28 August 2014

Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaaram (Appams)

A variation of the plain Kuzhi Paniyaaram , stuffed with left-over vegetables...

Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaarams (Appams)

Ingredients : 

Thick leftover Dosa batter (sour the better) - 1 cup
Chopped Green chilies - 2
Salt to taste
Chopped ginger - 1 tsp
Peppercorns - 1 tsp (whole or slightly crushed)
Hing - a pinch
Chopped curry leaves
Oil to fry

Filling :
Any leftover subzi (vegetables)

Method :

1. Heat an Appam stand on medium flame and pour a little oil in all the holes.

2. In a bowl, mix together the dosa batter along with chopped green chilies, peppercorns, hing, curry leaves, salt to taste and chopped ginger. Do not add any water as we need a thick consistency. If the dosa batter is slightly runny, add enough rice flour to thicken it. If you have done this, check for salt again.

Appam or Paniyaaram Stand

3. Carefully pour a bit of the batter first using a small ladle or tablespoon into each of the holes, drop a few pieces of the vegetables and top off with some more batter covering up to 3/4th of the appam cup.
Lower the flame at this point if you feel the oil is too agitated. Cooking this on a high flame right away will cause the appams to become brown quickly without the insides actually getting cooked.

4. Using a clean knife or fork, carefully turn over the appam to let the other side cook. Once both sides are golden brown, remove and drain excess oil.

Serve hot with ketchup or spicy green chutney.

18 August 2014

Quick Fix Pasta in White Sauce

A quick fix Pasta in White Sauce with ingredients mostly available at home...became an instant hit with my niece and nephew!!! As a plus I used up the leftover Broccoli-peas curry from the morning as well!

                                                       PASTA IN WHITE SAUCE

Ingredients : 

Boiled pasta (Penne or Farfalle works best) - 2 cups
Cold Milk - 1 1/2 cups
Cheese slices - 2
Maida - 2 tbsps
Whole wheat flour - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Olive oil / Butter - 1 tbsp
Garlic powder - 1 tsp
Crushed Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Oregano / Mixed herbs (I used the small packs that usually get left-over each time one orders pizza!!)
Chilli flakes (optional)
Spicy tomato sauce for the garnish

Method : 

1. Heat oil / butter in a pan. Add in the vegetables as desired. For this recipe I used leftover Broccoli-Peas curry from the morning, so I added them along with the pasta, since they didnt need extra cooking!

2. In a bowl, whisk together milk, Maida + Wheat flour and salt leaving no lumps. Pour the milk mixture into the pan stirring all the while.

3. When it starts to thicken add the garlic powder and let simmer. Don't forget to keep stirring. Check for salt and add the pepper powder as well.

4. Drop in the 2 cheese slices and keep stirring till the cheese melts and mixes well with the milk. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chili flakes if you need it extra spicy.

5. Now add in the boiled pasta and stir. [I added the leftover curry at this point.] Cover and let simmer for about 2 - 3 minutes. Stir in between and let cook for a minute more so the sauce coats the pasta well.
Tip : If pasta has cooled down and sticking together, drop it for a split second in hot water and take out immediately, This will shock the pasta and make it easier to mix in with the sauce.

6. Finally sprinkle the oregano and stir once. Remove and serve hot with lightly toasted brown bread.
Optional to half-cook this on flame and bake it with more cheese and tomato sauce(till cheese melts and forms golden brown spots) on top as I have done.
This is the basic sauce. One can also add in chopped and blanched spinach, capsicum, zucchini and so on for the vegetable touch.

10 August 2014

Methi Sambhar

The versatility of methi...
Methi or fenugreek leaves are known to have quite a few health benefits. They are said to be a rich source of Vitamins E & K along with minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and many more.

Consider keeping a stock of lightly roasted and powdered methi at home.  Having a quarter teaspoon of this mixed in half a glass lukewarm water first thing in the morning is said to regulate blood sugar levels, neutralise acidity, is an excellent source of fibre and controls body heat.

 Soak a teaspoonful of methi seeds in a quarter cup water overnight. Drain and drink up the water on an empty stomach the next morning and grind the soaked methi seeds to a paste. Apply this on the scalp, leave for about 20 minutes and rinse off. Follow it up with a mild shampoo +conditioner wash. This will not only help control hair-loss due to body heat but also helps nourish the hair roots.

The methi leaves when used either in their natural or dried form transform the aroma and taste of any dish amazingly. Though ready made Kasuri methi is available in the market we can make it quite easily at home too.
Sort out the good leaves from the stems, wash and pat dry. Spread out on a plate or newspaper and leave out in the sun to dry naturally for minimum 2 weeks till it completely dries up.
Alternately you can use the microwave method, spread the washed and pat-dried leaves on a micro-proof dish and run on 60% power for about 5 minutes,  remove and lightly shuffle the leaves,  increase the power to 80% and micro for 2 minutes more. Remove and let dry for about 10 minutes till it cools to room temperature. Store in an air-tight container for future use.
The next time you want to give the boring rotis a skip, try adding a bit of kasuri methi to the atta. Add a generous spoonful to any bland curry to instantly spice it up.

An interesting dish that my mum prepares is methi sambhar that tastes simply divine with just about anything.

                                                             METHI SAMBHAR

Ingredients :
Methi leaves - 1 bunch (leaves separated)
Toor dal ( Split pigeon peas) - 1 cup
Imli - 1/2 lemon size
Sambhar powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Haldi - 1/2 tsp
Chopped dhaniya
Curry leaves
For tempering :
Rai - 1/2 tsp
Hing - 1/2 tsp

Method :
1. Wash and pat dry methi leaves. Chop roughly. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and lightly fry the leaves for about 2 minutes. This helps reduce the bitterness of the leaves.

2. Cook the methi leaves till tender. Mash lightly. Wash and pressure-cook the toor dal with haldi till well done.

3. Extract tamarind juice and add to a thick bottomed vessel.

4. Add salt to taste, curry leaves and mashed methi leaves, let simmer on low flame till raw aroma leaves the imli juice.

5. Add the sambhar powder and stir. Simmer for 5 minutes more. Mash the cooked toor dal and add to the vessel. Stir and continue to simmer.

6. Now add the chopped dhaniya and check for salt. If the sambhar is a little runny, dissolve 1 tsp rice flour in 2 tbsps water and add to the vessel. Let cook for 5-7 minutes more.

7. Prepare tempering by heating oil and adding hing, followed by rai. Once it splutters add it to the sambhar.
Serve hot.
Note : Another variation to try, grind together some shallots, unroasted coriander seeds and coriander leaves and add that to get a 'Hotel Sambhar'-like feel !!!