Thursday, October 29, 2009

SriLankan Coconut Dhal

This post has been pending for so long.Last few days I am posting like crazy as I always want to have atleast 10-12 posts a month.Though I always manage it every month,October has been very busy(lazy) for me.So I decided to get my act together and so am having a blogging overdose and hope I am not giving you headache as well.I hope to continue this as long as I could before something comes up and am back to being lazy.

Coming to todays post it is SriLankan dhal bookmarked from Maninas blog.She has several informative posts on SriLankan Cuisine and the dal was my first try.It turned superb -I must say here that I am not a great dal person and avoid it most of the times,but can vouch for the taste of this dal.Thanks, Maninas for the hearty recipe.

Red Lentils: 1/2 cup
Onions/shallots/Sambar Onions : chopped: 2-3 tbsp
Garlic: 1-2 small cloves
CurryLeaves : as much as you like
Green Chillies: slit/chopped: 1+ as per taste

Turmeric Powder
Fenugreek Seeds:almost 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds + Black Pepper crushed: 1 tsp +

Coconut Milk: 4 tbsp +

Lemon juice

Vegetable Oil/Ghee
Red Chillies: 1-2 chopped
Onion finely chopped: 1-2 tbsp

Seasoning Spices:
Equal amounts of mustard,cumin and fennel seeds.You can use brown/black mustrd seeds


Wash dal and add to it,chopped onions/shallots,shredded curryleaves and crushed garlic and water needed to cook the dal -1 cup + ie.Add in spices- turmeric powder,fresh ground/crushed cumin and blackpepper mixture,fenugreek seeds and bring to boil.Cook the dal till soft.

Add in coconut milk and salt and heat through.Here you can add thick or thin milk depending on the water remaining in the dal and also how thick you want the dal to be. I added almost 4 tbsp of thick coconut milk.

After this you can remove it from heat and then add a dash of lemon juice.The lemon juice can be added after the seasoning as well.I just added a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Now prepare the seasoning.I followed the same way as Maninas.I heated oil,added chopped red chillies and curryleaves and sauteed till they turned crisp.Then I added finely chopped onions and sauteed on low fire till they turned brown.Then I added the actual tadka/seasoning/ tempering spices of mustard seeds+ cumin seeds+ fennel seeds taken in equal amounts.As they splutter I added more fresh curryleaves for an aromatic finish.Then I poured the entire sesaoning on the Dhal keeping aside little for garnish. Cover the dhal with a lid and let it absorb the seasoning fully.

Adjust the salt and serve with rotis/rice or if you wish can have as a whole some soup.

I enjoyed it in all the three ways.The estimate easily serves 4 as a side or 2 as a soup.A warm bowl is off to MLLA#16 ,an event by the-well-seasoned Susan and currently at Jeanne's- the CookSister.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

These are simple cookies I made just because I wanted to use the peanut butter waiting for its turn in my pantry.I am not a peanut butter fan and its always in the bottom of my list of items.Its my daughter who loves it and she was very happy when I first made oatmeal peanut butter choco chip cookies.After that I gave up looking for peanut butter cookie recipe sticking to the tried one and after coming here I sort of neglected the PB.Well till I found these lovely here.These are sure hit and are super easy and I think now I may have to buy more PB now.

Peanut Butter : 1 cup
Light Brown Sugar: 1 cup
Baking Soda: 1 tsp
Egg : 1
Ener G Egg: 1.5 packed tsp of powder is mixed with 2 tbsp of water and whipped with a fork or blender.

Ganache Topping (optional)
Equal amounts of cream and choco chips. Warm cream on very low heat and pour over the chocolate chips and stir well till the chips dissolve and result in a smooth ganache.

Peanuts: garnish. Optional

In a big bowl,add the ingredients of the cookie and mix/cream well to obtain a sticky thick mass.If you feel the dough especially when using Ener G replacer then add 1-2 tbsp water while mixing.
Pour packed tablespoonfuls of dough 1/2 inch apart on a very lightly greased bakingsheet.Greasing is optional though I prefer it.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 10 -12 minutes until the bottoms are lighlty browned and the cookies have expanded.The centre of the cookie will be still be soft to touch.Take out and let the cookies cool in baking sheet for 5 minutes after which transfer them to a wire rack.

You can consume the cookies as such or by spreading the ganache filling on top and then topping with peanuts.You can also add 1/2 a cup peanuts/choco chips/any choice of nuts to the batter and can go for a different topping.I went for ganache topping for a few of the cookies.

Once the cookies are placed in the wire rack they harden and when tasted they were crisp and crunchy.But after some time or after the ganache spread,I left them to dry on the wire rack for a long time and found that the cookies have turned little soft.So make sure your store then in an air tight container immediately after the ganache dries.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Banana Sunflower Seed Cookies

Bananas are used as a substitute to egg and are healthy too.They contain potassium which is good for heart and nerves and they are a good source of dietary fibre too.The ability to hold the air bubbles well makes them excellent egg substitute /replacers.Add sunflower seeds to bananas and bake it into fat free cookies you have got a perfect filling and guilt free snack.I found a simple banana sunflower seed cookie here at and adapted it with changes.I halved the recipe and replaced the oil with bananas itself and also reduced the sugar a bit.

Bananas mashed : 1/2 cup
Sugar: 2 .5 tbsp

All Purpose Flour: 3/4 cup
Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp
Sunflower Seeds: 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup (I used 1/4 cup)

Peel and mash the bananas.I have used 2 more than medium size bananas here assuming one mashed bananas yields around 1/4 cup.If interested you can use 1/4 cup oil instead of one banana as per the original recipe.In a bowl whisk together flour,soda and sunflower seeds.

Cream together mashed banana and sugar until it looks pulpy and sugar is absorbed.Add in the flour-seeds-soda mix and beat together till you get a sticky mass which is like a thick batter.Place spoonfuls on a greased or lined and greased baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F /175C for 10-15 minutes until the bottoms are browned.Remove from the oven and let it cool in the baking sheet itself for 5 minutes after which you cool it completely on a wire rack.The time varies as per the size of the cookies- I went for almost 1 tablespoon of batter.Still I found them browning from the 9th minute onwards,so better start checking from the 8th minute onwards.

The cookies are sweet and filling,only thing is they are soft.The sunflower seeds add a crunch to them.You can see banana fibers all through the cookies as expected.Also I mashed the bananas chunkily so they contains banana pieces as well.Do mash the bananas as per your choice.Also if you do not have sunflower seeds,you can use even chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds or whatever you want.

The hearty healthy,fat-free and seed-filled cookies are going to HOTM:Nuts,seeds and nut-like things.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tomato & Cilantro Soup

Tomato is a much favourite ingredient in my house and fast disappearing one as well.The first thing that comes into my mind with tomatoes is soup.I try different styles of soup that can be made with it and each version has been equally hearty as well.The combo of tomato and cilantro or coriander is perfect in salad but one that I had never tried in a soup.I always felt that tomato are best with basil a classic combo and so when I came across the tomato coriander soup in a food magazine I decided to gve it a try.It is supposed to be served at Taj Amarvilas Hotel,Agra and it turned out perfect for wintery evenings.


Tomatoes: 4-5 medium
Bayleaf: 1 dried whole
Garlic: 1 small clove: crushed
Scallion/Spring onion: 1/4 cup chopped
Coriander/Cilantro: 4 -5 tbsp chopped
Water: 2+ cups


Cornflour: 1 tbsp mixed with cold water to get a creamy paste

Blanch tomatoes for a minute in boiling water and then peel them.Chop the peeled tomatoes into small pieces and keep aside.Chop the white and green parts of scallion separately.Chop the coriander/cilantro and keep aside.Crush/paste the garlic as well.

Heat oil in a heavy pan,add the whole bayleaf.Once the spice releases it aroma,add in white part of the scallion and saute for a minute.Add in the peeled and chopped tomatoes along with its juice and let it cook for a while,till everything blends and the raw smell starts disappearing around 5 minutes or so.There in no hard and fast rule regarding this and depends on you.

Add in crushed garlic,green part of the scallion,chopped,coriander,little salt and pepper and water to the tomato mix.Let it boil and then reduce and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.Cool it and then liquidise it in a blender removing the whole bayleaf.You can pass it through a sieve as well instead of or alongwith liquidising.I did not do that.

Put the puree back into the pan and add in creamy paste of cornflour mixed with little water.You can omit the cornflour if the soup is thickened as you want.Heat the soup and then ladle into individual serving bowls .Garnish with a swirl of cream if necessary for a restaurant touch or go for a cilantro garnish as I did which is simple and easy.

The soup is very corianderish if there is such a term.Its a hearty starter for fall evenings as well.A warm bowl of tomato cilantro soup going to warm up the WHB#206 round up,an event by Halo and currently hosted by dear Yasmeen .

Friday, October 16, 2009

Simple English Muffins

A English Muffin is a yeast leavened bread always dusted with cornmeal.Originally from England where it is a midday/high tea meal it can be consumed even at breakfast or anytime as you wish.While in US, I was familiar with Thomas English Muffins and wanted to try this at home.Few days back while rearranging my 'Recipes- to - be -tried' folder, I remembered the ones I had bookmarked from Pete Bakes. I never knew they were so easy to make.They turned perfect and so here they are.

All Purpose Flour: 2 and 1/4 cup
Instant Yeast: 1 and 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1.5 tsp (1/2 tbsp)
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Shortening/Butter : 1 tbsp room temperature. I used Vegetable Shortening/Vanaspati
Milk: room temperature 3/4 -1 cup

Cornmeal : for sprinkling

In a large bowl,stir together flour,yeast,salt and sugar.Add in shortening and 3/4 cup milk and mix well to form a dough.Add remining milk only if the dough feel too dry.I did not as my dough was very moist and sticky.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead with hands for about ten minutes till a smooth dough is obtained.Knead to form a ball and place it in a lighly oiled (I used non stick oil spray) bowl.Roll the ball with the bowl so that it gets coated with oil and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap.Let it rise for about an hour at which time it doubles (almost).

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape each into a bowl.Place the individual balls a bit apart on a lined (parchment/foil) baking sheet and spray with oil/spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.Cover the baking sheet loosely with a plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another hour.

Pre heat the oven to 350F and heat up a oiled/sprayed skillet on the gas on medium heat.Transfer the dough balls to the skillet few at a time.I went for 3 dough pieces.Let them cook for 5-7 minutes until the bottoms are nicely browned and then turn to the other side gently with a spatula/turner so that both sides are cooked.Cook each side for 5 -8 minutes and you can sometimes see that they flatten as they get coked. Mine did not get that flattened or may be I missed it in my excitement.

Transfer the browned bread back to the baking sheet and place it in the hot oven where it gets cooked for 5-8 minutes more .I removed after 5 minutes from the oven.While the first batch is is being done in the oven ,transfer the second batch to the skillet and repeat the process.Transfer the baked muffins from the oven to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 30 minutes before slicing and devouring.

You can also store the muffins in a ziploc bag and refrigerate it for later use after 30 minutes.I baked these in the evening and stored them in the fridge and voila next days breakfast was ready.

Some people confuse between crumpets and English muffins.Though both are related - both require a skillet for initial cooking as in this recipe ,but instead of skillet ,English muffins can be directly baked in the oven.Also the crumpets are having holes - nooks and crannies while muffins do not have these.A crumpet has pancake quality while the muffin is a bread,though both have flour and yeast.Earlier even I was thinking both are same,but after tasting and making both crumpet and now muffins,I am aware of the difference.Also do check out DK of ChefInYou's Low fat wheatish English Muffins which are completely baked in the oven.

The muffins were great and Thanks Pete for sharing the wonderful recipe.Do check up the step by step pics in the original recipe.The Perfect English Muffins are on way to WBD # 4 by Zorra who celebrates the World Bread Day annually on Oct 16.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crunchy Beet Cookies

This is a simple or rather amaeteurish experiment that I did,but the result was crunchy cookies that were tasty and obviously with the benefit of beets.They turned out good hence I am posting it.I found Beet cookies in a cookbook and also Vanilla cookies in another cookbook.The latter appealed to me and I decided to add pureed beets to it and see what happens.It was much better than the plain vanilla for sure.

Raw Beet Puree: 2 tbsp peel,grate and puree raw beet in a blender without adding water.

All Purpose Flour: 3/4 cup
Baking Powder: almost 1/4 tsp
Salt: a small pinch
Castor Sugar /Powdered Sugar: 6 tbsp

Vegetable Shortening/Dalda Vanaspati : 6 tbsp melted
Vanilla essence : 1-2 tsp (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour ,baking powder,salt and powdered sugar.Add in raw beet puree and mix well.Add in melted shortening and optionally vanilla essence. Mix well to form a dough.The dough will be crumbly.

Pinch tablespoonful or small pieces of dough and press together in hand and flatten it to a circle .If interested you can shape it using a cookie cutter.Place the unbaked cookies in a lined/greased (I did both) baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160C (320F) for 20-25 minutes till the bottom starts browning and the cookies rise.Take out and let it cool in the baking sheet itself for 10 minutes till they harden and become crunchy.

The first batch were done by 20 minutes itself.I allowed the cookies to harden in the oven itself after turning it off. Its not necessary to do the same.You can also adjust the baking temperature and bake these.The second batch of small size cookies I baked for additional 2 minutes and allowed them to cool in the same baking sheet outside the oven.After ten minutes they were more brownish than the first batch,the bottoms turning almost blackish.So do adjust the temperature and bake.

Also instead of beets spinach puree can also be used.If you do not like to add anything,simply omit the beet puree and add vanilla and also top the unbaked cookie with candied cherries/tutty frutti to obtain plain vanilla cookies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Balila -Lebanese Chickpea Salad

This is a simple salad made with chickpeas and mostly nothing else.Balila is a Lebanese style salad and is basically cumin flavoured chikpeas with outher optional ingredients like tomato,cheese,onion,pinenuts etc .Another general Mediterranean version called Balela includes blackbeans as well.I made a simple version found here which has chickpeas, cumin and uses butter fried pinenuts for an exotic touch.

Chickpeas: 1/2 cup presoaked and cooked till done. OR Canned chickpeas

Olive Oil
Cumin powder
Garlic: 1-2 small cloves minced/crushed

Salt as per taste

Pine nuts: handful
Butter:1-2 tbsp

Cook chickpeas till done .Drain the chickpeas and mix it with salt,cumin powder,crushed garlic and olive oil.This is actually a dressing to the chickpeas.Melt butter in a pan,add in pinenuts and saute till golden brown. Pour this pinenuts along with the remaining butter on top of the chickpea mixture as a garnish.

The salad is spicy and pinenuts add a different crunch.Chickpeas is something that is always there in my pantry.The salad also makes use of pinenuts which I had hoarded from US and so this simple salad goes to NCR:Store Cupboard hosted this time by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jammy Biscuits for High Tea

These are simply cookies or biscuits as known is India filled with teaspoon of jam and baked and these are crunchy and buttery and perfect for dunking into tea if you feel like it.No tea party can be complete without these.I adapted a very simple recipe I found from the BBCGoodFood Site and here it is.

Self Raising Flour: 1 cup
Castor Sugar: 1/2 cup
Unsalted Butter : room temperature: 1/2 cup cubed

Egg : 1 lightly beaten OR Ener G Egg: 1 where 1.5 packed tsps of the Ener G powder is whisked with 2 tbsp of water OR any chosen Egg Replacer

Strawberry or Any choice of Jam: as needed

In a big bowl,mix together flour and sugar.Add in cubed butter and mix well pinching and fluffing so that the entire mix resembles coarse sand crumbs.Add in spoonfuls of lightly beaten egg and continue mixing till you obtain a stiff dough.

Form the dough into a log and cut 2 inch slices from it and place it on a greased /lined baking sheet.Make a slight indentation with the tip of spoon/finger in the middle of each cookie and fill it with teaspoonful of jam preferably strawberry.

Bake in a preheated oven t 190C or aout 10-12 minutes till the edges start browning and the jam bubbles.Take out the cookies and let them cool for 10-15 minutes in the baking sheet itelf.This will harden them. Serve with tea or as an anytime cookie.

If you do not have self raising flour then you can replace 1 cup of it with 1 cup All purpose flour + 1.25 tsp baking powder +1/4 tsp salt.I did not soften my butter completely to room temp,just kept it outside for about 10 minutes or so and then used it.This made the biscuits/cookies flaky.Add in egg one spoon at a time and mine took barely 1 tbsp of egg.I got a slightly sticky moist dough.

Instead of forming a log with the dough,I pinched tablespoonful of dough,rounded it and then flattened it ,sort of shaped it with a cookiecutter and then made the indentation and then filled with jam.You can also try flattening the dough and then cutting shapes with a cutter.

I baked my cookies at 175C -180C as the first batch I baked at 190C came out with black bottoms.So I reduced the temperature, baked till the edges turn brown and them switched of the oven and left the cookies inside the oven so that they harden perfectly.Now they are ready to be dunked in the tea.Well this could be due to my oven,I am not sure the same problem is there in every oven.

A fresh batch of buttery crunchy flaky jammies joins Aparna and Meeta for their Monthly Mingle: HighTea Treats .

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Carabaccia -Sweet & Sour Onion Soup

Onion soups are a part of several cuisine with the French style being very famous.I came across the name 'carabaccia' meaning 'combination of simple things' while browsing and was interigued as to what it was.A search says 'Carabaccia is one of the classic Italian Onion soups. It is very simple to make though I found several complex version as well.The soup is from Tuscany,Florence and I adapted a simple version from here.The soup is really simple and for a crunchy twist uses blanched almonds.

Olive Oil:1-2 tbsp
Onions: 2-3 medium size finely chopped

Almonds: 4 tbsp blanched
White Wine Vinegar:4-5 tbsp Cinnamon stick: 1+ inch long

Vegetable Stock: 2 cup +

Peel and chop onions finely into long thin pieces.Blanch almonds by dipping them in boiling water for a minute and them draining them and rinsing them in cold/tap water and skinning them.Pat them dry with a paper towel.Crush the blanched almonds in a mortar and pestle lightly.

Soak the crushed almonds for about 1 hour along with cinnamon stick in the vinegar.You can increase the vinegar if you like more sourish soup.You can substitute the white wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar.After an hour discard the cinnamon stick and drain the almonds.Rinse the almonds and keep aside.

Heat olive oil in a deep pan,saute onions till they become transparent.Add the drained and rinsed almonds,sugar,salt and veg stock/broth and bring to a boil.You can adjust the sugar as per taste.Cover and reduce and let it simmer for about 20 + minutes .Serve warm.

Normally it is served by ladling it over toasted bread slices and garnished with Gruyere cheese and optionally warming in the oven. But I served it as such.The soup is very oniony and little sweet and little sour due to the addition of vinegary almonds.The almonds add a crunch to the soup.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sellou -Morrocan Almond Sesame Dessert

This is another Moroccan Ramadan Special dish that I adapted from Cooking With Alia. Only thing is I quartered the recipe and made the dish as I was not sure how it will turn out and did not want to waste the items.It turned out tasty for me and hence I am posting it .The recipe involves baking the flour in the oven and roasting of almonds,sesame and anise and mixing it altogether with honey and butter.

All Purpose Flour: 9 tbsp

Almonds: 8 tbsp
White Sesame Seeds: 4 tbsp
Anise Seeds: 1/2 tsp

Cinnamon Powder: 1 tsp + as much as you like
Powdered Sugar (Confectioner's Sugar): 4 tbsp
Salt: a pinch

Unsalted Butter: 2 tbsp
Honey: 2 tbsp

Spread the flour in a baking dish and bake for around 40 minutes in a pre heated oven at 350F.Stir the flour every 5 minutes so that it does not burn .It turns from normal white colour to a light yellow colour .The colour is similar to that of raw/natural chickpea flour.

Meanwhile in a pan, roast together the anise seeds,sesame and almonds.This takes around 12-20 minutes till the sesame turns brown and a roasted aroma comes from them and the almonds look roasted brown. Take 2/3rd of the roasted mix and grind to a fine powder in a processor.Add in powdered/confectioners sugar and cinnamon and salt to this and blend well.Pour in a big bowl.It looks like..

Coarsely grind the remaining nut mix like this

And add to the sugared nut powder in the big bowl.Take out the baked flour and sift it into the nut mix in the big bowl.The sifting ensures that the flour is lump free.Break on lumps if any and continue sifting.

Melt butter in the microwave or double boiler and pour into the mix along with honey.It looks like..

Mix well with hands and you will be getting a moist sand-like crumbs which can stick together when pressed into a shape.This is our sellou.

Pour the coarse grains into moulds and press together to form a shape and invert into serving platter or simply spoon into the serving cups.Garnish with more almonds and powdered sugar.I went for almond garnish only.

The taste is almondy and sesamy.My daughter did not like it though my husband and myself enjoyed it.This is not for those who do not like sesame.The quantity is enough for around 3+ moulds depending on your mould size.

Update on 5th Oct '09: I posted this dish on 4th thinking that I could meet the deadline of AWED:Morocco which unfortunately (blame it on me!) ended on Oct 2nd.But It was TOO NICE of Pavani who hosted it to accept this very late entry along with Carrot Macharmal salad which I had forgotten to mail her (I think age is catching up with me!).HEARTY THANKS, PAVANI.Do check the delicious round up of AWED:Morocco.

The sellou is also travelling to Sireesha's Sweet Series Event.I am off to mail her before I forget again.

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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