Friday, February 27, 2015

Galician Empanada Vegetariana | Baking Partners Spanish Feb Challenge

Originally from Galicia in Spain, Empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried. Popular in several Spanish speaking countries, its name comes from the word "Empanar" which means to wrap or coat in bread in Galician, Portugues and Spanish languages.

Its consists of  thin bread dough made of wheat and corn flour (makkai ka aatta, not cornstarch) and stuffed with seafood, meat or even a mixture of vegetables called "zaragallada". It is a part of Galician identity though it is baked all over Spain. 

This time for Baking Partners Challenge by Swathi, Empanada was the chosen one by Marisa of ThermoFan. We were given the options of meat and vegetable fillings and obviously I went for vegetarian one. But I didn't go for zaragallada filling but just sauteed curried vegetables.

Luke warm water: 100 ml + 75 ml
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Instant yeast: 1 tsp
All Purpose Flour: 250 g
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp

Zaragallada Filling:
Olive oil
Sweet onions, leek
Garlic cloves
tomatoes red pepper 'zucchini
salt & pepper : to taste

Dissolve yeast and sugar into 100ml water mix well and let it stand until frothy.

In a big bowl, sift flour and salt together. Make a well and add in the ueast mix, 1 tbsp of oil and remaining water a little at a  time until we get a little sticky but elastic dough (dough starts to get sticky and is moist but not wet)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently and increse the kneading to get a smooth and elastic dough. let it rest halfway through and then knead faster.

I unknowingly added all the water and ended up with a sticky dough. I had to add another 6-8 tbsp of flour to get a smooth and elastic dough. Make sure you add remaining water in tablespoons only if needed.

Form a ball and place in a floured bowl, cover with a wrap and let it ferment for 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile keep the filling ready. You can make the zaragallada filling previous night and drain out the liquid overnight. I had prepared the filling in the morning and made sure it was dry. I just sauteed veggies adding curry powder.

When ready, gently deflate the dough- mine was sticky -, turn onto a floured counter, divide into half and  roll out each piece into a long rectangle within butter paper or transparent sheets sprinkled with flour- as it might get stuck to the paper or sheet.

You can roll out as thin as possible and if the dough shrinks while rolling out, rest it for 10 minutes or so before continuing the process.

Carefully transfer one rectangle onto the baking dish or tray. You can go for any shape though its traditionally rectangular.

Once a dough rectangle is on the baking sheet, fill it up with the filling prepared leaving an inch at the edges. Cover it with the other rectangle and seal the edges. You can use your fingers or even fork tines to seal the edges.You can nicely shape the rectangle or circle and decorate it with leftover dough pieces. You can go for smaller portions and even crescent shape.

The dough is not good in freezing and its better to use it up.

Once the empanada is ready brush it with egg wash(I went for milk )  and bake it in a preheated oven at 350F/180C for 30-35 minutes until the edges are brown and the top starts browning.

Take out and serve warm or at room temperature when it tastes best.

The bread turned out excellent and was filling. You can experiment with different fillings and turn it out differently each time. You can even use half wheat flour and make it more healthy.

Lets see how others made their empanadas!. Hop over to Swathi's post.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dhansak Dal | Healthy Parsi Style Lentils & Veggies

Since last post was Parsi Brown rice obviously this post will be its partner in gourmet crime - Dhansak dal. The word dhansak literally transaltes into grains & vegetables. Coming the Persia, the Parsis /Zoroastrian community settled along the Indian coast mainly Gujarat and developed a unique cuisine combining both the cuisines. Normally it is made of mutton,lentil and vegetables along with brown rice for a hearty Sunday lunch.  A heavy dish with long prep time it is a traditional Parsi Sunday lunch. Dhansak is also cooked during funeral or sad occasions, so you will not find it during weddings. 

I have tried the vegetarian version from Madhur Jaffrey's World vegetarian and it turned out quiet hearty and heavy but easier than expected.

Masoor Dal: 4 tbsp
Toor /Arhal Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) : 4 tbsp
Mung Dal: 4 tbsp

Aubergine/Eggplant: 1 small peeled and cut into chunks almost 3/4 cup
Pumpkin: 1/2 cup peeled and cubed 

Fresh Mint Leaves: few 
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro: few

Cumin Seeds: 2 tsp
Coriander Seeds: 1.5 tbsp
Cinnamon: 1 " piece broken into smaller pieces
Cardamom Sees: 1/4 tsp
Dried Red Chillies: 3-6 or as per taste
Black peppercorns: 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds: a big pinch

Turmeric powder: 1 tsp

Vegetable oil: 2-4 tbsp 
Onion: 1 medium finely chopped

Garlic: 2 cloves ground + Ginger: 1 inch piece peeled and ground 
simply Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp 

Tomatoes : 1.5 cups peeled and chopped 

Salt: 2 tsp or as per taste
Tamarind pulp/paste 1 tbsp or lemon juice :2-3 tsp
Dark soft Brown sugar /Jaggery: 1 tsp 

Garnish: (Optional) 
 Browned onions, Fresh cilantro or green chilli sliced into fine rounds

Cook together on stovetop  or pressure cooker, the lentils, herbs and veggies and keep aside. 

Dry roast the cumin, coriander, cinnamon,cardamom dried red chillies, peppercorns and fenugreek seeds in a small pan until they start browning and become aromatic. Cool slightly and grind into a fine powder in the mixer or coffee grinder.

Heat oil in a deep pan and saute onions till they turn brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir until the raw smell goes. Add the spice powder and then the tomatoes. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add 1 ccup of water ad bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and let it cook until the tomatoes are softened. 

Pour the tomato mix into the lentil mixture along with enough salt, tamarind pulp and sugar/jaggery. Stir gently and let it cook for 15-20 minutes covered but the lid slightly ajar so that it does boil over. This will let the flavours mingle well. Mix all the ingredients well even mashing them up with the back of the spoon/ladle. 

Serve warm garnished with browned onions,cilantro or green chilli rounds. As usual I skipped this part and just consumed it hungrily with brown rice.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Parsi Brown Rice ... | Perfect Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch is usually a big affair in most families. Sunday was the time all the members of the family were available at home for lunch. Or even family members from nearby places dropped in or sons/daughters paid their customary visit to parents. In general Sunday lunch was the time you met all your old grandparents, uncles, aunts and younger cousins and sometimes even two -three extended family branches (who dropped in without invite ) also. It was a hectic sunday full of fun ,games and laughter and entertainment. 

And the lunch or brunch as it is nowadays was also special. Something elaborate which most of the members joined to cook or lend a helping hand. Or something equally complex, full of flavours but easy,filling,rich and healthy. I still remember my friend nostagically telling about the vegetable biryani/pulao that made her Sundays worth growing up and yes she still carries on her tradition in her home..

Anyways something that was on my Sunday lunch list of recipes was Parsi Brown Rice and Dhansak dal. Brown rice is actually rice cooked in caramel water along with onions to give it a light brownish colour. It is a Sunday main dish along with heavy dhansak dal. I was putting off the making of brown rice for a long time thinking that it will turnn out sweet. Even while making I was worried. But one taste and I was more than happy. This will definitely be one of Sunday regulars.. 

On other thoughts why wait till Sunday? Anyday is fine if you have plan the dishes... Anyways spiced with cinnamon and cloves this rice dish can be served at any meal and it is a must with Dhansak dal . The rice is also mentioned as Parsi Pullao in Madhur Jaffrey's World vegetarian from which I have adapted mine.

Sugar: 1.5 tbsp
Oil: 4 tbsp (I used less)
Cloves :8
Cinnamon: 2 inch piece or 5cm stick
Onion: 1 medium peeled and cut into thin half rings
Basmati rice: 450 g or 3/4 pint ,washed,soaked for atleast 20 minutes and drained.
Salt :1 tsp or as per taste


Put the sugar in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat. Allow the sugar to caramelize and brown without stirring. Add in around 8 floz or 250 ml of water to this carefully as it will bubble. Stir, then pour into a measuring jug. Add more water to this to make up for 600 ml or 1 pint of water or as much water needed to cook the rice.

Heat oil in another deep pan on medium -high. Add the whole spices and let these sizzle. Add in the onion and stirfry until they brown a bit. Now add in hte rice and salt. Stir gently to coat the rice with oil. Pour in the caramel water and bring to boil. Cover,reduce the heat and cook until rice is done.

A very simple yet delicious rice.The combo of rice and dal is yum.. My daughter who has unique tastes(!!) scared the hell out of me when I told her about the dish. I was sure I will have to open a packet of instant noodles which I keep handy in emergencies like this. 

I served her and went inside the kitchen and waited for fireworks.. none came thankfully.. She was very quiet while savouring spoonfuls and just gave a thumbsup sign.. So thank God and ofcourse Madhur..

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ladenia | Greek style Pizza

Originating from Kimolos island in Greece, this is a simple onion and tomato flat bread spiced up with Greek oregano. The olive oil flatbread is supposed to be the forefather of modern pizza.This recipe was in drafts for a long time and finally seeing the light of the day. When I tried this for the first time, thanks to bad yeast I goofed up. But second time it turned out perfect. 

 I have adapted this from Kalofagas (-a must visit blog for authentic Greek recipes) post on the sameI couldn't find much information about the dish apart from the fact that is now enjoyed across several Greek islands. I have just halved the recipe and I served it as a snack. 

Warm Water: 1.5 cups
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Instant Yeast: 1.5 tsp

Olive oil: 2 tbsp
All Purpose Flour: 3-3.5 cups + more as needed 
Salt: 1/2 tsp

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 4 tbsp
Onions: 2 large sliced 
Tomatoes: 2-3 big , firm and just ripe , cut in half and then crescent slices

Salt & black pepper : as per taste
Greek Oregano : 2 tbsp

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: for drizzling


In a big bowl, mix in sugar and yeast in warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes or more until frothy. 

To this add in olive oil, salt and 2 cups of flour and mix well. You can do this in the processor as well. Add in more flour as needed to get a workable dough. 
You can transfer the dough to a floured counter and continue kneading till you get a pliable non sticky smooth dough.

Drizzle and spread little olive oil onto a round/square baking dish and sprinkle some semolina flour also.
Roll out the dough in this dish to fit the circumference or perimeter of the dish making sure it is slightly thick and not too thin. 

Let the dough sit for atleast 30 minutes in a warm area covered with a plastic wrap/kitchen towel until it rises. You can divide the dough into small pieces and then go for smaller dishes or even place all the pieces in a baking sheet. I went for a square ladenia in a 8x8 dish and a smaller 4" round one.

Meanwhile prepare the toppings and set aside.Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Spread the ExtraVirgin Olive Oil onto the dough and layer it with onions. Top the onions with tomato slices and then sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano.

Bake in the middle rack for about 40-45 minutes until the sides are brown and the top has light brown colour. 

Take out and drizzle with with more EVOO. Serve as a hot or cold snack for four or more or a lunch for atleast 2. 

A quick and easy pizza. The combo of onion,tomato and oregano take it a notch higher though these are the regular everyday ingredients. The bread is pizza dough only and came out excellent. You can use your own dough recipe if you have any.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Noon Chai / Pink Tea | Creamy Salty Kashmiri Tea

After talking about bolani and imagining Afghanistan, its time we enjoy a hearty beverage from our own Kashmir. A few days back on International Tea Day I had posted the Kahwa recipe. This time its going to be another one equally popular called Noon chai or Gulabi chai or Sheer chai or plainly Pink tea. 

The word 'Noon' means salt in Kashmiri and few other languages. It is a custom in Kashmiri households to drink this tea 2-3 times a day along with Kashmiri breads and pastries. The recipe is easy except that a little bit of patience is needed with this as it needs to be on constant boiling. To get the auhentic pink colour its better we get the authentic Kashmiri tea leaves. I tried the recipe from here using the regular green tea leaves. Though the taste was AWESOME the colour didn't pop out that much.

Kashmiri Tea Leaves/Green Tea Leaves: 1 tbsp
Water: 4 cups
Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp

Cardamom Powder: 1/2 tsp
Star Anise: 1

Sugar: as per taste 
Milk: 1 cup +/ - as per taste

Salt: 1/4-1/2 tsp

Pistachios & Almonds: few chopped


Put water to boil in a sauce pan. When it comes to rolling boil, add the tea leaves and baking soda. Reduce the heat a little and let it cook until the water it reduced to 3 cups. This will take about 20 minutes atleast.

Keeping the heat to medium or low,aerate the tea using a ladle as this is needed to bring out the pink colour. You can stir vigourously with the ladle also. This should be done for around 20 + minutes. More time you do this while the tea is cooking the better. If the water reduces more than expected you can add more cold water and continue cooking . Also baking soda is used to get the pink colour I suppose. 

Strain the tea to remove the tea leaves and put the clear tea back to the sauce pan on heat. Add in the milk as per your requirements -whether you prefer milk or strong or even creamy tea in which case even cream can be added. Add the spices and the sugar as per taste. 

You can play around with spices adding your choices and even sugar  which is not a part of authentic tea but a new or modern version. 

Boil for some more time and then add salt and take it off heat. Salt brings out the flavours in the tea. 

Serve hot garnished with almonds or other dried fruits along with breads.

I love my cuppa of masala chai in the mornings and when I tried this I loved this equally. You won't feel that its green tea leaves used to make the noon tea.I will definitely be making it again and again and in large quantities as well. In Kashmir this tea in made in large quantities in a samovar for the day. Except for the time it involves and the aeration , but once you taste it definitely you will fall in love with it.. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spinach Bolani with Minty Chakkah |Stuffed Afghani Flatbread with Minty Yogurt

A few days back we were talking about our neighbour Lanka's cuisine. Now lets jump to another country with close ties with ours Afghanisthan. As a bookworm I sometime reread the same book and most times end up getting something new from it. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini is one such that wisens me up each time I read it. I know the story, I know what is going to happen at what time but still I love revisiting the book and complete it or rather live the book. This time around apart from the emotions it invoked in me, the mentions of cooking and bread and especially the 'frying of spinach bolani' set the ball rolling for me.

Bolani / Boulani or Borekai in Pashto is a non leavened Afghani flatbread baked or fried with a vegetable filling. Its similar to Indian stuffed parathas yet has its own identity.I have adapted the recipe from MyDiverseKitchen where Aparna has written a wonderful stepwise post on making Potato Bolani. I had spinach in hand and went for a spinach filling.


All Purpose Flour: 3.5 cup
Olive Oil: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Water: 1.5 cups +/ - as needed

Onion: 1 medium finely chopped
Spinach : 1 bunch chopped
Green Chilli: 1 small as per taste
Spices/Seasonings & Salt: as per taste

Mix together the flour,salt and oil and knead into a dough adding enough water to form a  smooth and elastic dough. This can be done in a food processor bowl or by hand as you wish.

Turn the dough into a round and let it rest in an oiled bowl for an hour or so covered with a wrap.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Heat oil in a deep pan and add in the onion. Saute till transparent and then add the chilli and spinach along with any other spices/seasonings ypu prefer. Saute for a few minutes till the flavours are mixed and spinach is just cooked and whole filling is dry. You can also blanch and use spinach instead of chopping and sauteeing.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, transfer it to a floured/dusted surface and roll it out into a circle as thin as possible to you. Divide the filling into 8 equal portions as well. Place one filling portion into the half of the rolled out bread in a semi circle fashion. Cover with other half to get a crescent shaped stuffed flatbread. Press the edges with your fingers to seal well. You can also use the tines of a fork to press the edges to make them look pretty. 

Repeat the same process with rest of the dough portions as well. In a shallow frying pan heat about 2 tbsp of oil and shallow fry one bolani at a time. The oil should around the bolani should be very hot and sizzle and cook both sides until golden brown pressing down occasionally with a spatula so that it flattens some more.

Drain on paper towels and repeat the process for other bolanis adding more oil if needed.Serve with Minty Chakkah.

Minty Chakkah or Minty Yogurt Sauce

It is actually thick creamy yogurt seasoned with garlic and mint. Its easy to make and is usually served as a side dip to meat or veg dishes and bolani ofcourse.

Thick creamy Yogurt / Greek yogurt: 1 cup
Garlic: 1 small clove
Fresh Mint: 2 -3 tbsp chopped
Salt: as per taste

Gently mix in the yogurt and garlic. Do not beat else it will be all liquidy. Chill in the fridge till serving time. 
Few minutes before serving take out, mix in the salt and half of the mint. Garnish with the other half and serve with a bolani.

Bolani dough is vegan and stuffing is vegan as well.It can be made with stuffing of pumpkin, leeks, lentils, greens ,potatoes or combination. Thanks to the Afghanistan serving as a bridge between Europe and India, its cuisine is highly influenced by India, Persia etc and has choicest vegetarian dishes as well and bolani can be called Afghan cousin of Indian parathas.

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