorns, 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp Italian herb seasoning or 1 tbsp fresh Chives. Mix well.
4. Adjust the seasoning, chill in the fridge for 30 mins. Serve chilled or at room temperature with Toasted hard crusted bread, crackers or toasted Naan.

Logos and links of all the events, thanks to all of you for hosting ladies! :

Bell Pepper Korma, goes to EC's "WYF-Side Dishes" event.
Kalonji Naan bread, goes to Dee's "Think Spice..think-Kalonji". This event is started by Sunita.
Olive-Artichoke Hearts-Walnuts Spread, goes to Priya's "AFAM-Olives", an event started by Maheswari.
Green and Red Bell Peppers Korma, also goes to Neha's "FIC-Red and Green", this event is started by Harini.
Stuffed Masala Baingan with Cashews, goes to Poornima who is guest hosting "Let's Go Nuts-Cashews", an event started by Aquadaze.

My tried and tasted dishes from other blogs in the last 2 weeks, thanks to all of you for posting these delicious dishes ladies! :)

Porial, from Nags. (Didn't have Eggplants, used Beets instead)
Vankaya Bagara, from Vijaya.
Capsicum and Tomato Pappu, from Priya.
Beet Root-Corn Upma, from Ashwini.

Movies I watched and liked last week:

"Seven Pounds":
I didn't hear much about this movie before when it's released but picked up to watch last week. I loved it. Film is about a well educated guy who gets into a car accident which kills seven people including his fiancée. He gets depressed and decides to donate his seven organs/body parts (seven pounds flesh) to seven people who deserve them so they can live. He tests 7 people to make sure they deserve his eyes, Liver, Kidneys, Bone marrow etc. When he finds 7 people, he kills himself so others can have his body parts. It is a very emotional movie to watch, takes some courage to do something like that in real life and I think this is Will Smith's best movie so far, loved his "The pursuit of happyness" movie as well.

"Marley and Me":
This movie is based on a book of the same name. A young couple adopt a yellow Labrador puppy and he writes a column in his newspaper about it as their 12 yrs of marriage and their dog Marley go through various stages of joys and sorrows of their lives until the end of Marley's life. My both kids cried watching this movie when Marley dies of old age. Dog lovers shouldn't miss this movie!

Book I am currently reading:

"The Girl From Foreign" by Sadia Shepard.
This book is somewhat similar to "Burnt Bread and Chutney" by Carmit Delman I have reviewed before in my older post. It's a biographical story of an American girl Sadia Shepard whose mom is a Pakistani Muslim amd dad is an Christian American from Colorado. Sadia's grandmother who lives her family one day tells her that she was born in Bombay to a Bene Israli Jewish family and her real name was "Rachel Jacobs".
When her grandmother had married to a Pakistani Muslim later, she had converted to Islam and moved to live in Pakistan and had her children there as well. Sadia becomes curious about her grandmother's Jewish roots, gets a schalorship to go to India and do a reserch film on Bene Isrreli community and to learn about her own roots in the process. When she goes to meet people in India on the first day, they refer to her as "that girl from foreign with a muslim name!" :D
Intesting book, keeps you glued to the book and also we can see her confusion because of her multi cultural and multi religious upbringing when visiting Bombay for the first time to film about Bene Israel Jewish community, meet her surviving family and her grandmother's childhood home. It's heartening to see the old photos of her family in Bombay in this book and read about India and Indians thru' Sadia's eyes.

Enjoy the better weather and have a fun week and the weekend too. Spring break is on for all the kids here from Saturday, I will be taking little easy on blogging next week since kids want to go out more if they are at home! :)