Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hoppin' John - for a Lucky 2012!

Hoppin' John is a Southern American comfort  version of a rice and bean stoup (stew+ soup) originally from Africa. You can have it as a side or main as per choice -atleast thats what my version is. Eating the dish on New Years Day is supposed to to bring you luck and prosperity and the beans are supposed to represent pennies or coin!.Typically dish has rice,black eyed beans and pork or ham or any choice of meat. A vegetarian version can use choice of substitutes. I have adapted the recipe from WholeFoodsMarket where I have replaced the tempeh with soy granules. It is spicy and as thick as a pudding/porridge and is very comforting.

Black Eyed Beans: 1/2 cup soaked
Onion: 4-6 tbsp chopped
Dried Thyme: 1/2 tsp +/- as per taste

Long Grain Rice: 1/2 cup 
Soy Granules: 1/4 cup prepared as per instructions
Green Bell Pepper: chopped 4 tbsp

Cayenne Pepper: a small pinch 
Fresh grated Pepper & Salt: as per taste

Tabasco or any hot sauce: optional / as per taste

Soak the beans overnight and the next day wash it and cook it on stve top adding chopped onion and thyme till almost done. Add the rest of the ingredients except tabasco and cook till the rice is tender and done. Adjust the seasonings and serve ladled in bowls garnished with greens and tabasco.

You can actually take everything and cook it in the pressure cooker and this will considerably reduce the cooking time and process and you can make it more soup like. It thickens on sitting as well. A quick comfort food for the wintery nights and ofcourse looking forward to the future with lots of optimism and wishing lots and lots of prosperity.

Wish You All a Happy & Lucky 2012!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spicy Nutty Cake Hearts

Man Proposes God Disposes. I proposed cookies it turned out to be cake!. Well I wanted to go on a cookie fest -bars/rounds or whatever, it turned out that one of the recipe I adapted turned out to be a cake or is it cakey cookies? Nah, definitely a cake . It was nutty and spicy what with the addition of white pepper along with the mandatory cinnamon (my favourite)!.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon Powdered: 3/4 tsp
Ground Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp
White Pepper Powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt : a pinch or 1/8 tsp

Butter: 4 tbsp soft unsalted
Packed Brown Sugar: 3/4 cup

Egg: 1 or Ener G Egg :1 or Any choice of replacer. Add water/yogurt 1-2 tbsp extra.
Vanilla Extract: 1/2 tsp

Yogurt/Sour Cream: 6 tbsp

Candied Nuts: 3/4 cup
(The recipe used butter toffee walnuts, but I used candied mixed nuts -walnuts and pecans)

Sift together flour,spices,baking powder and salt.

Cream together butter and sugar till creamy. Beat in the vanilla and egg. The mix may look curdled at this point, but carry on.

I used Ener G egg (1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G blended with 2 tbsp of water) and had to add extra 2-3 tbsp of liquid at the end to get a pouring consistency.

Beat in the flour mix and yogurt alternately starting and ending with flour. Fold in the walnuts and spread the batter - thick pouring consistency- onto a lined and greased 8' square pan. A 6 inch pan also works well as there is barely enough batter to cover the pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and the edges sort of pulls away from the sides of the pan. 

Take out and cool completely in the pan on the wire rack.Cut into bars or choice of shapes.

I went for a heart shape just for a change and garnished it with a sugar glaze which I had made for something else and also drizzled with chocolate sauce. You can also add candied nuts and serve the cake hearts with icecream as a hearty dessert. 

A spicy comforting cake or 'soft cakey cookies' (nah!!) you can say. The overall feeling is comfort from the spices with the crunch and sweetness from the nuts in between. I liked it as such without any embellishments,but feel free to shape and garnish as you like. A perfect cake rather than the traditional cake to ring in the end of the year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crumbly Jam Bars

These are delicious bars I baked recently using the orange marmalade which I had and these are perfect for the season. They bring in the Christmassy joy feeling and are scrumptious. They can also be a part of gift parcels, but the top crumbly layer makes them a bit messy - though perfect for children. I had adapted the recipe from here without any changes.

All Purpose Flour: 1.1/4 cups
Brownsugar: 1/2 cup packed
Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp
Powdered Cinnamon :1/4 tsp

Butter: 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) cold cut into 8 pieces

Orange Marmalade/ Any other Jam: 1/2-3/4 cup

Pecans: 1/2 cup chopped

In a blender mix together flour,soda,sugar and cinnamon. Add in butter pieces and pulse through to get a wet mass that resembles coarse bread crumbs. The dough should hold together when the pressed within hands. Remove 1/2 cup of  this dough and keep aside.

Press the remaining dough on the bottom of an ungreased /unlined baking dish. The recipe mentioned 9 ' dish whereas an 8' square worked for me. Spread with jam if possible evenly leaving about 1/4 ' at the four edges. 

Meanwhile pulse/mix together the pecans and the 1/2 cup of dough. Crumble or sprinkle the dough on top of the jam without mixing it in.

Bake for about 30- 40 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F/ 175C  or more until the edges start browning and the marmalade bubbles and sort of peeps through the top layer. Mine took barely 31-32 minutes. Take out and let the bars cool completely in the dish on the wire rack. 

The baking collage is like..

Cut into pieces and serve with tea as a snack or with icecream as a dessert.

I simply sprinkled the dough on top of the jam rather than shaping with my hands and then placing on top. But this sort of made the dish a bit messy as small brown particles of dough started falling out when I tried to cut into bars/pieces. So slightly press the top layer on top of the jam carefully without mixing in or shape small pieces within hands and place these on top if the jam.

Whatever it is these are perfect to welcome the yuletide.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gaji Namul -Eggplant Side from Korea

This is one of the simplest eggplant preparation or a salad that I have made. Very appetizing and an excellent side with rice and your choice of gravy. In fact the way of preparation intrigued me. Never before I have steamed eggplant and used. Anyway if I am to use cliche, this is a simple side easy to make and very appetizing or hunger enhancing. I have adapted it from Maangchi, an excellent site for Korean recipes.

Eggplants:  2-3 medium sized Asian -purple coloured long thin - eggplants chopped into 1-2 inch strips lengthwise. 

Garlic Cloves: 2-3 small minced
Scallion/Spring Onions: 1 chopped
Toasted Sesame Seeds: 2 tsp
Hot Pepper Flakes: 1-2 tsp
Sesame oil :2 tsp +
 Soy Sauce: 2tbsp +

Chop the eggplant into small strips lengthwise. Steam the pieces in a bowl for about 10 minutes or until cooked in a steamer or pressure cooker on high-med heat. Remove and Keep aside to cool.Once cooled you can drain off all the water collected in the bowl.Lightly mash the eggplant.

Add in  the minced garlic,hot pepper flakes,sesame seeds,chopped scallion,sesame oil and soysauce to the eggplant bowl and mix well. I presume that spicy Korean hot pepper flakes are needed,but I have gone for the regular chilli flakes. Adjust the taste as needed. Salt is present is soysauce and is hence avoided. Serve at room temperature as an appetizing salad.

As per the original recipe, the more the sesame oil and garlic ,much better the salad is. I agree with oil part. But not too sure of the garlic part. I am not a fan of the raw garlic and if you are too lazy to mince the garlic while preparing the salad then you may end up biting into one garlic piece which will put others off you.!I went with the 2 small cloves and it was nicely garlicky without going overboard.But suit yourself. The perfect aroma from the dish will invite you to eat more dinner. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Onion Tomato Gravy / Kande Bhaaji

This is a simple and quick gravy or rather curry- in - hurry.You can have it with breads or rice or atop canapes or sandwiched between bread slices.The curry is quite flexible and we can add more to it. But as such also, its awesome.All credit goes to Sumedha with whom I have been paired with this edition of Blog Hop Wednesdays ,an event by Radhika. You can take a peak into the original post  else read on..

Onion: 4-5 medium or chopped into thin and long strips 3 cups
Tomatoes: 3-4 medium or almost 2 -3 cups chopped into bite sized pieces
Garlic Cloves: 2 big finely chopped

Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder: 1 tsp+
Coriander Powder:1/2 tsp +
Cumin Powder: 1/4 tsp +

Salt: as per taste
Vegetable Oil: 2-3 tbsp

Chop onions into long and thin strips. Chop tomatoes into bite sized pieces as well. Finely chop/grate garlic cloves.

Heat oil in a deep pan on med-high heat nad add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes till they are transparent.Reduce to a simmer and add in the spice powders and saute for a minute. This is to remove the raw taste of the powders but make sure you do not burn them. 

Add in the tomatoes and turn up the heat. Saute for a few minutes till they start to cook and then add little salt, reduce to a simmer and cook till done. This may take about 5-8 minutes after which you will be getting a pulpy gravy which is ready to go with breads or rice or anything as an accompaniment.Do the taste test and adjust the salt and the spices added.

A tangy oniony gravy with pulpy tomatoes, slightly crunchy onions and comforting spices. Good to enter the blog hop edition this time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chocolate Banana PeanutButter Snack Cake

This post was supposed to be up yesterday. But I developed cold feet. The cake as far as I am concerned is just above average with respect to texture.But full marks on the taste category. Easy to make but a bit dense and thick thanks to banana. Then again I genuinely liked the cake and kept on munching on it.Not being a great fan of PB or even the banana I was surprised at the rate with which I kept on munching! I had seen this recipe from Skippy and twisted it a bit by adding cocoa powder. Do give it a try may be you can do better than me.

All Purpose Flour: 1 1/4 cup
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp

Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup softened
Sugar: 1 cup

Egg /Egg replacer: 1 large (1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G whipped with 3 tbsp of water + more water in tbsp as needed)

Banana: 1 large mashed

Peanut Butter: 1/3 cup

Cocoa Powder: 4 tsp heaped (almost 2 tbsp )
Boiling Water: 1-2 tbsp


Mix together flour and baking powder. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in egg and mashed banana and beat on medium speed till fully blended. Beat in the flour-baking powder mix on low speed until combined. The batter should resemble cake batter -a bit liquidy, but this one was too thick similar to a spread. So I added 1-2 tbsp of water to get a consistency that atleast resembles a cake batter. 

Remove half cup of batter and beat in the peanutbutter until well blended. To the remaining batter, mix in cocoa powder. It is better to first mix together the cocoa and 1-2 tbsp of  boiling water and then blending this paste with the batter. I feel, if you go for the second method, the cake will be more lighter. But thats my opinion.

Spread the cocoa batter in a lined and greased 8' inch square pan. Tap at the edges so that the batter spreads evenly. Spread the pb batter on top and make sure it spreads uniformly - my wasn't that uniform!. You can leave the layers as such or just swirl it in with a palette knife for a marbled effect. I did not go for the marbled look.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Take out the pan and cool on the rack for 10 minutes, after which remove the cake to the wire rack to cool completely. 

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with fruit or icecream cutting into mini squares. 

A simple cake with a average texture,great choco banana pb taste -none of them too less or overpowering,. Each having a distinct taste,each blending very well with the others. My daughter and myself loved the cake whereas from my husband it was a thumbs down right from the texture. Will I be making this again? Yes,definitely. but with more liquid for sure and would also aim for a better texture. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Buttery Pull Apart Buns

While still on the topic of breads, since I had already posted a sweet dessert/breakfast bread ,I thought I could talk about the buttery pull apart buns that I baked recently.Its nice when you prepare the bread dough the previous evening and right next day you enjoy the buttery buns warm from the oven,especially my daughter who loves to eat her bread warm and fresh!  These are golden pull apart buns which I had adapted from King Arthur Flour and they turned out excellent and as I had mentioned were over within an hour. As usual, I had halved the recipe

All Purpose Flour: 3.5 cups
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Instant Potato Flakes: 4 tbsp
Dry Milk Powder:3 tbsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Salt: 1.5 tsp

Soft Unsalted Butter: 4 tbsp
Warm Water: 2/3 cup
Lukewarm Milk: 1/2 cup

Topping: Melted Butter: 2 tbsp +

Combine all the  ingredients dry first and then butter,water and milk and mix well to form a rough sticky dough. 

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead well for about 7-8 minutes till you get a soft smooth dough which might still be sticky. 

Shape the dough into a ball and keep covered in a greased container turning once to get coated and let it rise until doubled or for about 1-2 hours.

Divide the dough into equal sized pieces -diving first into half and each half into fours till you get even no: of pieces -16 as per the recipe though it also depends on the size. 

Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place on a lightly greased baking sheet with enough space between them for rising. Cover the sheets with a plastic wrap and let them rise for about 1 -2 hours until they are puffy and start crowing each other.

Uncover the pans and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 22-24 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the edges spring back when you touch it. 

Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the melted butter. After 5-10 minutes, turn them out onto the wire rack to cool completely or till consumption.

Delicious buttery buns that can be had for breakfast or with soup or even as a snack warm from the oven.They are very mildly crusty (atleast when compared to regular dinner rolls /pav rolls) with a softer buttery crumb. Heavenly and filling and very comforting. The crumb was a bit denser I felt as there were no big air holes or the spongy texture that is usually associated with dinner rolls. I felt they were a bit on the heavier side compared to fluffy light dinner rolls.It could be because potato flour and milk were used in the dough.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

The morning sun is slowly peeping up after days of cold. There is still a nip in the  air and the weather is perfect for a nice cuppa and a slice of cinnamon raisin swirl bread.!

Cinnamon as you might know is my favourite spice. I love cinnamon in sweet as well as savoury dishes. Ofcourse, I will not go out of way and add it to all the dishes that I cook, but I do make sure to use it atleast once a week in my bakes/desserts. Long time back, I was in love with Thomas Cinnamon Swirl Bread and after a bit of googling, found a recipe for the same in Pete Bakes. Since then I have made it twice but am blogging about it now only. A slice of this bread does surely lift your moods.Its like morning raga. I had halved the recipe but still had almost 2 medium loaves -well, 1 big regular and 1 small to be honest)

All Purpose Flour: 6-7 cups
Instant Yeast: 2.1/4 tsp
Warm Water: 2 & 1/4 cups
Sugar: 3 tbsp+ 4 tbsp separate
Salt: 1 tbsp
Butter: 2 + 2 tbsp melted
Raisins: 1 cup
Cinnamon: 1 tbsp

Dissolve yeast with 1 tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup water and let it foam for 5-10 minutes

Stir in remaining water, 2 tbsp sugar,salt, 2 tbsp melted butter, 3.5 cups of flour and all of the raisins and mix well. Knead well adding remaining flour as needed to get a dough which will definitely be sticky. 

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for almost 10 minutes till you get a smooth and elastic dough. You can give the dough a break after few minutes for about 10 minutes. This process called autolyse allows the dough to absorb more water and the dough becomes easier to handle. This is what I did and it is not there in the original recipe. 

Once the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball and keep it covered in a greased bowl in a warm place, turning once so that it is smeared with oil and let it rise until doubled.It almost took 3 hours for me. It was a very particularly cold day that I started the work on the bread. ! 

While the dough is rising, mix together the cinnamon and 4 tbsp of sugar. Keep aside.

Once doubled, punch down the dough,divide into half and roll out each into a rectangular shape whose width is same as the length of your loaf pan.

Here I must remind again that, I had halved the recipe and normally would have got 1regular loaf.But I handled the dough a bit too much and was left with a too long rectangle which I had to cut and re roll into a mini loaf shape.All these took away the perfect smooth top surface of the dough and my loaves look sewed up or patched up.!

Sprinkle each rolled out rectangle with 1 tbsp water and half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.Instead of water, I brushed melted butter on the surface of each rectangle and then cinnamon-sugar. Roll the dough from the shorter side or the width side and pinch the seams shut. Place the loaves in greased loaf pans,brush with remaining melted butter  and let these rise for another hour.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400F/200C for about 25-35 minutes, with the mini loaf taking 5-10 minutes lesser than the regular loaf. A nice aroma emanates from the oven and you can feel the baking!. 

Take out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Serve sliced as such or with your choice of sweet spreads as a snack or breakfast or even dessert with ice cream!. Choices are unlimited.

A delectable and mood uplifting bread. The pics were in a hurry. Almost half of the big loaf was over. Lookwise average,but tastewise perfect. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tomato Sambal

Sambals are fiery sauces or dips used as condiments popular in Indonesia, Philippines and SriLanka.  These are usually  are chilli based and this one is adapted from Madhur Jaffreys World Vegetarian and is supposed to be a family recipe from Sri Lanka.

Ripe Red Tomatoes: 3-5 sliced thinly.
Salt: as per taste
Chilli Powder: 2-3 tsp as per taste

Oil:2-3 tbsp
Garlic: about 8 cloves : half of them preferably unpeeled and crushed and rest peeled and finely sliced lengthways

Fresh Curry Leaves: 15
Cinnamon Stick: 3 inch stick
Onion: 2 medium peeled and cut into fine slice (I thinly chopped them)

Lime Juice: 2 tbsp +/-
Caster Sugar: 2-3 tsp

Slice the tomatoes and layer them in a big plate. Sprinkle salt and chilli powder over the top and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep pan on medium-high and add in the unpeeled cloves. Stir and fry till dark brown and the oil is garlicky in flavour. Add in curry leaves and cinnamon. Saute till they sizzle and turn aromatic. Add in the onions and saute till golden brown. Add the tomatoes and flaked garlic,stir well and cook till they start to soften. Lower the heat, and cook till the dish appears like a pulpy sauce and the tomatoes are completely soft. Adjust the salt and add in caster sugar and lime juice. Stir well.Remove the cinnamon stick and unpeeled garlic before serving.

Serve as a simple dip or side.

A tangy tomatoey dish which is also garlicky and spicy. The use of chilli powder depends on ou though the author prefers Lankan style powder and I have used the regular Indian one. Don't skip the sugar,as it is needed to balance the heat and tanginess. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Urulai Chettinad- Spicy Baby Potatoes Chettinad Style

The Chettinad cuisine is known for the excellent uses of spices. The are variety dishes with variety spices and the way of using the spices and chillies differs this cuisine from other cuisines prevalent in TamilNadu  or Southern states.Not just spicy veg or non vegetarian dishes, there are distinct Chettinad snack or tiffin items as well. But I always give preference to spicy sides and was so happy when I zeroed in on Urulai Chettinad - from Vidhya's Blog with whom I was paired with for BlogHopWednesdays 10 by Radhika.

Baby Potatoes : atleast 15 

Mustard: 1/4 tsp
CurryLeaves: few fresh
Pearl onions/ Shallots: chopped around 1/4 cup 
Turmeric Powder: 1-2 pinches

Salt: as per taste

Spice Mix:
Urad Dal: 2 tbsp
Chana Dal:1 tbsp
Dried Red Chillies:5
Pepper: 5+ as per taste. Adjust according to the heat of chillies
Sesame Seeds: 2 tsp

Steam/Cook the potatoes and peel them. If they are too big to be consumed in one bite, halve them. You can also use   regular potatoes chopped up, though the baby ones are preferable.You can also parboil the potatoes or even partially cook them. Make sure they do not turn into mush/mash. The shape should be retained.

Dry roast all the spices in the spice mix till fragrant and the sesame starts popping. Remove from fire and cool. Grind to a fine powder and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter,add the shallots and curry leaves and saute till the shallots caramelize. Add in the cooked potatoes, 1-2 spoons of the spice powder you have made,turmeric and salt. Mix well and saute for a few minutes until the flavours blend with the potatoes. 

If you are using raw/half cooked potatoes, add in just enough water at this stage and bring to boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and let them cook till done and the water evaporates. 

Serve as sensational side to rice or even as a spicy starter. 

A hearty and spicy dish with the spices providing the necessary warmth in winter and of course the hero potatoes. Potatoes in all the form and all/any  the time is acceptable for me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mulligatawny Soup

This is a curry flavoured soup from India associated with South Indian Rasam and originated by Anglo Indians. Milagu meaning pepper and thanni meaning water from Tamil gave the soup its name. As usual there are several variations like the comforting rasam.Recently I saw a thick mixed lentil chunky version from Chef Vikas Khanna in MasterChef India 2. I have adapted my version from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian and it was definitely a winter warmer. I am posting the exact quantities from the recipe though you can change as per taste and quantity.


Black Pepper: 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds: 2 tsp
Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp
Fennel Seeds: 1/2 tsp

Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Cayenne/ Chilli Powder: 1/4 tsp

Chickpea Flour: 1.5 tbsp
Vegetable Stock: 1-1.2 litres (or as needed. I went for about 1/2 litre or almost 3 cups)

Potatoes: 8 oz or 225g or roughly 1 cup peeled and diced
Carrots: 1 big or 2 medium peeled and sliced
Turnips:  8 oz or 225 g or roughly 1 cup peeled and diced
Red Onion: 1 medium coarsely chopped

Fresh CurryLeaves: 12-15 or Fresh Basil: about 8
Garlic: 2 cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
Fresh Ginger: 1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped
Coconut milk: 400 ml or 14 floz or 1 and 3/4 cup

Salt: 1.25 tsp or as per taste

Lime Wedges : for garnish (optional. I did not use)

In a thick pan,dry roast the whole spices of pepper,coriander seeds,cumin and fennel seeds over medium heat, tilll a nice roasted aroma wafts and they turn slighly darker. Remove from heat, cool and grind to a fine powder. Add in turmeric and chilli powder and keep aside for afteruse.

Mix together chickpea flour and about 2 tbsp of stock and  stir to get a thick lump free paste.Add in another 1-2 cups of stock to this and mix well. This is also known as 'alaan' and is used as a thickener. I have seen the use of this in 'jalfrezi' type of almost solid curries and this is supposed to be a common thickener in Punjab. Corn flour paste also might work well here. 

Place all the vegetables chopped, spice mix- about 2 tsp or as per taste, curry leaves, ginger garlic,chickpea stock and bring to boil. Cover reduce to a simmer and cook till the veggies are tender .Cool and puree the soup in a blender and optionally sieve it so that you get a fine puree. 

Return the soup to the gas and add in the coconut milk and salt to taste and let it simmer gently for 2-3 minutes addding more stock or water to thin it out.

Serve hot with rice or bread with lime wedges. I simple garnish with a sprig of curry leaf. The curry leaf shine very well in this soup. Wonder why I missed this soup for long... 

 It is also perfect with bread croutons or as such. Warm and comforting thats what we need as winter has started in its full fury..

Update on 29th: A warm bowl is off to NCR: Random Soup Recipes at Tinned Tomatoes, co hosted this time (for a change) by Dom.Another bowl is off to Celebration of Indian Food at the regular NCR host Lisa where a lucky winner will get a prize of Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oaty Shortbread

These are simple oat shortbread bars that I have tried from Martha Stewart. Buttery  rich, but quick and easy to make they are a perfect tea time delight and also go well as a school lunch box snack. If you have leftover oats at home go for these. I have actually went for one fourth of quantities and still got about 8-10 pieces.

Old fashioned oats: 4 tbsp+ 1 tbsp for dusting
All Purpose Flour: 6 tbsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Confectioners Sugar: 3 tbsp

Cold Unsalted Cubed Butter: 4 tbsp
(If using salted butter, adjust the salt accordingly)

Lightly toast 4 tbsp of oats on stovetop for few minutes till they become fragrant and light brown. Remove from heat and cool. In a big bowl o the processor,blend together cooled oat,salt,sugar and flour to get a fine mixture.

Add in the cubed cold butter and pulse in short bursts till a dough starts forming.

Transfer the contents to a lined and greased baking sheet and shape the dough into a rectangular sheet. You can flatten the dough into shape with hands or with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of oats on top of 
dough. You can optionally toast this

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F/175C  for about 10-15 minutes until the edges start browning.

Once done,take out the shotbread and with a sharp knife, score the lines of top. Cool completely in the pan and then gently remove the shapes from the cookies and voila the shortbreads are ready to be consumed.

A simple shortbread bursting with the richness of butter and just right in sweetness.Can go for a bit more if you like it too sweet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tomato Choka

Chokas are delectable side dishes from Trinidadian cuisine and they do have an Indian connection or rather with the 'chownkna' or 'tadka' or seasoning technique that is common in Indian cuisine. It is said that labourers from Bihar and other North Indian states took the dishes there and this later evolved into a richer cuisine. Chownkna or seasoning is a simple technique in which seasonings are poured into hot oil and when they sizzle,splutter,flavour or change the nature of the oil, the oil along with the seasonings is poured on top of the food. 
Usually we can make choka out of whatever combinations of veggies we prefer but eggplant and tomato seems to be more popular and are used in their roast form. I have adapted Madhur Jaffrey's Tomato Choka from World Vegetarian and it was simple and delectable. 

Tomato: atleast 4 big ripe
Garlic: 1 small clove mashed/minced
Fresh Green/ Red Chilli: 1-2 as needed finely minced
Salt: as per taste.


Oil: 2-3 tsp or /-
Garlic: 2 cloves sliced thinly
Shallots: 1-2 thinly sliced (optional)


Roast the tomatoes in the oven or on the gas fire. You can stick a fork on the tomato and hold them over low flame, turning in between  till the skin blackens and flesh becomes soft on all sides. Allow the roasted tomatoes to cool enough to be handled. Peel the skin and optionally remove the seeds, and coarsely chop/mash the tomato pulp in another bowl. 

Add minced/mashed garlic,salt and finely chopped/grated green chilli. I have used green chilli as the green colour provides a nice  contrast to the red tomatoes. Adjust the seasonings after a taste test. I have added only one small clove of garlic as I am not a big fan of raw garlic. 

Now do the chownk/seasoning. Heat oil in a small pan and add thinly sliced shallots and garlic and saute till they turn golden. Pour the contents of the pan on top of the tomato mix saving little for garnish ad mix well. 

Serve as a side with rice of breads along with other chunky curries or even as a dip with starters. You can add boiled eggs or roasted aubergine to this to turn into a chunkier and important side. 

A simple side which has smoky tomatoes and a simple side to hearty meal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spicy Corn Succotash

A succotash is a Southern American dish consisting of sweet corn and beans.Other ingredients like okra,tomatoes, peppers can also be added and even cooked beans/lentils can be substituted with peas or other correct substitutes. An optional ingredient is bacon or any meat which for a vegan version can be easily replaced. The name got its meaning from boiled/cooked corn kernels and the dish was very popular during depression and even now its a part of the Southern American Thanksgiving menu. I have spiced up the succotash recipe from Food and Wine and it turned out much better than expected.

Red Kidney Beans: 1/4 cup pre soaked and cooked

Butter: 1 tbsp  as needed
Oil: 1-2 tsp

Shallots/Red onion: 1/4 cup chopped finely

Sweet Corn Kernels : at least 1/2 cup
Fresh/Frozen Peas: handful
Tender Okra: about 10 medium ones chopped into rounds.
Tomato: 1 medium size chopped

Green Chilli Sauce: as per taste OR Green Chilli: 1-2 slit along with little sugar if needed
Salt,Pepper: as taste

Pre soak and cook the beans and keep aside.Do not throw away the cooking liquid. Chop shallots finely. Wash and dry okra and then chop them into rounds. 

Heat butter and little oil in a pan and add in the shallots. Let them sweat till they are transparent. Add in the okra and continue cooking till the okra is cooked for about few minutes. Add in tomatoes,corn and peas and little cooking liquid of the beans and continue cooking till the tomatoes are almost done. Add in the slit green chilli or chilli sauce, salt and pepper and the cooked beans and continue cooking till the dish is dry. Adjust the salt and seasoning and serve as a side salad or on top of breads etc. 

A simple side with a colourful combination. Easy to make and flexible enough to add and reduce the ingredients.You can turn into a healthy meal by adding couscous or soy granules or even bulgur and turn ito into a one pot dish.This is at present vegan friendly as I have used butter.You can make it completely vegan as well.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coconut Almond Muffins

I remember telling you all that Madhuram has been my role model in baking. But did I tell you which is the first item I baked? Its actually Madhuram's Almond Butter Bread. But no! I have not posted it. Why, because the first time I made it, I made it in a casserole dish and not  a loaf pan. Actually I went out and bought a loaf pan once it turned out excellent and I became more confident. Anyways, if you remember my almond butter post, it was meant for this bread. The very next day of making butter, I went and made the bread and before I remembered to click the pics, it was almost over. But I still had butter left, so I tried a variation of the bread by adding coconut and creating a perfectly vegan recipe and turning it into muffins. Read on..

All Purpse Flour: 1 cup
Baking  Powder: 2 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 8 tsp+ more as needed

Fresh/Sweetened Grated Coconut: 2 tbsp (optional)

Coconut Milk:  3/4 cup (I used slightly thin coconut milk)
Almond Butter: 1/4 cup

Almonds: for topping

Mix together, the dry items-flour,salt,baking powder and sugar. Stir in coconut flakes and add in milk and sit to get a smooth batter. Stir in almond batter and mix well to get a brown batter. 

Scoop the batter in muffin cups and top with an almond. Make sure you use untoasted almonds, else they may be toasted again while baking and might become bitter.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/175 C for about 20-25 minutes or more until the top starts getting brown and a tester inserted comes clean.

Cool for 1-2 minutes in the cup before turning onto the wire rack for cooling completely.

Simple muffins that do taste of almond and coconut. You can also make the same with almond milk or any other milk you prefer. The muffins are just rightly sweet. I felt they wanted more sweetness but my family was okay with the sweetness.You can added sweetened coconut flakes into the batter instead of the fresh grated ones. The muffins I felt were a bit soft,but it could also be because I handled them while still warm. So enjoy the perfectly vegan muffins.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rice Salad- Indo-Chinese Style

Salads are quick and easy dishes.Earlier the assumption was it was just veggies with an oily dressing or 'ghaas poos' (grass in Hindi)as some may put it. But you can definitely make a salad healthy and interesting,and even get the kids addicted to  it.These days we find several things -raw or cooked -added to the salads and rather than being just a 'healthy-but-to-be-ignored' side it has come out and started hogging the limelight even in parties.The several salads you see these days are proof of this.

Basically you whip up a salad when you find there is no enough time to cook an elaborate meal or you want some free time. But you make sure it is healthy as well. Atleast thats what I aim for.You add lots of veggies and also rice and it becomes a whole meal. I tried out Chinese style Rice Salad from Rajani of MyKitchenTrials with whom I am paired with this Blog HopWednesday, by Radhika and guess what, I had lots of free time in my hand and it was healthy and delicious. Its like -Killing two birds with one stone -don't you think? :D


Cooked Rice: atleast 1/2 cup (preferably Basmati)

Onion: 1 small chopped
Carrot: 1 small
Bell Pepper: 1 small
Cucumber: 1 small 
Tomato: 1 small
Frozen/Fresh Green Peas and Sweet Corn: handfuls
Salt,Pepper & Soy Sauce: as per taste

Chop all the veggies into small bite sized pieces.Optionally blanch the veggies-except cucumber- for a minute of two after chopping. 

Put them in a bowl along with cooked rice adding salt,pepper and soy sauce. Keep salt to minimum as soy sauce has salt in it.

Combine gently without breaking the rice grains. Do the taste test and adjust the seasoning. Keep aside for 15 minutes for the flavours to blend and warm for a minute or two just before serving.

Hearty salad. A full meal with less cooking time. A favourite for all seasons as well.The weather here makes me feel lazy to cook and it sorts of drags. This one solved the problem and was ready in about 15 minutes or so. In summer,rather than spending hot and long hours in the kitchen, this salad seems perfect as well. Add more cooling veggies like cucumber and you have a winner in your hands. Healthy salad and a comforting meal this is.Surely a keeper recipe.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rainbow Cupcakes

Colours definitely appeal to the sight and taste. Well they do not need liners and frosting as well. :) I make these claims on the basis of the sweet multicoloured cupcakes that I had tried from Baking Bites. The batter is simple to make and then is divided to different bowls to be added to different colours and then baked. Result- moist and sweet cupcakes.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Powder: 1-1.5 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Sugar: 1/2 cup
Oil/Melted Butter: 1/2 cup
Egg/ Ener G Egg: 2 / 1 tbsp of Ener G whipped with 4 tbsp of water/milk/soymilk
ButterMilk: 1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp

Red, Blue yellow Green Colourings : few drops

Mix together the dry items of flour salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. The original recipe has 1.5 tsp of baking powder but I would suggest a little less as I felt there was a slight sharp taste afterwards. 

In a big bowl, whisk together the sugar,oil,eggs,buttermilk and vanilla. Add in the dry mix and stir until just combined. Divide the batter into 3-4 bowls preferably evenly about 5 tbsp each. Mix in few drops of preferred colour into each bowl and whisk well.

Starting with one colour, add 1-2 spoonful to greased or lined muffin cups. Repeat with other colours, adding a spoonful on top of the previous colour and do so until 3 quarters of the cup is filled.We can see the layers spread on their own. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 15 -20 minutes or until the tester cmes out clean.Start checking from the 15th minute onwards.

Take out and cool in the wire racks and serve optionally frosted. I did not go for frosting though the original recipe had buttercream frosting.

I would not say that my cupcakes look very perfect as seen in the original. I went for blue green yellow and red and blue and green sort of mixed up I felt. Also I felt a sharp cutting taste which I presume is due to the presence of baking powder. So reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp. Do make and taste them. They simply colour up tea time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jaggery & Rice Flakes -Goda Phovu

This is a simple Konkani style sweet dish made using jaggery syrup and rice flakes and this is a must for festive occassions especially engagements and Diwali.'God(e)' means Jaggery and 'Phovu' is rice flakes. I also made it for Diwali but before I could post this, my system crashed. Once it was up I got lazy and you know, I have not posted since last Wednesday.So despite  few weeks after Diwali, I am pushing myself to post this especially this being an easy dish.

Jaggery: 1/2-1 cup grated
Water: as needed to just soak or cover the jaggery

Rice Flakes: 1-1.5 cup
Fresh Grated Coconut : 1/2-1 cup

Cardamom: powder: as per taste

Ghee: 2-3 tbsp
Chana Dal: Split Chick Peas: 2 tbsp
Moong Dal: Split Green Gram: 2 tbsp
Sesame Seeds: Black and/or White : 1-2 tsp

Sugar: for garnish

Put the jaggery and enough water as needed (to cover it) in a deep pan on medium heat. Stir well and let it melt to form a simple syrup. Remove from heat and strain it. This helps remove any dirt/dust or unwanted particles. 
Return to the pan on medium heat. Stir well and let it cook for a 1 or more minutes to thicken it a bit and it should turn a bit sticky -sort of 1 string consistency,but it also depends on how you want and how quickly you want it done. There is no hard and fast rule that it should be 1 or 2 string consistency.

Once you feel it has thickened a bit, add in powdered cardamom and coconut -1/2 cup at a time- and mix well.Saute for a minute and add in the rice flakes slowly and mix well. Remove from heat and keep aside.

In another small pan, heat ghee and saute the dals/lentils and the sesame seeds till a bit crunchy. Add these along with the ghee to the rice flakes and jaggery mix and mix well. 

Serve as a snack. We usually make this the previous evening of Diwali and have it first thing in the morning after the ritualistic Diwali oil bath and prayers/pujas. While serving garnish with little sugar which contrasts well with the brown colour of the dish.You can even use the ghee sauteed dals and sesame seeds as a garnish.

This is a mix of traditional and modern ways of making the phovu. Traditionally, while the jaggery syrup is being thickened, we mix together the rice flakes and coconut till they turn soft and then proceed with the recipe.
Also you can roast the rice flakes -either dry or in ghee- before adding in to the jaggery syrup and this makes them crunchier and not soft.

You can increase or decrease the amount of coconut depending on ho soft you the dish to be. More coconut means a bit softer dish. Make sure coconut is not more than the main ingredient - rice flakes :).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vanilla scented Butter Cookies

It has been a long time since I baked cookies. Well, I feel they are my forte and so I try out other items and when depressed go back to cookies. Jokes apart, I baked these simple to make yet rich and delicious cookies from Divya, not to overcome baking slump, because I knew they would be an instant hit. And I was right, they vanished within minutes. Now if you feel they will be sitting as calories on your waist, then proceed to read the recipe at your own risk, but I would make these for sure in double or triple batches. :P.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Sugar: 1/2 cup
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Butter: 1/2 cup 
Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp

Milk: if needed : 1 tbsp at a time

Mix together flour,sugar and salt in a big bowl. Melt butter and keep aside. 

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and add in vanilla and melted butter. Gently bring together and optionally using milk  knead to form a soft smooth dough. Pinch 1 tbspful or handful of piece from the dough, shape into ball and then press into flat disc. Place the disc onto a lined baking sheet and repeat the process for the rest of the dough.

Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 360F/180C for 10-12 minutes or more until you see edges browning. Take out of the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely or atleast little warm on the baking sheet. 

Perfect teatime or anytime snack is ready to be devoured.

Crunchy delicious cookies very buttery and vanilla scented. Make and taste these while this one goes to Radhika for BlogHopWednesdays -8.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pistachio Sandesh - Ring in the Festival of Lights

Sandesh is a confectionery from Bengal and a very popular one at that. It is made from fresh paneer and sugar and flavoured /coloured with essences and additional items like nuts ,dryfruits, coconut, saffron etc. There are several types available ranging from simple mixing of sugar and fresh paneer to elaborate ones. I have made a simple almost no cook sandesh flavoured with pistachio nuts. 

Fresh paneer /channa : prepared from 1 l of milk : almost 3/4 cup I got
Pistachio Powder: 2 tbsp alteast
Powdered Sugar: 4 tbsp or more as per taste
Pista extract: 1-2 drops (optional)
Pistachio Nuts:few lightly toasted and chopped for garnish

Lighly mash paneer with hands till it sort of feels light. Make sure you use dried paneer -it should not give out liquid on mashing. But incase it gives out liquid or becomes wet at any stage of cooking, then cook the paneer or the mix at that particular stage of cooking in a deep pan for a few minutes, making sure it does not change colour.
Once you mash the paneer and it is ready,mix in the pistachio powder and sugar and mix well together till you get a doughy texture. 

Pinch small balls from the dough and shape it into rounds or whatever shape you require. 

Serve garnished with toasted and optionally chopped pistachios.

This was a simple sandesh which did not require any cooking except for making channa or paneer. You can add your choice of flavouring or nuts or even cocoa  or dry fruits for making your own version. You can avoid the extract if you do not have any and optionally add green colouring for the green eyed festive look.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bademjan Boorani - Aubergine Starter from Afghanistan

Bademjan/Badenjan is Persian name for Eggplant/Aubergine. Boorani as far as I know was yoghurt. So the moment I saw this recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, I was thinking of an eggplant raitha or eggplant in curd.But on reading the recipe I dfound that these are simple yet sensational starters. Rounds of aubergines fried -can be grilled as well - topped with minty tomato sauce and dollops of yogurt make an excellent starter or a side as well.

Aubergine : 1 large sliced into rounds
Salt: a needed

Vegetable Oil: for deep frying

Minty Tomato Sauce:
Vegetable Oil: 2-3 tsp
Onion: about 4 tbsp finely chopped
Garlic: 1-2 cloves peeled and finely chopped/minced
Tomatoes: 2 big,blanched,peeled and chopped coarsely
Salt: as needed
Fresh Mint: 2-3 tbsp finely chopped + more for garnish

Cumin Powder: 1/2 tsp +
Coriander Powder: 1/ 4 tsp +
Cayenne Pepper: 1/4 tsp or as per taste
Black Pepper  :as per taste

Yogurt Sauce:
Yogurt : 1/2 cup +/- as needed

Slice the aubergine into medium thick rounds and arrange in a single layer in a baking dish or similar plate. Sprinkle salt on both sides and let it sit there for about 1 hour or atleast 30 minutes till it gives out the bitterness/juices.

Meanwhile make the tomato sauce.

Heat oil in a deep pan and add onion. Stirfry for 2-3 minutes till they start to brown and add in the garlic. Stirfry till it gives out a nice aroma and then add the tomatoes along with the juice,little  and the spice powders given in the sauce. Stir well, and cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes or more until it thickens to a sauce consistency and all the items are cooked and the flavours mingle well. Keep aside.

Also for the yogurt sauce, lightly whip the yogurt with a fork and keep aside.

Once the aubergines are ready or at the time of serving, heat oil on med-high for deep frying. Take the slices,pat them dry with a kitchen paper, and deep fry them till they are lightly brown on both the sides. This takes about 5-6 minutes per side and you can add as much slices at a single time as well. Drain them on kitchen paper.

For serving, arrange the aubergine slices on the serving plates,top with 1-2 tbsp of tomato sauce. Top this with a dollop of yogurt and garnish with mint.

Serve immediately or warm.

 It is preferable to serve warm else it turns chewy and tough.May be it also depends on the ripeness of the aubergine as well. Make sure fresh ripe aubergines are used.The coolness of yogurt,refreshing mint,the tangy sweet tomato, the slight heat of spices and slightly crisp aubergine makes this a sensational starter. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Raita -Pumpkin Yogurt Salad

I always try pumpkin in gravies and rarely experiment with it. I have tried it in cookies,quick breads and also pasta. But in a salad never though soups were high in my wishlist. But the moment this salad was posted by Prathibha, it was in the top in my list,but ofcourse laziness took over. But this time when NCR:squash was announced, I did make it and enjoyed heartily. The original recipe is from Sukham Ayu by Jigyasa and Prathibha Giri.

Pumpkin: atleast 1/2 cup peeled and cubed
Onion: 1 small finely chopped
Green Chilly: 1 or more as per taste
Coriander Leaves: 1 tbsp finely chopped
Yoghurt: 2 tbsp or as needed

Ghee/Oil: 1 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Black Gram Dal (Urad dal) : 1/2 tsp
CurryLeaves: few
Asafoetida /hing: a pinch

Lightly peel and cube the pumpkin and steam it for few minutes. Let it cool to room temperature.Finely chop the onion and chop the chilli and coriander.

'Lal bhopla' or red pumpkin which is in season during winters is much preferred for this salad and it will be done in lesser time than the regular yellow ones. But I have used regular yellow pumpkin and it turned out just fine. 

Mix in the chopped onion,chilli and coriander with pumpkin pieces, salt and yogurt. Chill in  the fridge for atleast an hour for the flavours to blend.

At the time of serving, take out and prepare the seasoning. Heat the ghee/oil, add in mustrd and when t splutters add in urad dal and let it turn brown. Add in the curry leaves and hing and take it off heat. Pour the seasoning on top of the salad -saving little for garnish - and mix well.

Serve cold garnishing with remaining seasoning.

A simple healthy salad very South Indian Style.The pumpkin has a crunch ( lightly steamed and not cooked to a pulp or puree) and sweetness. The onion definitely add crunch and the yogurt sort of thickens the salad.   The curryleaves impart their own flavour as well and the coriander leaves with yogurt combo is refreshing. Simple,healthy and delicious the salad goes straight to NCR: squash at Tinned Tomatoes. Thanks Prathibha for introducing this unique tasty salad.

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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