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Friday, November 26, 2010

Parmesan Cheese Sticks

Growing up, for me and my sister, one of our favorite evening brunches was - to devour on munchies usually made up of 'puff pastry'. Back then, making all these goodies at home was a distant dream and were something we could get only in a bakery shop. Each puff (veggie or egg) used to cost Rs 2 each and I used to save up all my pocket money to splurge on these yummy, buttery goodies, every now and then.

Fast forward 10 years, here I am in USA where store-bought pastry sheets are readily available, as easy as a pound of fresh vegetables or a stick of butter. I was as delighted when I discovered (few years ago), I could bake all of them & much more, in a matter of minutes. :)

...it is cold, rainy and depressing here on west coast ( thanks to the untimely storm). So, I thought this is best time to warm up the house with some puff pastry goodies. these are some of them and there are more coming as I have one more pastry sheet, still in my freezer. Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gobhi Paratha, with Pickle Raita

A 'Paratha' is basically a pan-fried Indian flatbread. With innumerable number of options as stuffing, this dish is very popularly made in the northern part of India. This is my first, successful attempt to make 'Gobhi Paratha', with the stuffing properly tucked in between the layers (and not oozing out, like it did in past times). This is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and for almost anytime & any day. Enjoy.


Gobhi Paratha

Preparation:

Cut cauliflower into florets and grate. We need 2 cups of shredded cauliflower.

In a mixing bowl, add 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 tsp of salt. Add water (about 1/2 cup) little by little to form a nice, soft dough. Apply little oil on the surface, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Rest it for about 10-15 minutes.

In another bowl, mix - shredded cauliflower with 1 tsp of salt, chopped cilantro, finely minced green chillies (depending on your spice level), 1/2 tsp of Ajwain (carom seeds) and 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds.
Thoroughly mix them all and rest for 10-15 minutes as it leaves excess water.. Squeeze out the water out of the cauliflower mixture. This step of resting and squeezing out the excess water is very important to avoid watery-stuffing.

Knead the dough a little bit more and make 6 small, lemon-sized balls out of it. Roll each one into about a 3 inch diameter roti, place about 1 tbsp of stuffing in the middle and close it, like you do for a dumpling. Do the same for the rest of them too.

Now that the first stuffed ball has rested for couple of minutes, with a rolling pin slowly roll them out into parathas, making sure the stuffing doesn't come out. (even it does, trust me it taste fabulous). But for a perfect one, the stuffing must be between the two flaky layers of the paratha. With enough practice we will get that too. :-)

On a hot griddle, place one paratha at-a-time, on medium heat , Cook on one side (with some bubbles popping up) and then to the other side. Once done, spear some desi ghee or some oil. Serve.

Pickle Raita



If you are very very hungry or have short time on hand - then pickle raita is the best accompaniment for almost anything, especially for such parathas.

All you have to do is beat the yogurt for couple of minutes and mix some of your favorite pickle (I added tomato) into it. - less or more, depending on how spicy you want. The coolness from the yogurt works so well with the heat from the pickle. this is definitely my all-time favorite quickie side-dish.

Hope you are having a fun Thanksgiving week.

until next time,
Siri

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bombay French Toast, spicy ish-tyle

Breakfast is like one of the most important meals of the day and if you are like me, who loves to start off on a delicious savoury note, then this dish is for you. Not only for breakfast, it can be made as a lazy brunch or just snack off if you wish to. Interestingly, I made this today - for dinner. See, it is that versatile, quick & easy. Tastes best when served warm.



Preparation:

Whisk together in a bowl - 2 tbsp of milk, salt, 1 tsp hot sauce or less (or finely chopped green chilli/cayenne/red chilli flakes - for some heat), 1 egg and a pinch of turmeric. Add 1/4th cup finely chopped onion, 1 clove of minced garlic and cilantro. Mix well.

Heat a pan with 1/2 tsp of oil on medium-heat.

Meanwhile, cut each bread (white or wheat) into 2 triangles. Dip the bread in the egg mixture for a 30-45 seconds.

Gently transfer the egg-soaked-bread onto the pan. Spoon some onion mixture on the top if you want to.

Cook until golden brown on both side.

Serve with some ketchup or just as-is and sip hot black tea on-side..contemplating about how good the day will be for you and for people around you. :-)

Isn't it the best way to start your day!

Hope you all have a great weekend ahead.

until next time,
Siri

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Potato-Bell pepper Korma, with some *essential ingredients*

There are some times when you start reading a book, you are transported to a different world altogether and once it is done you sigh with utmost satisfaction and at the same time wish the story would continue for ever and ever. The School Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister is one such delicious read. It is a story about a chef, a restaurenter, Lillian who teaches cooking classes every Monday, each month. A disparate group of people assemble together for one such cooking class (for various different reasons) and they are all connected by one common thing - their immense Love for Food. Each chapter tracks back and forth into each of their lives, their circumstances, their happiness, their sadness, their loss. As you read more & more eventually, you become one of them, you feel for them. Your taste buds dance and  tickle every time Lillian describes why & how a recipe is made. The adjectives with which each smell, each feeling, each gesture is described is just spell-bounding. .You will see the world and the food you make in whole new way after reading this book.

Have you read such a book that you wish to share about? please leave a comment and I would love to know about all of them. :-)

..now talking about today's recipe -

One of most popular posts (as per Blogger Stats) here on my blog is - my Mama's Vegetable Biryani and Aloo Korma (from way back in 2008). Today, I am posting a modified version of the same recipe which I made for the Diwali and Halloween potluck party at work, along with the Eggless Blueberry Coffee Cake.

Enjoy!

Potato Bellpepper Korma

A rich, dense, nutty gravy is what is needed as a base for a 'Korma", though I used it very loosely in this case as, as per wikipedia, it can be made with yogurt, cream, nut and seed pastes or coconut milk . From vegetables to eggs to even meat, anything & everything can be added to it. This korma recipe is from my mom who still cooks this up in the most delicious way. Don't be surprised when you see that the recipe asks for only 2 tablespoons of peanuts or 1 tbsp of poppy seeds. Everything get adds up and it serves atleast 3-4 servings. Tastes best when served with my mama's Vegetable Biryani.


Preparation -

Peel and cut 2 potatoes into cubes and boil them, until a bit firm.

Dry roast the following separately:

2 tbsp peanuts
2 tbsp cashew nuts
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 cup coconut (frozen or dry flakes)

Grind all of the above with 2 tbsp of tamarind pulp and 1/2 cup of water.

Heat oil (about 1 teaspoon) and saute 1 chopped onion, until golden brown. Add 1 chopped tomato pieces. Cook until mush. Cool down a bit and grind with little water. Keep aside.

Heat about 2-3 teaspoons of oil, add chopped bell peppers with little salt. Cook them for about 6-7 mins. then add onion paste and masala paste from Step 1. Cook on medium low flame, until oil starts to separate.

Season with salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and garama masala, as per taste. Add the boiled potato pieces. Cook for 2-3 mins.

Finally add 1/3 cup of beaten yogurt. Mix well and cook for 4-5 mins.

Variation: Any veggie can be substituted with bell peppers and potato. I made the same with boiled eggs and it tasted equally yummy. 

Serve hot with rice or rotis.

until next time,
Siri

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eggless Blueberry Coffee Cake

Some *recipes* are just P.E.R.F.E.C.T, in every sense - simple, everyday ingredients, no fancy equipment needed, just mix them all together as if you are making a pot of coffee and Whoopee, there you have a perfectly baked cake. My best pal DK of ChefInYou made one such cake and I was eagerly waiting for a perfect occassion to make it, myself.

Yesterday we had a potluck for Halloween cum Diwali party at work and I made Aloo-Bell pepper Korma (recipe coming soon) and a fruity cake. As it was an auspicious festival of Diwal, one of my colleague insisted the cake must be egg-less. Sure enough, I had the perfectly recipe to make - the Eggless Blueberry Coffee Cake. Everybody enjoyed it thoroughly and it was all gone, as expected.

DK used normal sugar in her recipe and I replaced that with some light brown sugar as it gives a lovely brown color and adds an extra hint of moisture to the cake.

Below is the recipe, if you wish to bake it yourself. Trust me, it is child's play, if I can do it, you can too. :)


Eggless Blueberry Coffee Cake


Adapted from my best friend's recipe

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients -

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Others -
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce (no sugar added to it)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup low fat sour cream
1 cup frozen blueberries, don't thaw

For Topping

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp light brown sugar

Preparation

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350F. (at least for 10-15 minutes)

Step 2: In a bowl, mix all the 'Dry ingredients' listed.

Step 3: Cream the sugar and butter, together until smooth. then add applesauce and vanilla extract. Blend for couple of more minutes.

Step 4: Now, slowly alternate between the dry ingredients and sour cream, add little by little & Blend every thing together. Fold in the blueberries & gently mix with a spatula. (without crushing the berries).

Step 5: Grease a fluted cake tin with butter and evenly spread the batter. Finally sprinkle (cinnamon + sugar) mixture on the top.

Step 6: Bake for 40-45 mins, until a toothpick, when inserted comes out clean (or with very little specks of cake attached).

This is how it looks, fresh out of the oven -


..flip it over , and you get this.....


Step 7: Cool for 10-15 min in the cake tin and then transfer on to a plate. Serve & Enjoy!

Hope you all had a fun Diwali yesterday and have your tummies full with yummy treats.

[UPDATE]: Sending this to T&T: ChefInYou event guest hosting this month is Priya and organizer is Lakshmi.

until next time,
Siri

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dahi Vada (Perugu Garelu)

There are some dishes which just swirl me back to the memory lane and remind me of all-the-good-old-care-free days, when every minute of my life was magic, when I was endlessly being pampered by my mother & her yummy treats. then, at that point of time, I was too young to realize how precious those days were. ...now, when I am a married woman and have a responsibility to take care of the family, I just wish atleast for a day there was a a time-machine which would transport me back in time, to those lovely days.

In short, my mother's cooking fascinated me the most. Every Sunday, we used to eagerly wait for the Sunday issue of our favorite newpaper (it still is), especially for the dishes featured in the Ruchi Abhiruchi section. My mother had cooked countless number of recipes from there (because, we seriously didn't know about formal cookbooks in 1990's.). This was basically our Sunday ritual, for many many years. My mother never transferred any of the culinary duties to me or my sister, which means all we had to do was devour over all her dishes. But, once I moved to US, the first and foremost thing I missed was - those moments I spent with my family, which I understood will never ever come back. That is when, I took the matter in my own hands,  started to cook by myself , taking careful instructions from my mom in the beginning and later venturing out on my own - from starting this blog to try to get inspired and cook new dishes in the limited amount of time I have in hand.

....taking you on to the memory lane, today I share the recipe of Dahi Vada a.k.a Perugu Garelu (in Telugu). Make this dish to your loved ones for coming Diwali or as a lazy weekend brunch. Trust me, you all will love it. :)

Dahi Vada [Perugu Garelu] (Lentil Fritters in Yogurt Sauce)

'Dahi' in Hindi means yogurt and 'Vada' is a fried lentil fritter. Just imagine what would happen if some creamy, delicious, fluffy lentil fritters are dunked in a unbelievably simple (not more than 30-45 seconds to put together) yet yummy yogurt sauce - pure heaven. This dish is made in almost every Indian household and is eaten as a guilt-free brunch/snack item, anytime of the day & especially during major Indian festivals. 



Recipe Source: the world's best cook, my mom.

Ingredients

For Fritters (Vada) -

1 cup urad dal (skinned split black lentils, cream colored)
2-3 green chillies
salt - to taste
canola oil - for frying
hot water, in a medium-sized bowl

For Yogurt sauce (Dahi) -

1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
salt - to taste
2 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder (or chaat masala, for that extra tang)
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (add more, as per taste)
fresh coriander/cilantro - for garnish

Preparation

Step 1: Wash urad dal thoroughly 3-4 times, until the water remains relatively clear. Fill the bowl halfway (preferably) with warm water and soak overnight. (or if you are running short on time, atleast for 4 hours)

Step 2: Drain the lentils, put them in a blender with about 3/4 cup of water and chillies. Grind until its smooth paste-like batter. Season with little salt. (Remember, there will be salt in the yogurt sauce too, so add just a little or else the overall dish will be too salty).

Step 3: Whisk the ingredients listed under 'yogurt sauce' in a medium-size bowl. Place it in the refrigerator, until the fritters are ready.

Step 4: Pour oil in a wok or medium-size saucepan. Heat over medium-heat. A good test whether the oil is heat enough is to drop a pearl-like batter into the oil. If it puffs up to the surface, then it is ready.

Step 5: Fill a medium-size bowl with hot water and place it just beside the stove-top. Now, carefully add 1 spoonful of batter into the hot oil, without over-crowding. After a minute or two, turn the fritter onto the other side, fry until golden brown and immediately drop into the hot water. Repeat this process for all the fritters. Note: Donot leave the fritters in the water for more than 3-4 minutes. The water-soaking will remove all the excess fat, making this dish almost guilt-free.

Step 6: Lightly press each vada, between your palms, squeeze out the water. Make sure not to press too hard. Drop them into the yogurt sauce, dunking and coating evenly.

 Step 7: Sprinkle some extra chaat masala or cumin-coriander powder over the top. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve chilled.


Hope you all have a fabulous week ahead.

until next time,
Siri
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