26 April 2016

Avakkai(Mango) Pickle

A typical South Indian Avakkai Pickle
AVAKKAI PICKLE (South Indian Mango Pickle)
12 Mangoes
2 cups - Fresh ground Red Chili powder
2 cups - Rock salt, coarsely ground
1 cup - Sarson powder
1/2 cup - Fresh turmeric powder
1 tbsp - Fenugreek seeds
1/4 cup - Chickpeas
2 cups - Sesame Oil 

1. Wash and dry the mangoes. They should be completely moisture free. Cut them into quarters along with the seed. 
2. In a large bowl, mix together all other dry ingredients (including the chickpeas) along with a little oil, just enough to moisten the spices. 
3. Keep a clean dry jar (Glass or ceramic preferred) ready. Drop in the mango pieces a handful at a time into the spice mix, gently toss and transfer to the pickle jar. 
4. Top off with the remaining spice mix and add the sesame oil till the mangoes are submerged. Cover with the jar lid. Tie a muslin cloth over the jar's mouth and leave to marinate. 
5. For the next 2 weeks, stir the pickle every alternate day using a wooden ladle. Even after the pickle is ready, stir it once a while to prevent fungus formation. Remember to cover properly each time.

Mixed Veg Spicy Manchurian Rolls

               Indians adapt well to almost any cuisine. With a twist of course!! We love our spices, and this spicy twist we give to any cuisine is what makes them 'Indo'. This week we had the theme of experimenting with Indo-Chinese, and here's my spicy and 'Indo' take on the ubiquitous and versatile Manchurian..
Ingredients :
Finely chopped Capsicum - 1/4 cup
Finely chopped spring onion greens - 2 tbsps
Finely chopped spinach - 1/4 cup
Shredded Paneer - 1/4 cup
Grated Carrot - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Red Chili powder - 2 tsps
Bajra (Pearl millet) flour - 2 tbsps
Cornflour (Corn starch) - 1 tbsp
Oil for shallow frying
Dry maida or powdered Oats for coating

Method :
1. Drain the max moisture from the vegetables and paneer.
2. Add to a bowl along with salt, chili powder, bajra flour and corn starch. Mix well, the moisture from the veggies should be enough for binding, else add very little water just so the mixture holds together when you make a roll. Divide into equal round portions and keep aside.
3. Heat oil for shallow frying. Roll the portions in dry maida or powdered oats and gently add them to the oil. (Test with one, if it starts to disintegrate, wet the mix a little more and retest) Fry till golden brown all over. Remove and drain excess oil. 
This basic roll can be used with any sauce base you wish, for eg, Manchurian Sauce or its dryer version too...

18 April 2016

Multi-Grain Veg Wraps

              What would you typically do on a holiday when the weather's too good to be indoors?? You go on a picnic!! :) Little else gets one going than the idea of spending a day out with family and/or friends and come back energized. Now... that's the fun part. The concerning part? Food!! 
              If the place we are headed to has good food options, problem solved, pack your bags!! But if it doesn't? Or if the family has young kids or elders who cannot risk it with outside food? That's when the challenge of an ideal picnic basket emerges. But trust me, a little planning and creativity can still keep the fun alive in all of this. 
Here's a healthy suggestion that would be a hit with young and old alike. Also ties in with the #PicnicTheme for our 36th #FoodieMonday #Bloghop


Veg wraps/ Rolls
For the Roti:
Whole wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Flax seeds meal - 1/4 cup
Soya flour - 2-3 tbsps
Salt to taste

Filling :
Diced Bell peppers - 1 cup
Broccoli and/or cauliflower florets (wash and blanch them with turmeric powder and drain before use)
Paneer cubes - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp

Mayo spread :
Mayonnaise -  4 tbsps (you can use the Eggless and flavoured varieties too, now available in markets. If using a pre-flavoured one, skip the following ingredients)
Chili flakes - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala or any masala of choice - 1/4 tsp

To serve :
Fresh cabbage, julienne
Onion, sliced
Tomato ketchup

1. Prepare a soft dough using the ingredients and sufficient water. Keep aside covered for about 5-7 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan, add cumin seeds and let splutter. Tip in the bell peppers, sprinkle salt and saute. After about 5 minutes, add the blanched Broccoli, cauliflower, paneer cubes, garam masala, mix and let cook for 5 minutes more. We need the veggies only half-done.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the rotis and keep aside. Do not apply any butter or ghee on them. Mix together the ingredients for the Mayo spread and keep aside. If using a pre-flavoured Mayo or Cheese spread, use as is.

4. When ready to assemble, warm the rotis one at a time. Transfer to a plate, apply the Mayo or cheese spread. Apply a moderate quantity so that the roti doesn't become soggy. Place the vegetables along side one corner, add some fresh cabbage and sliced onions and roll. 

5. Wrap in butter paper or foil sheet and pack as desired. Serve with tomato ketcup or chutney of choice. 

Note : If serving at home, brush the wraps with very little butter or oil and grill before serving.

11 April 2016

Strawberry Amaranth Halwa

                Nine days of Navratri, nine days of fasting or abstaining from certain foods. And not without a scientific reason! Seasonal changes require our body to adjust and for us to adapt lifestyle practices which are best for us. Most importantly food; where we are advised to give our stomach a rest and detox, by either fasting or abstaining from heavy foods that are difficult to digest. 
As a balance, instead of wheat, lentils and millets, people use wholesome substitutes like Amaranth(Rajgira) and Buckwheat (Kuttu) which provide all the health benefits that our body needs at this time, plus they are easy to digest as well. For the Chaitra Navratri vrat preparation (theme of our 35th #BlogHop), here's a popular Halwa, with a twist of course!!
Rajgira Halwa
Ingredients :
Amaranth/Rajgira flour - 1 cup
Clarified butter/Ghee - 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - 2.5 cups
Chopped Strawberries - 1/4 cup
Chopped dry-fruits of choice - 1/4 cup
Green Cardamom (choti elaichi) powder - 1/4 tsp

1. In a saucepan, add sugar, chopped strawberries and water, and let simmer on medium heat till sugar dissolves and strawberries become semi-soft.

2. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a non-stick kadhai/wok (Use a large one as we'll use the same for the halwa as well) and add the dry nuts. Toast them till golden brown. Drain excess ghee and keep aside.

3. Heat the 1/2 cup ghee in the same pan and add the rajgira flour, stirring simultaneously so that it absorbs all the ghee. Roast for 2-3 mintues till you get the aroma. Turn off flame and keep aside.

4. Once the sugar has melted, place the kadhai with the rajgira flour back on low flame, and gradually add the sugar syrup to it, remember to keep stirring to avoid lumps. Let cook for 4-5 minutes. 
Finally add the toasted nuts and cardamom powder and give it a final stir. Remove and serve hot.

4 April 2016

Strawberry-Mint Cheesecake (NoBake)

         It's always the right season for desserts. And right now, it's the right season for chilled desserts. I've always wanted to try a No-Bake cheesecake recipe with an alternative for Cream cheese as well, as not everyone might have access to it.
Trying this combination after quite some research and very happy with the results :) For the 34th Bloghop theme of #NoCookNoBake, I tried this dessert...
Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients : (For a 6 inch Cheesecake, serves 4)
For the crumbs base:
Digestive biscuits - 8-10
Softened butter - 100 gms
For cheesecake filling :
Chopped Strawberries - 1 cup
Mint leaves - 6-7
Clove powder -  1 pinch
Whipped cream - 200ml
Paneer - 200 gms
Powdered sugar - 200 gms
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 2 tsps
Milk - few tablespoons
Method :
1. Put digestive biscuits into a ziplock bag and crush lightly using a rolling pin. Transfer to a bowl. Add the softened butter and mix well. Spread in an aluminium cake tin and press using the back of a flat spoon to even it out. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Coarsely puree strawberries, mint leaves and clove powder. Keep aside.

3. Whip together paneer, powdered sugar along with few tablespoons milk to aid blending. Now add vanilla essence and lemon juice and whip again. Transfer to a bowl. Fold in the whipped cream and mix gently. 

4. Take out the biscuit base and pour the whipped cream mix over it to coat evenly. I layered the cream mix and strawberry puree alternately to make it more colourful. Decorate with strawberry slices and mint leaves. 
Leave it to set in the fridge undisturbed for a good 6 hours, or better overnight. Do not freeze.
Remove, cut into wedges and serve.