15 September 2016

Tomato-Onion Thokku

This is the recipe for a typical Andhra-style tomato thokku. It's optional to add onions, one can also use garlic if they prefer the flavour. For the measures given below, around 7-8 cloves should be good.
TOMATO ONION THOKKU (cooked pickle)
Ingredients : (Makes about 150 gms)
Tomatoes - 4 large or 6 medium (Best to use country tomatoes than the longish ones)
Onion (optional) - 3 medium, sliced
Fenugreek (Methi) seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin (Jeera) seeds - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp + 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Red Chili powder - 6 tsps
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Tamarind (imli) - 1 large (American) lemon size ball
Salt to taste

Method
1.  Dry roast the fenugreek and cumin seeds separately. Take care to not over-roast the fenugreek as it will become bitter. Let cool, then dry grind to a powder consistency.

2. Roughly chop tomatoes into chunks, keep aside. Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Remove and let cool.

3. Heat 1/4 cup sesame oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, tip in the tomato chunks. Let cook for about 7-8 minutes on medium heat.

4. Now add the tamarind chunks, chili powder, turmeric powder, salt and finally the ground fenugreek-cumin powder. Mix well and let cook for 6-7 minutes more. Remove and let cool.

5. Grind the above mixture along with the fried onions to a fine paste without adding any water.

6. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup sesame oil in the same wok and add the ground pickle paste. Let cook on medium heat till oil starts to separate. This should take about 7-8 minutes more. Let cool and store in an air-tight jar. 

17 July 2016

Angaya Podi

        An age-old rice mix powder, Angaya powder (literally meaning '5 berries' powder) is most often a hand-me down recipe that grandmothers, and their mothers used to make!! This powder is actually a boon for lactating mothers, but that isn't just it. Angaya Podi is excellent for digestion, and also common colds, especially helps improve the taste in one's mouth, and resultantly, the appetite during such times. Recommended dosage, 1 tsp to a cup of rice with at least 1 spoon ghee..
The ingredients of this powder are quite unique, such as dried neem flower and the Turkey berry, what in Tamil is commonly called 'Sundakkai'. 
In fact, in our home, weekend lunch is usually a detox one, comprising neem flower roasted in ghee or Til oil, and fried Sundakkai. Crushed and mixed with rice with ample ghee, it's a lunch made in heaven!!!
Here's the recipe for.....
ANGAYA PODI
Ingredients : (Makes about 250gms of powder)
Coriander seeds - 1/2 cup (100 ml)
Toor Dal / Pigeon peas - 1/2 cup (100 ml)
Chana Dal / Bengal gram - 2 tbsps
Kali mirch / Peppercorns - 2 tbsps
Jeera / cumin seeds - 2 tbsps
Dry red chili - 3
Saunth / Dry ginger powder - 1 tsp
Hing powder - 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted curry leaves - a few
Dried Neem flower - 1 tbsp
Sundakkai Vathal / Dried Turkey berry - about 10 dried berries 
Rock salt - 2 tsps

Method
1. Almost all ingredients need to be seperately dry-roasted. First the coriander seeds, dry roast till you get the aroma, remove and keep aside.
2. Now in the same pan, add the lentils and dry roast till golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
3. Next up, pepper corns and jeera. Dry roast till aroma arises. Remove and keep aside.
4.  Next roast the red chili, dry roast till golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
5. Dry roast the neem flower, take care not to over-roast, just about a 2 min saute should do. Remove and keep aside.
6. Dry roast the Sundakkai till crispy, again, do not over-roast. Sample one and if it crushes quite easily, it is done. Remove and keep aside. 
7. Now turn off flame, and in the residual heat, quickly roast the saunth, hing and rock salt. Remove and let all ingredients cool down to room temperature.
8. Dry grind all the above roasted ingredients along with dried curry leaves to a fine powder. Transfer to a clean glass jar and store in a dry, cool place.

Paruppu Podi

          Paruppu Podi or Dhall powder is a common occurence in most Andhra and Tamil Nadu households and is an excellent rice mix. I have come across several variations of this powder, some with horse gram, with Garlic, some using whole green gram and so on. As with most hand-me down recipe books, my mother follows the one that her mother used to go by...
          A yummy caveat though, the more ghee you add, the tastier it will be. Yes, I hear that "Calories!!!!!" Yep. But the simple concept behind our traditional eating combos is Balance. So here, ghee helps balance out the spice, since the powder is dry, it helps it mix better with the rice and makes it easier to consume. And of course, eaten in moderation Ghee is known to aid digestion!!
So here's the recipe...very simple and makes about 200gms of powder.
PARUPPU PODI (DHALL POWDER)
Ingredients :
Toor dal / Pigeon peas - 1 cup
Dry red chili - 1
Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Rock salt - 1/2 tsp

Method
1. Heat a pan on medium heat and add the toor dal, dry roast for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the red chili and pepper and continue to roast till the dal is golden brown.
3. Switch off flame and add the rock salt. Give it a quick mix in the residual heat. Remove and let cool to room temperature.
4. Dry grind in a mixer till you get a fine powder. Transfer to a dry glass jar and store in a cool place.

16 June 2016

Oats-Choco Toffee (Chikki)

Another healthy recipe, that's a great snack on the move for young and old alike...
CHOCO-OATS TOFFEE
Ingredients :
Melted dark chocolate - 2 tbsps
Jaggery - 1 cup
Clarified butter / ghee - 1 tbsp
Toasted Sesame seeds - 2 tsps
Toasted, crushed Kelloggs Oats - 2 tbsps
Toasted, crushed mixed nuts - 1/4cup
Cinnamon / clove powder - a pinch (optional)

Method
1. Add ghee to a microwave-safe glass bowl and micro on high for 30 seconds or till ghee is melted.

2. Add the jaggery to the bowl and micro on high for 2 mins, remove stir once and micro for a minute more. You should see bubbles forming on the surface. Remove.

3. While the jaggery is still hot, add the mixed nuts, sesame seeds, oats and mix. Quickly add in the chocolate syrup, stirring all the while and finally the cinnamon/clove powder, if desired. If the mix starts to harden, micro for 30 seconds.

4. With the mix still runny, pour it onto a greased baking tray, steel plate or a silicone sheet, let set for a bit, then cut into desired shapes before the toffee or chikki hardens completely. Alternately one can pour the mix into mini chocolate moulds too as I have done. Let cool and harden.
Un-mould and store in air-tight containers in a cool place.

15 June 2016

Oats Lauki Adai (pancake)

              When one starts exploring alternatives to refined ingredients, there are no dearth of options to suit your recipe. For me, it's oats, flaxseed meal and millet flour that I turn to...
This pancake, or Adai as we call it is enriched with the softness of oats. This is also one of my entries to the Kelloggs #RealChefContest 
OATS-LAUKI ADAI (Pancake)
Ingredients :
Arahar dal - 1/4 cup
Rice - 1/4 cup
Chana Dal - 1 tbsp
Kelloggs Oats - 1/2 cup (Slightly crushed - pulse once in the mixer)
Urad Dal - 1 tbsp
Whole Green gram - 1 tbsp
Slightly sour curds - 1/4 cup
1 medium lauki, grated (drained) - 1 cup
Ginger-green chili paste - 1 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Baking soda(optional) - 1/4 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Ajwain - 1/2 tsp
Hing to taste
Salt to taste

Method
1. Wash and soak all the lentils along with rice for 4 hours. Drain and grind to a thick, coarse paste using sufficient water (Not too runny)
2. Transfer batter to a bowl and whisk in the curds and oats. 
3. Add grated lauki, ginger-green chili paste, chili powder, salt, hing, sesame, ajwain, haldi and soda and whisk again. Keep aside for about 2 hours.
4. Stir the batter once and check for salt. 
5. Heat a tawa on medium heat, add little oil. Pour a ladle of batter and spread to make a thick pancake. Let it become golden brown on both sides. (Tip : Make small holes in between and drizzle oil in them too so it cooks evenly)
Serve hot with desired accompaniments.

6 June 2016

Mango Phirni

            The ninth and the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan has begun. For the theme of #RamadanSpecial, here's a sweet treat with Mangoes, an all-time favourite, Mango Phirni. A simple dish that is rich, nourishing and can have many variations too...
MANGO PHIRNI 
Ingredients :
Cooked rice - 1 cup (Make sure to cook the rice with enough water so it can be mashed well)
Milk - 4 cups
Mango puree - 1 cup
Condensed milk - 1/4 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, raisins) - roasted in ghee
Few Saffron strands, soaked in warm milk

Method :
1. Mash the rice while it's still hot and keep aside.
2. In a thick-bottomed pan, boil the milk till it reduces in quantity.
3. Stir in the mashed rice and whisk well to make sure there are no lumps. 
4. Now add the condensed milk, mango puree, dissolved saffron strands and cardamom powder and stir well, check for sweetness. 
5. Remove from the flame and let cool. Serve chilled or warm garnished with the roasted nuts.


3 June 2016

Thanks for the inspiration...

            In an era where introducing oneself as a blogger, especially a food blogger either causes eyes to brighten or roll and look upwards, I salute all the bloggers out there who put in so much passion, dedication and effort to maintaining their blogs amidst their busy life schedules.
            Be it the design (even those who have little or no coding knowledge), content, and more importantly, marketing, blogs are prized possessions of many. Even more commendable is the sharing of knowledge and expertise among them to help others out in tricky situations too.
            One such inspiring co-blogger, Preethi Prasad who blogs at https://preethicuisine.com nominated me for the 'One Lovely Blog Award'. I would like to thank her and all other bloggers out there who inspire me day in and day out, especially on days when I am almost ready to throw in the proverbial towel!! Preethi, is an all-rounder in my opinion, juggles...no, successfully multi-tasks between her family, career, cooking, blogging and social media as well..
              Now about this award.. though Google doesn't help much with its origin, this award along with the 'Very Inspiring Blogger Award' seem to have been doing the rounds for quite some time now, where bloggers acknowledge inspiring co-bloggers. My theory..why worry about origins when the purpose is mutual appreciation...
So here are the rules, facts & my nominations further down...

RULES
1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. List the rules.
3. Display the award image on your header/footer/sidebar.
4. List seven facts about yourself.
5. Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award and them know you have nominated them.

7 FACTS ABOUT MYSELF :
1. I am a full-time foodie and part-time blogger, not much of a recipe follower, I usually like to build up on ingredients using recipes as guidelines.
2. I have a soft corner for Indian and Italian cuisines
3. I love photography, the medium doesn't matter as long as I am able to capture the moment!!
4. I also dabble in quilled earrings 
5. Tiramisu is my to-die for dish
6. Learning the ropes and tricks of social media is my passion
7. I am tech-savvy and crazy about mobiles!!

MY NOMINATIONS (in no particular order :) ) :
1. https://madraasi.com/ - By 'Madraasi' Deepa, who is also a co-FBAB member, I have great respect for her passion for food and blogging
2. https://naveensuresh3.wordpress.com/ - By Naveen Suresh, one of the admins of FBAB, a true-blue foodie if ever there was one!
3. http://www.cosmopolitancurrymania.com - By Purabi Naha, award-winning blogger, her photography & simple writing can actually make one smell the aroma of the food she talks about..
4. http://www.binjalsvegkitchen.com - By Binjal Pandya, her food-photography is a source of inspiration for many..
5. http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com - By Aarthi Satheesh, simple to follow recipes, her blog has been a saviour many a times when I have been stuck..
6. http://recipeforperfection.com - By Katie Moseman, an acquaintance via social media, her recipes and posts are eye-catching and she also gives back in that, she happily RTs posts that have her hashtag..
7. https://cookingatmayflower.blogspot.in - By Beena Stephy, I admire her easy to follow writing style, and her dedication to her passion of cooking..
8. http://sandhyahariharan.co.uk/ - By Sandhya Hariharan, another neat blog with a vast recipe repository and amazing photography.
I will be adding more to the list, it's not about whom to add that's the struggle, it's more 'How can I leave anyone out' !! :)


27 May 2016

Breakfast with Jackfruit

               Health nowadays is not just a much clichéd, but also much abused term, as is 'Diet'. There is so much more to a "healthy lifestyle" than just food.  To quote Chef Ranveer Brar, "Food unfortunately bears the brunt for our health issues & lifestyle, of which diet is only a small part." 
             It's encouraging, however to find the ever-growing food fraternity experimenting with healthy alternatives and fusing them to suit different palates. So when I received an invite to the #FunWithJackfruit365 event at Hotel Grand Mercure, Bangalore, I was intrigued by what I could expect. (I say intrigued not only because I wasn't yet aware of the culinary possibilities with Jackfruit, but also because the fruit is not exactly on top of my 'fav-food' list!) 
                The intro given by Mr James Joseph, the founder & brand ambassador of Jackfruit365 was quite an eye-opener. Jackfruit, that some tend to either shy away from due to the messy cutting process, or (as I found out while talking to co-foodies) use in cooking but hadn't consumed as a fruit, has immense health qualities. Its low Glycemic index, coupled with high fibre & protein content make it a dream supplement for many.
               While the fruit, also known as 'Kathal' by many, has been included in cooking in its ripe and/or semi-ripe forms, the use of dried Jackfruit flour was something new to me. The Jackfruit365 product in focus that day, Freeze-dried Raw Jackfruit is versatile in that, it can be used in many forms, soaked and used in your dishes of choice, ground and used as flour supplements or simply as chips if you are looking for a quick afternoon munch!  
              The breakfast delicacies that were prepared for the event, with Jackfruit as one of the key ingredients made for a sumptuous spread. Special mention for the Galouti Kebab here. So long I have heard & read about these famed kebabs being made with Kidney beans or soya to appeal to the vegetarians. But here, these were made primarily with soaked raw Jackfruit365, blended with the other ingredients. The result, truly melt-in-the-mouth kebabs that almost made me a permanent fixture at the Galouti Kebab counter! 
                     Another element that intrigued me was the smoky flavour. Now the kebabs were being shallow-fried and I couldn't see a 'Dhungar' step at any point. So where was that flavour coming from? A conversation with the chef in question answered my curiosity. The 'Dhungar' effect had already been given at the kebab mixture preparation stage; also that the mix was best prepared well in advance to let the flavours set in properly. Well, I stop here with the narrative and will let you visually savour the goodies...you can find more about the products and recipes at Jackfruit365's website ... 
And yes, the product is available to order from Amazon.in
JACKFRUIT SMOOTHIE
 JACKFRUIT UPMA, CURRY AND IDLI
 JACKFRUIT IDLIS, STEAM-COOKED IN JACKFRUIT LEAVES
JACKFRUIT APPE OR KUZHI PANIYAARAM
JACKFRUIT-POTATO BONDAS
 JACKFRUIT WAFFLES

23 May 2016

Mexican Style Pizza

                 Pizzas, like the Indian paratha, are versatile and full of possibilities. Be it the flour, crust, stuffing/toppings, we can keep on experimenting with them. Here's a pizza experiment with a Mexican-style topping. 
It's interesting to read how the Mexican style of  cooking uses spices from different regions, for eg, Cilantro brought in by the Spanish and the cumin seed, that is Eastern Mediterranean....I have personally seen Mexican food find many lovers in the lovers of Indian cuisine, and of course, needless to say that we adapt it to suit our palate further!!
This recipe is also part of our #FoodieMonday theme of #PizzaMania...

MEXICAN STYLE PIZZA
Ingredients :

Pizza base - readymade or homemade using this method

Mexican-Style Topping :
Cooked kidney beans (Rajma) - 2 cups
Tomato purée - 1 cup
Colored Bell Peppers - 1 cup, finely chopped
Paneer - 1 cup, cubed
Cajun spice - 2 tsps
Salt to taste
Chili flakes - 1 tsp (optional)
Shredded cheese as required
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsps

Method :
1. Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and let crackle.
2. Add chopped bell peppers and sauté. for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée, salt to taste and let simmer.
3. After about 7-8 minutes, tip in the cooked Rajma and paneer cubes and mix well. Add the cajun spice (homemade or readymade Mexican seasoning available in the market) and optionally, chili flakes if you like it extra hot. 
4. Mix again, check for salt and let simmer for about 5 minutes more or till almost all the gravy is absorbed. Remove and keep aside.
5. If making your own pizza base, half-cook the base in the oven on high for 2 minutes. Remove, brush a little oil on the surface. Spread the Mexican stuffing on top, onion slices and sprinkle shredded cheese. Also optional to top up with sliced bell peppers.
6. Bake in a microwave oven at 170 deg C for 5 minutes, followed by 3 more minutes at 200 Deg C or till the cheese melts and becomes golden brown.
Serve hot as desired.