Monday, November 30, 2009

Swirled Nutella Scones

"Bread Alone' by Judith Ryan Hendricks is a powerful story where Bread plays a strong yet silent role.I had never heard of this book unless it was chosen by BookClub.I was so moved by some of the reviews that I had read on the net and had purchased the book online.The book was very worth the money spent on it or whatever way you look at it.The story of Wynter and how she cops with her divorce,mother's marriage etc is very gripping.

Foodwise there are a lot of references and some recipes that interest us.Now while reading the book,I never keep a note of the food references it has and especially with this one,I was fully into the life of Wynter that I forgot that I have to post something based on it yesterday.But somehow,I pulled myself and prepared these quick scones using Nutella .Why scones? - B'Coz scones are the first thing that Wynter eats when she visits Queen Street Bakery along with her friend CM.Why nutella? - Wynter takes a bite of cappuccino hazelnut scones while talking about her woes. and since I was too lazy to shell hazelnut I decided to take short cut using Nutella.But ofcourse,you can expect coffee-hazelnut scones and some others here in a short time.

I have used the normal scone recipe that I adapted from 'Joy of Baking' for my Jelly Filled Scones. Only thing new I have tried is rolling the scone dough spread with nutella and then baking them.The scones come out within a short time and are also gone in a shorter time.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Powder: 1 tsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp +
Salt: a pinch

Cold Unsalted Butter: cubed: 2 tbsp

Milk: 1/4 - 1/2 cup

Nutella : 1/4 cup +

In a bowl,whisk together,flour,baking powder,sugar and salt.Cut in cold butter and pinch and fluff so that the mix resembles coarse sand.Add in 1/4 cup of milk and combine gently to form a dough adding tablespoonful of milk as needed.It took me around 7 tbsp.

When I had made my jelly scones,I had replaced one egg in that with ground flax seed and had used around 1/4 cup of milk.This time I avoided the flax and have used extra milk.If interested use an egg or Vegan egg and mix with 2 tbsp of milk and then add it to the flour,and then combine to form a dough.

Once a dough starts forming,put it on a lighlty floured surface and knead it gently for few time and then pat it into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle.You can roll it out if you like,but too much pressure can toughen the scones.

Spread nutella on the rectangle leaving free a little of the borders.

Roll the rectangle starting from the longest side and form a log.Pinch the seam and optionally seal the edges.I did not do that.Cut the log into pieces possibly of equal size or as you wish.Lay the scones in a greased baking dish.

Bake at 200C/ 400F for 12-16 minutes until browned.My tops did not brown,but the bottoms did. Serve them warm optionally with more nutella if you like.

Now the scone were made quickly and were gone more quickly than expected.But I found that the dough was not as sweet as expected.I had used barely 1.5 tbsp of sugar in it as I thought I could compensate with nutella,but since the dough was crumbly,I used barely 1/4 cup of nutella as I did not want the dough to fall apart.So the edge scones -first and the last portions of the log- were not that sweet.Also the top of the scones did not brown that well -may be because I used only milk.But these were good for a hearty bite especially when warm and all you want to do curl up with a book shutting yourself from the world.

Lets see what other members made inspired from 'Bread Alone' :
Simran used Ms Tippity and gave us a sourdough bread while Janaki, the newest member, though not so taken in by the story still baked a whole wheat bread.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eggless Zeppoles

Zeppole or zapplas are Italian version of doughnuts and are light,deep fried yeasted flour dough balls.They are toppled with powdered sugar and can also be filled with honey-butter,cream etc.They can be savoury as well in which case they are filled with anchovy.

I had bookmarked the zeppole recipe from SunshineMom where she made a vegan version of zapplas.I followed the recipe as such except that I used diary ingredients and so its not vegan,but eggless.I dipped them in coffee syrup,chocolate and normal powdered sugar.Hearty warm doughnuts are welcome anytime this winter.

Milk: 3/4 cup - 1 cup
Vanilla : few drops
Sugar :2 tbsp +
Butter: 1.5 tbsp
CornStarch: 1 tsp

All Purpose Flour: 30 tbsp
CornStarch: 2 tbsp
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp
Salt: a pinch

Vegetable Oil: frying

Powdered Sugar
Melted Chocolate
Coffee syrup

In a saucepan mix together 1/2 cup milk,vanilla and 1 tsp cornstarch.Heat this on lowfire stirring till the sauce thickens. Add to it the butter and sugar and stir well till it reaches a custard like consistency.Let it cool to room temp.After adding butter and sugar,I removed it immediately from heat as the mix as warm enough to melt the butter.

In another big bowl,whisk together flour,cornstarch,yeast and salt.To this add the milk mixture and knead to form a dough adding more milk as needed.It took me another 4-6 tbsp apart from the 1/2 cup already added.Put the dough on a lighlty floured surface and knead gently into a soft smooth dough.Keep the dough in a greased bowl and let it rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled.

Once doubled,put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate it.Let it rest for a few minutes.Roll out /shape the dough into a long rope and then pinch out lime sized balls from it.Flatten each ball very slightly and create a hole in the centre using the thumb and index finger.

Place the ball on a lined and greased baking sheet. Repeat the same process for rest of the dough pieces,cover them with an oiled plasticwrap and let them rise for another 40 minutes.

They may double or may rise slighlty.Mine actually did not double the first time,but second time,they rose beautifully and doughnut felt very light.

Deep fry the doughnuts in hot vegetable oil.Drain on papertowels and immediately sprinkle/dip them in powdered sugar or whatever you wish.

The zapplas were 'fried pillows of heaven'.No words to describe the taste.They are not sugary sweet when tasted as themselves but sprinkling them with powdered sugar takes care of that.If you like you can increase the sugar as per taste.I dipped then in powdered sugar, then coffee syrup and powdered sugar, and then melted chocolate and added sprinkles.

The zeppoles are very delicious and Thanks H, for the hearty recipe.My zeppoles are not as goodlooking as hers,but perfect in taste.These are going to be a part of T&T:Tongueticklers,an event by Zlamushka and currently hosted by the SingingChef Raga.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Coffee Yoghurt Cake

This is a simple yet tasteful cake that is full of sweet coffee.I have earlier tried coffee in cookies and found it irresistible.So this time when I came across the coffee cupcakes in this magazine site,I thought its high time I progressed from cookies.As usual I halved the recipe and replaced egg and it was a scrumptious cake and that too served with coffee syrup.

Instant Coffee Powder: 1 tbsp
Boiling water: 1 tbsp

Yoghurt: 8 tsp

Sugar: 6 tbsp
Butter: 2.5 tbsp unsalted at room temp

All Purpose Flour: 10 tbsp
Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp
Salt: a pinch

Egg :1 OR Ener G Egg: 1 where 1.5 tsp of powder is mixed with 2 tbsp of water and lightly blended.Can add 1 or 2 tbsp of extra water as needed .I added 1 additional tbsp of water.

Coffee Syrup
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Wate: 2 tbsp
Instant Coffee powder:1 tbsp
CornSyrup/Honey: 1 tbsp
Vanilla Extract: Few drops

Garnish: Powdered Sugar

Mix coffee with boiling water and stir till dissolves.Allow it to cool a bit and then stir in yoghurt.Keep aside.In a small bowl,mix together flour,soda and salt.Keep aside.

Cream together butter and sugar and beat in the Ener G /normal Egg.Add the flour and the coffee mix to this alternately starting and ending with the flour mix whisking until well combined.

Pour the batter into a small cake mould -I used a star shaped one .Bake at 350F for 25+ minutes until the tester at the centre comes out clean.Cool the cake in the mould for not more than 10 minutes and then remove it from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Er,the hole in the centre was actually made by me when I inserted a tester.Better use toothpick from next time onwards.The cake on inverting looks like..

Coffee Syrup:

Combine all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan,bring to boil,reduce and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes.Remove the light brown scum that may float atop.

For serving,cut the cake and drizzle with coffee syrup (optional) and powdered sugar.Optionally you can prick the top of the cake after cooling it for 10 minutes and then brush the top completely and continuously with the syrup.

The cake was excellent and flooded the house with coffee aroma.I enjoyed it even without the syrup.If drizzling the syrup while serving,then make sure you dust it in confectioner's sugar as there will be a double dose of strong coffee flavour which may be slightly bitter and may not be that preferable unless you are a coffee lover -I am a tea person though prefer coffee in bakes.

The only hitch was that the cake turned a bit crumbly -the lower portion especially was a bit sticking to the pan or whatever it was kept on.The reason I did not remove it from the pan after the first 10 minutes.This led to condensing of the of the cake.So ideally remove the cake from the baking dish 10-15 minutes after taking out of the oven.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spiced Apple Cobbler

A Cobbler is a dish made of fruits topped with a cookie dough or biscuit dough as it known in UK.The dish is easy to put together and is hearty and warm dessert esp in winter.The fruit filling can be anything as you like such as berries,seasonal fruits etc along with your choice of spices and nuts.I have adapted the apple cobbler recipe in the 'Joy of Vegan Baking' and spiced it up with star anise rather than the normal apple pie spices and added pecans and cranberries and made a hearty and warm cobbler.I have used normal butter and milk than than the vegan versions though.


Biscuit/Cookie Dough:

All Purpose Flour: 1and 1/3 cups
Sugar: 2 tbsp divided
BakingPowder: 1.5 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp

Butter :Unsalted: 5 tbsp cut into cubes

Milk: 1/4 cup -1/2 cup

Apples: 2-3 medium peeled,cored and cubed
Pecans: Chopped handful
Dried Cranberries: handful
Flour/Cornstarch : 2 tbsp
Star anise powdered: 1/2 -1 tsp
Cinnamon: powdered a pinch(optional)
Sugar: 1/2 -3/4 (I used a mix of white and brown sugars)
Water: 1/4 cup

Other ingredients:
Milk/Melted Butter: for brushing on top
Sugar: for sprinkling

In a bowl add flour,salt,sugar and baking powder.Add in cubed cold butter and pinch and fluff till the dough resembles bread crumbs.Add in enough milk 2 tbsp at a time till a soft smooth dough is formed.It took me only 1/4 cup though the book mentioned 1/2 cup.You can also used melted butter instead of cold cubes.In this case,the crust will not be flaky.

Mix together all the filling ingredients along with the powdered star anise and optional cinnamon.You can also infuse the star anise in water to be used in the filling -boil the water for a few minutes with star anise in it.Allow it to cool and then strain and add it to the apple mix.The flour in the filling is intended to absorb extra liquid and can be replaced with cornstarch.The sugar can be varied as per the tartness of the apple using.I used a mix of white and brown sugars.

Put the fruit filling onto an ungreased 8 inch square baking dish and spread as a single layer.Scoop up table spoon ful of dough and top the fruit filling .Do till all the dough is used up or the dish is completely covered.The result will be a baking dish that looks like a patch work of dough with the filling peeping up.

Sprinkle the dish with sugar and brush with melted butter/milk.I did sprinkle sugar but actually forgot the butter/milk.Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 35 to 40 minutes,till the crust turns brown,the filling bubbles and the juices thickens.Cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serve warm.

The cobbler was perfect and not too sweet.The pics did not come out that well.But the dish was hearty and perfect for fall.Honestly I never expected the dish to comeout this good .The reason being that,just as I was about to bake it,the power went off and I had to freeze the unbaked cobbler for several hours and then bake it.It took extra time as it was frozen and the crust did not brown as expected,but it turned out good.Star anise holds itself in this dish,though you can use other spices as well.Apple Brown betty is another version of cobbler with a bread crumb topping and several layers.Do check out the history of cobbler here.
UPDATE on 26th: The Cobbler is going to FIL:Fruits hosted by Sanghi.Thanks Sanghi for letting me know about the event.The fruity dish is also on way to CFK:Fruits and Veggies hosted by Lakshmi of KitchenChronicles, an event by Sharmi of Neivedhyam .

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Carrot Kosumbari

Koshimbir/Kosumbari/Kosamalli are salads made from raw veggies and lentils and are healthy snacks as themselves.These are basically Kannada speciality and Konkani too.Traditionally they contain raw or sprouted lentils and are made from carrots/cucumber and with an optional tadka or seasoning.There are several variations or versions for this though.As for me, I grew up with a version that is similar to a raitha , though comparatively this raw version is easier.Still I have diverted from the traditional version and added finely chopped/grated red onions to it and have avoided the seasoning and also the raw lentils.

Carrots: 2-3 peeled & grated finely
Onions: 1 small peeled and finely chopped/grated
Coconut: 2-3 tbsp
Green Chilly: 1-2 as per taste.
Lemon juice: 1-2 tbsp or more
Cilantro/Coriander Leaves: for garnish and optionally mixing.

Peel and grate the carrots finely.Similarly grate the onion.Chop the green chilly and few tbsp of cilantro.The ingredients on first look (except cilantro)...

In a bowl mix together carrot,onions,coconut grated and few tbsp of cilantro and chopped green chilly.Add in salt and squeeze in lemon juice and mix well.Garnish with more cilantro.

Lemon juice will soften the onions and sort of take away the raw taste of them.Serve as a salad with rice or as per choice.The salt will bring out the water in carrot and onion and the salad will be moist and fresh no matter at what time you have prepared it.The mixing of cilantro depends on taste.I sometimes,avoid mixing cilantro and use it just as a garnish.Traditional or additional inclusions are washed and soaked/lightly cooked moong dal,moong ,sprouts,cucumber,pom seeds,ginger,grated raw mango or whatever you wish like peanuts,cashews etc. You can even replace the carrot and use beet to get a beet kosumbari.

The basic recipe of kosumbaris is same and sometimes they stand out due to the ingredients used.Other spectacular kosumbaris I have found:

and a very different one made with fried yam pieces from here: Yam Kosumbari

Another version similar to a raitha with yoghurt and mustard seasoning is Carrot Raita.

The simplest salad made quickly from the root veg carrot is on way to NCR:Root Vegetable at Lisa's. Hope she enjoys this salad.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hotteok-Korean Stuffed Pancake

Hotteok(Ho duk) is a stuffed Pancake from Korean cuisine.Though it is similar to a pancake,it is an anytime snack and is supposed to be the national snack of Korea.These are made from yeasted dough and stuffed traditionally with a sweet filling made from peanuts,brownsugar and cinnamon.But you can go with a savoury filling as well.

Tteok (duk ) means the sweet cake or rice cake and some versions of this make use of glutinous rice flour as well.the Ho in Hotteok is supposed to be the first sound you produces after the first bite.Why? As you bite into the gooey filling it can burn your tongue as the filling can be very hot especially straight from the skillet.I found several recipe and am following this one and also referenced especially here as well.

Warm Water: 1/4 cup
Active Dry Yeast:1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1/4 tsp

All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cups
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Milk: 1/4 cup + (Can also use soy milk)

Walnuts/Peanuts/Any choice of nuts: 1/2 cup +/-
Brown Sugar: 1/4 cup +/-
Cinnamon powder:1/2 -1 tsp

Mix sugar and yeast in warm water and let it sit till frothy.This may take 10+ minutes.Mine took around 20 as it is very cold here.

In a big bowl,mix flour and salt.Make a well in the middle and add the yeast mix and 1/4 cup of milk and knead to form a dough.Add milk as needed to form a smooth soft dough.I added more milk than needed and hence my dough was a little sticky and I had to roll it in extra flour.So make sure you add only the required amount to form the dough.

Keep the dough in a lightly oiled bowl turning once and let it sit covered for atleast 3 hours or until it doubles in size.Meanwhile mix together the ingredients for filling and keep aside.I used pecans as well as peanuts in my filling.You can use whatever nuts you want.

With oiled hands take small portions of the dough,shape it into a flattened round,put aas much filling as needed into the round and re wrap it to form a ball covering the filling tighlty and then gently flatten it again.This flattening can also be done at cooking time though.It looks like...

Heat a skillet on medium heat and pan fry flattened hotteok on both sides pressing occasionally on top with a turner/spatula so that the filling gets cooked.This takes a few minutes per side only.Serve warm or at room temperature.But be cautious while biting into the filling and remember to say 'Ho' first ;).

Though this is basically a dessert,you can snack on them anytime of the day and can change the fillings to savoury as well.So I supose this can also be a part of the brunch menu and you can see hot hotteok in MM:Brunch hosted by the creator herself,Meeta.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Roasted Brussel Sprouts-Chinese Style

Brussel sprouts or miniature cabbages are leafy green buds of wild cabbage family.I first saw them while in US and there I used these mostly in roasted form and rarely in gravies.I roast them based on this recipe adding spices of my choice and serve them as a side or salad whatever way you take it.I never expected these to be available in Bangalore and was pleasantly surprised to see them .As usual I roasted them,but this time in Chinese style and these were finished within minutes,TG,I took some pics beforehand itself.

Brussels Sprouts: 1 cup cleaned and halved

Soy sauce
Green chilli sauce:a dash
Red Chilli paste/Redchilly Flakes + vinegar: as per taste
Garlic: 1-2 cloves minced/paste
White pepper powder /Fresh black pepper
Vegetable/Sesame oil: 1-2 tsp +/-

Clean and halve the brussel sprouts and toss them together with the marinade/dressing ingredients.Spread them in a single layer in a lightly greased /lined baking sheet and optionally sprinkle more pepper and oil on top of this.

Roast in a preheated oven at 450F for 15-20 minutes till they turn brown.Serve as per choice.

This is a simple and easy dish and you can play with the spices as per availability.I sometimes go for garam masala or Italian seasoning .This time I used the Chinese style spices er Indo Chinese to be precise and not the authentic Chinese five spice powder.I hope Vaishali accepts them at IAVW:Chinese .

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gendang Kasturi

Now don't be afraid of the name.These are simply sweet mung bean fritters Malaysian style.The cooked whole moong are mixed with sweetneer and coconut and optionally pandan leaves and are dipped in a batter and deep fried.'Gendang' stands from 'Drum' and Kasturi means 'mask' or depending on the sentences it can also be taken to mean 'trap'. Rather we can say the mung beans are sweetened and encased in a drum like trap/case. Thats the closest translation I could find regarding the name.I do not know Malay and do not think I will be mastering it. :).Whatever it is if you feel this dish is similar to the 'sukhiyan' (Kerala style green gram fritters) or moolik/muleek as it is called in Konkani,then do not blame me,just enjoy the sweet.

I found several recipes for this- mostly in Malay language and have adapted mine from here and here. These are also known as kuih rengas (kuih = snack; rengas I do not know) or Cucur kacang (Cucur = fried; kacang / kacang hijau = dried mung beans) etc. These are supposed to be equally famous in Singapore and Indonesia as well.

Whole green Mung / Green Gram : 1/4 cup
Fresh grated coconut: 2-3 tbsp
Sugar: 3-4 tbsp +/-

Rice Flour: 1/2 cup +/-
Turmeric Powder: a pinch
Salt: a pinch

Oil for Deep frying

Cook the mung beans till soft and mushy.This can be done in a pressure cooker or stove top and I did the former.Mix sugar and coconut to mung and continue to cook it on stove top stirring it (so that it does not burn and stick to the pan) and lightly mashing it till turns into a completely dry and sweet mass. This filling will be non sticky and you should be able to shape patties from this.Make small patties by pinching out handful from the green mass.

Prepare the batter by adding salt,turmeric and water to the rice flour.Here you can go for a thin or thick batter depending on taste.
Dip the patties in to the batter and deep fry in hot oil in batches if needed.Drain on paper towels and serve as a snack.

The green gram fritters remind me of sukhiyan /muleeku.I enjoyed it and a fresh warm batch is off to AWED:Malaysia an event by DK and currently at Annarasa.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies er Graham Crackers

These are actually graham cracker cookies or they were meant to be that.I had bookmarked pumpkin graham crackers from Cupcake Project and through the link given there also went to eggless graham crackers of Bakingbites.So I decided to use the eggless recipe with the addition of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices and also gave it pumpkin shape ala cupcake project.The result was a tasty and spiced cookie though I am not sure I could call it graham cracker.

Graham crackers are made from Graham flour- a combination of white flour and wheat bran and germ.They were founded by Sylvester Graham as a part of Graham diet and the flour which he developed was called Graham flour and was healthier than normal ordinary All Purpose Flour.Though these days,commercial graham crackers are made from APF.If you have graham flour then use it instead of the whole wheat flour given in the recipe .

Whole Wheat Flour: 1 and 3 /4 cups
All purpose Flour:1/2 cup
Sugar: 1/2 cup
Baking Powder: 1 tsp
Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon + Ginger+Nutmeg : 1/2 tsp each OR Pumpkin PieSpice: 1-1.5 tsp as per taste

Cold Butter: 8 tbsp (1/2 cup or 1 stick )unsalted

Molasses: 4 tbsp
Pumpkin Puree: 4 tbsp

In a big bowl mix together the flours,baking soda,salt,baking powder and the spices.Add cold butter cut into cubes and mix well pinching and fluffing till the mix resembles coarse sand.Add in the molasses and the pumpkin puree.Instead of 4 tbsp molaases,you can use honey or a mix of honey and molasses 2 tbsp each.Knead to form a dough which will be sticky.Place the dough between 2 plastic wraps and roll it out into 1/8 inch thick.The dough before chilling and not yet 1/8 inch thick looks like...

Chill the dough for atleast 1 hour or several hours.Retrieve the chilled dough,and then roll it out into 1/8 inch thickness if it is not then,using a pumkin cookie cutter,cut out shapes and place them on a lighlty greased baking sheet.If you find it hard to take out the cut shapes,one way is place the chilled dough on the baking sheet,mark out shapes and take away the remaining dough.Reroll the remaining dough and again roll it into 1/8 thick and repeat the process.Using the tines of a fork give a face to the pumpkin,er I did this for the first two batches only.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F till the edges start browning.Take out from the oven and let them cool completely in the baking sheet itself.Mine were pulled out a when the edges were more than a little brown.I allowed them to cool in the baking sheet itself and this made them crunchier.

The taste on first bite was that of molasses and spices.It was like eating into a spice cookie.I never felt I was having a graham cracker which I had when I was in US.Then second bite onwards,I felt/imagined I was biting into a graham cracker.The taste was just right,cinnamony teddy grahams that I had tucked into.. well it could be my imagination.Pumpkin -I never felt it.may be because I used just little or the molasses overpowdered it or I do not know.Also the remaining two cookies turned a bit softer the next day.Basically the taste was GREAT,but when you compare my adaptation from 2 great recipes with the commercial ones then I am not so sure.Anyway most of the cookies (graham or not) were finished before the day was over and the remaining I found had turned a bit softer the next day.So do check the original recipes of Baking bites and Cupcake Project before thinking of making mine.I will be making this again though as the taste was great.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Mujadarah is a simple Middle Eastern dish that consists of rice/wheat/groats and black/brown lentils together with browned onions that were sauteed in olive oil.It is also known as mejadra,mudardara or moujadra and has several regional versions.The versions are sometimes based on the lentils used -Brown mujadarah with its brown/black lentils ( whole black masoor dal) or Yellow version which uses red split lentils (split masoor or red gram dal).Sometimes the different versions can be based on whether the lentils are pureed or not.Plainly speaking we can say that this is a Middle eastern cousin of Indian Khichdi or lets say its is a variation of Savoury Pongal especially when it is made using yellow dal.

I came across this in Nupur's Blog and it looked soooooooo good and so easy that I immediately tried it out and the results were great.You can use brown lentils (whole black masoor dal) or French Green Lentils for this brown version.Nupur has used sprouted brown lentils.Refer here for various options and substitutes.Though there are two variants of Mujadarah as per wiki one yellow with red split lentils (orange/red masoor dal) and other brown using Brown lentils,as per Lindy from whom Nupur adapted the recipe,orange masoor is not preferred as it gets cooked too fast.So I think we can stick to moong dal/toor dal while making a yellow version just like Pongal.

Long Grained Rice (Basmati):1/2 cup
Brown Lentils (Whole Black Masoor) :1/2 cup
Red Onions: 2-3 big (Use as much onions as you like) chopped long and thin
Olive Oil: 2 tbsp +
Cilantro :For garnish

I soaked the lentils in hot water for an hour .You can omit this step.I did this as I was unsure whether they will cook as fast as Basmati which takes little time only.Cook the rice and lentils together till tender.This can be done in a big pan on stove top or pressure cooker as per choice.I did stove top cooking only.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and saute thin and fine chopped onions till brown.This may take 20+ minutes.

Season the rice-lentil mix with adequate salt and generous grating of pepper.Add the browned onions along with the oil if any and mix well and cover and keep aside for 10-15 minutes till the flavours are absorbed.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro/parsley along with choice of accompaniments.

I completely agree with Nupur.You have to eat it to believe it.Awesome it was.Thanks Nupur for the hearty recipe.Do read her verdict and checkout the beautiful pic.Mine is not a patch on it as I could not wait to taste it.The estimate serves 2 or 1 depending on your greed ;).Oh, Ok,a little part also goes to MLLA #17 : an event by the Well Seasoned Susan and currently at Sra of when my Soup came alive

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thekua -Bihari Fried Sweet (Cookies)

Thekua is a simple deep fried sweet made of Wheat flour,coconut,optional dry fruits and jaggery or sugar syrup.It is a staple of festival feast especially during the Chath Pooja which is celebrated in Bihar and also in Jharkhand,some parts of Nepal etc.Thekua is also known as khajoori or khajoorain or Thakua.

I came to know of this through the newspaper TimesOfIndia which had written about this dish as a part of the Chath Pooja festival that was celebrated last week of October.Chath Pooja is a festival celebrated in Bihar,Jharkhand,Uttarakhand and parts of UP for the Sun God and is usually a 4 day festival.More than just a festival it is an observance of rituals and other practices and is a form of nature worship.Do read more about the festival from the link above and also check the wiki definition of Thakua/Thekua .

Thekua is made on the third day as a offering to God along with Kansara which is a rice flour laddu.I googled for the thekua and found several recipes and adapted from here and here .I went with the basic thekua recipe of wheat flour,jaggery syrup and coconut though several spices and dry fruits including chopped and deseeded dates can also be added to this.The sweet is normally pressed onto a saancha or a mould so as to get a patterned cookie,but I just used my fork to make the design.

Wheat Flour: 1 cup
Fresh grated Coconut :2-4 tbsp
Cardamom powdered: 1/4 tsp+
Ghee: 1 tbsp

Jaggery Syrup: 4-6 tbsp as needed to make a dough.
Ghee for Deep Frying: 1/2 cup + as needed

In a big bowl,mix together wheat flour (aatta),coconut grated,ghee and cardamom.Add 1/4 cup jaggery syrup and knead to form a dough.Keep on adding 1 tbsp of jaggery syrup as needed to make a smooth dough.You can use dry coconut flakes or coconut powder instread of fresh coconut.Also other additions are chopped dryfruits,pepper powder ,fennel seed powder or whatever you like.Normal sugar syrup (sugar dissolved in water) can be used instead of jaggery syrup.

Pinch small balls of the dough,pat into rounds,slightly flatten them and press them on a mould/saancha to get a flat patterned cookie shape.I flattened it with hands and then using a fork made design on it.

Heat ghee in a kadai/pan for deep frying and deep fry the cookies 2-3 at a time to a deep brown /reddish brown colour.Drain on paper towels.

The cookies turned out perfect for me though healthwise they are not that good.Deep frying in ghee is good once in a while though ;) .These are supposed to harden as time passes but mine were crunchier but never that harder.A baked version of these will also be fine and much more healthier.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Beet Cardamom Cookies

The earlier beet cookies I tried were not that pink but were perfect tastewise.So I decided to make the already bookmarked beet cookies from Neeta Mehtas book which looked perfectly pink.The cookies turned out as delicious as the previous ones and much more pinker.Only change I made in the actual recipe was the use of powdered cardamom in the cookie dough.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Caster Sugar: 5 tbsp
Butter: Softened: 1/2 cup
Beet Puree: 2 tbsp
Cardamom Powdered: 1/2-1 tsp

Cream together butter and sugar till light and fluffy.Add in pureed beets and beat again till you get a pink mix.Add in flour + cardamom powdered into this and knead well to form a soft pink dough.

Take spoonfuls of dough and place it in a lightly greased baking sheet.You can instead fill a piping bag with this dough and then pipe out to your choice of patterns/shapes.I simply took 1 tbsp of dough,shaped it into a ball ,flattened it and then placed it in the baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400F for 8-10 minutes till the bottoms start browning,but the centers are still soft to touch.Take out of the oven,cool the cookies for 5 minutes in the baking sheet and then let them cool completely in a wire rack.

The cookies were perfectly pink though not as crunchy as the previous cookies.But that could be because I did not flatten them that well.Ones that were more flatter than the others were crunchier.The cookies were tasty as expected and the cardamom went well with the beets.You can also replace the beet in these with spinach puree for getting green cookies. Also you can replace the butter (atleast half of it) with beet puree itself as fats can be replaced with fruit purees (the best choice in this case being beets itself) and make the cookies low fat/fat free.

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