November 25, 2007
We eat more dal than we do sambar or rasam. This is for several reasons. The most important aspect being the ease with which it can be made and the fact that both of us love dal very much. And while we try to consume different varieties of lentils, red gram dal or toor dal is the one we relish the most. My much loved version way of eating this dal has to be Dali Saar. But I keep trying new stuff.
We had Aloo Chokha for dinner a couple of nights ago and I made this dal to go with the rice. When I make Dali Saar, I cook the ginger with the dal. This time I tried something a little different and it turned out lovely. S walked into the kitchen and said, "You've never made anything that smelled so lovely. Is this a different dal?" I was so thrilled. My food may be tasty, but it almost never gives out the kinds of aromas that I've noticed in others' cooking. Yes, there are times when I have the fragrance spread throughout the apartment, but those are few and far between.
I wanted to bake ginger snaps for Sunita's Think Spice... Think Ginger event, but I've been hardpressed for time. I spent a day in Chennai buying all sorts of things to enhance my baking skills, but I've gotten around to doing nothing at all. And this week has me busier than ever. Three weddings over a weekend is no joke, really. Given the delicate system I've been blessed with, I am scared to even think of the condition of my tummy about 48 hours from now. So, I try to make my meals outside of these weddings as simple as possible. So, baking anything exotic (or even simple) is too much to think about right now.
This dal fits very well into the menu given my craving for utterly simple food.
1 cup Toor Dal
Heat the oil in a pressure pan. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida and the cumin seeds. When the cumin crackles, add the onions and fry for a few minutes. Add the ginger and chilli pastes and fry for a few minutes. Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Add the dal and the salt and fry for a minute. Add about 3 cups of water and cover and cook for 3-4 whistles. When done, beat the dal well and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice.
As I send this to Sunita, I will also send it to Linda for this month's JFI: Toor Dal. And no Bee, I won't be able to sneak in dates or corn flakes into this. I tried very hard, but I couldn't. Do you have any ideas?
1 tsp Cooking Oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
½ tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
7-8 Curry Leaves
In a frying ladle, heat the oil and add the mustard. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida and turn off the flame. Add the curry leaves. Fry for a minute and add this to the boiling mixture.
We ate this with some Adraki Dal and rice. I am sure this will go well with rotis as well.
Off this goes to Sangeeta's place as my entry to RCI Bihar. Happy hosting Sangeeta. And thank you for this opportunity to explore the cuisine of a state that was totally new to me.
November 20, 2007
1 cup Carrot, cut into long pieces
1 cup French Beans, cut into long pieces
1/2 cup Soya nuggets, prepared as per instructions on the pack
1 tbsp Oil
Grind to a paste:
2 tbsp Cashews
2 tbsp Peanuts
4 Red Chillies
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/4 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
Salt to taste
This dish tastes great when prepared over the stove as well as in the microwave.
Stove Top Version:
Pressure cook the carrots and beans.
Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the paste and fry for a few minutes. Add the vegetables and the soya nuggets. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Place the carrots and beans in a microwave safe bowl. Add a little water. Cover and cook on high for 5 minutes. Keep aside.
In another microwave safe bowl, place the oil and heat on high for a minute. Add the paste and cook on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring after every minute. Add the vegetables and soya nuggets. Cover and cook on medium for 5-7 minutes. Allow for a few minutes of standing time.
Enjoy this dish with rotis or rice or even bread. I am sending this to Suganya for her Vegan Ventures event.
I am also sending this to Srivalli for her Microwave Easy Cooking: Side Dish Series.
We are off to attend the wedding of S's friend in Agra. And after we get back, we have 5 other weddings to attend this week. That definitely means almost no cooking at home. I hope that doesn't mean no blogging. I have not even thought about RCI this month yet and there's the JFI entry that I have to post. There's the big issue of WBB as well. I will get back to this blog as soon as I can. See you soon.
November 14, 2007
I had been thinking for a long time about this month's A Fruit A Month (AFAM) event. Do I have a recipe that I can share? Do I try making date pancakes? Or should I stick to good old bhel puri? I thought about it for a while and then thought some more. And I remembered this recipe that's been in my drafts for almost as long as I can remember.
This is one more of Amma's recipes. She learnt this at baking class. It is relatively easy to make and tastes so good that you really have to exercise self control to not eat up the entire batch when it is freshly made.
For the base:
2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Butter
4 tbsp Powdered Sugar
2-3 drops Almond Essence
For the topping:
4 1/2 tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
A pinch Salt
2-3 drops Almond Essence
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Lime Rind
2 tbsp Raisins
2 tbsp Chopped Nuts
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Combine all the ingredients for the base. Press the mixture into a tray that is greased and lined with butter paper. Bake at 170 C for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the dates and cook with 1/4 cup water until soft. Allow to cool. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the brown sugar along with the eggs. Mix in the flour mixture, dates, lime rind, almond essence, vanilla essence, nuts and raisins. Spread this over the baked base and bake again for 25-30 minutes at 170 C.
You really have to make these and sample them to realize how yummy they can be. (As always, the pictures aren't exactly the best.) I am sending this to Chandrika of Akshayapatra for this month's AFAM.
November 7, 2007
This is a post that talks of several firsts. And all this around my favourite time of the year. Diwali or Deepavali is my favourite festival. In fact, this is my favourite time of the year. Come what may, I try to spend the day with my family (read parents - I am only now slowly getting accustomed to the idea that my family is now S!). There was this one year, 1999, when I had just moved to Gurgaon, and I couldn't go back to Madras. In those days, a one way flight ticket from Delhi to Madras was almost what I took home as pay after taxes. Today, things are very different. Flights are cheaper and my has increased in 8 years. Thank heavens for small mercies! That year, I was to be all by myself. Thankfully, a senior from University contacted me and took me home to spend the festival with his family. It was fun being part of festivities that were alien to me. But Diwali to me is not one tenth as much about the rituals as it is about being with family. I came into this world on Deepavali day. So, my birthday according to the Indian calendar always falls on the same day as the festival. And one of the 9 names that were given to me during my namakaranam is, for the same reason, Deepa.
There has never been an opportunity for me to try my hand at making any of the Diwali sweets or savouries. Amma always made stuff at home every year and while I've helped her make the besan laddoos and other things, I've really always only been the taster. And I believe that has held me in good stead. Had it not been for all those years of meticulous tasting, I doubt I'd be even a fourth as good a cook as I am today.
This year, for a change, I thought I should make some bhakshanam for Deepavali. It was to be just S and me here in Gurgaon. So I had decided on besan laddoos and a few savouries. But then all of a sudden, we decided to go to Madras. I dropped all plans. I mean one wouldn't take Bhakarwadis if one were dining with Chitale Bandhu. Or imagine taking murukkus while going to tea with the folks at Grand Sweets. A phrase in Tamil, "Sooriyanukkey Torch a?" (Showing a torch to the sun.), seems apt.
But that is when Nandita played spoil sport. She asked me if I'd be interested in doing something jointly. She at her place in Bombay and me at mine, here in Gurgaon. I agreed and she shared the recipe with me. We were to make this "together" on Saturday. I forgot completely that my cousin and family were going to be here that weekend. I decided to make it today. It was almost like being part of a small daring baker's group. So, although we were all set to go to Madras and even though I had no plans of making any sweets for Diwali (just planned to binge on whatever Amma was making this year!) I was going to make something special for Diwali. So, there you go. I've already told you about two firsts. 1. That I made something jointly with someone in the blogosphere. 2. That I made something by myself for Diwali. Keep reading for the third.
This is a fairly simple recipe.
1 tin Sweetened Condensed Milk(400 g)
50g Butter (Amul butter is fine)
200 g Mava (khoa)
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Milk (this is to be used if while mixing the wet and dry ingredients, if your batter is too thick).
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 Cardamoms, peeled and powdered
Pinch of Saffron, pounded with a pestle using a bit of sugar
1/4 cup Cashew nuts, powdered coarsely
2 tbsp Cashews, coarsely powdered
Heat the wet ingredients together till butter melts and the mixture is homogenous. Cool the mixture to room temperature.
Sift the maida and baking powder three times. Add the cardamom, saffron, and cashew nuts. Whisk the dry and wet ingredients together. Use the 1/4 cup of milk if the batter is too thick. The final consistency should be that of idli batter, or the besan batter used for making pakoda. Bake in muffin cases (and sprinkle the cashews on top of the batter) for 20 minutes at 350F or till light brown on top.
This recipe yielded 33 muffins (the recipe said 12) and I'm not complaining. The first person to taste the mava cake was none other than dear Lakshmi. For the very first time, I met a fellow food blogger who had become a friend in the really short time that we've been in the food blogsphere. Lakshmi and her husband Satish visited me today for about an hour. It didn't feel like I was meeting them for the first time. It felt like old friends were re connecting. I lured Lakshmi to my place by promising her a fresh, home made pizza. And it seems like it was good enough for her because she was here, right here in my apartment. Talking about things, looking at my house and recollecting the different things she's seen in the pictures on my blog and then connecting those to the furniture, crockery and other stuff.
For me, Diwali has never been a season of giving and receiving gifts. It has been about being with loved ones. I must admit that it has also always been about food. I plan to make a batch of cupcakes and distribute them at an orphanage that my colleague visits on a regular basis. She had asked us to donate money for some chips and colas, but I thought this may be a better idea. It is going to require a great deal of effort, but given how much I love baking, I think it will be worth my while.
I am sending this to Meeta who is back with one of my favourite blog events, Meeta's Monthly Mingle. This time's theme is Traditional Feasts. She'd asked us to talk about why we made a certain dish if it was the first time we were making it. It is very simple. I wanted an Indian sweet, but my forte is really baking. This eggless cake seemed apt for this festival. It has all the flavours that traditional Indian sweets have and it is a baked goody. Moreover, when Nandita asks you to do something, it is very difficult to say no.
I'd like to wish all of you and yours a very Happy Deepavali. Have a wonderful time and I'll see you when I get back from Madras.
November 5, 2007
I'd mentioned in a post that we'd started eating salads for lunch and I didn't post the other simple recipes for salad since then. So here's something that has been pending for 2 months now while I have been posting about cakes and kheer and pizza!
I had made pesto sauce with basil several times after the chef at Earth, the Italian lounge S and I can't have enough of, taught me how to make it. I don't use pine nuts, but use cashews instead. While walking down the aisles of Morning Stores, a specialty store in GK I, I noticed coriander pesto in their sauce section. That gave me an idea. I came home and a few days later I made this lovely salad for lunch.
1 cup Pasta, boiled
1 cup Capsicum, cut into strips
1/2 cup Baby Corn, cut into long pieces
1/4 cup Broccoli, cut into florets and steamed
For the Coriander Pesto:
Grind together all the ingredients for the pesto. Toss the vegetables and pasta in the sauce.
This sauce makes a lovely spread for crackers and toast as well and in my opinion would make a great dip. The coriander flavour is lovely and I will be making this sauce more often as a pasta sauce as well.
November 3, 2007
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 tbsp Yeast
1/8 cup Oil
1/2 tbsp Sugar
3/4 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Water, boiling
1/4 cup Milk
2-3 medium Tomatoes, chopped finely
1 Capsicum, sliced (I used small portions of red and yellow capsicum)
2 tsp Chilli Flakes
1/8 cup Broccoli, cut
3 pods Garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Olive Oil
Salt to Taste
November 1, 2007
It has been ages since I posted anything here. I made my last post a week ago and didn't even upload the picture on to it yet. I haven't had a chance to transfer photos from my camera to the laptop. I haven't even had a chance to take pictures of stuff I'm making these days. While I am admitting so many things, I must also admit that I haven't been visiting too many blogs. So, please don't take offense if I have not visited any of you recently or if I haven't left any comments.
And thanks to all of you who've dropped by asking if I'm fine because this blog has never witnessed such low posting levels. I have been known to make 17 posts in one day, so to have an entire month go by with just 13 posts would classify as an all time low. I am fine. I am just terribly busy with work and reach home just in time to make dinner at the earliest. There have been days when a glass of milk and a cracker have been my dinner. I think all will be well very soon and that I'll be back to posting on a regular basis in about 2 weeks' time.
I have a simple recipe to share with all of you. Palak paneer is a dish I love (with or without the paneer really). It's one of those fun ways of eating spinach.
1 bunch Spinach, cooked and pureed
1 Onion, ground to a fine paste
1 tsp Green Chilli Paste
1 tsp Ginger Paste
1 tsp Garlic Paste
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/4 tsp Chilli Powder
2 tbsp Curds
1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste
1/2 cup Paneer, cubed
Heat the oil and fry the onion paste for a few minutes. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic pastes and fry for a minute. Add the salt, chilli and turmeric powder and fry for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach puree. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the paneer cubes and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add the curd and mix well.
Serve hot with phulkas.
I'll be back as soon as I can with recipes that are lying in my drafts folder.