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Friday, January 18, 2019

Karela Batata Nu Shaak ~ Bitter Gourd and Potato Curry

Bitter gourd, a vegetable despised by many and loved by a few actually happens to be a healthy gourd and in fact is quite beneficial for diabetics. It is a commonly consumed vegetable in India though the vegetable does complete justice to its name and everyone at home may not be fond of it. Today's recipe is an interesting and a different kind of bitter gourd preparation from Gujarati cuisine. Give this recipe a try if you happen to like the vegetable. 

I happened to see this recipe here while looking for a different style of bitter gourd preparation. At least, it was different to me who uses bitter gourd in south Indian style preparations at home. My husband loves both bitter gourd and potato and this one seemed right in his alley and I decided to try it. The addition of cashews and sesame seeds lend an interesting touch to this delicious curry. This curry is very easy to prepare and bitter gourd lovers would definitely love it. We felt that the addition of onions would enhance the taste further.

Check out my other bitter gourd recipes' links below if you are interested.
Microwave bitter gourd crisps
Kaakarakaaya Podi
Haagalakaayi Gojju
Haagalakaayi Gojju (Version 2)
Bitter Gourd Curry (Andhra Style)
Bharwan Karela
Kaakarakaaya Pachadi

Ingredients:
3 big sized bitter gourds (3 cups cut pieces) 
Salt to taste
1 potato (1 cup cut cubes)
2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 cup broken / coarsely crushed cashews
2 tbsp. toasted white sesame seeds
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. chili powder or to taste
1/4 tsp. dried mango powder / amchur
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
2 tbsp. minced cilantro + extra for garnish

Directions:
* Wash and trim the edges of bitter gourds. Quarter them and discard the center pith and seeds if mature. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 3 pieces and cut again into 1 inch strips. Add the cut bitter gourd pieces and about a tsp. of salt to a bowl and toss well to coat. Keep it aside for about 10 to 15 minutes.  After the resting period, squeeze out the excess water from the bitter gourd. (This step is done to cut down some of the bitterness.)

* Heat oil in a non stick pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add asafoetida, turmeric and squeezed bitter gourd pieces. Mix well, cover and cook on low flame for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice in between.
* Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into cubes or strips.
* Add the potato pieces and continue to cook stirring occasionally,  until they are done and the bitter gourd have turned crisp, about another 8 to 10 minutes.
* Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and cook on medium flame for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

This goes to Blogging Marathon under 'Easy Dinner Recipes' Theme.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Dahi Papad ki Subzi

The arid climate and scarcity of fresh vegetables  have greatly dictated traditional Rajasthani cooking. Various kinds of sun-dried spicy lentil wafers and sun dried vegetables replaced fresh produce  whenever necessary owing to the harsh climate of the region. Food that can last for several days and food that does not need heating were preferred. In spite of all that, the state's cuisine is one of the  finest ones in the Indian culinary world and the signature dishes of the state are enjoyed through out the nation. 

Today's dahi papad ki subzi aka a side dish prepared with lentil wafers (papad) and yogurt (dahi) is a fine example of the region's culinary creativity. This is a simple dish prepared without any vegetables, yet a delicious one with a fine balance of flavors coming from simple spices used. It sounds similar to a kadhi from the other regions of India but the addition of papad and boondi elevate the dish. There are variations to this recipe and some include onion and tomato as well. Adding boondi is optional. I saw a Sanjeev Kapoor's version where boondi was included and so, I added them to the subzi. The version I am posting today is a very easy and quick one to prepare and do not have onion or tomato. It can be prepared in under 10 minutes. 
Ingredients:
1 cup yogurt
1 tbsp. chickpea flour (besan)
About 1 cup water
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. finely chopped / grated ginger
A pinch of asafoetida
2 red chillies, broken into small bits
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. garam masala
2 - 3 medium sized papads / Indian lentil wafers
1/4 cup plain boondi (fried, chickpea flour drops) - optional
Minced cilantro to garnish

Directions:
* Whisk yogurt and chickpea flour together to an even consistency. 
* Toast papad in a microwave or on a tawa and break them into about 2 inch sized pieces.
* Heat oil in a non stick pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add ginger and saute for a minute. Next add red chillies and asafoetida and saute for about 20 seconds. 
* Add the yogurt mixture, water, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and salt. Stir well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously. Lower the heat and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. If the mixture appears too thick, add extra water. Add broken papad pieces and boondi to the yogurt mixture and cook for another two minutes. Add garam masala, stir well and turn off the stove.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.

This goes to Blogging Marathon under 'Easy Dinner Recipes' Theme.
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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Eggless Moroccan Semolina - Almond Cookies

I had come across these Moroccan cookies at New York Times online edition which in turn were adapted from"Dorie's Cookies" by Dorie Greenspan.  These cookies are made with a combination of semolina flour and almond flour and I made them eggless. In case if you don't have almond flour, it can be made at home by grinding the almonds with the skin on if you wish or after drying the blanched and skinned almonds. Semolina flour adds a sandy texture to cookies while the almond flour adds richness. These are a version of crinkle cookies if not for the thumb impression. These cookies though look plain are delicious with a hint of citrus flavor and a lingering aroma of orange blossom water.

I halved the original recipe and gave the measurements below. However I quartered the ingredients from the original recipe for my cookies. (I  guess it is not confusing. That means I further halved the ingredients from the below recipe.)  I baked them on a lined, large cookie sheet for 16 minutes and got around 16 cookies.  

Ingredients: (Yield around 30 cookies)
1 tbsp. flax meal + 3 tbsp. water
3/4 cup + 3 tbsp. semolina flour 
1 cup almond flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
Zest from a lemon
2 tbsp. any flavorless oil (I used canola oil.)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. orange blossom water (optional)
Confectioner's sugar for dredging

Method:
* Combine the flax-meal and water in a small bowl and keep aside for five minutes. 
* Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
* Whisk together semolina, almond flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. 
* Add sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment or to a bowl in which one use a hand mixer. Grate the lemon zest over sugar and rub them together until sugar is moist. Add flax egg and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Next add oil and continue beating for another 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and orange blossom water if using. Turn off the mixer. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix them in on low speed. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix only until dry ingredients disappear into the dough, which will be thick.
* Grease your palms and roll out about a tbsp. sized dough between your palms to a ball and coat in confectioners' sugar. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. If your hands get sticky in between rolling the dough balls, wash and grease your palms again and start rolling.
* Place balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Push down the center of each cookie with thumb, pressing firmly enough to make an indentation and causing the edges to crack.
* Bake until cookies are lightly colored, about 14 to 16 minutes, rotating pans top to bottom and front to back after 8 minutes. They will be golden at the bottom, puffed and cracked and just firm to the touch. Carefully lift the cookies off sheets and onto racks. 
* Store them in a covered container.

This goes to Blogging Marathon under 'Recipes from Southern Hemisphere' Theme.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Caakiri ~ African Pudding

Caakiri is a pudding from Western Africa prepared using a grain and a local version of fermented milk. The word 'caakiri' refers to the grain from which the dish is made and as well as the finished pudding. It also goes by other regional names of chakery, chakrey, thiacry, and tiakri. The preparation is similar to a rice pudding though it do not contain eggs. This can be eaten both as a snack or a dessert, though it is on the sweeter side. 

It was traditionally made using local African grains such as fonio which happens to be a super grain like quinoa, millet, maize or even black eyed peas. The modern version uses couscous though I used millet here. If using couscous, cook according to package directions. It is speculated that the modern version sweetened caakiri might have it's origins in a similar unsweetened dish that once might have been served as a main course. It might have evolved into the modern version with the passage of time and the easy, increased available ingredients like sugar. The dairy combination used here is a substitute for the African version fermented milk used to prepare the caakiri. I got the info and recipe of caakiri from the congocookbook. I have tried few recipes from this site before and the site offers a wide variety of everyday African recipes that are traditional and rustic. 

Ingredients:
1 cup of millet
A pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup plain / flavored yogurt (I used Greek yogurt.)
1/2 cup sour cream
3 - 4 tbsp. sugar (adjust the quantity as needed.)
Any preferred flavoring (like vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon or any others.)
Optional garnishes - Raisins / Crushed pineapple / Mint

Method:
* Wash millet in two exchanges of water and drain. Pressure cook millet adding 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt for 3 whistles. If not using pressure cooker, add millet, salt and 3 cups of water to a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and cook until all the water evaporates, about 17 to 20 minutes. Let cool a little and fluff with a fork. 
* Combine evaporated milk, yogurt, sour cream together in a bowl. Next add millet and mix well. Add sugar according to taste and mix well. Add flavoring of your choice.
* Scoop caakiri into serving bowls and garnish with raisins / crushed pineapple / mint. 

This goes to Blogging Marathon under 'Recipes from Southern Hemisphere' Theme.

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