Monthly Archives: July 2011

Mango Salad

A quick and easy, sweet and spicy salad. Assemble the few ingredients and you are good to go!

Ingredients:

Ripe Mango             : 1
Cucumber                : 1/2
Onion                         : 1
Green Chilies          : 1-2, per taste
Coriander Leaves : 1-2 tsp
Lemon Juice           : 1-2 tsp
Chaat Masala           : 1/4 tsp
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Peel and dice the mango, cucumber, onion and chilies.
  2. Mix in the lemon juice, chaat masala, salt, pepper and coriander leaves. Check the seasonings, adjust according to taste and serve immediately.
Note:
         Linked to Salad Spread, Mango Recipes

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Filed under Beverages, Soups and Salads

Simple and Easy : Carrot Rice

A quick look into the now almost empty fridge had me scratching my head about our lunch. A couple of carrots and a bit of this and that was all that was left in the vegetable rack. And oh, the Paneer (cottage cheese) I made two days back. Cooked everything together, added some rice to it and had a simple, easy and very tasty lunch.

Ingredients: 

Cooked Rice                  : 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup
Carrot                              : 1, grated
Paneer                             : 1/4 cup, crumbled
Onion                               : 1, chopped fine
Ginger-Garlic Paste   : 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves        : 2-3 tsp
Lemon juice                 : 2 tsp or per taste
Chili Powder                 : 1/2 -1 tsp
Oil                                     : 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil, add the onions and saute till it changes color. Add the ginger-garlic paste.
  2. Add the carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes, till it changes color. Add the crumbled Paneer(if using), coriander leaves, chili powder and salt. Salt should be slightly on the higher side, since the cooked rice won’t have any.
  3. Remove from fire. Add the cooked rice, lemon juice (if using) and mix gently. Check the seasonings and adjust. Serve with the yummy Malai Mirch or with pickle.

Note:

Linking to Anyone Can Cook, Veggie/Fruit A Month started by Priya, .

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Filed under Rice, Pasta

Fraisiers : The Daring Bakers Challenge, July 2011

After pondering over the idea for a long time, I finally gathered the onions and joined the Daring Bakers. The waiting period was quite a trial on my nerves. Twisting my hands and worrying about the challenge ahead ( Will I be able to do it (Phyllo pastry – No way! Joconde Imprints -Are your kidding me?!), whether the ingredients will be readily available etc etc ), it was almost a relief when I saw the challenge. At least, the suspense was over!

The host for this month was Jana from Cherry Tea Cakes and the challenge was to make Fresh Fraisiers. I went through the recipe and felt it was doable. Strawberries in Chennai, that too in July? Nope, the fruit needs to be substituted. So technically my cake cannot be called a ‘Fraisier’ anymore.

But leaving the technicality aside, the Chiffon cake seemed OK, the pastry cream recipe was so detailed that I couldn’t see anything going wrong there. The comfort factor was so much that I didn’t bake the cake until the last minute. Once I started assembling the cake, I understood why it was called ‘Daring’!

Things went smoothly, I made the cake and the pastry cream without any problem. Then came folding in the whipped cream and that’s when things started to fall apart – literally! I have seen only low fat cream in supermarkets here, so it is not good for whipping. I have learnt the lesson the hard way when I tried making a black forest cake sometime back. Apparently, I had forgotten the lesson, so instead of looking for another pastry cream recipe, I went ahead with cream that won’t whip!

The choice of fruit was grapes and banana. I had some chocolate flowers too, which I hoped to use for this challenge. I kept the assembled cake(s) in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I took it out and saw that the grapes were immersed partially in the cream and the bananas were off color. Oh My! That would still have been OK, but the blunder was keeping the assembled cake outside and then yacking for 20 minutes. Result – a weeping cake!

My ‘not so stable’ pastry cream was just looking for an opportunity to run out of the cake. It had oozed all over and it was really a heart breaking scenario. Luckily my tummy supported me in this crucial moment, it really didn’t mind the “crying” look of the cake.

I was really careful with the second cake, took the photos first, kept it back in the fridge. It maintained its humble looks for a longer time than the first cake.

Ingredients:

Basic Chiffon Cake: 

All purpose flour      : 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm)
Baking powder           : 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm)
sugar                              : 3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm)
Salt                                  : 1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm)
vegetable oil               : 1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml)
Egg yolks                      : 3 large
Water                             : ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml)
Vanilla extract           : 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
Lemon zest                  : 3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) , grated
Egg whites                    : 5 large
Cream of tartar          : ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
  2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
  4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
  5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
  6. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar (can be substituted by 1/2 tsp lemon juice) and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
  7. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  10. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Pastry Cream Filling:

Ingredients:

Whole Milk                    : 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml)
Vanilla Extract            : 1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml)
Salt                                   : 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
Cornstarch                    : 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)
Sugar                               : 1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm)
Egg                                   : 1 large
Butter                             : 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) , unsalted
Gelatin                            : 3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm)
Water                              : 1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml)
Heavy Cream                : 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml)

Method:

  1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
  3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
  4. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
  7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
  8. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
  10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  11. Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
  12. Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
  13. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Simple Syrup:

Ingredients:

Sugar           :  1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm), flavored or white
Water          :  1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml)

Method:

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
  4. Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Fraisier Assembly:

Components:

Chiffon Cake                      : 1 baked 8 inch (20 cm)
Pastry Cream Filling      : 1 recipe
Syrup                                   : ⅓ cup (80 ml), simple or flavored
Strawberries                     : 2 lbs (900 g)  (or fruit of your choice)
Confectioners’ Sugar     : for dusting
Almond paste                   : ½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm)

Method:

  1. Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
  2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
  3. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
  4. Hull and slice in half enough strawberries or the fruit of your choice to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
  5. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
  6. Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.
  7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
  8. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 10-inch (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
  11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note:

My Fraisier banana and grape cake may not be a great looker, but it makes it up in taste department! I am eating a huge piece while I am typing this and it really is plate licking yummy! 

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Filed under Cakes and Bakes

Black and White Wednesday

A black and white photo of the miniature utensil set, made out of clay, which I had bought long back. This set has a lot of utensils, which formed a part of daily life in the olden days. The clay stove, stone grinders (ammi, ural, chakki, attu kallu), a knife with seat attached (arimamana) are among the things which were used extensively till even about 20 years back. Now they are all near oblivion since everyone has moved towards electrical grinders.

When you look at these things, they bring back a wave of nostalgia. For me, these things remind me of my granny. Many a times I have sat with her, while she was grinding dosa batter in the aattu kallu.

I can never look at the chakki, without thinking of the famous comical suicide scene from the block buster Sholay – “When I dead, Police coming! Police coming, budhia (old woman) going jail. In jail, budhia chakki peesing and peesing and peesing and peesing.”

Linked to Susan’s Black & White Wednesday.

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Filed under Black and White Photos

Thai Massaman Curry

Long long time ago, when life was all about me (read – before marriage and before Bebo), birthdays were given much more attention. On one such year, we have gone to a Thai Restaurant in style – all six of us, room mates. We had a great time there, all preserved in photographs fondly looked upon now.

So when I saw the recipe for Thai Massaman Curry in Aipi’s blog, it opened a flash flood of memories. I could see all six of us together, having a great time, talking about two more girls who missed out on the get together. Well well, all I can do now, is to savor the memory and cook some curry for today.

So here is the Thai Massaman Curry, adapted to suit my refrigerator’s contents.

Ingredients:

For the paste

Red Chilies                               : 5-6, deseeded
Shallots/Pearl Onions         : 2-3
Garlic                                         : 4-5 cloves
Ginger                                        : 1 1/2″ piece, peeled
Lime peel/leaves                  : 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder                : 2 tsp
Cumin Powder                        : 2 tsp
Cinnamon Powder/Stick    : 1 tsp or 1″ stick
Cloves                                        : 2-3
Tamarind Paste                      : 1 tsp
Coconut Milk or Water        : 1/4 cup

Method:

  1. Deseed the dry red chillies. Soak them in warm water for 15-20 min.
  2. Grind everything to a fine paste, along with the soaked and drained chilies. You can use the water in which chilies were soaked to make the paste.

For the curry

Coconut milk                       : 2 – 3 cups
Shallots/Pearl Onions     : 4-5 peeled
Egg plant                               : 1/2 small
Carrots                                   : 1 medium
Baby Corn                             : 8-10
Beans                                      : 8-10
Capsicum                              : 1 small
Soy sauce                             : 2 tbsp
Sugar                                      : 2 tsp
Oil                                            : 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Cut the beans, carrots and baby corn into 2″ long pieces. Dice the egg plant and capsicum into 1″ squares.
  2. Microwave the vegetables in a container for about 4-6 minutes, till partially cooked.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the curry paste and cook while stirring continuously till all the water evaporates and the paste becomes a more solid mass.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stir continuously. Add the vegetables, soy sauce, salt and sugar.
  5. Cook for 5-10 minutes. The vegetables should retain their crunchiness a bit.
  6. Serve with rice or rotis, along with ajaat.

Linked to Bookmarked Recipes – Every Tuesday,  Hearth and Soup Hop.

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Filed under Rice, Pasta, Side Dishes

Tofu in Szechuan Sauce

First times are always memorable – like when I had an aerated drink (Thumbs Up) for the first time.

TV ads showed incredible feats being acheived with a bottle of Thumbs Up in your hand. The adventuress in me was determined not be left behind. With my brother’s unconditional support, I begged and bugged my father till he relented. There was a condition though – that we two have to finish the bottle. Hardly a challenge!

How excited we were to have this cool drink in our hand, so like the movie star Salman Khan! Except we were only half his height and 1/3rd his age then. Still, we were cool.

I smugly took a sip from the bottle – that’s when the smile in my face was wiped off. The cola was too strong for me. I quickly passed the bottle to my brother. He had a sip, passed it back to me double quick. The harassed look in my father’s face was was slowly being replaced by laughter! The quick exchange of the bottle between us was what he had predicted earlier. After ten minutes of drinking and the bottle still being full, father finally took it from our hands, kept it back and brought us home.

Now, when I see Bebo – who is not even five, downing the ‘black juice’ (Coke) without any problem, I wonder…

Like the Thumbs Up, I had a troubled start with Tofu too. Thank god, for the internet and the flavorsome recipes I found online, tofu is now a favorite. This recipe is adapted from here.

Ingredients:

Tofu                                  : 1 pack
Vegetable Broth          : 6 tbsp
Tomato Ketchup         : 2 tbsp
Balsamic Vinegar        : 4 tsp
Soy sauce                       : 2 tsp
Oil                                      : 1 tsp
Corn Flour                     : 1/2 tsp
Crushed Chili Flakes  : 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Dice the Tofu and shallow fry until all the sides are brown. Keep aside.
  2. Mix the broth, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, corn flour, oil and chili flakes together. Heat for a minute in a pan, till the raw smell of corn flour goes away.
  3. Add the diced tofu. Serve with white rice or fried rice.

Linked to Cook It Healthy – Proteinious and My Legume Love Affair.

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Filed under Rice, Pasta, Side Dishes

Potato Sandwich

Potato is the solution to half the problems in kitchen. Don’t know what to cook? Make a potato curry. You can’t go wrong with this tuber. They make excellent side dish for rice, puris and rotis. They are great as a filling for dosas, for making quick and easy snacks. The possibilities are endless. Now, its entering the bread zone in our home too. This is what we make for weekends, when its more of a brunch. Easy to make and extremely filling, please welcome the yummy potato sandwich!

Ingredients:

Bread slices            : 4
Potato                      : 1 medium, boiled and mashed
Green Chutney     : 4 tsp
Tomato Ketchup : 2 tsp
Salt and Pepper    : to taste

Method:

  1. Microwave the potatoes till they are cooked. Mash, add salt and pepper and keep aside.
  2. Spread 1-2 tsp of the green chutney in one side of the bread. Add a teaspoon of ketchup on top of the green chutney.
  3. Add the potato filling, cover with another slice of bread. Repeat for one more set. Grill in an oven and serve hot.
  4. For the green chutney, grind one bunch of mint leaves and one bunch of coriander leaves with an onion, spoonful of lemon juice and salt. Refrigerate and use as required.

Note:

Instead of salt and pepper, try chili flakes and Italian seasoning.

If you don’t have green chutney, use any of the sandwich spreads available.

You can brown the bread in the stove top and then fill the potato filling, if you don’t have the grill.

If you use the Panini grill like me, please don’t forget about your breakfast – else you will get slightly burnt sandwich like mine!

Linked to Sandwich Mela, Serve It – Grilled, Priya’s brainchild Fast Food, Not Fat Food.

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Filed under Any Time Foods, Break Fast Recipes

Good Old Times – B&W Wednesday

This photo was taken in Nov 2007 at DakshinaChitra. The small kitchen in the picture showcases utensils used in the kitchen long time back. My grand mother would have used these, around 40 years back. I am familiar with the pots and pans here, but I have never seen a hanging stand for ladles (top left), nor the coconut scraper with an attached bowl (right side of the vegetables).

DakshinaChitra is a must-see place in Chennai. It preserves and showcases South Indian art, craft and architecture in the most beautiful form. You can say that its kind of a museum. They have even built houses in the same model as it was years back. My father was really happy to see this place. He could see a lot of things that were part of  his childhood, but has faded away with time.

Linked to Susan’s Black & White Wednesday.

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Filed under Black and White Photos

Chop Chop Chapatis

My cousin and my in laws joined us for dinner yesterday. The plan was to make chapatis. Before I even took the rolling pin out, my cousin and my mom in law had made 25 rotis between them! Lucky me, I didn’t have to do anything, but eat the wonderful food they cooked. And enjoy the left over chapatis for lunch, Kothu Paratha style.

There are a lot of recipes for Kothu Paratha in the net, I adapted mine from here. I used the chapatis instead of parathas, but the end result was just as tasty.

Ingredients:

Leftover Chapatis/Paratha : 2 – 3, small
Onion                          : 1 1/2 large, chopped very fine
Green Chili                : 1 – 2, chopped very fine
Ginger                         : 1″ piece, chopped very fine
Curry Leaves           : 6-8 leaves
Tomato                       : 1 large, chopped
Mustard seeds         : 1 tsp
Turmeric powder   : 1/2 tsp
Chili powder             : 1 tsp
Pav Bhaji masala    : 2 tsp
Coriander leaves    : To decorate
Oil                                 : 1 tbsp
Salt                               : to taste

Method:

  1. Cut the chapatis into very small pieces.
  2. Heat oil, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once the seeds crack, add minced onion, ginger and green chilies.
  3. Add tomatoes once the onions turn brown. Cook till they are mushy. Add turmeric, salt, chili and pav bhaji masala powder and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the minced chapatis. Mix thoroughly and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove from fire, add coriander leaves and serve hot with onion raita.

Note:

You can add eggs if you want to. You will have to do it once the chapatis are coated with the onion-tomato masala.

Watch this nice musical video to see how kothu parathas are made.

Linked to Bookmarked Events – Every Tuesday and Hearth and Soul Hop.

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Filed under Any Time Foods, Flat breads

Baked Dosa!

Sometimes you have to trust your instincts and just do it – like today, when I baked a bread, out of wheat dosa batter. Believe me, its the traditional dosa batter, but baked for 40 minutes.

When I first saw this bread recipe at Sarah’s Simply Cooked, I was surprised to note that there was no leavening agent. All the recipe had was the flour, water and oil – with optional onions and herbs. I decided to give it a try and I am very happy with the result.

Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Flour : 1 cup
Water             : 1 1/2 cups
Salt                  : 1 teaspoon
Olive oil        : 3 tablespoons
Onion             : 1/2 large , thinly sliced (optional)
Dried Herbs : optional

Method:

  1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl, add 1.5 cups of water to get a pancake like batter. Whisk nicely to ensure that there are no lumps. The batter can sit for as long as 12 hours, or you can make this while the oven heats.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 F/ 230 C. Pour the oil in a 9″ pan, along with the finely sliced onion and dried herbs. Keep this in the oven for a couple of minutes, or till you start getting the nice aroma of onions and oil.
  3. Take the pan out, give the onions a stir, add the wheat flour batter and bake for 30-40 minutes till the bread is firm and shrinks from the sides.

Note:

You can substitute whole wheat flour with other wholegrain flours like chickpea flour, cornmeal or oatmeal.

The original recipe is from the book ‘Food Matters’ by Mark Bittman.

Since I eye-measured the oil, I used more than the recommended amount. My bread was a bit oily as a result, so I would be really measuring/reducing the oil next time.

The herbs and sliced onions are optional, but please use them as they impart a wonderful flavor to the bread.

The bread can be used as a base for pizza. But I just cut it into small pieces and enjoyed it as such.

Linked to OnlyBaked, Lets Cook – Break time Snacks, Kid’s Delight - Mini Bites.

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Filed under Cakes and Bakes, Flat breads