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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chocolate Chip - Oatmeal Cookies (Version 2)

KAF is my to go website for baking recipes since most of their recipes are foolproof and the user reviews gives me an idea how a recipe is going to turn out and in case if it needs any tweaks or twists. These chocolate chip - oatmeal cookies come from there and are supposedly their recipe of the year for 2015. An apt choice I would say. This recipe yields addictive cookies with the right amount of chewiness and crispiness. My daughter loves chocolate chip cookies and I had bookmarked them earlier for her. I tried a small batch yesterday making it an eggless version and got a big happy thumbs up from her. The only regret I had was that I should have made more cookies as mine were gone in a day. They are just subtly soft at the center and have a crispy exterior if baked for the mentioned time. If one prefers crispy cookies, they must be left in the oven few minutes more after turning off the oven. Cookies can be made bigger or smaller than the size mentioned in the recipe below and the serving size would differ. I used a tbsp. sized scoop and got sixteen, 2.5" sized cookies. 

Ingredients: (Yield 16 cookies)
1.5 tsp. flax meal or a substitute for half an egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

* Combine flax meal and 1.5 tbsp. water in a small bowl and set it aside for about 4 -5 minutes.
* Whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
* Preheat the oven to 325 deg F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it.
* Beat butter and sugars together until smooth. Next add the flax egg and vanilla and beat well once again. Add the flour mixture into the butter bowl and mix until thoroughly incorporated, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips.
* Scoop out tbsp. sized portions of dough onto the cooking sheet, leaving about 1.5 to 2 inches between cookies.
* Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes, until they are light golden brown, with slightly darker edges. They continue to bake as they cool on the pan and so it's ok if they look slightly shiny in the middle. Remove the cookies from the oven, and as soon as they're set enough to handle, transfer them to racks to cool.
( If baked for the mentioned time, they wouldn't be crispy when they come out of the oven. When they cool down, they crisp around the edges while remaining softer at the center. I baked them for 15 minutes and turned off the oven. I left half of the cookies in the oven itself for few minutes more and those cookies had turned out perfectly crispy.) 

These cookies are going to be a part of
1. Blogging Marathon #52.
2. Srivalli's 'Kids' Delight' event hosted by Sandhya this month with the theme "Snacking all the Way".


Monday, May 18, 2015

Aratikaya Bajji / Plantain Bajji ~ Indian style Plantain Fritters

Bajjis are the Indian version spicy vegetable fritters where vegetables are given a chickpea flour paste coating before the deep frying part. They make a great evening snack any given day and the most commonly used vegetables to make bajjis are onion slices, sliced potatoes, eggplants, snake gourd, ridgegourd or plantains. I make bajjis rarely but they used to be a regular fare on a rainy evening or a part of a festive meal in my mother's kitchen. I had made these last week but hardly had a minute to capture them before everyone gobbled them up. I placed them in a random bowl and took about a couple of pictures. I later realized that I forgot to even consider the perfectly round bajjis in the hurry albeit every bajji was yummy. :)

3/4 cup garbanzo flour / besan
2 tbsp. rice flour
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida powder (optional)
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 small sized plantain (green colored)
Oil to deep fry (I used canola oil.) 

* Heat the oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat. Don't bring it to the point of smoking hot.
* Sieve garbanzo flour into a mixing bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the plantain and oil to the bowl and mix to combine. Next add water and make a batter of semi-thick consistency. It should be neither thick nor watery but should be able to coat when the plantain slices are dipped in it.
* Peel the plantain and slice thinly. Drop the slices either in a bowl of cold water or in the batter to prevent the slices turning brown.
* Drop a pinch of batter into the oil to test whether the oil is ready for frying. If the batter sizzles and comes to the surface immediately, it's ready to fry. If the batter sinks and doesn't rise, the oil needs some more heating. Dip the plantain slices in the batter so that it is coated well on both sides and drop it into the oil carefully. Repeat this step and drop as many slices as the pan could hold without over crowding.
* Fry until they turn golden brown. Remove them with a spatula and drain on absorbent towels. 
* Repeat the steps with the remaining plantain slices and the batter.
* These bajjis can be served as it is or with chutney on the side.

These bajji are going to be a part of
1. Blogging Marathon #52.
2. Srivalli's 'Kids' Delight' event hosted by Sandhya this month with the theme "Snacking all the Way".


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Banana - Walnut Muffins ~ No Egg, No Butter / Oil Recipe

As usual a couple of bananas were sitting on my kitchen table untouched until they went overripe. I knew if they were served in the form of muffins or a bread they would be gone in no time though my kids are not keen on eating the fruit itself. I have a few tried and tested recipes that I keep recycling when it comes to muffins but this time decided to try a new version and ended up landing here. I however tweaked the recipe to make them healthier and changed into an eggless and oil / butter free version and also added walnuts. I made a smaller portion and replaced half of the all purpose flour with wheat flour. The muffins were moist and good and it was hard to tell that there was no extra fat added to them. The color of the muffins were lighter when done. I turned off the oven and forgot to remove the muffins until a little later and they turned darker in shade though there was not a significant change in the texture of the muffins.

Servings: 8
6 tbsp. whole wheat flour
6 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
5 to 6 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup mashed banana (I used very ripe 1 & 1/2 bananas.)
2.5 tbsp. apple sauce
2 tbsp. yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts (Optional)

* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
* Grease a muffin tray or use the paper liners.
* Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt and keep it aside.
* Combine mashed banana, apple sauce, sugar, yogurt and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Fold in the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Finally add the walnuts if using and stir once.
* Spoon the mixture into muffin cups, filling up to 2/3rds.
* Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. I baked for 28 minutes.
(Mini muffins need to be baked for about 10 - 15 minutes.)

Here is the crumb of the muffin though this was from another batch I baked later.

These muffins are going to be a part of
1. Blogging Marathon #52.
2. Srivalli's 'Kids' Delight' event hosted by Sandhya this month with the theme "Snacking all the Way".


Monday, May 11, 2015

Temple Prasadams ~ Pillayarpatti Modakam

Tamilnadu is known for it's century old temples and I had a hunch that probably I could find a treasure trove of traditional temple recipes if I looked at in the right place. After a few searches on the web, I ended up on a page where I found a list of popular temples in the state and the food associated with them. Yesterday's Azhagar kovil dosa was on that list too though I found it before this search. There was a mention of Karpaga Vinayagar temple of Pillayarpatti on that list, which happens to be an ancient rock cut temple, near Karaikudi. The name of the town is derived from the word 'Pillayar', a Tamil word for Ganesha and obviously the presiding deity of the temple is Lord Ganesha.
This modakam / mothagam is made and distributed as prasadam in the Pillayar temple and when I looked for the recipe, I landed at Sharmi's Place. It sounded similar to Andhra's undrallu recipe albeit a sweeter version. I halved her recipe as there was no one else to share with me and got about nine modakam. They were subtly sweet and in spite of that they were so yummy that I ended up eating a few skipping my lunch. I went by my regular undrallu making method and ended up adding more water than the original recipe mentioned. However still mine were not looking that moist as in the original recipe and I am guessing it is because of the coarser rava I used. 

Ingredients: (Yield 9 modakam)
1/2 cup rice (uncooked) / rice rava
2 tbsp. yellow moong dal
6 - 8 tbsp. jaggery
2 tbsp. fresh shredded coconut
1 tbsp. ghee + extra for greasing

* Dry toast rice for a couple of minutes and set aside. This step can be skipped if using rice rava. Dry roast moong dal until it starts to turn golden brown. When both rice and moong dal are at room temperature, transfer them to a grinder and coarsely powder them, like rava. (I used the store bought rice rava and just coarsely ground the moong dal.)
* Heat a tsp. of ghee and lightly toast the rava mixture for a couple of minutes.
*  Dissolve jaggery in about 1&1/2 cups water and strain for any impurities. (I skip this step as the jaggery I buy usually is good.) Heat the jaggery water until it starts to boil.
* Lower the heat and add the rice-moong mixture in a slow flow, continuously stirring. 
* Cover and cook until the mixture looks almost done. Add the ghee, coconut and cardamom and stir for about a minute.
* Turn off the stove and let the mixture cool enough to handle.
* Grease your palm with ghee and shape the mixture into lime sized balls. Place them in a greased container.
* Steam them for about 10 minutes and serve warm.

This is my post under 'Traditional temple Recipes'. Check the blogging marathon page to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking for BM#52.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Temple Prasadams ~ Azhagar Kovil Dosai / Black Gram Dosa

I was stuck in the rut while planning for the theme of 'Traditional Temple Recipes' this week. As a south Indian, the popular rice based ones kept floating in front of my eyes whenever I thought about it and in fact I even cooked a rice dish. Then to break the monotony, I decided to explore the food cooked / offered in other states' temples than trying the ones I already know about. In the process, I got lucky and came across these Azhagar kovil dosai. Honestly I had never heard about dosas being distributed as a prasad anywhere and this one seemed interesting.
These flavorful dosas are served as prasadam in Azhagar kovil, a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Azhagar refers to the Lord and kovil meaning temple in Tamil. This temple is situated a few kilometers away from Madurai, Tamilnadu. Going by the posts online, I don't think this is a well known dish among the non-locals. I read somewhere that devotees from surrounding areas offer rice and pulses to the temple which in turn are made into these delicious and filling dosas. 
The dosa batter is made with rice and whole black gram and it is flavored with spices before just making dosas. I am not new to the whole urad dal dosas but I was surprised to see how the ordinary dosas were elevated in the taste and flavor departments by the addition of a few spices. They were tasting like a soft version of temple vadas because of the urad dal and the spices. We loved it so much that I have already made it twice in the past two weeks.  
Traditionally these are made into thick, crisp dosas, generously toasting with ghee. One can of course add oil to cut calories but I would highly recommend trying these dosas with ghee. It adds a huge flavor factor, making these dosas stand out. I made some dosas thinner for my husband, who likes dosas that way and for me I made thicker ones. These are spicy and flavorful enough on their own that they do not need a side dish to go with. I noticed that a chutney masks the flavors of the dosa. However if you wish to serve the dosas with chutney, you can go ahead.

Ingredients to make a dozen dosas:
1 cup rice (I used extra long grain.)
1/2 cup whole black gram / Urad dal with husk
Salt to taste
1 tsp. ginger powder / dry ginger
2 tsp. black pepper corns
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 stalk of curry leaves
Ghee / oil to toast dosas (I recommend ghee.)

* Wash and soak urad dal for about 8 hours in water, such that it is immersed well in water, through out the soaking period. Similarly wash and soak rice for about 4 hours. Or you can soak both rice and urad dal together for about 8 hours.
* Gently rub the urad dal with fingers and discard the husk if you prefer. I decided not to do so. Grind rice and urad dal together to a consistency, thicker than regular dosas. It is ok if the batter is ground slightly coarser. 
* Transfer the batter to a large container. Add salt to the batter and mix well.
* Allow it to ferment overnight or about 6 - 8 hours depending upon the weather.
* Grind ginger, black pepper, cumin seeds and curry leaves coarsely.
* Add the ground spice powder to the fermented batter and mix well.
* Heat an iron griddle or a shallow nonstick pan. Pour a ladle-ful of batter at the center of the griddle and spread lightly.
* Keep the dosa thicker than the regular version. Drizzle ghee and cook until both sides turn golden.
* Serve them hot.

Check the blogging marathon page to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking for BM#52.