Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mango Chipotle Salsa

This is a simple sweet and spicy salsa or salad made from ripe mangoes and chipotles.This salsa goes well on tacos or a side salsa.The recipe is very easy and quick and here it is.

Ripe mango: atlest 1 peeled and chopped into cubes
Red onion: 1 medium cubed
Walnuts: handful chopped (optional)


Lemon juice
Chipotles in adobo :I used 1 medium size in the jar
Adobo sauce: 1 tsp+

Cube the mango and onion.Add in walnuts if using along with salt and little chopped cilantro.Add in chopped chipotles and chipotle sauce.Adjust the salt and squeeze lemon juice. Toss well and chill in the fridge for flavours to blend and serve garnished with more chopped cilantro.

As per spiciness you can add more chilles or adobo sauce.Walnuts are completely optional and I used them for the crunch.If you have cooked kidney beans then you can add these as well.The recipe or the steps are too simple and if you are a mango lover then you may enjoy this.The first taste I did not like as mangoes are low in my preference list.But I am a fan of chipotles in adobo and hence I kept the salsa overnight and then I loved it.Chipotle taste here is more than the mango taste or atleast I want it so.

When you try a spoonful,the heat and smokiness of the chillies is the first thing you experience followed by the crunch of walnuts(I may omit/replace them the next time) and then the sweetness of mango especially chilled cold mango takes away the heat.Two different taste that compliment each other.

Well, I think the salsa is just right for NCR:Mexican hosted this time at Lisa's.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kerau Ra Tofu Tarkari - Nepali Tofu & Peas Curry

Nepali cuisine is a mix of mostly Chinese and Northern Indian cuisine.There are several varieties as per region and ethnicity and climate.I found a simple Tofu and peas curry or tarkari as the vegetable dishes are known in dear Zlamuska's blog. I find the dish a bit similar to the matar paneer or peas and paneer gravy that we make in India though this one is with tofu which makes it vegan.Do check her original recipe for ingredient estimates as I have adjusted these.

Tofu: 1 pkt firm tofu (1 cup or more)
Peas: 1/2 cup +

Bayleaf:1-2 medium
Onion: 1 chopped
Cardamom: 2 pods

Ginger: 1 inch piece
Garlic: 1-2 cloves
Turmeric: a pinch
Cumin powder:1 tsp +

Fresh red chilli:1 (Green chilli works fine )
Tomatoes: 1-2 big chopped
Chilli powder
Coriander powder
Garam masala powder

Water /Veg broth: for cooking

Cilantro: for garnish (optional)

Squeeze the tofu between paper towels and drain it.Avoid this if it is already firm.Cube the tofu into bite size pieces.Heat oil in a wok or pan and brown/shallow fry the tofu.You can also deep fry or grill them as how you like.Remove the tofu pieces and drain on paper towels.In the same wok,add bayleaf,onion and cardamom.Saute till the onion starts to brown.

Meanwhile,paste together ginger,garlic,turmeric and cumin powder.When the onion starts browning,add the paste and saute until the raw smell goes.Then add chopped tomatoes,chilli-coriander and garam masala powder and salt and cook till the tomatoes start cooking.

Add water/broth and boil down to a thick gravy/paste adjusting the salt and spices.Serve with rice,bread or as per choice garnishing with chopped cilantro.

Obviously it is similar to matar paneer and was spicy tasty and hearty with roti.My pics are not as good as Zu's though.This dish is my entry to T&T:Zlamuska's Spicy kitchen,hosted this time by Lakshmi of Kitchen Chronicles,an event originally by Zlamushka and currently handled by Lakshmi.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Borani Esfanaj

Borani is a simple Iranian cold dish made with yoghurt and vegetables.Basically the dish is a simple raita or a mix of yoghurt and veggies of choice.When spinach (or esfenaaj/esfenaj/esfanaj in Farsi) is added to this then we get a yoghurt -spinach raita or borani esfanaj and is served as side to pilaf or as per choice. There are many ways of making this raita where the versions differ in the way of cooking spinach like blanching,boiling,steaming or stirfrying.The rest of the recipe is the same and I have adapted a stirfried version from here.

Spinach: a small bunch chopped
Onion: 1 small
Garlic: 1 clove (optional)


Heat oil in a pan,add chopped onion and garlic and saute till brown.Add the chopped spinach and little salt and cook till it wilts.I took it off the gas right at the instant it started giving out water. Allow it to cool.

Whisk thick curd adding salt and pepper.Add or fold in the cooled spinach-onion mix and adjust the salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temp.

The raita as it is known here is a simple and obviously tasty.If you want more spiciness replace the pepper or adjust it with your choice of spices.The simple dish is my entry to Weekend Wokking:Spinach hosted this tme by the originator of the event herself,Wandering Chopsticks.If you have any spinach dish do send it over after checking the rules.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Strawberry Gelato

Gelato is an Italian variant of icecream.It is not exactly icecream as though the ingredients are same,the gelato has lower sugar and fat content than the traditional ice cream but the storage life is reduced to 2-3 days as compare to the ice cream. Do check here to know the difference between gelato and an icecream.

When strawberry season was at its peak in India,I too tried a simple strawberry gelato or Gelato alla Fragola from Foodnetwork.It was excellent in taste but in texture not so as I did not have an ice cream maker.I simply followed David Lebovitz's recipe and made mine,but I must say an icecream maker will work wonders.

Strawberries :12 ounces or atleast 1.5 cups
Sugar: 3/4 cup or less if you prefer so
Milk: 2 cups

Heavy Cream :1/2 cup (I used Amul cream which is the only one available and has 25%fat)
Lemon Juice: 1/2 -1 tsp

Blend together hulled and chopped strawberries,sugar and milk to get a smooth puree.Add in heavy cream and mix in just enough to combine and then add in the lemon juice.Chill in the fridge for atleast 4 hours or overnight. Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze as per instructions.

I do not have an ice cream machine and so I follwed David Lebovitz's recipe on how to freeze ice cream without it.

Once the icecream is chilled put it into a steel container or deep baking dish or plastic bowl and then freeze it.I had put my mix already in the steel dish and after chilling overnight in the fridge,I put the dish in the freezer.

After 45 minutes or at the max 2 hours,as the edges start to freeze,take out and with a churner or spatula or even a whisk or hand blender,stir it vigourously to break up the ice formation.

Return to the freezer and continue this process every 30 minutes for atleast 2-3 hours or 6-8 times.

After this let it freeze till serving time.During the last time,you can drizzle it with melted chocolate and then whisk and freeze to get little chocolate chip pieces or stracciatella.Also,instead of stracciatella,you can fold in chopped fruit pieces or even nuts and then continue with the final freezing.This is purely optional.

Serve as such or with chocolate sauce garnished with strawberries.

The taste was heavenly.After all the freezing,stirring/whisking and patiently waiting,the taste ought to be perfect.

But,I am not sure whether the texture of the gelato was correct or not as it was made without a gelato machine or icecream maker.So I feel if you clearly want to find the difference between gelato and icecream a machine is a requirement.

This was the first gelato I made this summer and as the heat continues with intermittent rains ,many more may follow.The pictures should speak more than the words,but here if you feel otherwise,then blame it on my photography skills.The gelato was fast melting and so I simply clicked.

UPDATE on 14.05.2010: This post and the gelato (and the blogger) are proud to be featured on the front page of FoodCandy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Herbed Vetkoek

Vetkoek is a fried pastry from South Africa made from flour,yeast and salt.Literally meaning 'fat cake' the koek or cake indicates that the dish can be taken as a dessert or meal.The snack can be made savoury or sweeter depending on how you want.Typically the bread dough is shaped into balls and deep fried.Then it is split open and stuffed with savoury or sweet fillings.

There are traditionally two versions for this.One version has dough made with baking powder and flour and mixed to a thick batter which is then dropped spoonfuls into hot oil.The other version has a yeast based dough cut into shapes or preferably round balls and deep fried.I followed the basic recipe from this site,but made it herbed and here's my version.

All Purpose Flour: 1and 1/4 cup + more for dusting
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Instant Yeast: 1/2 tsp
Herbs/ Seasoning of choice: 1/2 tsp + (I used pizza seasoning)

Oil: 1/2 tsp -1.5 tsp
Luke warm Water: 1/2 cup

Oil:for Deep frying

In a big bowl,mix all the dry items of flour,salt,sugar,yeast and herbs. Add in water and oil to this and knead to form a dough.I added only 1/2 tsp of oil though 1.5 tsp were required.I did not find any difference.or maybe I do not know.

When the dough or the sticky mass leaves the sides of the bowl,put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until a firm,elastic and non sticky dough is formed.It takes around 5-10 minutes.

Rest the dough in a lightly greased bowl covered with a wrap until it doubles in volume around 20 minutes to 1 hour.May be its the peak temperatures,mine doubled within 20 minutes.

Once doubled put it on a lightly floured surface and deflate it and then with your hands flatten it into 1 inch thick circle.Using an appropriate cookie cutter cut out shapes from the dough.I used even a star cookie cutter.Let the pieces rest for few minutes.

Meanwhile,heat oil for deep frying.Make sure the oil is medium hot else the insides may not be cooked.

Deep fry the dough pieces in hot oil few ones at a time till golden brown.While frying,turn over to both sides and ensure both sides are golden brown.When we drop the dough in oil,the vetkoek puffs up and as it gets cooked,it floats on the oil and turns brown.This takes just minutes.Drain the vetkoek on paper towels or on cooling racks which makes it extra crispy.

Serve the vetkoek as an anytime snack with your choice of dip or curry.Otherwise,you can split it in half and sandwich it with your choice of stuffing -sweet as well as savoury.The fatcake has crispy exterior and soft chewy interior.When you split open the vetkoek,if the insides look doughy or uncooked,it could be because of the oil temperature.So make sure the insides are thoroughly cooked and it should resemble that of a normal baked bread slice.

Since I prefered snack cakes,I served it as such and also with cheese spread.

I think the vetkoek are perfect snack for soccer parties either as starters or anytime snack.So these SouthAfrican snack cakes are going all the way to the Fifa Cup in SA through Meeta's Monthly Mingle where the theme is South African Food.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Weekend Wokking: Tofu - Delicious Round up

Tofu or bean curd as it is also known is a delectable food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curd into blocks.Originally from china it has spread to other East Asian countries and has been a part of their diet. It is low in calories and has a large amount of iron.Lets see what delish dishes our awesome bloggers has made with this nutritious tofu.The entries are in no particular order.

We start with delicious Tandoori Tofu Kebabs from Priya of Easy and Tasty Recipes.Tofu is marinated in chilli powder,pepper and spicy garam masala and is skewered and baked along with cubed bell peppers and onion chunks.Hearty and mouthwateringly spicy dish.

Then we come to Tofu with satay sauce from Christine of Kitschow.A delectable dish where tofu in a tube combined with pork and a dash of her favourite satay sauce ,this one is done within 10 minutes.

We have Mr.Zhengs Soupy Tomatoes and Eggs with Tofu where TS & JS of EatingClubVancouver have used Northern style Tofu which has more flavour,but also a soy milk aroma and have tried to recreate a traditional dish with a traditional Chinese combo of eggs and tomato.

Northern Tofu also makes an appearance in Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Blackbeans where the ingredients like tofu and fish and thrown together along with fermented soybeans to make a hassle free dinner.

Tofu makes it appearance this time in Tofu and Squash Dumplings by EJL of Made with Optimism. Tofu mixed with banana squash,greenonions,watercress and soysauce is used a filling for dumpling and is cooked in boiling water and is enjoyed heartily.All this after accidently participating in a dumpling making class.Do check her pics for folding a dumpling.

Then we welcome Semur tahu of Central Java from Javaholic.Though tofu is almost a regular ingredient she almost forgot to post this dish.Tofu is browned and then mixed with tomatoes,shallots,garlic and sweet soy sauce and is topped with cellophane noodles and hard boiled eggs for a simple and satisfying meal.Do check the post for vegan options.

Next we have Vietnamese Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua or Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce from the creator of Weekend Wokking: Wandering Chopsticks.Here were have tofu lightly battered in rice riceflour and deep fried (or unadorned and pan fried as you like) and then added to a wonderful sauce of tomatoes to which soy sauce or fish sauce has been added. A perfect side dish to rice which can easily be made gluten free and vegan.

Last but not the least we have tofu as delicious Indian Style bites from Yours Truly.This has tofu cubes marinated in curry powder and baked to obtain healthy,spicy and tasty bites,all thanks to Madhuram whose recipe I adapted this from.

It was a simple and delectable round up.Now onto the next secret ingredient:
"Its Green in colour and is PopEye's favourite: -" SPINACH ".

Do send your entries to the creator of the event Weekend Wokking and also next month's host, Wandering Chopsticks at wanderingchopsticks(at)gmail(dot)com by May 30th,2010.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Down Memory Lane with Russian Tea

Russia played an important role during my schools days.Now I did not study in Russia,but in a normal convent run English school in the capital of Kerala -Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram as it is now known.

Kerala,one of the communist states in India was heavily influenced by USSR(and not just China) during the late 80's till its disintegration into smaller states.There were several lakhs of fans for Gorbhachev and even advocates of Perestroika and Glasnost.The Indo-USSR relations were at the peak then with several friendship treaties being signed between the two countries and the smiling faces of Gorbhachev was to be seen almost everyday on the tv.We looked up to USSR,as it was a developed country and that too on par with USA.The influence could be seen in kids being named Mikhail,Lenin,Tolstoy and Stalin.

We were exposed to its culture through the literary works of several Russian writers,famous and otherwise,the International film festivals which had several Russian films,magazines like "misha" (thats the name I think),the cultural exchange programs,Russian education especially the medical course which was least expensive,and even the Russian language classes at schools.

Now me being at an impressionable age,thought that a different language for communication added an element of mystery.But being tied up with some other coursework I could not join the language classes and I made it up by getting the alphabets and words from my friends who had joined. I am not sure whether the school started this just to fall in line with the Russian crazed politicos and not the love of the language but whatever it is,these were discontinued within few months or so.

Time flies as always and childhood gave way to teenage and we saw USSR being disintegrated to several independent states.That was the end of the craze atleast for me.Looking back I think except Russian cuisine we were influenced by everything about Russia .So coming to todays post,I found a simple traditional Russian Tea recipe here and have adapted it.As in UK,tea is a tradition in Russia with the tea being warmed throughout the day in samovars(which were also seen in Kerala during the craze though I am not sure whether the resemblence was in name only)

Water: 1 cup
Loose Black Tea Leaves: 1 tsp+

Simple Syrup:
Sugar: 3 tbsp+
Water: 1/2 cup +/- few tbsp
Cloves: 1+
Orange zest

Extra Essentials:
Orange Juice: 1/4 cup +
Lemon Juice: 1-2 tsp

Make tea by boiling water and then adding tea leaves.Boil for a few minutes then allow it to seep and then strain the leaves out.Set aside and keep warm.

Make a simple syrup by boiling the water and sugar to which the cloves and zest has been added.Bring the syrup to a boil,keep on stirring till the sugar dissolves and then continue boiling for 1-2 minutes then remove from heat.Strain and then allow it to cool a bit.

Mix together the strain tea with the strained simple syrup.Add the juice of a small orange (4 tbsp +)and a squeeze of lemon.Keep warm by putting it on low heat but do not boil.

Preferebly serve this orangey tea warm.

On keeping, the orange and spice flavour increases and since the weather was hot I enjoyed it chilled as well.If you are a tea person like me you will love this.

The above rant is just my point of view of things or recollection of events during my school life and in no way specifies my ideologies or principles or anything for that matter.Ofcourse I still treasure my copy of translated Russian folktales and the moth eaten copy of Russian alphabets much to the amusement (and irritation) of my parents.

The orangey tea is my first entry to AWED:Russia at Food for 7 Stages of Life,an event by DK.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baked Cucumbers for Julie & Julia

Julie &Julia by Julie Powell tells us the story of a project or rather a blogging marathon undertaken by Julie Powell who wanted to try all the 500+ recipes in 'Mastering The Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child and that too within a year.If she were like me,then it would not have happened I am sure of that.But she not only cooked all the recipes and became the world's first food blogger in 2002 and went on to convert the blog into a book which last year became a movie starring Meryl Streep.

The book starts by telling us about the routine life of Julie which is pretty normal.She feels frustrated by this soooo ordinary directionless life and encouraged by her husband she decides to start an blog.On having stolen her mother's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking or MtAoFC,she decides on mammoth project to cook all the 524+ recipes within a year.But if you think that the book is full of recipes,then you are wrong.It tells us her struggle to get dishes done,despite her lack of knowledge or non availablity of ingredients,the trips to get these or the determination to continue even during blackouts and also sometimes the taste of the final product.

She is intrigued about Julia Child who introduced the Americans to French Cooking.There are glimpses of Julia's recipes full of butter or cream and ingredients like calf marrow,livers or sweetbreads which are dieters nighmare but a carnivores delight but obviously rich or high fat foods.The book makes us feel like we are reading a diary of Julie's life with changes happening everyday and never a cookbook.Its like Julia Child being there but just as a shadow.On a literary point of view,I am impressed with the way Julie Powell wrote it or blogged about it without ever letting the attention to be diverted from her or her project.The book which starts with her being intrigued about Julia Child ends up with Julie being impressed of Julia or atleast I felt so.

I was and still am impressed by Julia Child though ofcourse most of her recipes are non vegetarian.The first dish of hers that I tried was Ratatouille which I sourced from a fellow blogger,La Recette du Jour.In Julie & Julia several recipe names are mentioned and one such which interested me was "Concombres au Beurre" or buttery baked cucumbers.Never before I have seen a cucumber recipe other than a salad or even a juice and that too baked!.I decided to try it and I must say I loved the crunchy snack just like Julie.I have used the recipe from Recipezaar where it was given along with the variations.

Cucumber: 1 peeled and chopped into strips.

Red Wine Vinegar: almost 1 tbsp
Salt: as per taste
Sugar: a pinch

Onions: 1/2 of a small onion : 2 -3 tbsp chopped
Basil Leaves: few 3-4 (can also use dried basil)
Melted Butter: 1 tbsp+
Pepper: as pr taste.

Lightly peel,deseed and cut the cucumber into strips.You can leave the peel or seeds as such if you like.In a bowl,mix together the cucumber strips,vinegar,salt and sugar.Keep aside for atleast 30 minutes to several hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F.Drain the cucumber in paper towels and pat dry.Add basil,melted butter,onion and pepper to the cucumber strips and toss well.Place them in a single layer in lined baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or more until the edges of cucumbers start to brown.Serve as a snack or side to roasted meat.I enjoyed as a snack.

Here I must say I adapted the recipe or used the variations given in the recipe.The original Julia chicld recipe goes for baking the cucumber for an hour at 375.But the review of the recipe went for 20 minutes at 350.I too went for 350F and after 30 minutes found my cucumbers getting brown and dry and some were already shrivelled due to heat but not burnt so I took them out.And on consuming I liked the crunchy taste.So I will be making this again at 350F for 20 minutes.

The first bite is crunchy and surprising.Never knew cucumbers could be crunchy.My husband thought it was zucchini and could not believe it was cucumber.We loved it and I will baking this again and will try without butter as well.

Lets see whether Julie,the first food blogger and Julia Child,the Master French Chef has inspired anyone at the BookClub to cook dangerously? Do checkout BookClub's new site at This Book Makes Me Cook .

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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