Monday, November 1, 2010

Back to the kitchen

I have been away from the kitchen for a very very long time now - all with good reason. I had a baby in early April. The past seven months have been busy, tiring, eventful and memorable for me - learning to care for new born, catching up on sleep, watching my baby grow and learn new stuff each day and getting back to work.

To be totally honest, I barely had any thoughts of cooking. But now, I guess I am ready to get into the kitchen for more than just sterilizing feeding bottles. I am going to be realistic and try one new dish every weekend. Off the top of my head I can think of the mouth-watering carrot halwa, traditional mohan laddu and some spicy cauliflower pakodas.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Parupu Payasam

This sweet dish is prepared in most south Indian households for festivals and other important occasions. This perfect blend of dals, jaggery and milk leaves you with the feeling of having had a meal fit for a king.

Green gram dal [moong dal] - 1 cup
Channa dal - 1/4 cup
Jaggery - 1 cup
Milk - 1/2 cup
Water - 2 cups
Ghee - 3 tbsp
Green cardamon - 2 pods, crushed well
Cashew nuts and raisins

1. Heat ghee and roast the cashew nuts and raisins. Set aside.
2. Soak both dals in water for about 1 hour. Pressure cook along with water and milk.
3. Add the crushed cardamom and jaggery and allow to boil on a low flame until well blended and slightly thick.
4. Pour the ghee, roasted cashew nuts and raisins over the payasam and serve hot.

Rajma - Punjabi Style

This is a different version than the one I have tried before. I like this one much better for its true Punjabi taste - it combines really well with rice and leaves you feeling completely nourished.

Kidney beans - 1 1/2 cup, soaked in water for at least 8 hours
Tomatoes - 3, medium
Green chili - 1
Ginger - a small piece
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Asafoetida - a pinch
Oil - 2 tbsp

1. Blend the tomatoes, green chili and ginger into a fine paste.
2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add asafoetida and cumin seeds and allow the seeds to splutter.
3. Add the blended paste and allow to boil for 2 minutes.
4. Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder and pepper powder. Mix well.
5. Allow to cook on a low flame till the oil separates from the gravy.
6. Add the kidney beans along with the water in which it was soaked. Add salt and another cup of water.
7. Turn the heat to high, close the cooker and place the vent. Allow 3 whistles.
8. After the pressure subsides, mash few beans to make the gravy thicker.
9. Serve hot with rice.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Honey Cake

I usually work from home on Tuesdays and am usually very productive. Today was one of those off days. I was supposed to complete an online certification and my mind just did not want to cooperate. As usual it started wandering to what appeals to me the most - FOOD!

I was thinking about a cake that my cousin, Roshan and I baked at his place a really long time ago - it was a honey cake. I remember I had the recipe written on a piece of paper. I always make it a point to put such notes into the recipe book I have. I hardly needed 2 minutes to decide which was important - my work or my growling tummy!!

I pulled out my recipe book and started looking for the honey cake recipe. I almost had a heart attack when I did not find it. I was frantic and woke up my mom from her noon nap to ask if she could find it in my old books that are still in Bangalore. She was really irritated and did not comply :(

I vaguely remembered the ingredients. The base for a cake is mostly the same - flour, butter, sugar, egg and so on. This obviously had to have honey and I recalled that the cake had a strong coffee flavour the first time I ever baked it. I decided to take the risk and give it a try. I again used a pressure cooker to bake the cake. Well I can tell you that it turned out great - a very mild sweetness that lets you have loads :D

This is how you prepare the batter:
1. Add hot water to 1/2 tsp of coffee powder and set aside to cool.
2. Mix 4 tbsp of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter into a fluffy mixture.
3. Add two eggs to this and whip well.
4. Sieve 2 cups of flour and a tsp of baking powder.
5. Fold and mix the flour with the egg mixture.
6. Add 8 tbsp of honey, brewed coffee and about a pinch or two or cinnamon powder. Mix well.
7. Pour this into a greased and dusted cake tray and bake.

Enjoy the plain, hot cake or whip up some fresh cream to go along with it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kadai Paneer

This dish is a must have if you can't resist north Indian cuisine. I urge you to try making some yourself since it will leave you with the feeling have accomplished something great :)

Traditionally, it is served in a kadai - wok. It uses very simple ingredients and can be whipped up in a jiffy. Yet the taste leaves one imagining a large amount of time and effort gone into making the dish!!! Since the main ingredient is paneer or cottage cheese, it makes sense to have it with light, hot and soft phulkas.

You will need:
250 gms paneer, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium sized green capsicum, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 medium sized tomatoes
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 green chili
1 tablespoon of finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coarsely crushed coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder
5 tablespoon of oil
a pinch of turmeric powder
a pinch of asafoetida


Heat oil in a pan and stir fry the paneer for 2 minutes. Set aside.
In the same oil, stir fry capsicum until they are tender and crispy at the same time. Set aside.
In the remaining oil, add cumin seeds and asafoetida.
When the seeds splutter, add onions and fry well.
Add pureed tomatoes, ginger and green chili.
Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder and salt.
Allow to cook until the tomato paste expresses oil.
Add the fried paneer and capsicum.
Mix well and allow the paneer to soak up the saucy tomato, taking care to keep the capsicum crisp.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dal Palak

Highly nutritious and multi-flavoured dal - very quick to make, especially if you you have a pressure cooker. The jeera, red chili and lemon come together to create a mind-blowing and sensational flavour, leaving you yearning for more.

Soak green gram dal [moong dal] in water for about an hour.
Clean and chop spinach leaves into fairly tiny pieces.
Pressure cook palak and dal along with salt and turmeric powder.
When done, add a tsp of garam masala powder and a tablespoon of lemon juice.
In a pan, melt butter. Allow a teaspoon for cumin seeds to splutter.
Add 4 whole red chillies, a pinch of asafoetida, and a teaspoon of red chili powder.
Pour this over the hot dal.

Go ahead and indulge yourself - enjoy this tasty dal with rice or roti!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gobi Paratha

I have always loved north Indian food and never said no when Amrita, my best friend, has invited me over for lunch. It's plain luck that my mom could make good north Indian food and now, serendipity at having married a guy who loves north Indian food!! We are both paratha freaks and I make it a point to make parathas once a week.

I usually make aloo/ potato, gobi/ cauliflower or carrot parathas and occasionally paneer paratha as well. This afternoon I made gobi paratha and decided it has to go on my blog.

For the dough:
Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Water - 1 cup
Oil - 1 tsp

Knead the above into a firm but moist dough. Cover and allow to stand until you are ready to roll out the parathas.

For the stuffing, you will need:
Shredded or grated cauliflower : 2 cups
Minced green chilies - 1 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves - 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
Carom/ Ajwain seeds - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp

Mix these in a bowl, cover and let stand for about 15 to 20 minutes. The salt and a natural phenomenon called ex osmosis causes the cauliflower to release water. So here comes the irritating but crucial part to making yummy gobi parathas. The best way to do this is to use your hands. Take a bit of the filling at a time and press in between your palms. This will drain the water and you can put the dry filling into another bowl. Here's how it should look at the end of this process:

Now divide the dough into 5 or 6 lemon sized balls. Flatten one a bit and dust both sides with flour. Roll out into a thick circle of 3 inch dia. Put 2 tbsp of the filling at the center. Gather the edges together at the center and top like a dumpling and slightly flatten it.

Again dust the filled dough with flour on both sides. Keep the folded part facing upwards and roll out into a paratha, taking care to apply slow and ever pressure. Using half a teaspoon of oil per paratha, shallow fry on a hot skillet. Serve hot with pickle and thick curd.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rajma Masala

I had a packet of rajma or kidney beans lying around for a really long time and finally got down to making some today. Very simple to prepare, extremely nutritious and tastes great with rice.

You will need:
Rajma - 1 cup, soaked in water for at least 6 hrs
Onions - 2, small
Tomatoes - 2, big
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Garlic - 2 pods
Oil - 2tbsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Finely chopped coriander - 1 tbsp

Here's how you make it:
1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic. Saute until the onions turn pink.
2. Puree tomatoes and add into the cooker.
3. Add chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Allow to boil till the oil leaves the sides of the cooker.
4. Add the rajma along with the water. Add garam masala powder and salt to taste.
5. Place the lid and allow to cook till steam comes out.
6. Place the vent and lower heat. Allow 3 to 4 whistles.
7. After the pressure subsides, mash a few beans so the gravy thickens.
8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with steaming rice.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sweet Rice/Vellam sadham

Vellam is Tamil for jaggery. This dish is very similar to sakkarai pongal, only you don't add milk while cooking the rice. It is very simple to make and extremely yummy. Let me tell you, this tastes amazing with a bite or two of hot, spicy vada.

Rice - 1 cup
Jaggery - 1 1/4 cup
Water - 4 cups
Ghee - 2 1/2 tbsp
Elaichi powder - a pinch
Cashew nuts

- Pressure cook the rice in three cups of water.
- When done, add the remaining water and jaggery pieces. Allow to boil until the rice and jaggery have blended well.
- When the water is almost gone, add 1 1/2 tablespoon of ghee and elaichi powder. Stir well.
- In the remaining ghee, roast the cashew nuts and raisins. Pour this over the rice and serve hot.

Capsicum Rice

It feels like a lazy sort of a weekend. KK is on his way back from Pondichery and here I am blogging and waiting for him to be back so we can have lunch together. What with both of us working and returning home at different times,we make it a point to eat together on weekends - unless he's off playing cricket.

The capsicum rice and sweet rice [Vellam sadham] that I prepared sit on the table, tempting me to begin without him. I might as well post the recipes here and fight the temptation.

Rice - 1 cup
Diced capsicum - 1 cup
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp

Season with:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Black gram - 1/2 tsp
Bengal gram - 1/2 tsp
Cashew nuts - 4 or 5
Peanuts or crushed almonds - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves

Masala powder:
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Black gram - 1/2 tsp
Bengal gram - 1/2 tsp
Red chillies - 2
Fry these in a tsp of oil until golden brown and grind into a fine powder.

1. Cook the rice until 3/4th done.
2. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan, pop the mustard seeds. Add the other ingredients required for seasoning and fry till light brown.
3. Add the diced capsicum and fry till tender. Lower the flame and add coconut. Fry till it turns brown.
4. Add the cooked rice, a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.
5. Add the ground powder and lemon juice. Mix well and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is very simple and quick to make. Also, it is great on the taste buds. I remember asking my mom to make this all the time when I was in college.

Rice - 1 cup
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Red chili - 3
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Broken urud dal - 1/4 tsp
Cashew nuts - 4 or 5
Oil - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Coriander - few sprigs
Salt to taste

1. Cook the rice in 2 cups of water, ensuring the grains do not stick to each other. Allow to come to room temperature.
2. Heat oil in a pan and pop mustard seeds. Add broken red chillies, urud dal and broken cashew nuts. Fry till the cashew has attained a golden hue.
3. Add the coconut and fry till it is slightly browned.
4. Add the cooked rice, salt, sugar and asafoetida. Mix well and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Semiya Kesari

I have a very bad case of sweet-tooth and I try really hard to avoid sweets during meals. I was doing OK all these days until my husband asked me to make something sweet for lunch today. This was all I needed to start drooling and lose my resolve.

I usually end up making sakkarai pongal or rava kesari when he asks me for a bit of sweet. However, this morning I thought of making javvarisi [sago] kesari. As a kid, this was my favourite sweet - mani sojji as I'd call it :P
Thinking about it, I realized that it had been a really long while since I had had some. So, I called up my mom to find out how to make it. It sounded fairly simple and I got down to making it. Well, it turned out to be a disaster when the javvarisi dissolved in the water and there was no mani left.

By now my sweet-tooth had reached the point of no return and I had to have something sweet. I was wondering what to make and that is when my eyes fell on the box that I store semiya [vermicelli] in. The kesari bath turned out really yummy which was bad because I hardly got three spoons full!!

I do promise to try out my favourite mani sojji and post the recipe here. In the meantime, here's the recipe for semiya kesari:

Fry a cup of semiya in a teaspoon of ghee until golden brown. Set it aside.

Add a cup of water to a cup of milk and bring to a boil.

Add the fried semiya and cook until the water has almost been absorbed.

Add 3/4th of a cup of sugar, a pinch of cooking colour and elaichi powder.

Add a tablespoon of ghee and stir well until the sugar dissolves.

Fry cashew nuts and raisins in another tablespoon of ghee and pour it over the kesari.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chow Chow Kootu

Some of the south Indian dishes are so simple to make and yet come with all the taste and goodness they can offer. A kootu is one such dish. A great accompaniment with rice and rotis, it comes packed with the wholesomeness of dal, coconut and vegetables.

Chow Chow or Bangalore Kathirikai is one vegetable that can be used to make a kootu. My mom and amma have always used dry red chilies to add spice, but I replaced it with fresh green chilies. The spiciness was much subtler and better!

Here's what you will need:
Chow chow - 1, chopped into small cubes
Moong dal - 1 small cup, pressure cooked along with turmeric powder
Grated fresh coconut - 2 tbsp

Fry the following in a teaspoon of oil and grind along with fresh coconut:
Urud dal - 2 tbsp
Channa dal - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Green chilie - 2

For the garnish:
Curry leaves - a few
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

In a thick bottomed vessel, boil a cup of water and slip in the chopped chow chow along with salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Allow to cook until tender.
Add the pressure cooked dal and allow to simmer for a minute.
Add the ground paste and allow to boil on a low flame, stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat and sprinkle chopped curry leaves.
Heat the ghee, pop mustard seeds and pour this over the curry leaves.
Serve hot with rice - a simple, yet nutritious meal!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Palak Paneer

A very popular dish across all parts of India and definitely among my favourites. I have tried it out loads of times and decided I might as well put it up on my blog.

Spinach - 1 bunch
Paneer [Cottage Cheese] - 250 gms, diced
Moong dal - 1 tbsp, soaked in water
Onion - 1, diced
Finely chopped onions - 1 tbsp
Tomato - 1, diced
Green chilie - 1
Garlic pods - 2
Red chilie powder - 1 tsp
Dhania powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

-> In a vessel,bring water to boil and add the spinach leaves and moong dal. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes
-> In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and fry garlic, green chilie, diced onion and tomatoes. Allow to cool and blend along with spinach and dal
-> Heat the remaining oil in the pan and temper cumin seeds. Fry the finely chopped onions.
-> Add dhania powder and fry for a minute. Add the blended mixture along with salt and allow to boil on a low heat.
-> Add the chilie powder and allow to simmer for few minutes.
-> Slip in the diced paneer pieces and remove from fire after 2 minutes.
-> Sprinkle garam masala powder and pour hot ghee over it. Serve hot with rotis.

Mirchi ka Salan

I am not a great fan of spicy food and am averse to trying out Andhra cuisine. However, I came across this dish while watching a popular TV show and was really tempted to try it out. This is an authentic Andhra dish, where the traditional recipe uses long green chilies. I used capsicum instead and it turned out just fine.

Capsicum - 1, diced into medium sized cubes
Onion - 1 small, diced
Grated coconut - 1 tbsp
Tamarind pulp - 3 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Fresh coriander leaves - a sprig

For the Salan:
Peanuts - 4 tbsp
White sesame seeds - 1 tbsp
Coriander Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Poppy Seeds - 1/4 tsp
Dry red chili - 1

1. Dry roast the peanuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and poppy seeds.
2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and saute the onions and red chili.
3. Without adding water, grind the roasted ingredients along with sauteed onions, red chili and coconut.
4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and deep fry the diced capsicum and set aside.
5. In the same pan, add ginger garlic paste followed by the ground mixture and tamarind pulp.
6. Fry well, adding a tablespoon of water now and then to prevent the paste from sticking to the pan.
7. Add fried capsicum along with a little water. Place a lid and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
8. Remove from fire and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

This tastes great with pulao, jeera rice and rotis.