Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mayan Hot Cocoa

Cocoa, it is said that was discovered by Mayans (Southern Mexico) who used it in the form of a drink.They blended it with raw chillies and water and concocted a base for what is known today as 'Hot Chocolate' or Hot cocoa.The chocolate as itself was discovered later from using cocoa.Though hot chocolate was perceived first as a luxury drink,it is found that chocolate has health benefits as well as it is high in anti oxidants.

Well, the drink made by Mayans using cocoa underwent several changes when chocolate was discovered, thus rather than going for cocoa powder we can add shaved chocolate which was already sweeter in nature.Well do check out the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate here .It is said that chocolate with 70% cocoa is healthier than others.As for me,I wanted to see how the Mayans made it and found several versions for spiced chocolate some using fresh chillies,some using Mexican chocolate etc.I have adapted this version from where cocoa powder is used along with dried chile pepper and other spices and the result was a comforting spiced cocoa with the heat from chile.


Milk: 2 cups or mugs

Cocoa powder (unsweetened): 3-4 tbsp
All Purpose Flour: 1/2 tsp

Brown Sugar: 2 tbsp +
Cinnamon stick : crushed into small pieces
Cloves : crushed
Fresh grated Nutmeg
Dried Chilli pepper : I used dried chipotles though normal dried red chillies can be used.Even fresh jalapeno can be used as I have seen in some sites.: powdered or finely chopped.

Powdered Sugar: 1-2 tsp
Vanilla:1-2 tsp


In a double boil, warm the milk on medium heat.In a small bowl,mix flour and cocoa.When the milk starts warming, add spoonfuls of milk to the flour mix and mix into a paste.This should be done gently else it may leave lumps.So mix after each spoonful and keep on adding milk till you get a smooth paste.

While the milk is warming crush/crumble the spices and powder the chillies.These can be powdered together or I simply crushed them a little and chopped the chillies.

Once you get the paste add the brown sugar,crumbled spices and dried chilli to this mix.Then add the spiced paste to the rest of the milk in the double boiler and mix well.Let it cook on medium or low heat till the cocoa gets cooked,the sugar dissolves and the drink slightly starts to thicken or until your consisency is reached.This may take 10-15 minutes and if still liquidy then you can add cornstarch for thickening.I did not.

With a slotted spoon remove the spices that float on the top of the drink and serve warm in mugs, adding vanilla and powdered sugar.Vanilla enhances the taste.

The taste was perfect for me.The chillies add heat and the sharp taste of cocoa is matched with the heat of the chillies and the flavours from the spices.The hot cocoa being made of chilli pepper is going to warm the Weekend Wokking :Chili pepper hosted this time by the creator herself,Wandering Chopsticks

Want a chocolatey version, see Spicy Hot Chocolate Drink by Lubna
an Alcoholic version : Spirited Hot Chocolate

or be patient another chocolatey drink is coming soon.

So warm the wintery evenings with delicious Mayan style Hot Cocoa.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Varar-Sri Lankan Cabbage,Leeks & Coconut

This is a simple yet hearty side dish from Sri Lanka that I have adapted from Maninas. Cabbage and coconut combo is hearty and common to South India. Addition of leeks in the SriLankan version makes it an unusual combo.

Cabbage: 1 small cabbage,washed and chopped/shredded finely.
Leeks: 1 washed and shredded (thick white part only )
Coconut: handful of dessicated coconut

Onion: 1 small chopped finely
Green chillies:1-2 as per taste
CurryLeaves: handful and fresh.

Turmeric: a pinch
Tempering spices: 1 -1.5 tsp

Lemon juice

Tempering Spices: equal quantities of
Mustard seeds (brown/black)
Cumin seeds
Fennel seeds

Wash and chop/shred cabbage and leeks finely.You can split the leaves and then show them running water for cleaning,Then chop /shred them .Finely chop onions and slit chillies as well.

Heat the oil in a pan or wok and add onion, slit green chillies and curry leaves along with a little salt. Cook till the onion is soft.

Add the tempering spices when they sizzle.add turmeric,the shredded cabbage and leek and stirfry till they are cook.No water addition is needed. This will take just a few minutes till the cabbage and the oniony leeks to get cooked but crunchy.Do not cook too much so that the veggies turn limpy.

Add coconut, mix well and cook for a minute or less also adjusting salt.

Serve warm garnished with lemon juice.

The fennel goes very well with the cabbage and the oniony leeks which makes this a unusual side dish.You can increase or decrease the quantity of each veg as per taste.If you like leeks then surely you will love this dish.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This is a simple Rajasthani desert made of yellow or white corn or rather a simple but delectable halwa made of corn.I had seen the dish in an old issue of Tarla Dalal's magazine which had a microwave version of the dish though I think the same is available at her site also.Anyway I had a single corn cob and so decided to make it.The quantity was just enough for one person and so I think you should go for atleast 2 corn cobs.The recipe if using microwave is very easy and so I have added step by step pictures as there is not much to write.Anyway here it is

Corn Cobs: atleast 1
Milk: 1/4 cup +
Sugar: 2-4 tbsp +
Cardamom Powder: as per taste

Remove the leaves,wash and grate the corn in a microwave safe bowl.The quantity came around to 6 tbsp.The grating will also produce little liquid from the corn and looks like...

Microwave the grated corn on full power for one and half minutes.It took me 1.30 minutes thgh the original recipe stated more than that for 2 corn cobs.So I suppose the change in time depends on quantity as well as power of the microwave.The thing to note is the grated corn should get cooked and the cooked aroma and the evaporation of its liquid is the key to it.It looks like...

Add milk to this -again depends on quantity.I added around 6 tbsp of milk and microwave it again on full power till the milk gets reduced and the sweet thickens.Mine took just 1 minute.

Add required sugar and cook again for 30 secs -1 minute on 100% power till the sugar blends in with the sweet .
Take out. Add cardamom power and serve.

The quantity was just enough for one person.

The dish can also be made on stove top though it may require constant stirring so that it does not burn.Microwave makes it easier.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Caponata or Eggplant caponata is a Sicilian eggplant or aubergine dish made with chopped eggplants in a sweet and sour sauce.Usually the ingredients are capers,tomatoes and vinegar and several variations of this dish exist.The dish is usually served as a salad or appetizer or side as per choice.I had bookmarked Mario Batali's caponata version from Food Network.The intriguing feature of this version is the use of currant and unsweetened cocoa and no capers!. I have never used/heard of cocoa in this and so I decided to give it a try and the result was excellent.

Eggplant: 1 cup chopped into small pieces

Olive oil : 1-2 tbsp +
Onion: diced into squares:1 medium
Pinenuts: 2 tbsp
Currants: 2 tbsp
Chilli flakes: as per taste

Sugar: 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon powder: 1/2 tsp
Unsweetened cocoa: 1/2 tsp

Dried Thyme: 1/2 tsp or Fresh thyme: 2 tsp
Balsamic Vinegar: 5-8 tsp as per taste
Prepared Tomato Sauce: 2-4 tbsp

Salt & Pepper

Tomato sauce:
Extra-virgin olive oil: 1-2tbsp
Onion: 1 small diced
Garlic: 1 clove
Carrot grated: 1 small or 1/4 cup grated
Thyme: 1/2 tsp + as taste or use Fresh thyme
Tomatoes:2 big blanched and peeled and crushed/chopped into small pieces along with their juices.

Tomato Sauce: Heat olive oil in a deep pan.Add diced onion and garlic and cook till it browns for about 6-8 minutes or more.Add thyme and carrot and saute till the carrot starts to cook.Add in tomatoes along with their juices and bring to a boil.Reduce to a simmer and cook till it reaches the sauce consistency. Add salt and reserve.This can be prepared early and stored in the refrigerator.

Chop the eggplants into small pieces.Add salt and mix well and let them drain for atleast 15 minutes.This is supposed to remove their bitterness but it is optional.I followed this step though it is not in the original recipe.Also dice the onions.

Heat olive oil in a pan and add diced onion,pine nuts,currants and chilli flakes and saute till softened.Add squeezed/drained eggplant pieces,sugar ,cinnamon and cocoa and saute till the eggplant softens and starts to cook.Add thyme,tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil.Reduce to simmer and let it cook for 5 more minutes.Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.Serve as an appetizer on top of crostini or as a side dish.

The dish was a perfect blend of sweet and tangy and hot (I added more chilli flakes as per taste) and was an explosion of flavours.I suppose the cocoa and currants bring in a sharp tanginess and thay may be the reason he must have used them.Do refer the original recipe for correct estimates as I have increased some per taste.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ezme Salatasi - Turkish Tomato Salad

After my two previous salad posts I decided to go for a third one.This time its a simple Turkish tomato salad I have found on Fat Free Vegan.The recipe is typical Mediterranean and is similar to Greek Horiatiki salad and this version I have used makes use of tomato juice/V-8 juice along with a vinegar dressing.

Tomatoes: 2 -3 big ,deseeded and chopped
Cucumber: 1 medium peeled and chopped
Bell pepper (any colour): 1 medium chopped
Onion: 1 small diced

Garlic :2 cloves crushed/minced
Fresh Parsley: 1/4 cup +

Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp +
Red Wine Vinegar: 1 tbsp +
Tomato Juice: 4 tbsp +

Black Pepper
Cumin Powder

Salt(optional) :I did not use

Dice the tomatoes,cucumber,onion and pepper into bite size pieces and add to a big bowl.Add crushed garlic and chopped parsley and spices and the liquid ingredients to this and mix well.Serve.

You can serve immediately but on sitting the flavours blend in and the salad becomes more perfect.You can adjust the spices and can avoid salt if you tomato /V8 juice is salty.Simple but spicey salad this is and the parsley adds to the flavour.I always reduce the amount of parsley as I find it sharper in taste than cilantro,but this is one dish that I like more parsley.Also the salad can be served as a filling in pita bread or with rice crackers/tortilla chips .I served it with a simple sago pappad.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Som Tam -Thai Green Papaya Salad

Som Tam or Som Dom or Tam Mak Hoong or even Pok Pok as I have read in some sites is a simple green/raw papaya salad made traditionally with palm sugar,shrimp paste,fish sauce and roasted peanuts.The dish is supposed to combine the four main dishes of Thai - sour lime ,chili pepper,salty fish sauce or soy sauce and sweet sugar.This is served as a side to sticky rice .I have adapted my version from here where there were suggestions for the vegetarian/vegan version.

Raw /Green Papaya: 1 cup shredded

Garlic : 2 small cloves
Cherry Tomatoes: 3+
Fresh and preferably young Green Beans: 2+
Green Chillies/ Serrano Chillies: 1+

Lime Juice: 2 tsp
Soy Sauce: 1 tbsp
Sugar: 2-3 tsp

If using whole raw papaya,then peel,wash and chop it into smaller pieces easier to shred and also discard the seeds.To remove the acidity,you can dip the papaya pieces in water for 10 minutes before shredding.Shred the papaya into a bowl.Peel the garlic cloves and halve the cherry tomatoes.Also wash and chop the beans into smaller pieces.

In a mortar and pestle,add the garlic cloves and crush/pound with a pestle.To this add the beans and the halved cherry tomatoes.Pound till the juices oozes out of tomatoes and the beans look bruised.To this add whole chillies and pound again till the hotness of chillies is released.

Add this to a big bowl and mix with shredded papaya and lime juice,soy sauce and sugar.Toss well .You can also mix the salad directly in the mortar and pound it well so that the flavours blend.

The salad is terrific and I have already made it again and again.The ingredient quantities can be adjusted as per taste.The salad taste best when all the ingredients are fresh and young especially the green beans.If it is not tender then some may have difficulty chewing on raw beans.The papaya shines through and I never before tried it this simple way.You can make it beforehand or serve right then or whatever way you wish.Also another think is we are not directly adding salt in this.Salt comes from soy sauce and can be controlled.

The terrific salad is on way to NCR:Thai Soups/Salads hosted this time by Lisa.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Feijao Verde com Coentro e Alho - Green Beans with Cilantro & Garlic

Portuguese cuisine is full of non vegetarian or 'meaty' dishes.The country is one of the highest in meat consumption but I was really surprised to find a completely vegetarian and vegan salad in this cuisine made with green beans along with cilantro and garlic and with a simple season of lemon juice,vinegar and pepper.The name of the dish is tonguetwisting,but the recipe is not and is hearty.I have used the recipe from FoodNetwork by Sara Moulton to make mine.My quantities are guestimates and you can add/reduce the quantity as per taste.

Green Beans: 1-2 handfuls washed and ends removed.
Garlic: 2-3 cloves
Fresh Cilantro/Coriander :3 tbsp + or as per taste
Olive Oil: 1.5 -2 tbsp

Lemon Juice: 1-2 tsp
Apple Cider Vinegar: 2-3 tsp

Wash and remove the ends of the beans.Cook the beans in boiling salted water in a big vessel/saucepan/pot for 10-12 minutes or more till tender.

Meanwhile chop the cilantro and crush the garlic and place them together in a heatproof bowl.

Drain the beans thoroughly so that no water remains in them.You can even return them to heat so that they become completely dry.I did not do this.

Put the warm and dry beans over the garlic and cilantro in the bowl and mix well.Let stand for 10 minutes.Add olive oil to this and toss to coat.Cover and let it marinate in the fridge for atleast 3-4 hours or overnight.

About 45 minutes before serving,take out of the fridge and let it attain room temperature.Add in th e dressing of pepper,vinegar and lemon juice .Toss and serve adjusting the salt and vinegar and oil and pepper.

This is served as a side salad to meat but it is also fine with rice.Else you can have it as a mid morning/anytime snack as per choice.The taste was garlicky and herby and tangy due to olive oil,vinegar and obviously lemonjuice.The dressing is added at the last minute.If added early then it may turn the green colour of beans to brownish which may look unappetising.

This also visits AWED:Portuguese ,an event by DK and currently hosted by Priya.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Arroz Doce- A Sweet (late) Start to 2010

Rice Puddings are common to all the cuisines.The mix of rice and water/milk is commonly mixed with a sweetner and other regional ingredients and served as a celebratory dessert.Starting with the Indian Kheer or South Indian Payasam we can see several variations added to the rice-sugar -milk mix.Do check the several tongue twisting names for simple payasam in Wikipedia.

Arroz Doce or Arroz con Leite (Rice & Milk )is Portuguese sweet rice pudding.What makes it Portuguese is the use of Lemon and cinnamon.As with kheers several versions are available each one more better and richer and as tastier as the other ,some with eggs,some eggless and some with condensed milk.I have adapted mine from the eggless version seen in Recipezaar and have also referenced several other sites.

White Short Grain Rice: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Hot Milk: 2 cups +
Sugar: 1 cup +
Lemon zest: 1-2 lemons

Optional Ingredients:
Cinnamon stick
Butter: 1-2 tbsp
Salt: a pinch

Powdered Cinnamon

Bring water to boil in a heavy bottomed pan.Add butter and cinnamon stick to it if interested.Add rice and reduce to a simmer and let it cook till the water is reduced to half or when rice starts to cook.Then remove the cinnamon stick and add hot milk,sugar,remaining zest and continue cooking till a porridge or oatmeal consistency is reached when the rice is fully cooked and looks creamy absorbing all the milk and water.Remove from heat.You can serve it warm itself or let it cool or even chilled.Upon cooling it thickens again.If you like to have a thinner consistency then add more milk as needed.

Serve garnished with cinnamon powder.You can give designs with cinnamon powder.I simply sprinkled it atop .

If you want eggy version,then once oatmeal consistency is reached,you add atleast 2 eggyolks to this.You can find eggy version here.The addition of eggs makes the dish more rich and yellowy.Mine looks creamy and not yellow.If you want to make it more rich but eggless,you can add little condensed milk reducing the sugar.I used butter just to make it a bit rich.

Now a cinnamony lemony creamy rice pudding.A perfect start to 2010.After a short & much needed break,I am back and am ready to rock 2010 (er not literally!) with a dish having my favourite spice: Cinnamon. And obviously a perfect dessert entry to AWED:Portuguese,an event by Dear DK and currently hosted by Extremely HardWorking Blogger Priya.

Update on 15 Jan 2010: Rice pudding - be it Indian Kheer/Payasam or Greek Ryzogalo or Portuguese Arroz Doce - is a comfort food and thus cinnamony Arroz Doce is also on way to SHF# 61: Sweet Comforts ,an event by Jennifer the Domestic Goddess and currently at A MerrierWorld

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