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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Walnut - Prune Yogurt

While hunting for Russian recipes during "Around the World" marathon, I came across a quick and easy dessert from the region. It had some walnut stuffed prunes served in smetana. Smetana is the central and eastern European version of sour cream and in absence of it, can be substituted with yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche. Walnuts are stuffed into dry prunes and a sweetened sour cream is poured over them. Then they are refrigerated overnight or until the sour cream solidifies.
I goofed up somehow while noting the recipe and got fresh prunes instead and kept wondering how to stuff them with walnuts. I couldn't do it obviously and so chopped the fruit and added it to lightly sweetened yogurt along with some chopped walnuts. I refrigerated it overnight and it made a yummy breakfast next day. I am not posting the original recipe as it just involves the steps I mentioned above. The recipe requires only four ingredients - sour cream / yogurt, some icing sugar to sweeten the sour cream, dried prunes and walnuts.
This goes to Blogging Marathon #49, under the theme of "Weekend Brunch".
 
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chutney Sandwich


Sandwiches can be one of the quick and easy options when doing brunches. One can go with the simple ones like peanut butter - jelly, cheese, nutella or jam sandwiches for kids and some spicier versions for adults like this chutney sandwich.  Butter, green chutney and tomato ketchup add beautiful layers of color and flavor to this Indian style sandwich. Green chutney is kept on the spicier side and is prepared using cilantro, mint leaves, green chillies, lemon juice and salt. The ketchup can even be replaced with sweet chutney. These sandwiches can be prepared in a jiffy as no grilling or toasting is needed. They can be a great addition to a party menu too. Three bread slices yield 4 mini sandwiches and I have given the instructions below for that quantity.
 
Ingredients for each serving:
3 bread slices, crusts removed
1 tbsp. slightly softened butter
1 tbsp. thick green chutney
1 tbsp. tomato ketchup / sweet chutney

Method:
(I am giving numbers to bread slices - 1, 2 & 3 for easy reference.)
* Apply butter on one side of slice #1 and keep the buttered side up.
* Apply green chutney on one side of slice #2 and place it on slice #1 so that chutney applied side rests on the buttered side of slice #1. 
* And now the plain side of slice #2 would be up. Spread butter on that side or it can be omitted if counting calories.
* Apply ketchup / sweet chutney on one side of slice #3 and place it on slice #2 so that ketchup / chutney applied side rests on the buttered side of slice #2. (I repeated one more step with green chutney.)
* Cut diagonally or cut into 4 pieces and serve immediately.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #49, under the theme of "Weekend Brunch".

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mixed Vegetable Rice


The word 'Brunch' is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch. The brunch aka the late morning / the early afternoon meal originated in England in 1800's. And as the name indicates, an array of breakfast and lunch dishes are served in a buffet style during a brunch session. I usually don't do brunches in my home as no one is ready to give up their early morning breakfast for various reasons and besides, I don't have the patience to come up with a feast in the name of a brunch on a weekend. I know you can cook one dish when you don't have company, serve it late and call it a brunch but some how an image of a wide range of colorful and yummy dishes comes to my mind whenever I think of brunch. And so I am talking about those kind of brunches and I don't do them on a normal weekend.
I  had to come up with some 'Weekend Brunch' ideas for this weeks' marathon and being a south Indian, chose to go with a 'rice' dish on the first day. Rice plays a major role in Indian cuisine and especially down south, every meal, including a festive one is built around rice. A rice dish would definitely be the star of the meal if an Indian style buffet is planned and here is one simple yet flavorful 'rice' idea for that kind. This can be a part of a wide range buffet or when served with just some yogurt rice will make a wholesome, filling meal. 
This rice uses a spice powder which adds flavor and aroma to the dish. It is simple to make and can be prepared ahead in large quantity and stored in an airtight container. This is a versatile powder and can be used to prepare rice dishes like these and also spice up gravy style vegetable subzis.

Ingredients for the spice powder:
1/4 cup chana dal / split chick peas
1 tbsp urad dal / skinned black gram
1 tsp dhaniya / coriander seeds
2 cloves
1 piece of one inch cinnamon stick
1 - 2 strands of dagad phool /stone flower / raathi puvvu
10 - 12 red dried red chillies (adjust the quantity as needed)
1 - 2 tbsp. grated dry coconut

Method:
* Dry toast chana dal and urad dal in a pan until they start to change the color. Add the rest of the ingredients in the above list and toast for about 40 - 60 seconds. Turn off the stove and let them cool.
* Grind the ingredients fine or into a slightly coarse powder.
* Store it in an airtight container and use it as needed.
 
Ingredients for the vegetable rice:
1 cup rice (I used sona masuri rice.)
2 - 3 cups mixed vegetables *
2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp chanadal / split chickpeas
1 tsp urad dal / split black gram
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
A handful of cashew halves / peanuts
2 -3 tbsp. spice powder from above
Salt to taste

* I used carrots and potatoes (peeled and cubed) and green beans that are stringed and cut into one inch pieces. Green peas and chayote can be used as well. Use your choice of vegetables that won't turn mushy after cooking.

Method:
* Pressure cook rice adding 2 cups of water. Or rice can be cooked using a rice cooker or in a sauce pan covered, on stove top.
* Heat oil in a pan and add chana dal, urad dal, mustard. Fry for few seconds and add cashews and curry leaves. 
* When the dals and cashews turn golden brown and mustard seeds start to pop, add the vegetables, turn down the heat, cover and cook until done. 
Alternately, vegetables can be steamed or cooked in a microwave, drained and added in the above step.
* Next add the spice powder, salt and mix. Finally add the rice and mix well to combine. Taste and adjust spice powder / salt if any needed.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #49, under the theme of "Weekend Brunch".

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Aloo Paratha ~ Stuffed Potato Flat Bread


I realized that there is a dearth of stuffed parathas at my blog when I signed up for this week's theme of Indian Bread Basket. I haven't featured the most common, delicious and filling Punjabi stuffed breads yet in spite of making them at home now and then. Stuffed parathas can prove to be a nightmare to novice cooks who lack the experience and the technique to nail them. I had my share of woes regarding these in my early days of cooking, especially with the aloo parathas. The stuffing would come out from everywhere while rolling out the parathas and stick to the rolling pin and the board. I frustratingly would roll out rotis instead and grudgingly start cooking a side dish to go with it. Serving those tempting and piping hot parathas in my kitchen seemed like an elusive dream until I learnt the trick. My success rate with stuffed mooli parathas has been good and consistent all these years while with the potato filled ones, it has been a hit and miss situation until I chose to go with the  fool proof method of stuffing between two rolled out parathas and rolling it again.
 
I have provided both the methods of making the parathas but as I mentioned above, the second method is lot easier. And as usual, the spices that go into the stuffing can be omitted / altered according to one's preferences. However remember to keep it on a spicier side since it s used as a stuffing and if not kept spicier, the final parathas taste bland. The following measurements give about 10-12 parathas if stuffed directly (method 1) and about 6 parathas if stuffed between 2 parathas (method 2). 

Ingredients for the stuffing:
3 potatoes (about 1 & 1/2 cooked and mashed potato)
2 tbsp. finely minced cilantro
2 finely minced green chillies that are spicier or red chili powder to taste
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp each - amchur powder / dry mango powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and chaat masala 
Salt to taste

Ingredients for parathas:
2 cups whole wheat flour + extra for dusting
1 - 2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Oil/ghee to toast parathas

Preparing the stuffing:
* Peel and cube potatoes. Wash and drain them completely. Transfer them to a container that fits into a pressure cooker and cook them for up to 3 - 4 whistles. Do not add any water to cook them to ensure that potatoes don't turn soggy. Remove the potatoes after the valve pressure is gone and drain in a colander if any water is present. Cool and mash the potatoes very smooth so that there are not even tiny bit of lumps. Or you can refrigerate the potatoes before mashing, to use them up later.
(Or scrub the potatoes and cut them into big chunks and cook them in water in a sauce pan and mash them. Or microwave them until done.) 
* Add the rest of the ingredients mentioned under 'stuffing' to the mashed potatoes and mix well.

Preparation of dough:
* Combine wheat flour and 1/2 tsp salt in a mixing bowl. Add water in small increments and prepare a soft, pliable dough. (I added about 1 cup minus 2 tbsp. water.)
* Next add oil and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Cover and allow it to rest anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours.
(You can proceed with the below recipe to make parathas at this point or refrigerate it to use the dough within a day or two. If refrigerating, bring the dough to room temperature before rolling out the parathas. Or to quicken the process, cover the dough and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 20 - 30 seconds depending upon the quantity. The refrigerated dough would be ready to work with, in a jiffy this way.)
* Divide the mixture into about 12 portions and roll them smoothly between your palms to shape them into balls.
 
* Work with one dough ball at a time and keep the rest covered. 

Rolling parathas: (Method 1)
* Roll a dough ball into 3 - 4 inch disc and place about 1 - 2 tbsp. of filling, depending upon how comfortable you are with the rolling
part. Place the stuffing at the center of the disc, leaving the edges free.
 
* Bring the edges together so that there are no gaps and the stuffing is inside intact.

* Press it into a disc taking care that there are no gaps anywhere so that the stuffing wouldn't spill out while rolling.
 
* Roll the disc carefully into a 5 to 6 inch thin circle, dusting with flour if necessary. Take care not to break it or let the filling coming out. Repeat the steps of paratha making with the remaining dough.


Rolling parathas: (Method 2)
* Roll out a couple of balls into 4 -5 inch discs, dusting with flour if necessary.
 
* Spread 1 - 2 tbsp. curry evenly on one disc, leaving out the edges.
 
* Cover it with another rolled disc. 

* Neatly seal them so that the stuffing wouldn't spill out when they are rolled again.
 
* Dust the work surface and stuffed disc lightly and proceed with the rolling part. Gently roll it into a thin disc.
* Heat iron griddle or a shallow, non stick pan and place the rolled out paratha.
 * Toast the parathas, brushing generously with oil / ghee, until both sides are cooked well and brown spots appear.
* Repeat the steps of rolling and toasting the parathas with the remaining dough balls and the stuffing. Serve them hot with yogurt and a spicy pickle.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #49, under the theme of "Indian Bread Basket".

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mooli Parathas ~ Stuffed Radish / Daikon FlatBreads



The second entry under "Indian Bread Basket" theme this week is going to be these soft and yummy mooli parathas. Mooli is the Hindi word for radish while the parathas are the unleavened flat breads. The white colored one is the commonly available variety of radish in India and so that is what gets used in these parathas for the stuffing. Daikon is however a very good substitute for radish in this recipe and I regularly substitute it for radish in other recipes as well. Mooli paratha is one of the stuffed breads commonly prepared in north Indian kitchens and needs no special side dishes to go along with it. A spicy pickle and some good home made yogurt will do.
Preparing stuffed parathas like these need some experience since there is the possibility of the stuffing spilling out while rolling out the parathas, making it a frustrating experience, especially to a novice. Another fool proof method of preparing a stuffed paratha is rolling out 2 identical sized parathas, placing the stuffing on one paratha and covering it with the other one. Seal the edges and roll it again. Coming to the stuffing, it can be kept simple and raw as I have done. Or spices can be added according to one's preference and further the radish can be sauteed to make sure that it is dry to stuff. I use it raw and it doesn't make any difference with the final result.

Ingredients: (Make 8 parathas)
Oil / ghee to make parathas
 For the outer layer dough:
1.5 cups wheat flour / atta + extra for dusting
1 - 2 tbsp oil (optional)
Salt to taste
For the stuffing:
1.5 to 2 cups peeled and grated radish / daikon
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
2 finely minced green chili


Preparation of dough:
* Combine wheat flour, salt and oil in a mixing bowl. Add the radish water if using. Add water as much as needed to form a soft, pliable dough. Cover and leave to rest for about an hour.

Preparation of stuffing:
* Add salt and grated radish to a bowl or a colander and just mix to combine. Keep it aside for about 30 minutes to an hour.

* Working with a handful of mixture at a time, squeeze out the water as much as you can from the radish. This is done in order to have a dry stuffing. The radish water can be either discarded or used to prepare the roti dough.
* Add minced cilantro and chillies to the squeezed radish and mix well.

Stuffing the parathas:
* Divide the dough into 8 portions and shape them into balls by rolling between your palms. Work with one dough ball at a time while keeping the rest covered.
* Roll a dough ball into 3 - 4 inch disc and place about 1 - 2 tbsp. of filling, depending upon how comfortable you are with the rolling
part. Try with a little amount of stuffing initially, if you are a beginner. Place the stuffing at the center of the disc, leaving the edges free.
* Bring the edges together so that there are no gaps and the stuffing is inside intact.
* Press it into a disc taking care that there are no gaps anywhere so that the stuffing wouldn't spill out while rolling.
* Roll the disc carefully into a 5 to 6 inch thin circle, dusting with flour if necessary. Take care not to break it or let the filling coming out. Repeat the steps of paratha making with the remaining dough. One can roll out parathas and fry them simultaneously. A beginner may roll out 4- 5 parathas at once and then start the frying process. Remember to cover the other rolled out parathas.
Making Parathas:
Heat a shallow non stick pan or an iron griddle. Place the paratha at the center of the griddle and fry until there are brown spots on both sides, drizzling with oil / ghee in between. Click here for a picture tutorial on how to toast the parathas.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #49, under the theme of "Indian Bread Basket".

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