March 25, 2009

Chana Masala, Luchis with a twist or two, MW Poha Chivda, Korean Hoddeok for dessert!

Happy Ugadi to all of you! :)
Spring is officially here, bright, long Sunny days are back at last for keeps, thank goodness! Makes you smile after enduring quite a long snowy cold Winter, doesn't it? Husband mowed the lawn last week, fertilized it while I went shopping for Spring cloths etc. No more heavy Winter jackets for us, got to have some colorful, light, new stuff to show off some untanned (untanned is good for Indians, btw! :D) skin, eh?
It rained for a while last week, so grass has turned bright green too. Great time of the year just look out and enjoy the beautiful nature!

Here are few dishes for you this week. Before you ask... No, I didn't make all these in one day just to post here (I do cook thali meals in one day if it's for RCI event or for a festival) but cook them over a week for my family and keep them in the draft to post here once a week on Wednesdays!

Chana masala with Luchi:
Here is a wonderful tasty combo of Chana (brown colored Chickpeas) Masala which are full of protein and fiber along with a Indian quick bread called Luchis which are from the states of Bengal and Odissa in India, these are somewhat similar to Native American "Fry bread". Cream colored plain Luchis are usually made without any leavening like you see below in the photo but I did add baking soda, baking powder and spices to the dough this time to get a different texture and color to the Luchis.

Brown Chickpeas/Chana Masala:
Brown Chana are similar to Chickpeas but smaller beans, brown or reddish in color, mostly available in Indian stores. You can replace these Chanas with canned creamy Chickpeas with the same recipe, which gives a different taste than the brown Chanas. This dish tastes better the next day. I cook and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days sometimes, tastes wonderful!

You need:
1 1/2 cup dry brown Chana, 1/4 Tsp turmeric, salt, Paprika for color.
2 onion, chopped and sauteed in a tbsp oil, grind it with 3 garlic, 1 1/2" chopped ginger.
1/2 cup Tomato sauce, (canned is fine too) mixed with 1 tsp Besan or Chickpea flour for thickening the sauce.
1 tbsp Coriander seeds powder, 1 tsp Cumin powder, 1 tsp Garam masla, 1/2 tsp or more chilli pd,
1/2 tsp Dry Mango pd or Pomegranate seeds powder, (you can replace both of these tangy powders with 1 tbsp Lemon juice, add it at the end of cooking),
1 tsp store bought Chana masala powder if you have it, always optional).
Cilantro, 1 tbsp butter, fresh onion cut into rings, few Tomato slices to serve.

Here is how I made Chana masala:
1. Soak 1 1/2 cups of dry brown Chana in water overnight and drain the water the next day. Add 3 cups of fresh water to it along with 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp Paprika and pressure cook until soft but not fully mashed. Add 1 tsp salt, keep aside. Save about a cup of water out in a separate bowl.
2. In a pan, add a tbsp oil, saute 2 onion chopped until slightly golden. Add this to a blender along with 3 garlic, 1 1/2" fresh chopped ginger until smooth thickish paste with little water but not too much.
3. Heat 2 tbsp oil, add ground onion paste and fry for 2 mins. Add Tomato sauce+Besan, stir fry for 5 mins until thick and leaves the sides of the pan. Now, add all the spice powders, salt and cooked Chana with it's water.
4. Simmer for 10 mins until sauce is thick, adjust the spices and add reserved chana water if needed to thin the sauce. Add 1/2 tbsp of butter, cilantro and mix well.
5. Serve garnished with cilantro, onion rings, tomato pieces and with Luchis or Parathas.
Luchis with baking pd, turmeric and paprika:
Luchis with a twist or two. Usually Luchis are made just with plain flour, salt and a bit of oil added to the dough and deep fried, usually they go flat after a while. I made plain Luchis and also made a few puffy, colorful ones with 1/2 tsp baking pd, pinch of baking soda, turmeric and paprika added to my Luchi dough. They puff up well with some leavening in them and stay puffed for longer time, they are colorful too! Why not have some fun with good old regular Luchis, huh?! Oh no, Bengalis are going to kill me now! :D

To make these:
Makes about 16-18 Luchis enough for 4-6 people, cut the recipe in to half if you don't need that many Luchis. I made few Luchis just with Turmeric and few with Paprika just fir fun, kids loved them!
1. Mix and knead 2 cups of plain flour, pinch of Baking soda, 1/2 tsp Baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp Paprika, 1 tbsp oil and enough warm milk to a firm pliable dough. Dough must not be soft and sticky. Cover and let it rest for 20mins.
2. Divide this dough into equal Golf ball sized portions, about 16 or so. Heat enough oil to deep fry at 375F or until hot.
3. Roll out these balls to 4" circles about 1/8" thickness, slide gently in to the oil and press the top with the ladle. When they puff, flip and cook the other side and drain on paper towel. Enjoy them when they are still hot, eventually they do flatten as they cool down.

Korean coconut-Molasses stuffed Hoddeok:
These are amazingly similar to what we call Kayi Holige (Coconut-Jaggary filled Obbattu) in Karnataka but with a slightly different ingredients and yeast dough. I followed the recipe in "My Korean kitchen" blog with her traditional Korean recipe for sweet pancakes. Instead of adding just brown sugar and nuts, I added sweetened coconut, Walnuts and few tsps of dark Molasses to give a bit to the Hoddeoks. Tasted so good, thanks for posting the recipe, Sue! :)

Here is how I made them:
I followed the recipes as it is for the covering with yeast but you can skip the yeast and add just 1/2 tsp of baking powder to the dough for a quicker version. I mixed 1 cup of sweetened coconut, 2 tbsp Walnuts and 2-3 tsps of dark Molasses and filled the pastry and roasted on the tava with little oil just like you do for Parathas. For detailed and step by step pics, refer to her post.

Microwaved Poha/Avalakki Chivda:

Who doesn't love to eat handful of these crunchy and spicy Chivda for evening snacks along with a cup of hot coffee? Usually, my mother sautes the regular thick Poha or Avalakki in some oil until they are whitish and puffed instead of deep frying them and then mixes with all the other ingredients as a seasoning. I chose to Microwave the thin Poha because it's easy to make them puffy and added the other ingredients to the mixture. Click on Annapurna's Chivda recipe for details of how to make this Chivda.

Here is how to Microwave the Chivda!
1. Take 1 or 2 cups of papery thin Poha, spread on wide shallow plate. Drizzle few tbsps of oil and mix well to coat all the Poha, sprinkle some sat and turmeric and mix again.
2. Place 1/2 cup each time on a microwavable plate, spread thinly in single layer and Microwave on high/100% for 2 mins at a time. keep checking if they are frying evenly. When done, spread it on paper towel to cool it down. Repeat this with rest of the Poha.
3. When Poha is done, add 1 tbsp oil in smaller bowl, Microwave it for 5 mins until very hot and add mustard, dry red chilles, curry leaves, peanuts, Cashews, yellow roasted chana/Dalia etc and keep Microwaving until they are slightly golden.(Look at the ingredients in her post, seasoning is usually done on the stove top and then mixed with crisp Poha, I am using Microwave this time)
4. Mix Poha and seasoning, adjust chill pd and salt. When cooled, store this crispy Chivda in a air tight box or glass container. That's it for this week, enjoy! :)

Logos of all events, their hosts and links to their posts. My thanks to all the event hosts for taking time, enjoy my entries too! :)

Chana Masala, goes to Laurie of "Meditterranean cooking in Alaska" who is guest hosting "MLLA-9th helping" this event and this even t is started by Susan of "The well seasoned cook".

go to Bread Baking Day#18-Quick breads, which is being guest hosted by Mansi of "Fun and Food" and this event started by Zorra.

Korean Hoddeok, goes to PJ of "Seduce your tastebuds" who is guest hosting this month's "A.W.E.D.-Korean cuisine" and this event's creator is DK.

Microwaved Poha Chivda, goes to Priya of "easy N tasty recipes" who is guest hosting "MEC-Savory snacks" and this event's creator is Srivalli.

Poha Chivda, also goes to Ashwini of "Spicy Cuisine", who is guest hosting "MBP-Snacks and Savories", an event started by Coffee. Recipe for Chivda is adapted from Annapurna of "My name says it all" blog post, but made it in the Microwave with thin Poha for easy dry frying with little oil.

Tried and tasted from other blogs, thanks to all of you:

Vellarikka Kichadi/raita, from Divya Kudua.
Spicy Appe, from Paru.

Vellarikkai Puli Pachadi, from Aparna.
(Used Zucchinis, tasted great)
Turkey curry, from Viki. (added Eggs instead of Turkey to the same gravy, could use the leftover Turkey after Thanksgiving this Nov with the same sauce!)

Book I am reading now:

"Rose water and Soda bread" by Marsha Mehran.

Remember this "Pomegranate soup" book by the same author about 2 Iranians sisters who escape from Iran during the time of revolution to Ireland and my post with Iranian recipes which are in that book? This is her second book. Not as interesting as the first book but it's continuation of what happened to the sisters in Ireland, how they cope which is great if you have read the first book. Good "time pass" book to read with some more recipes I might try later!

This movie is based on Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth’s novel "The Dying Animal". It's about a relationship between an old accomplished Professor and a young beautiful Cuban student, which starts as purely sexual and ends up taking over both their lives after 8yrs with tragic but supposedly a great love story. Played by Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz, good film to watch if you have time, great acting and "R" rated of course.
Watched only because it's available for $1 at Red Box movies! Otherwise it's not really my kind of movie, what with all the ashen faced Vampires and blood sucking teenage love story!! Even my kids think this movie is weird although the movie and the Twilight books are very popular among most teenagers! ;D
Twilight is not bad for watching once though. I prefer to watch this young love story rather than watching a 65yr old wrinkly nasty Professor sleeping around with his collegues and young students any day like that Elegy movie, no matter what great "love" he has for one of his students!

Rathna of Asvadha sent me these 5 reusable beautiful colorful bags last week as a gift for winning the "MEO-Delish" platter. Thanks Rathna, I love them and Trisha kept one for herself in her car too! :)
Have a great weekend. Enjoy the colorful Spring! :)

A note:
We found that some of our fellow blogger's photos have been copied, trimmed, re-posted and even sent them for various events by few bloggers last week. Please don't Google and just take the photos to post it in your blogs without linking, knowingly or unknowingly, whether you are a new blogger or a veteran blogger! If you can find a photo in the web, it comes from somewhere, right? LINK IT!!
We all work hard to take these photos, take time to type in the recipes or articles to post them in our blogs. It's disrespectful and unethical to just copy it and post as your own to say the least. Always ask for permission, specially
if you would like to have our photos. Respect if we say "No" to that request. When you want to use our recipes or cook from us, say a word "thanks" and always link to the original author if you post it. Easy, no?
Unless we send our photos to you for your events or for some other reason voluntarily, you must not copy photos to post it anywhere. It hurts and saddens us personally to see our pics somewhere else which you haven't worked hard for but we have literally created these photos in our homes and kitchens!! Please be respectful and let's all enjoy blogging without being mean to each other, shall we?
Have fun blogging, make blog friends to enjoy, it's not really that hard!! :)

March 18, 2009

Mughlai Dum Aloo,Lazeez Kulche,Tofu Masala, Murg Nizam and fiesta Salsa in Vegan Taco!

Spring is almost here at last! YAY!
Although it rained the whole "birthday" weekend and next 2 days too without a break, it was warm enough and now the temp is in the upper 60s, lawn is green, trees are full of white blossoms and ready for green leaves, birds are chirping, Geese are flying back to the Lake and colorful flowers everywhere. It's wonderful and hopefully, old man Winter will be gone forever or at least until next November! :)

About Lucknow:
We are visiting Lucknow for RCI this month. I am not familiar with Lucknowi cuisine much and I am assuming here that most Mughlai dishes are included in popular Lucknowi cuisine.
"Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, located in what was historically known as the Awadh region. Lucknow has always been a multicultural city. Courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music, and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian Nawabs of the city are well known amongst Indians and students of South Asian culture and history. Lucknow is popularly known as the The City of Nawabs. It is also known as the "Golden City of the East", "Shiraz-i-Hind" and "The Constantinople of India." Info from WIKIPEDIA.

Mughlai Dum Aloo, Tofu Masala and Lazeez Kulche:

(I had cooked all these and made this post ready to go before kids birthdays came. I knew I would be too tired to cook anything immediately after the b'days! ;D)
These recipes are mostly adapted from Nita Mehta's "Mughlai Khana" cookbook with my changes to the recipes to suit my taste. "Dum" is method where you place all the meat or veggies along with spices in a pot, covered tightly and cooked in their juices on lower heat for a long time on the stove top or in the oven. "Lazeez" literally means "delicious" in Hindi and Urdu, Kulcha is similar to Naan without the tear shape and softer.

To make Dum Aloo:
We usually "Dum" the spices, tomato sauce and Potatoes in this dish but if you don't have the time, you can cook on the stove top, tastes equally good.

Prepare baby Aloos first:
10 round small baby Potatoes,(canned is okay too, easy to saute. If using fresh, cook in the Microwave until they are halfway cooked, dry and saute until you get golden crust)
1-2 tbsp oil to saute or shallow fry, 1/2 tsp salt.
Heat oil in a flat non-stick pan, add potatoes and saute until they are cooked with a reddish crust on top.Add some salt. Keep them aside.
Next, grind the nuts and spices to paste:
3 tbsp of mixed nuts (Pumpkin seeds, Cashews and Walnuts)
1 tbsp Poppy seeds,
1/2 tsp cumin seeds pd.
1/2 tsp Garam masala,
Roast the nuts, poppy seeds and cumin lightly and grind all these mixed Nuts, spices with garam masala and some hot water to a smooth thick paste and keep it aside.

For seasoning:
1 tbsp oil+1 tsp Butter,
2 onions, grated or finely chopped,
1" grated Ginger,
1/2 cup Tomato sauce,
1/2 tsp Paprika or Deghi chilli pd,
enough salt and 1 cup or more of water.

Dum in the oven!

1. Heat oil and butter in a deep heavy cast iron pan or Le Crueset or any heavy pan, fry onion until soft and has a bit of reddish color, add ginger, saute for a minute and then add Tomato sauce.
3. Stir fry until you see the sauce thicken and it leaves the sides of the pan. Add paprika, salt and water, simmer for 5 mins.
4. Add Potatoes and nut paste, mix well and cover the pan (Dum) and put it the oven at 300F for about 30-50 mins. Take it out. Adjust the spices and you are ready to go! :)

Tofu masala:
Tofu masala dish is nothing but cubed extra firm Tofu added to the same Aloo Dum gravy above without the Potatoes. You can use Paneer too. My daughter loves Tofu, so I just took out some gravy from Aloo Dum and added Tofu, heated gently for her. You don't need to "Dum" this dish. Great for everybody, specially for women, as Tofu is a excellent source of Protein. My son hates Tofu though! :D

Lazeez Kulche:
Kulchas are similar to Naan without the elongated shape and are much softer. You can stuff them to bake them or just press the onions etc to bake or bake without ant spices at all for plain Kulche.
You can also cook the Kulche on the stove top on a tava/griddle instead of baking, which gives them a softer texture than baked Kulche.

You need: Makes about 6-8
2 1/2 cups Plain flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp Baking powder,
2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp yogurt,1/2 warm cup milk.
1/2 tsp Yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tsp sugar.
1 sweet onion, finely chopped, mixed with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp crushed Ajwain, 1/4 tsp chilli pd, few mint leaves chopped. Keep aside. (saute onion until soft if you don't want the raw onion taste)
few tbsp of chopped cilantro.

To bake Kulche:
1. Warm water to 90F and add yeast and sugar, keep aside for 5 mins.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients first and add oil, yogurt and mix. Now add yeast mixture, mix well. 3. Add enough warm milk, mix and knead to a soft but non-sticky dough. Add more water if you need to make the dough pliable if it's too dry.
4. Brush oil on the dough, cover and keep it in the warm place for 30mins. After it swells up, punch down, divide the dough to 7-8 balls.
5. Roll out into 3-4" circle and add 1-2 tbsps of onion filling, cover and roll out or press with your hand again to 5" circle, about 1/4" thick gently. Place them on a cookie sheet, brush some oil on top of each Kulcha, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let them rest for 5 mins.

Preheat the oven to the maximum or to 550F and pretend it's a "Tandoor!" ;D

6. Bake Kulchas 2 at a time for about 3-6mins or until slightly golden or you see dark spots on top. Take them out, place them on the cooling rack, immediately sprinkle chopped Cilantro on them. Or cook them on the stove top on a tava and press cilantro etc on top.
7. When cooled, keep them in the Tortilla warmer until you need them. You can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven quickly just before serving.

Murgh Nizam:

"Royal Chicken" or "Chicken fit for a king" is a delicious dish with spices, Raisins and mixed Nuts paste which gives a great aroma and creamy texture to the sauce. Delicious to eat with Naan or soft Kulchas. Photo isn't that great but it's super delicious, as my kids said! :)

You need:
about 2 lbs of dark and white meat chicken, cut into 2" pieces,
2 tbsp oil, 2 onions chopped, 3 tbsp Ginger paste, 1 tbsp Garlic paste, 2-3 green chillies sliced, 1/2 tsp Turmeric, 1/4 tsp Chilli pd and salt.
Grind these coarsely:
1/4 cup Almonds, 2 tbsp Sesame seeds, 1/4 cup Coconut, fresh or desiccated, 1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds, 1/2 cup Yogurt
or sour cream, pinch of Saffron pd or few strands of Saffron.
1 tsp oil or ghee to roast 2 tbsp Cashews, 1 tbsp Raisins,
1 tsp Garam Masala, chopped Cilantro and mint leaves, 1 tbsp Lemon juice.
To make:
1. Heat 2 tbsp oil, add onion and fry until reddish. Add ginger and garlic paste, fry for a minute. Add green chillies, chilli pd, salt and turmeric. Lower the heat.
2. Add coarsely ground Nuts+Yogurt paste, stir fry on low heat until the sauce is thick. Add chicken pieces and stir until chicken is whitish for 3 mins.
3. Add 1 cup or more of water, simmer for 30 mins or until chicken is cooked and sauce is thickish. Adjust the salt, and heat.
4. Garnish with cilantro, Mint, roasted Cashews and raisins, garam masala. Squeeze lemon juice if needed and serve with Kulche.

Fiesta Salsa with Cucumber,Avocado and the kitchen sink!!

Of course most of you know how to make Salsa! This is my version. Salsa is favorite for light Summer lunch, specially when I get loads of homegrown veggies from my veggie patch! In Winter, I rely on store bought fresh and canned veggies! :)

Mix all these and chill in the fridge for one hour and serve on the side with Doritos, Tortilla chips, inside the Tacos, Quesadillas, Enchiladas etc. for healthy and delicious snack.
Peel and chop 1 large cucumber, 1 Avocado, 3 Plum Tomatoes, 1/4 red onion, 1/2 cup Corn (canned is okay), 1/4 cup red bell pepper, 1 Jalapeno seeded and minced, 1/4 cup canned Red beans, 2 tbsp Cilantro, 1 garlic minced, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds powder (get Mexican cumin seeds if you can which a different smoky flavor than our Indian cumin seeds), salt, few drizzles of honey (optional) and 2 tbsp Lemon juice. Dig in with a spoon and enjoy!

A Vegan Taco!

A Mexican delight; I made my vegan Taco with Organic Wheat Tortilla, canned Organic Re-fried black beans, Fresh fiesta salsa and drizzled with Taco sauce! If I wasn't making this dish Vegan, I would add grated Jack or Cheddar cheese and sour cream in there too! Even my daughter, who usually doesn't like veggies, loved this Taco and ate this with me for lunch. So delicious with sweetish Wheat Tortilla, nutritious beans and mouthful of crunchy, tangy, hot and sweet Salsa for refreshing lunch!

To make Taco:
1. Take a Wheat Tortilla, warm it either in the Microwave for a min or heat it on a pan both sides just until soft, not crisp. Place it on a plate.

2. Heat 3-4 tbsp of refried black beans, layer it on half of the Tortilla bottom thickly, drizzle some Taco sauce or sprinkle some Taco seasoning.
3. Take a big ladleful of fiesta Salsa, layer on top of the Refried beans and fold the half of Tortilla over and serve as lunch immediately. Slurp! :)

Note: if you don't have canned refried beans, just mash soft cooked red, Kidney or black beans with salt, few chilli flakes, cumin pd, lemon juice until coarse paste and fry in a pan with some oil until thickish paste. Enjoy.

Here are the logos, links and hosts of these events. My thanks to all the event hosts fot taking time! :)

Mughlai Dum Aloo, Tofu Masala with Lazeez Kulche, go to Lavi of "Home cooked recipes", who is guest hosting "RCI-Lucknowi Cuisine" this month, an event started by LakshmiK.

Murg Nizam, goes to JZ of "dessert Pro", who is guest hosting "Go Nuts-Almonds" this month, an event started by Aquadaze.

Vegan Mexican Tacos, goes to Vaishali of "It's a Vegan World" to her event "It's a Vegan World-Mexican".

Cucumber-Avocado Fiesta Salsa, goes to Neha of "Tasty recipes" who is guest hosting "AFAM-Cucumber", an event started by Maheswari.

A quick last minute addition for "Tried and Tasted"!

Ven Pongal and Gosthu, a delicious traditional Tamilnadu combo from Suganya's "Tasty Palettes" blog is my choice to "Tried and Tasted-Tasty Palettes"
, an event Sweatha of "tastyCurryleaf" is guest hosting this month and this event is started by Zlamushka of "Burnt Mouth" blog. Thanks ladies, enjoy hosting! :)

Ven Pongal with Gosthu:
Very tasty combo to have for lunch and nutritious too, thanks for the delicious recipes Suganya. Only change I made was to add Chana dal to Gosthu instead of Moong dal since Ven Pongal already has Moong dal in it. We make a similar Gosthu/Gojju in Karnataka and is called "Kadale Huli" made with Chana dal, Brinjal, Tomato and Potato to serve as a side dish with Dose.

Movies I watched:

"Rachel getting married"
Good movie to watch with family dynamics and drama, ups and downs and all that. Ann Hathaway was nominated for Oscar for playing the role of Kim, Rachel's sister in this movie, who comes home from rehab for a weekend to attend her sister's wedding.
"The boy with striped Pajamas"
I am sure not many have heard of this movie. I just picked it up out of curiosity. Glad I did!
It's heart wrenching and I almost teared up in the end. It's about a 8 yr old German boy who makes friends with another 8 yr old Jewish boy imprisoned in a concentration camp along with his father and others like him. They develop a innocent friendship and what happens in the end is shocking, saddens you and makes you very angry at the same time at the society which let something like this take place in the past! I know this is just a movie based on a fictional book but still....
Most of you know the story already. My heart goes out to the all the gay community. They still don't have equal rights even after all the struggles for so long. Hope they succeed and at least have the right to get married legally like the rest of us. If you have seen the movie, you know where the phrase "Twinky defense" comes from! :P

Have wonderful week and weekend, see you all later! :)

March 11, 2009

Tomato Kurma, Dill-Dabeli Masala Parathas, Chutney Pudi-Aloo fries with Strawberry Lassi!

Happy Holi to all of you! :)
Yes!! Spring..err.. Summer like weather is here at last! It was sunny 80+F the last weekend and hot rest of this week too! But ground is still not warm enough, I will have to wait until May to start planting in my veggie patch.

In other news, if you remember my little experiments from last week's post of not shopping for 14 days and to go on liquid detox for one day a week, here are the updates!
I did not shop last Saturday as I usually do but ran out of milk, OJ and bread 2 days later. With two teenagers around, I had to shop on the 10th day! I fell 4 days short of my goal, mission NOT accomplished!

But I did successfully complete one whole day of liquid diet on last Thursday though! It wasn't bad at all, lived on 7 cups of liquid for the whole day. Body surely protested by giving me headache and nausea but my mind is lot stronger even though it felt like the longest day of my life!! Next day, hubby says I needed to drink about 10-12 glasses (8oz each) of liquid per day to avoid dehydration and headache if we are not eating solids! Well..too late now, will keep that in mind in future! :P

Btw, we have two birthdays to celebrate this weekend, very busy days for us parents as well! My boy is 14 and my girl is 18 on Saturday and Monday respectively! Finally, one is an adult. YES!! Oh wait, she gets her own bank account and a credit card next week! OH NO! HELP!! :D
Details in my next post.

Okie dokie!! Now let's get on with it without too much yakking from me, shall we? I have spicy Tomato Kurma, festive masaledar Lachcha Parathas, my mom's Chutney pudi, Dabeli masala smothered Aloo fries and a delicious Strawberry lassi for this week. Sounds good, huh?
I will be sending these to few events, logos and links are at the bottom of the post. You can click on all the photos to enlarge them.

Tomato Kurma:

Tomato Kurma is adapted from one of the Mallika Badrinath's books. It's delicious and down to earth as most of her recipes are. Tomato is a fruit but mostly used as vegetable in our kitchen. It is also high in Vitamin A and C, which are good source for us, specially for kids. Since kids usually like Tomatoey Spaghetti sauce, using Tomatoes in Kurma is another way to utilize the goodness. With antioxidant benefits, Tomatoes are excellent for reducing the risk of Cancer too.

You need:
4-5 Tomatoes, Cilantro to garnish, 1 tsp Jaggary or sugar, enough salt.
2 tsp oil and 1 tsp ghee, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 garlic,chopped,1 large onion chopped, 1-2 green chillies, sliced.

Grind all these to a smooth paste with enough warm water and keep aside:
1/3 cup fresh coconut, 5-6 Cashew nuts, 1 tbsp Poppy seeds, 1 tbsp Coriander seeds, 1/4 tsp chilli pd or 2 red dry chillies, 1 tsp Garam masala. (no need to roast the spices before grinding)
To make Kurma:
1. Heat oil and ghee, add cumin seeds, garlic, chillies, stir for a minute and add onion and fry until soft.
2. Add Tomatoes, salt, sugar, cook until Tomatoes are soft. Turn down the heat.
3. Add the ground coconut masala to this dish and simmer for 30 mins or until you get a delicious aroma. Adjust the salt and spices, add cilantro.
4. Serve with Dill masala Parathas or Dosas or idlies.

Festive Parathas for Holi! Dill and Dabeli masala stuffed Parathas:

Since Holi is not one of the well celebrated festival in South India unlike in North India, I am not very familiar with the traditional Holi festival foods. After reading the choices at Purva's blog about Parathas as one of the foods for Holi, I made these masaledar colorful Parathas for her Holi event. They are colorful with Dill (Ashwini's idea to add Dill) and flavorful with the Dabeli masala added to the dough. Enjoy! :)

You need:
2 cups of Wheat flour, 1/2 cup Dill leaves chopped, (optional), 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp Fennel seeds powder, 1 tsp coriander seeds pd, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp Dabeli masala (store bought or home made), 1/4 cup yogurt and enough warm water to make a firm dough.

Home made Dabeli Masala:
2 tsp cumin seeds pd, salt, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp Kala namak (black salt), 1 tsp Mango powder, pinch of Nutmeg/Mace powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/8 tsp clove powder, 1/4 tsp Turmeric. Mix all these and use as needed.

Layered Parathas:

Enlarge the collage if you want to see the details of folding the Parathas.

To make Parathas:
1. Add the above in a mixer or mix by hand and knead this to a firm non-sticky dough for 5 mins. Divide into equal portions. Cover the bowl and rest the dough for atleast 15mins or more.
2. Now, look at the collage. First roll one dough ball to 4", spray no-stick or brush some oil, fold the top 2/3rd way down. Fold the top again to a cigar style and stretch the dough to make it longer.
3. Now curl this elongated dough into a peda or snail like shape, flatten and roll out again gently without pressing too hard to keep the layers to a 5-6" circle. Repeat with others.
4. Heat a tava, cook these parathas both sides until golden, brushing with oil or ghee on top while it's still warm and sprinkle some Dabeli Masala on top.

If you don't want to make layers, you can also just roll the dough balls to 5-6" circles' 1/8th thick and cook on Tava too.
Serve these with Tomato Kurma or just with plain yogurt or raita or Pickle.

Mom's Karnataka style Chutney Pudi:

This is one of the three Chutney pudis/powders my mother makes at home. This one has 2 kinds of dal and it's supposed to be very spicy to go with plain Yogurt and rice or dosas and idlies with some ghee. But I add a bit less chilli pd than usual. You can add as much as you like. Great with hot chapatis with a tsp of ghee drizzled on top of this chutney pudi as well.

You need:
1 cup Chana dal,
1/2 cup Urad dal,
1/4 cup dry grated coconut,
and 1 tsp coriander seeds.
enough dry red chillies to your taste.
or enough chill powder,(do not roast this but add it to the grinder)

enough salt to taste,
1 /4 tsp Turmeric,
1/2 tsp Sugar (Optional)
1 tsp or more Tamarind powder.
(or take a large marble sized tamarind (not tamarind paste), roast this until it's a bit dry and stiff. As it cools, it will be drier and easy to powder along with others.)

To make chutney pudi:
Roast first 4 of the above ingredients one by one in a hot pan until reddish, cool them and powder adding the other ingredients on the list coarsely. Do not powder this mixture very fine, it should grainy like Semolina/Rava. Adjust the salt, chilli and Tamarind as you like it. Crunchy Chutney pudi should be well balanced, spicy and tangy. You can add some sugar too, if you like the sweet, tangy and hot taste!

If you make a small amount of chutney pudi and use it quickly, store it in a jar with airtight lid on the counter or in the pantry. If not, it's better to keep it in the fridge, lasts longer there since this pudi has coconut in it.

Dabeli masala and Chutney Pudi laced Aloo fries with Strawberry Lassi for kids!

well...who doesn't like thick cut baked golden Potato fries? They are excellent to munch on for kids and adults. With masala sprinkled on the crispy baked Aloo, they are great for snacking on their own or on the side with a burger or few cutlets. You can use large Potatoes cut into fingers and fry or bake to make these masalaedar aloo fries.

To make masala Fries:
I used frozen crinkled cut Potatoes, baked them at 450F oven until golden. Took them out and sprinkled half the portion with above Dabelai masala, dry herbs and salt and sprinkled the other half portion with salt and my Chutney pudi which I have given recipe above. You can cut Potatoes into long 3-4" fingers and shallow fry and sprinkle with masalas if frozen is not Potato fries are not available to you. Serve this with delicious thick Strawberry Lassi!! Slurp!! :)

Strawberry Lassi:
When FIC event said Pink, I immediately thought Strawberry smoothies. After seeing many smoothies and milk shakes in other blogs, I thought of making it Indian fusion Lassi with Strawberries. It was delicious. If the strawberries are fresh and sweet, you need less sugar and few ice cubes. I used frozen Strawberries, so more sugar needed and no ice! How thick or thin you want the Lassi, it depends on how much water you add. Strawberry Lassi is a great source of Calcium, Fiber, Vitamins and Protein too. Enjoy.

Here it is:
Add 1 cup frozen or fresh Strawberries, 1 cup plain Yogurt, 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup ice cubes, 1/8 cup or enough sugar powder into a blender and make a smooth thickish drink. If you like to add flavor, add few drops Vanilla essence or few Pistachios while blending. But natural flavor of Strawberries is good enough for me. I like my Lassi little thicker, add more water if you want thinner Lassi. Chill Lassi for an hour to serve. Makes about 3-4 servings.

Here are logos of each event, link to their announcement pages and list of my dishes I am sending to these events, please click on the collage to enlarge. Thanks to all the event hosts, enjoy! :)

Tomato Kurma, goes to Sanghi of "Sanghi's Tasty Bites" blog's new event "Fall in Love-Tomato".

Chutney Pudi, goes to Smitha of "Kadumanga" and to her "Colors of taste-Podis" event.

Masala Potato fries, goes to Deepa of "Simple Home cooking" blog's event "Cooking for kids-Potato" and this event is started by Sharmi.

Wheat flour Dill-masala Parathas, go to Roma of "Roma's space", who is guest hosting "JFI-Wheat" this month, an event started by Indira.

Colorful and festive Dabeli Masala Parathas, also go to Purva of "Purva's Dawat" blog's event "Festive Food-Holi".

Delicious Strawberry Lassi, goes to Priya of "Priya's easy and tasty recipes" who is guest hosting "Food in Color-Pink", an event started by Harini.

My tried and tasted dishes from other blogs, thanks for posting these, girls! :)

Kathirikkai Mor-Kuzhambu, from Malar.
(Cubed the Eggplants since I only had the US style huge purple ones. Finger licking recipe, different from the usual Mor kolzhambu!)
Moogachi Hirwi Amti, from Meera.
(Was delicious and nutritious, skipped the optional coconut milk but added everything else)
Keerai Molagutal, from Super chef.
(Added a bit of tamarind, can't go wrong with this yummy Spinach and dal Molagotal!)

Book I am reading now:
"The quilt and other stories" by Ismat Chughtai. (1915-1991)
Born in 1915 and growing up in a very conservative Muslim family in India, Ismat Chugtai started writing in Urdu when she was in her 20s. Her short story "The Quilt or Lihaaf" was about a young girl who was temporarily staying with her female relative remembering an incident where two women were having a sexual relationship, which was frowned upon at that time. She was charged with "indecent writing" in 1944 for this story by the British Imperial court and she won that case too! How about that?! Happy International Women's day to her! :)
Her stories have been sufficiently well-translated into English by two women; Tahira and Syeda, other stories are very interesting too although it's not easy to translate from poetic Urdu to English. Her other stories are equally endearing in this book. It must be excellent to read them in Ismat's own words in Urdu but unfortunately most of us can't. Thank God for English translation!

Movies I saw:
"Flashbacks of a Fool"
Daniel Craig, "MR. BOND" himself! 'Nuff said!! ;D
But seriously this movie makes you see how and why some "rich" people are such sad souls and every sad soul has a sadder story to tell! Great "R" rated movie to watch )

"I've Loved You So Long"
Loved this French movie with English subtitles. Kristen Scott Thomas, a British actress, keeps you glued to the movie until the last minute to know what happened in her past and why she killed her 6yr old son!

At last, I won a "Drool Worthy" award from Rathna of "Asvadha" blog when we sent in the entries for her "Made for each other" event. I have never ever won anything in my life, so I am deliriously happy, didn't even know I even get a surprise gift! WOO HOO! Thanks Rathna! :)

Lastly, thank you so much to all the bloggers who shower me with many cute awards week after week. I appreciate each one of them, cherish it and they are all listed on the sidebar with your names in it. Hugs to all of you, I am lucky to have all of your support. All of my blog buddies are welcome to grab these awards, you all deserve them. Have a great weekend my friends, have fun!

March 04, 2009

Two Kerala delicacies: Nenthrakkaya/Plantain Kalan with paprika Poori, Shrimp/Chemmeen Moily and a bonus Spinach and Feta pockets to go!

It snowed 6" here NC in one night on the 2nd of March with temperature plunging down to 11F at night, can you believe it?!
But we loved it, it was a joy to look at the powdery snow when the sunlight hits it. Such glorious sight, it feels good to be alive! A short lived joy though, it's all went back to normal now, although it's still a bit cold!
Hopefully, weather gets warmer now that we had the snow storm. I am really looking forward to Spring after what seems to be a longest and coldest Winter this year!
(Click to enlarge the snow covered photos of our front and back yard.)

What else is going on over here?
Well... Siri
had a resolution not to shop for a week, to use up all the fridge and freezer food etc and she achieved that goal this week! Inspired by her, I have decided not to shop for 14days as well starting from last Saturday and I also want to try to detox myself by getting on a liquid only (Rasam/dal broth fast?!) plan one day per week! Can I do it? Time will tell, I will update you for sure! :D

As some of you know already, I am taking a short break from posting any dishes in my Aroma blog so I can have some time to read few books. I will be cooking as usual and posting here at FH once a week on Wednesdays though. If any of these dishes suits your events, I will gladly send it you. I have posted all the event logos on the bottom of the post, have linked to respective hosts and their posts as well.

Ever since I cooked for RCI Kerala, I have fallen in love with Kerala cuisine, always so simple, flavorful and delicious. I tried these Kalan and Shrimp Moily from a book called "The essential Kerala cookbook" by Vijayan Kannampilly. A very non-pretentious, soft bound book by Penguin Original with no pictures at all but recipes are so authentic, it feels like I am cooking from a grandmother's kitchen! :)

Nenthrakkaya/Plantain Kalan/Kaalan:
I love Plaintains. The kind I get here are from South America, so tough that I have to cook them in a pressure cooker to soften them unlike Indian Plantains which are lot tender and almost like cooking Potatoes. Anyway, here is a classic Kerala Kalan, delicious Palntains cooked in a spicy yogurt and coconut sauce.
I made some Paprika Pooris to serve with Kalan, which are a surprisingly perfect combo! Kalan tastes better the next day as the spices mingle overnight, just keep it in the fridge and reheat the next day to serve.

You need to cook these first in a pressure cooker:
3 Spanish style Plantains, 4 Shallots, chopped, 2 green chillies,sliced, 1/2 tsp black Peppercorns, crushed, 1/4 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp Turmeric, 1 tsp salt and 1 1/2 cup water.
To grind to a very smooth paste:
Grind the first 4 ingredients with water to fine paste and add sour cream to get a smooth ground masala, keep aside)
1/2 cup fresh grated Coconut,
2 Shallots, sauteed until soft for 2 mins in 1 tsp oil,
2 tsp cumin seeds,
1/2 cup water.

1 1/2 cups Sour cream or Yogurt.
To temper/seasoning:
1 1/2 tbsp (use Coconut oil to be authentic) oil+ghee,
1 tsp Mustard seeds,
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds,
few curry leaves,
1-2 red chillies,
2 Shallots, chopped.
Some chopped Cilantro, Optional.

To make Kalan:
1. Peel and cube Plantains to small pieces. Add all the "you need" ingredients up there in a pressure cooker along with Plantains and cook until soft.
2. In a pan, heat oil+ghee etc , add other ingredients as in the "temper" section one by one, stir until onion is slightly golden. Then add cooked Plantain into it and heat for 3 mins.
3. Turn down the heat, add ground masala to it and simmer gently for 1/2 an hour. Never let it boil, coconut paste might separate to make the gravy thin.
4. Once it thickens and smells good, add cilantro and adjust the salt. Take off the heat. You can reheat in the Microwave when you need it.

Plantain Kalan with Paprika Poori or Boori: (as Aparna told me to say, Malayalee style! :D)
Kalan with thinner gravy can be served with rice or as side dish. I made Pooris flavored and colored with some Paprika in the dough. Paprika gives them a great color without adding heat to the Pooris.

1. Add 1 1/2 cup wheat flour/atta, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp Paprika (just for color, sweet Paprika is not spicy), mix well. Add enough milk or water to make a very stiff dough, cover and let it rest for 20mins or so.
Heat oil to deep fry to 365F.
2. Divide into Golf sized or smaller balls. Roll each out into 4-5" circles 1/8" thick (you can use a 4" cookie cutter to cut the shapes) , gently add to hot oil. Press the top a bit with a perforated spatula until it puffs and flip the Poori, let it get golden and remove on a paper towel.
3. Serve with Kalan.

Shrimp/Chemmeen Moily/Molee:
Usually, I don't buy or cook Seafood at home although I love to order Salmon or crab cakes in the restaurants. But after seeing so many delicious Seafood dishes cooked by other bloggers, I have decided to cook a few Seafood dishes too. I bought a pack of large Shrimps and chose a Moily/Molee recipe from that Kerala book. We loved the flavorful gravy with some plain rice and kids were happy to have a non-veg as well! :D

To marinade:
20 large Shrimps, deveined and cleaned with tails,
2 tbsp Lemon juice,
1 tsp peppercorn, coarsely crushed,
1 tsp Turmeric,
1 Tsp salt.

To temper:
2 tbsp oil,
Few Curry leaves,
1 Onion, finely chopped,
1-2 Green chillies,sliced
1/2 Cup Tomato sauce.

Grind to a fine paste:
2 Garlic,
1" fresh ginger,
3 cloves,
1" Cinnamon,
1 tsp sweet Paprika,
1 tbsp coriander seeds,
1/4 tsp thick Tamarind paste,
2-3 tbsp water.

1 cup Coconut milk.

Some Cilantro to garnish

To make Shrimp Moily:
1. Marinade the Shrimps in lemon juice, salt, pepper and turmeric for 20 mins.
2. Heat oil, add curry leaves, finely chopped onion, green chillies, stir until soft.
3. Add ground paste and stir fry for 2 mins until oil shows up on top, do not burn the masala.
4. Add Tomato sauce, cook for 3 more minutes or until you get a thick sauce.
5. Turn down the heat, add 1/4 cup cold water and 1 cup coconut milk, simmer until the sauce is heated thru' on low heat.
6. Once the sauce hot enough, add Shrimp along with it's marinade, mix well. Cook gently until Shrimps turn pink, doesn't take much time to cook. Garnish with Cilantro.

Do not add Shrimps unless the coconut milk sauce is cooked thru' and smells good. Do not overcook the Shrimps once added to the sauce, they will be tough to eat.

Serve this Moily with plain rice, Aapams, Pathiri or Idiappam. Again, this Moliy tastes better the next day but equally delicious to serve right after it's made.

Spinach and Feta Pockets to grab and go/meals on wheels!
Last Sunday, we were lazing around watching movies when kids wanted some snacks. I had a can of Pilsbury Crescents in the fridge. Since I always have Spinach and Feta in the freezer (which are both kids' favorite), they wanted to make some quick Crescent pockets. These are very easy to make and delicious to eat. Spinach is fully cooked, so you can keep these on the kitchen counter for 1-2 days without a worry, ie if there are any left of course!! :D

You need:
1 can of Pillsbury Crescent, which has 8 triangles.
(Or you can use Puff pastry, Bread dough, Pizza dough,Phyllo dough sheets and or any crust of your choice. Oven temp vary depending on what crust you choose)

2 cups Fresh or frozen Spinach, chopped,
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese,
pinch of salt,(Feta has salt, go easy on the salt)
enough Pepper,
1/2 tsp Garlic pd,
1 tsp dry Steak seasoning which has onion flakes, herbs and red chilli flakes,
To make:
1. Microwave Spinach with 1 tbsp water, witha pinch of salt or if frozen, without any water with salt for 5 mins or so covered until Spinach is cooked and almost dry. Cool it.
2. Add all the spices and Feta to cooled Spinach, mix gently. Do not break Feta too much. Adjust salt and spices to your taste. Divide the filling roughly to 8 portions.

Preheat the oven to 375F or as the Crescent can instructs you.

3. Open the can, lay the triangles on a cookie sheet. Take 1 portion of filling and place it on the widest part of the crescent ans wrap the dough around the filling lightly however you want and seal the edges.
4. Repeat the same with all others and bake for 15-20 mins or until they are golden. Excellent to eat right after baking and nutrius too! You can use Pizza dough or inbetween the Biscuit dough too instead of Crescents! :)

Here are the logos of each event I will be sending these dishes

Kalan, a Kerala dish along with poori, goes to EC of "Simple Indian food", who is hosting "WYF-Cuisine" event.

Shrimp Moily, goes to Divya Vikram of "Dil Se" blog's event "Think Spice..Think Peppercorns". This event is started by Sunita.

Spinach and Feta Pockets, goes to LG of "Taste of Mysore" blog's event "Meals on Wheels" and to Pallavi of "All thingz yummy" blog, for her event "Sunday snacks-Grab and go" as well.

Both Kalan and Poori and Spinach-Feta Pockets, go to Trupti of "recipe Center" for her event "Recipes for the rest of us : Picnic Eats" and this event is started by Ramki.

Thanks to all the event hosts, enjoy! :)


Tried and Tasted from other blogs, thank you for posting these my dear friends! :)
Click on the collage to enlarge. In addition to following the original recipes, I added a few other veggies or spices to these dishes.

Mulangi sambhar, from Krishnaveni. (added a bit more coriander seeds, rest is the same)

Sabbakki Idli, from Lakshmi G. (Used 2 cups Rava to 1 cup Sago/Sabbakki, steamed in Dhokla stand instead of Idli stand)

Cauliflower Kurma, from Madhumathi. (Added Potatoes, Peas and Lima beans with Gobi/Cauliflower)

Dill chapatis, from Ashwini. (I added some spices to the dough and improvised, will post my version of Parathas next week)

Movies I watched:

Frozen River (Oscar nominated, beautiful and heart wrenching)
Priceless (French movie with English subtitle, good love story to watch to pass time!)
Religulous (Documentary by Bill Maher, another must watch if you are open minded enough to question the existence of "God" and "God's people"!)

Thanks for all of you who passed on few award last week to me, they are in my sidebar with your names. Hugs to all of you!

Have a fun weekend, see you next week! Purnima let me know that March 8th is celebrated as a "International women's day", so enjoy that too! :)