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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mixed Vegetable Korma | Navratri | Dussehra Recipes

Words fall short to convey how happy I am right now. After 6 years of being away from my friends and family, couple of days ago, I celebrated by 28th birthday. Did I hear Oooohs and Aaaahs out there as some wise(wo)men said - never ask a woman her real age ;-).

Well, I believe in not hiding but learning and becoming wiser & smarter through life experiences by each passing year.



I had a swell time in Hyderabad with my lovely, gorgeous SIL and her cute little baby S who were visiting India, for a very short period of time. I met her last while we were in US, in April this year and again, we got to spend some awesome time together, here in India. Time flies when I am with Little S. Her innocent love is just so captivating and fills my heart with so much warmth & love.

My mom threw a birthday bash for her baby and invited all of us for lunch. We had asked her to keep it traditional. There was her signature dish - tomato chutney, raw banana poriyal, mango dal, potato-bell pepper fry, mirchi bajji, sambar with rice & ghee. We polished off, with decadent rava kesari. Amidst lots of chatter, laughter and conversations about politics & movies with occassional burps every now & then, we had a swell time together. :D.

A birthday is never complete without birthday gifts, Isn't it. K gave me a cute, black-colored Vintage bag and Mads surprised me with beautiful Food Photography & Styling book - Plate to Pixels by super talented Helene. For a really long time, I was planning to get my own copy. :-) I hope to learn some tips & tricks from this book and improve my photography over time..


Coming to the recipe for today ....

Yesterday, the auspicious Navratri days began and here's Wishing you all a very Happy Navratri. :-). May Goddess Lakshmi bless us with lots of joy, wealth and prosperity.

Today's recipe is a luscious Vegetable Kurma which doesn't need a special occassion to be made. With rice or roti, it serves as a delicious accompaniment leaving you wanting for more.

Give it a try and Enjoy with your family & friends during this festival time..

Mixed Vegetable Kurma/Korma


Ingredients:

For the masala:

1 cup fresh coconut, cut into small pieces
1.5 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp dry roasted cashewnuts
3/4 tbsp coriander powder
1.5 tbsp sesame seeds
3/4 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp tamarind extract
1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced & fried in a tbsp of oil until golden brown (use only half of it for the masala)
1.5 tsp ginger-garlic paste
water

Other ingredients -

1 tomato
2 cups mixed veggies cut into almost equal sizes - potato, beans, carrot, bell peppers
1 tomato, chopped
2 tsp red chilli powder (or less based on the desired spice level)
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
3-4 tbsp canola oil

Preparation:

1. In the blender jar add all the ingredients listed in the "masala" list with enough water to make fine paste.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add rest of fried onion with tomato. Saute for few mins and then add all the vegetables. Cook them until done, not mushy just tender. Season with turmeric, red chilli powder and salt.

3. Add the ground masala to the vegetables. Cook on low-medium flame until oil separates on the edges. Mix in tomato ketchup and cook for few more minutes.

4. Serve with roti or rice.



Check out one other variation of korma here.

until next time,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sabudana (Sago/Tapioca) Khichdi | Navratri Vrat | Dussehra Fasting Recipes

After Jeera Aloo, one other quintessential Navratri fasting recipe is "Sabudana Khichdi". Truth to be told, I have had a bitter-sweet relationship with this dish for past many years. I attempted to make it once, but it was a disaster. So, I gave up. But, I loved this dish so much that I used to pester my friend Prachi, to get an extra serving for me, whenever she made some. And she did. :-).

..then I read Jaya's Sabudana Khichdi 101 post some time ago and got to know the nitty-gritty of making this dish. Little did I know that not just me, but many home-cooks fail to get it right. The trick is to not to over-mix or over-work on this khicdi.

Today, I made some just to post on the blog and happy to say, it turned absolutely delicious. Yay! I am sure from now on, me & sabudana khichdi will be together, happily ever after. ;-)


Sabudana (Sago/Tapioca) Khichdi



Ingredients:

1 cup sabudana/sago/tapioca (250gms)
1 meduim sized potato
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup peanuts, dry roasted and ground into coarse powder
2 finely chopped green chillies
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp of each - coriander powder & cumin powder (or) 1 tsp of coriander-cumin powder
few sprigs of curry leaves and cilantro
1 tbsp oil (or ghee)
rock salt to taste

Preparation:

1. Wash Sabudana and soak in filtered water for atleast 6-7 hours. Once soaked, drain the water in a colander and let it stand for another 1 hour so that the excess water, if any is drained.

2. Peel and chop potato into small pieces.

3. Gently mix in - salt, sugar, little turmeric, peanut powder and coriander-cumin powder into the sabudana. Keep aside.


4. Heat oil and add cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies. Once aromatic, add potatoes. Cover and cook until little tender. Make sure they are not too soft, or else when mixed with sago, it will become lumpy.


5. Add sabudana mixture and toss the ingredients well. Don't over mix. Just toss. Cover with a lid and cook on low heat for 8-10 mins, untouched.


6. Turn off the heat and add coriander and lemon juice if desired. Serve.


Refer to Jaya's Sabudana  Khichdi 101, for her tips & tricks.

  until next time,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jeera Aloo | Navratri Vrat | Dussehra Fasting Recipes

In less than 9 days, we have the auspicious Navratri days to begin. This is one festival along with Diwali which is celebrated with lot of rigor & gusto in almost every part of India. On each of the 9 days a different form of Shakti (Durga, Bhadrakali, Jagadamba, Annapoorna Devi, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandi, Lalita, Bhavani, Mookambika) is worshiped.

As a part of these celebrations, in our state of Andhra Pradesh we set up our own Bathukammas. It is a flower stack arranged with beautiful, seasonal flowers in concentric layers to form a cone. Bathuku in Telugu means live and Amma means mother. And in the evening, all the ladies adorned in silk sarees meet up in their localities , place these bathukammas in the middle and dance around them with synchronizing steps while singing folk songs. It is a visual treat to just watch these women worship Goddess Devi with such joy and gaiety.

Many also observe a seven day fast during Navratri, by following a specific diet and usually end their fast on Ashtami (the eighth day of the festival). For the next few days, I will be posting some fasting recipes and sweets which you can be make during Navratri.

One of the simplest of all is - Jeera Aloo.

Note: Rock salt is usually preferred instead of the normal salt in preparation of these dishes.

Navratri Celebration

Jeera Aloo (Potatoes with Cumin Seeds)


Ingredients:

10-12 baby potatoes (or cut 3 big potatoes into cubes)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 green chillies
juice of 1/2 a lemon (or more)
rock salt - to taste
few springs of coriander and curry leaves

Preparation:

1. Boil baby potatoes (with their skin on), until fork tender. Chop coriander. Keep aside.


2. Heat oil in a pan, saute curry leaves and cumin seeds until aromatic. Add baby potatoes, green chillies. Fry for 5-6 mins.


3. Season with salt and mix in the coriander. Turn off the stove and then add lemon juice. Mix well and Serve with rice.


more to come..


Friday, September 16, 2011

Basic Eggplant/Brinjal Chutney

At the end of the day, a tired cook often thinks of dinner of buying some prepared foods. Sitting in not-so-far-away Bangalore, peeping out of our french window, the rain falling pitter-patter all over the horizon, I think of my mom's easy-to-prepare, filling home cooked meal - hot rice cooking in the rice cooker, a simple yet delicious eggplant/tomato/toor dal chutney, papads with tomato rasam and yogurt. For me, rasam and papads are each other's buds, friendship-made-in-heaven.


Today, I am sharing with you all one such chutney which can be made on a whim, anytime of the day as it doesn't need many ingredients, but flavorful nonetheless. Also, for the keen gardeners among us, chutney is an ideal way to use up excess home-grown eggplants (or any other veggies) and it stays good at least for a week, when stored in refrigerator.

There were times when I literally licked the spoon sitting on the kitchen counter, right beside my mother when she made this eggplant chutney for us. It is a silken delight with a faint hum of tamarind and a zing of curry leaves. Tastes delicious when served with hot rice & ghee. I use the left-over chutney (if any) as a spread for my sandwiches as well.

Enjoy.


Basic Eggplant Chutney [Vankaya Pachadi]


Recipe Source: My Mom

Ingredients:

6 eggplants/brinjals (preferably long green/purple ones), cut into pieces
4 tsp canola oil
salt - to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp (or more) red chilli powder
2 tbsp or lemon size tamarind

For tadka:

1 tsp oil
little asafetida (hing)
1/2 tsp of each - urad dal, mustard seeds, jeera.
few curry leaves

Preparation:

1. Heat oil in a pan and add eggplant pieces, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and tamarind. Cover the pan with a plate filled with water and cook on low-medium heat until the eggplant is completely cooked. Mix once or twice in the middle.Cool and grind into chutney-like paste. Adjust salt, if needed.

2. Heat a small pan for tadka and add all the ingredients listed above. carefully add curry leaves as they tend to splutter in oil. Mix this into the chutney. Serve.


This is my entry for Back 2 Basics: Chutneys guest hosted by me this month, originally conceptualized by Jaya, the Desi Soccer Mom. Send in your entries too. Will ya? Last Date for participation is October 7th 2011.

Some Weekend Reading:

Everybody is busy ok? - a hilarious post by the very famous The Local Tea Party
Speaking of Writer's Block - The New Yorker
An Epicurean Pilgrimage: Meals Worth the Price of a Plane Ticket - NYT
Chez Panisse: Forty Years Later - Ruth Reichl
Sam Sifton is Out As Times Food Critic - The Atlantic Wire

until next time,







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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Black and White Wednesday: Mezze


Foie gras ice cream served on a puree of poached pears, topped with bell pepper caviar served to one of the non-vegetarian guests at our table during Chaine de Rotisseur dinner at Sheraton Hotel.

Posted for Black & White Wednesdays.

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Event Review: Chaine de Rotisseur dinner at Sheraton Hotel, Bangalore

When we entered the Sheraton Hotel for the first time, it was dramatically illuminated and for a second we was in awe of the beauty of the place. We were there to attend a Chaine de Rotisseur (Bangalore chapter) dinner, being the lucky two bloggers with access to experience some amazing culinary creations and meet extraordinary members that would otherwise considered to be too exclusive or insidery for most people to get into.

The event was happening at Bene, the signature Italian restaurant at Sheraton Hotel. There was wine, champagne and some mouth-watery little nibbles to munch on before the actual dinner started.


With some cool breeze, beautifully lit swimming pool, small fountains on the side and hanging lanterns through the trees, it was a perfect evening and best of all were the members of the Chaine de Rotisseur themselves who were wearing different colors of chains and ribbons around their neck, symbolizing various cadres within the organization.What attracts the most about them - is their cool professionalism and their zeal to promote the art of fine cuisine amongst both amateur and professional gastronomes. 


What is The Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs?

"The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international gastronomic society, founded in Paris in 1950, traces its origins back to 1248. At that time, the French King Louis IX (later canonized as Saint Louis) wishing to thank the trades which had contributed to the construction of Sainte Chapelle, ordered the establishment of several professional guilds, one of which was the "Oyeurs" or goose roasters. The vocation of this guild was to improve the technical knowledge of its members: apprentices, tradesmen and masters. Over the decades, the Chaîne has dedicated itself to bringing together those who share a mutual interest in cuisine, wine, and fine dining in a spirit of camaraderie.


Before we even arrived, the chefs at Sheraton hotel were ready with their starters and each of them for me were little pieces of perfection - bite sized, easy to grab, intricately flavored and one bite: just WOW!


Melon balls stuffed with herb cream cheese: The sweetness from the melon balls contrast so beautifully with the saltiness from herb cheese. Just one look and you know the chef gave equal emphasis to presentation as well.

Melon balls stuffed with herbed Philadelphia cream cheese
Artichoke palmheart with sundried tomato trian on multigrain crisps: To be really honest, I was stumped and suprised to see artichoke in Bangalore. Personally speaking, these just hammer home the point. I must have had at least 8-10 of these and before I knew they were all gone!

Artichoke palmheart with sundried tomato trian on multigrain crisps

Champagne anyone?

The dinner was about to begin and we were all seated at our respective tables with name plates displayed at each of our seats. One look at the fabulous 5 course meal featuring all Italian favorites, I knew it was going to be a night to remember..


Executive Chef Gustavo Maurelli, addressing the audience
A basket of fresh bread was placed on each of our tables and the one that tasted best of all was - Focaccia. We were served with dips on the side - herb butter and olive oil with balsamic vinegar. My personal favorite is olive oil with balsamic vinegar. Try it with any bread you have at home. The sweet & salty balsamic vinegar will become your instant favorite, I am sure of it. 


Focaccia bread
Then we moved on to the actual meal of the day. I like the fact that there were separate menus for  vegetarians and non-vegetarians, unlike at many occasions where the vegetarians are always sidelined and given a step-motherly treatment.

The Menu
First Course: Eggplant souffle with roasted capsicum gelato
Wine: Prosecco Ti Amo

Not a big fan of the eggplant souffle as the skin was a little too chewy to bite into, but the roasted capsicum gelato was indeed a luscious, silken delight.

Eggplant souffle with roasted capsicum gelato

Second Course: Roasted pumpkin (soup) with poppy seed mousse.
Wine: Mannara, Pinot Grigo

Sometimes, simplicity belies a truth about one's cooking. This dish is a perfect example of using simple ingredients and delicate cooking for the flavors to shine through. I think its a splendid idea to pour warm soup onto a mousse as that creates a whimsical play of flavors and elevates the dish to a new level. We literally attained food-nirvana after this dish. :-)

Roasted pumpkin soup with poppy seed mousse
Third Course: Ravioli filled with grilled artichokes served in a light lemon cream infused with fresh marjoram
Wine: Nederburg, Sauvignon Blanc

I am not great fan of too much cheese in a pasta dish, but I don't despise it either. The first two bites of ravioli were silky but after that I found it was a little too intense for my taste. Nevertheless, a lovely dish whose flavors play footsie with the back of your tongue.

Ravioli filled with grilled artichokes served in a light lemon cream infused with fresh marjoram
I had to miss the rest of the courses as it was a weekday and was getting late in the night. Here is how the rest of the dished looked like.

Photo Credits for below 3 images: Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway

Fourth Course: Wild mushroom gratin served on white semolina Gnocchi
Wine: Three Peaks, Merlot

Wild mushroom gratin served on white semolina Gnocchi
Fifth Course: Smoked snow goat cheese garnished with candied fruits preserved in mustard oil

Smoked snow goat cheese garnished with candied fruits preserved in mustard oil
Dessert: Tiramisu

Tiramisu
My overall feeling about the dinner:

This is food to give pause, to be enjoyed slowly savoring each morsel. The menu was ambitious and fascinating, each dish excelling the next. My only complaint was the timing. A good 45 minute to 1 hour wait between each of the courses seemed a little too much to me. By the time it was 10:30 pm, we were still in the third course. So, we had to leave without tasting the last two courses and dessert. Too bad, as I was really looking forward for Tiramisu.


On a final note, Bene is a pretty, cosy restaurant - pin-lighted room with marvelous views of Escon temple right behind of Sheraton. I highly recommend to visit the place atleast once. I am not sure whats the regular day-to-day menu of the restaurant, but the food they served us today was just spell-bounding. No doubt about that.
P.S - On a different note, here is presenting to you all a new look of Cooking With Siri. I hope you like it as much as I did. :-)

until next time,





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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back To Basics: Basic Chutneys - an event announcement

It is always feels good to cook and get back to basics every now and then. Isn't it.Well, this is your opportunity to cook some this month and share them with all of us. After 7 months of not hosting any events, I am thrilled to be guest-hosting Jaya's Back to Basics event.

Below are some rules for participation and I hope you all will send in your chutneys/salad dressings/salsas to me...

I am waiting....:-)


Back To Basics: Basic Chutneys

Some Rules of Participation:

1. Send in your recipe/ tips  for making and storing chutneys, salad dressings, salsas, katchumer/ koshimbir/ kosambari, pesto etc.

2. Previously blogged posts can be sent as long as you link them to this announcement post and Jaya original B2B post.

3. Do you think the chutney you made would taste amazing with something specific? Let us know the pairings and their recipes if any.

4. Send in your entries - Name, Recipe name, URL and a picture of any size by October 7th 2011 with the subject line B2B at info DOT siri AT gmail DOT com.

5. Non-bloggers can also participate by sending in their entries to the same email address mentioned above.


until next time,
 
 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chile Relleno with Home-made Tomato Sauce

It all started with uber delicious Mysore Bonda, then we moved on to making Vegetarian Rogan Josh and last month we all munched on some crunchy Cornmeal-Orange Cookies.Yes, it is time for some free-spirit-blogging again. For the month of August, I chose the theme as - "Favourite Main Course Dish which we had in any Restaurant". We all have our favorites, don't we. those bajjias from your favorite stall which you crave in the middle of the night, the yummy dessert dish which you had in a restaurant during one of your travels that always stays with you and the taste still lingers in your mouth. I wanted my FSB pals to re-create the magic in their own kitchens.

I have my absolute favorites too. Bagels and Cream Cheese for instance. Are you one of them who associate food memories with some distinct places? I do that all the time. I had some of the best bagels in NYC and then in Washington DC. I ate them every single day, for breakfast. Whenever I think of Bagels, they remind me of the wonderful times I had and the fun people I met in these two cities.

Then, I moved to California.

That is when I fell in love with Mexican cuisine. It all started with Chipotle, then I moved on to visiting local, nameless restaurants in Mountain View which served hands down some of the best quesadillas, salsas and chile rellenos I ever had. I would always go for a full mexican platter complete with - fresh guacamole, sour cream, rice and beans. For me, Chile Relleno reminds me of Mountain View, California.

...and today, I have tried to recreate the same mexican flavors in my indian kitchen. It is not just food that is important here, it is also the place at which I had this dish almost every alternate day that take precedence. As I sat with my plate of Chile Relleno today, I thought about all those dinners, where I used to go all alone right from work. Alone because S used to work very late in the night and I also knew we would move back to India someday. So, those 10 months were the only time, where I could taste these goodies to the fullest. those were the days which I will always cherish and will forever be with me whenever I taste some good Mexican food. :-)


Chile Relleno with home-made Tomato Sauce


Adapted from various internet sources

Ingredients:

For Chile Relleno

3 long Peppers (preferred: Poblano Peppers, I used Anaheim variety)
1/2 cup Maida/All purpose flour
1/4 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated or sliced
1/4 cup Milk
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
Salt and Red pepper flakes - to taste
1 tsp Oil
Oil - for shallow frying

For Tomato Sauce:

3 tbsp Olive oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
3-4 Garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tomatoes
1/4 cup Tomato puree
Salt and Black pepper - to taste

Preparation:

Chile Relleno -

1. Make a vertical slit to the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Note: for a smoky flavor, slightly char them a little and cool. or Use as-is. I tried both charred & uncharred versions and they taste equally yummy



2. In a small bowl, combine maida, milk, egg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and a tsp of oil. Spinkle some red pepper flakes over the batter and whisk well.



3. Stuff each of the peppers with the cheese.


4. Heat enough oil in a wide pan. Roll each pepper into the batter, carefully dip and fry in oil until light golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove them onto paper towels to drain excess oil.

Tomato Sauce -

1. Blanch tomatoes for few minutes in hot water.



2. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute onions & garlic until translucent. Mix in sliced, blanced tomatoes and cook until mushy. Add tomato puree with salt & pepper. Add about 1 cup of water to bring it to a thick saucy consistency. Cover and cook for few minutes.

Assembling -

Spoon some tomato sauce on a plate and place chile rellenos on top. Serve with cilantro-lime rice, beans and guacamole on the side to make it a complete mexican platter.


Check out what other FSB members cooked for this month's challenge -

Anu - Gobhi 65
Nags - Murugan Idli Kadai Idli
Lataji - Potato and Aubergine Gratin with Greens



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until next time,
Siri

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