30 September 2014

Spinach Puris

A healthy twist to the normal and bland puris. Mildly spiced and colourful, spinach adds a bunch of good to the puffed up delites...

                                                                     PALAK PURIS

Ingredients :

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) powder - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Spinach purée - 1 cup
Water if required
Oil - for the dough and for frying

Method :

1. In a clean bowl, mix together the flour, salt, jeera, oil (about 2 tbsps) and dhaniya powder. Mix once by hand.

2. Now gradually add the spinach purée and start kneading into a soft dough. Use water only if needed.

3. Meanwhile heat oil for frying on medium heat. Sprinkle some oil on the dough and let rest for just 5 minutes.

4. Divide the dough into small, equal portions. Roll out into puris and deep fry till golden brown.
Drain excess oil and serve as desired.

28 September 2014

Eggless Apple Cup-cake

Badge Apple, Cinnamon and brown sugar...the threesome combination that never fails any dish..I continue my experiments with egg-less treats !!    


Ingredients :

Apples - 2 (medium, grated)
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Softened butter - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Cinnamon powder - a pinch
Milk - 1/4 cup
Milkmaid - 1/4 cup

Method :
1. Heat a pan and add both white and brown sugar to it. Add 3/4th of the grated apples and stir till sugar melts and the mixture becomes thick. Remove and let cool slightly.

2. Sift together the flours along with baking powder and salt into a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together butter and the apple sauce. Add the milkmaid and whisk again. Add only half the portion of the milk, we can add more later to adjust consistency. Stir well.
If no milkmaid is available increase the quantity of milk and the sugar.

4. Fold the flours into the whisked mix slowly, leaving no lumps. If you feel the batter is bit thick add a little milk.

5. Pour into a greased baking mould.  Bake at 180c for 10 - 12 minutes or till the knife comes out clean.

6. Let cool on a wire rack and serve as desired. 

27 September 2014

Sweet Corn-Poha Halwa

During the festive season, people take immense pleasure and pride in coming up with innovative dishes as offerings for the deities and generally spreading the cheer around them.
My mother's latest experiment in her kitchen this Navrathri.....

                                                   SWEET CORN POHA HALWA

Ingredients :

Sweet Corn - 2 cups
Grated Jaggery (Gud) - 3/4 cup
Flattened Poha (medium thick variety) - 1 cup
Fresh grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Ghee - 1 1/2 tbsps
Elachi powder - 1/4 tsp
Ghee-Roasted Badam, cashews - for garnishing

Method :

1. Wash poha once and drain. Leave aside, without adding any water for 10 minutes.

2. Boil the sweet corn till tender.

3. Heat a pan and add the jaggery to it. Sprinkle just a little water to allow it to melt. Let simmer on medium heat, stir occasionally.
The melted jaggery consistency should be such that if you put a drop of it in water, it should not spread, and you should be able to roll it easily.

4. Once this consistency is achieved, lower the heat and add the grated coconut, stirring simultaneously. Add ghee and stir again.

5. Add the poha and mix, let cook for 2 minutes. Now add the corn and stir. Let cook on slow heat for 2-3 more minutes.

6. Finally add the elaichi powder and roasted badam + cashews. Remove from heat and let cool.
Serve warm.

25 September 2014

Crisp Okra(Bhindi)

A vegetable that is popular with young and old alike...there are many ways of preparing a bhindi subzi (curry), from the simple one using just salt, turmeric powder and chili powder to the more elaborate stuffed versions.
Here is a semi-fried variation...

                                                                  CRISP BHINDI

Ingredients :

Bhindi - 250 gms
Besan - 2 tbsp
Corn starch - 1 tbsp
Dhaniya pwd - 1 tbsp
Chili Pwd - 2 tsp
Garam masala - 1.5 tsps
Salt to taste
Oil - for shallow frying

Method :

1. Wash, dry and de-stem bhindi and cut them lengthwise.

2. In a bowl, add the bhindi, besan, corn starch, chili pwd, garam masala and dhaniya pwd. Mix lightly and leave for about 1/2 hour.

3. Heat oil for shallow frying. Add salt to the bhindi and mix again.

4. Shallow fry the bhindi few pieces at a time till golden brown. Drain excess oil and serve.

21 September 2014

Baked & Stuffed Lauki

I started out with the idea of making Bharwaan Lauki for dinner. Then got side-tracked with the idea of trying something Continental instead. Eventually decided on a mélange keeping the stuffing and spices pretty simple.

                                          BAKED BHARWAAN LAUKI (Bottle gourd)

Ingredients :
Bottle gourd (Lauki) - 1 (tender and slim)
Salt to taste
Haldi - 1/4 tsp

Stuffing :
Crumbled Paneer - 1 cup
Potatoes - 2 medium (Boiled and mashed)
Salt to taste
Crushed black Pepper to taste
Chili powder - 1  1/2 tsps
Italian herbs/ Dried Oregano - 1 1/2 tsps (Tip - Preserve the oregano sachets the Pizza guy gives you!!)

Gravy :
Tomatoes - 3 medium (Blanched and puréed)
Capsicum - 2 tbsps (chopped)
Olive oil - 2 tbsps
Salt to taste
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Italian herbs / oregano - 1 tsp

Other ingredients :
Cheese slices or grated processed cheese
Italian herbs/oregano for garnishing

Method :

1. Wash, peel and slice the bottle gourd into 1 inch thick pieces. Bring water to boil in a saucepan and add some salt and haldi. Drop in the lauki roundels and cover-cook till 3/4th tender. Do not let them become too soft. We will be baking them later. Drain the excess water and keep aside.

2. Meanwhile, to prepare the stuffing, in a bowl, mix together grated paneer, the mashed potato, salt, chili powder and herbs. Take care to leave no lumps.

3. For the gravy, heat oil in a pan and add the tomato purée. Add salt to taste, chili powder and let cook.

4. When half done, add the capsicum and let cook along with the gravy for 4-5 minutes. Again, it's ok to leave the gravy 3/4th done as we will be baking this as well. Finally, add the herbs and give it one last stir. Remove and keep aside.

5. Now let's start assembling the dish. Fill the stuffing carefully into the lauki discs. Place them on a baking dish. Pre-heat the oven @ 180 deg C.

6. Drop a spoonful of gravy on top of each lauki disc. Finally sprinkle the processed cheese or cheese slices. Bake @ 200 deg C for about 4-5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 170-180 deg C and bake for 7-8 minutes more or till cheese starts bubbling and becomes golden brown.

7. Remove from the oven and serve hot with toasted bread.

Notes : Since I use the microwave, the baking times might vary as compared to a conventional oven.

19 September 2014

Beetroot Carrot soup

Next in the healthy and quick soup series....

                                                        BEETROOT-CARROT SOUP

Ingredients :

Beetroot - 1 (medium)
Carrot - 2 (medium)
Water as required
Salt to taste
Crushed black pepper to taste
Coarsely crushed Dhaniya seeds to taste (optional)

Method :

1. Wash, peel and roughly chop the beetroot and carrots.

2. Pressure cook till soft. Remove and let cool.

3. Blend in a mixer and refrigerate till ready for use, i.e, when you actually want to prepare the soup.

4. Strain the blended mixture using up to 2 cups water. Add to a thick saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add salt and crushed black pepper to taste, optional to add some crushed dhaniya (coriander) seeds.

Serve hot as desired.

18 September 2014

Easy Sweet Corn Soup

Who doesn't love home made soups, and if they were easy to make??
Well, here's a very easy to make Sweet Corn Soup recipe...

                                                           SWEET CORN SOUP

Ingredients :

Sweet Corn kernels - 1 cup
Corn starch - 2 tsps
Water - as required
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Mixed Chopped vegetables - 1/2 cup (Beans, carrot, peas)

Method :

1. Bring 2 cups of water to simmering point in a thick saucepan.

2. Add the vegetables and the corn kernels to the water and a little salt. Cover-cook for 7-10 minutes or till the vegetables are 3/4th cooked, not too soft.

3. Meanwhile dissolve the corn starch in 2 tbsps water and keep aside.

4. Once the veggies are cooked, add the corn starch paste stirring continuousl, make sure to leave no lumps. Add more salt if needed along with crushed black pepper. Stir till soup is semi-thick.

Remove and serve hot as desired.

14 September 2014

Eggless Peanut butter Carrot Cake

BadgeA healthy eggless carrot cake made with a combo of butter and peanut butter.

Nutrition Facts Widget Image                                               


Ingredients :

Finely grated carrot - 1 cup
Chopped/grated dates -2
Softened butter -1/4 cup
Peanut butter - 1/2 cup
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup (75gms)
Whole wheat flour -1/2 cup (75gms)
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Vanilla essence - 1/4 tsp
Milk - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Brown/Demerara sugar - 1/2 cup
Melted chocolate - for garnish

Method :

1. Pre-heat oven @ 180 deg C.

2. In a bowl mix together butter, peanut butter and both the sugar and whisk till sugar dissolves and mixture is light and creamy. Mix vanilla essence and mix again.

3. In a separate mixing bowl sift together the all purpose and wheat flours along with a pinch salt and baking powder.

4. Gradually add the flours to the butter mix and fold gently. Add milk as required to get a thick cake batter.

5. Grease a cake tin or use a silicon mould and pour the batter into it. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Note : check after 10 minutes using a clean knife or toothpick to see if done, if not continue baking a bit more.
Using a microwave, I first baked @ 200deg C for 4 minutes and then @ 180 deg C for 7 minutes more.

6. Remove and let cool slightly on a wire rack.  Then invert on to a serving dish and decorate/serve as desired.

9 September 2014

Multi-grain Thalipeeth

Thalipeeth is a famous Maharashtrian dish typically made of three flours, whole wheat, millet and bengal gram flour or besan.
I've attempted a healthy and green twist to this versatile and healthy preparation ....
                                                   MULTI-GRAIN THALIPEETH
Ingredients :
Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Besan (Bengal gram flour) - 1 cup
Bajra/Jowar flour - 1cup
Soya flour - 1cup
Rice flour - 1 cup
Rajgira Flour - 1 cup
Maida - 1/4 cup
Jeera - 2 tsps
Dhaniya-curry leaves chutney - as required (Click link for chutney recipe)
Salt to taste
Whisked curds - 1 cup
Water - as required

Method : 
1. Add all the flours and pinch salt to a clean bowl and mix well with hands. If possible, sift them together on to a large plate to allow them to mix well together.

2. Add the jeera and green chutney and mix again. You can add as much chutney as desired, based on the spice and flavour you need.

3. Now gradually add the curds and keep kneading the flours into a tight but soft dough. Add water only if required. Drizzle a little oil on to your hand and coat the dough with it. Cover and let rest for about 5-7 minutes.

4. Take 2 clean plastic sheets. Give the dough a rough kneading but do not knead too much. Divide into equal sized portions and keep aside.

5. Heat a tawa on medium heat. Place one dough round in between the plastic sheets on a counter and either press evenly into a pancake using your hands or use a rolling pin if it's easier. It's OK for the edges to be uneven.

6. Cook the thalipeeth on the tawa using oil/ghee till golden brown on both sides. Use a flat ladle to press down and let cook evenly.
Serve hot with pickle / chutney and curds.

Dhaniya-Curry Leaves Chutney

A quick and tasty chutney, goes well with any main dish...

                                                 DHANIYA-CURRY LEAVES CHUTNEY

Ingredients : 

Dhaniya leaves - 1 cup
Curry leaves - 1 cup
Dry red chili - 1
Urad dal (split black gram) - 1 1/2 tbsps
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Tamarind - 1 inch piece

Method : 

1. Heat a pan and dry roast urad dal and red chili till slightly brown. Add hing and remove from fire. Let cool.

2. Grind to a paste along with the dhaniya and curry leaves, tamarind and salt. Add very little water in order to get a thick chutney. Check for salt.

3. Serve as desired.

4 September 2014

Kadhai Roti

Utterly bored and in search of something spicy for dinner...That's when I spotted the left-over chapatis. Got to work chopping some vegetables, a dash of Schezwan sauce and masala..hey presto! Kadhai Roti ready !!

                                                                   KADHAI ROTI

Ingredients :

Left over chapatis - 4 to 5 (Chopped into square pieces)
Chopped Capsicum - 1/2 cup
Chopped Carrots - 1/2 cup
Diced Paneer - 1/2 cup
Oil - 2 tbsps
Jeera - 1 tsp
Schezwan Sauce (I used Ching's) - 1 tbsp
Karahi Paneer Masala(MDH) or Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method :

1. Heat oil in a pan/wok. Add jeera and let crackle.

2. Add the carrots and let cover-cook till 3/4th tender, I left them a bit crunchy.

3. Add the capsicum and some salt to taste. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes more.

4. Add the Karahi Paneer Masala or Garam masala and mix well. Add the chopped chapati and paneer and mix again.

5. Now add the Schezwan sauce and mix well so that the chapati and paneer pieces especially are well-coated. [I added the schezwan sauce to create a deviation from the kadhai masala and this also prevented the preparation from being too dry.]
Cover and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and transfer to serving bowl.

1 September 2014

Banana Stem Specials

        The Banana tree is a wonder in itself. Not only are its different parts edible and used in different culinary preparations, they also have amazing healing properties.
The banana(plantain) leaf is rich in chlorophyll and it has been an age old tradition in many parts of the world to serve food on Banana leaves. The leaf is also used as a wrap in many steamed dishes which lends a unique and extremely healthy flavour and quality to the preparation.
The use of the banana flower and stem have amazing healing properties where the overall digestive system is concerned. The stem especially is known to be so effective that it is believed to help clear Kidney stones!!!
Recently I had a completely detoxifying meal at Sanjeevanam, the Kerala Veg restaurant, where none of the curries are cooked in oil. One of them was steamed banana stem curry which was simply too good.
I list here few simple recipes using the banana stem that can only do good, and taste excellent as well.
Tip : Ask the vegetable vendor to help you select as tender a stem as possible. The best method to cut it right for any dish is :
- Peel the outer layers till you are left with a slender pearl white tube that looks like it cannot be peeled further
- Cut into discs, you might encounter thick fibre on the surface, simply wrap them around your index finger and continue slicing
- Once you have sliced the stem tube, stack them a few at a time and chop them into 1 cm long pieces. For salads, use the discs as a whole.
- Soak them in diluted sour buttermilk till ready to be used in the preparation. This prevents them from changing colour, i,e, darkening.
                                                             BANANA STEM SALAD
Ingredients :
Tender Banana Stem - 1 (sliced into discs)
Green chili - 1 long
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Method :
1. Add the sliced banana stem into a salad bowl.
2. Add the lemon juice, sliced green chili and salt to taste. Mix well. Let rest for 10-12 minutes.
3. Serve.
                                                               BANANA STEM CURRY
Ingredients :
Banana stem - 1 (Sliced and chopped)
Salt to taste
Dessicated coconut - 2 tbsps
Curry leaves
Tempering :
Oil - 1 tbsp
Rai - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Dry Red Chili - 1
1. Soak the chopped stem in sour buttermilk till ready to use. Strain and cook with water and salt to taste till well done. Strain the water and keep the stem aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, let crackle. Add the Urad dal and red chili and saute for a bit.
3. Add the cooked banana stem pieces and stir well. Check for salt and adjust accordingly if needed. Add the dessicated coconut and curry leaves and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes and remove.
Serve hot.
                                             BANANA STEM STEW (MOR KOOTTU)
Ingredients :
Tender Banana Stem - 1 (Sliced and chopped)
Slightly sour whisked curds - 1 cup
Haldi - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Curry leaves - a few
To grind to a paste :
Jeera - 1 tsp
Grated coconut - 3 tbsps
Dry Red Chilies - 2
Tempering :
Oil - 1 tsp
Rai - 1 tsp
Method :
1. As mentioned above, soak the chopped banana stem in buttermilk till ready to use. Strain and cook in water along with haldi and salt till well done. Drain the water and keep the cooked stem aside.
2. Soak the jeera, red chilies and coconut in a little water to soften. Grind them to a paste in a mixer.
3. In a saucepan, add the whisked sour curds and add the ground paste. Stir and cook on a low flame to avoid curdling.
4. Add the cooked stem and curry leaves as well and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Check for salt and adjust if required. If the stew is a bit runny, mix 1 tsp rice flour in 1 tbsp water and add to the pan.
5. For the tempering, heat oil and add the rai. Once it splutters add to the stew. Serve hot.