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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kesar Lassi

I love desserts and if I am at a restaurant enjoying a buffet meal, I make sure to leave some room for the desserts. If ordering by menu, my meal would end with rasmalai or a cold beverage. As I am doing a restaurant menu based theme this week, I thought of choosing a beverage of Indian origin as my other courses of meal are Indian. Among the list on Puranmal menucard, they had special kesar lassi and I chose to go with it. 
Lassis are yogurt based drinks, prepared adding sugar / salt and sometimes along with crushed cumin. There are fruit based sweet variations as well. These refreshing drinks provide a respite during the scorching summer weather and they are commonly prepared in Punjab and other North Indian states. Wiki mentions that this kesar lassi is popular in Pakistan's 'Sindh' Province and in the state of Rajasthan in India. 
When preparing lassi go with the freshly prepared dahi / yogurt and chill it for few hours for that 'cold' effect. If it is not chilled, try adding some crushed ice but limit to one or two ice cubes per glass as the lassi would end up on a diluted side. I added some almonds and pistachios since the name of the recipe was Special Kesar Lassi. You can blend them along with the yogurt or add some as garnish. Or if you are looking for that 'malai maarke' kind, add some malai / cream and enjoy.

Ingredients: (2 servings)
A pinch of saffron
1 cup thick, fresh yogurt (Chilled would be best.)
1/4 cup chilled milk
Icing sugar to taste
2 pinches of cardamom powder
Nuts to garnish (optional)
2 -3 tbsp crushed ice (optional)

Method:
* Soak saffron strands in a Tbsp. of warm water or warm milk for about 15 minutes.
* Blend well yogurt, milk, sugar, saffron mixture and cardamom until frothy using a blender or the traditional wooden churner. If desired, nuts can be added as well while blending.
* Add some crushed ice if using to the glass and pour lassi over it. Garnish with a few saffron strands and nuts if desired and serve immediately.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pudina Paratha

For this week's blogging marathon, I am going with the theme 'One menu card - 3 different courses' and I picked Puranmal menu card from the given choices. I am going with 'Pudina Parathas' on Day 1.
These parathas can impress anyone with their looks alone. The flecks of emerald 'mint' and the prominent layers are absolutely appealing. These are made 'lachha paratha' style, resulting in flaky, flavorful parathas. They make a great meal with minimal efforts since they don't need any side dishes as such. We enjoyed them with just plain yogurt and a pickle. 

Ingredients: (Yields 5 parathas)
1 cup atta / wheat flour + extra for dusting
Salt to taste
1 cup tightly packed mint/pudina leaves or 1/2 cup packed mint leaves + about 1 tbsp. mint powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala
2 tbsp. butter
Oil to make parathas

Method:
* Wash and finely chop about 1/2 cup of pudina leaves. 
* Combine flour, salt and chopped pudina leaves in a mixing bowl. Add sufficient water to make a firm, pliable dough. Cover and let the dough rest for about an hour or so.
* In the mean while, wash and pat dry the remaining 1/2 cup mint leaves. Toast them on low flame until they turn crispy. Cool and grind them fine. Ignore this step if using mint powder.
* Mix mint powder and chaat masala in a bowl and keep aside.
* Divide the dough into 5 portions and roll them into balls. Work with one dough ball each time and keep the rest covered.
* Roll one ball into thin circle of about 6 inches, dusting with flour if necessary. Smear with butter and sprinkle some chaat masala - mint powder mixture all over it.
* Now comes the pleating part. Start from the upper end of the disc. Fold the disc into pleats using your hands, as shown below.
* Just pinch at the edges after folding the disc like a fan, if it is not done so already while pleating .
* Then twist the pleated disc into a tight roll.
* Again roll it into a thin circle of about 6 inches diameter. Dust it with flour if necessary.
* Heat a tawa / shallow frying pan. Fry one roti at a time on medium heat. Place the rolled disc onto the hot griddle. Toast for about a minute. Small bubbles start to appear on the surface. Then flip it to the other side using a spatula. Add 1/2 tsp oil around the edges and spread around 1/4 tsp oil on the surface. Toast the other side too. Keep moving around and pressing the roti a little with the spatula for uniform toasting including the edges. Flip the roti one more time if required. Properly toasted roti / parathas have small brown spots all over it. Remove the roti and keep it covered. Repeat the steps with the remaining dough balls.
* Serve them with a spicy curry or some pickle and yogurt.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

8th Blog Anniversary & Belagavi Kunda / Belgaum Kunda

My entry into the blogging world happened this week, eight years ago. As my husband points out often, I am the kind who looses interest in things when the initial bubble of excitement fades away. Surprisingly, blogging did not make it into that list and my love for cooking has sustained my enthusiasm in food blogging over these years. Thanks to my friends and readers (even silent ones :)) who  have been a part of this wonderful journey. 
  
Now to blogging. I am going with "North Karnataka' cuisine today and decided to go with a dessert since I am in a celebration mood. Though I lived in southern Karnataka, I have tasted some authentic food from the northern region. Thanks to one of our Dharwad friends, I first got to taste their bhakris, jhunka, authentic pedas, their special chivda and much more when I was a tiny kid. And my best friend is married to a North Karnataka guy and during my visits to India, she keeps feeding me some of their signature dishes. My choice would have been Dharwad peda for today if I had known the secret of creating the magic.

North Karnataka obviously covers the northern parts of Karnataka and is mostly semi arid with a hot climate. It includes the districts of Belgaum, Bidar, Bijapur, Bagalkote, Bellary, Dharwad, Gadag, Gulbarga, Haveri, Koppala, Raichur, Uttara Kannada, and Yadagiri. North Karnataka's history and culture date back to prehistoric times. One of the prominent dynasties that ruled the area was Vijayanagara empire, (that is considered to be the greatest medieval Hindu empire) with it's capital city as Vijayanagara, the present day Bellary. Belagavi / Belgaum is the headquarters of the present day North Karnataka.
 
Now to kunda. Kunda is a yummy sweet prepared with milk and sugar and is a specialty of the Belagavi region. I read somewhere that kunda was born accidentally. A mithaiwala who was boiling milk forgot to turn off the stove when he left the store. By the time he came back, he noticed the solidified milk and decided to add some khoya as well. He cooked it further, liked it and named it kunda. I got this recipe from a regional television show and most of the recipes I found online are similar to it and do not include khoya. The recipe is quite simple and easy, especially if you plan to prepare it when  you are taking care of some thing else in the kitchen. It involves stirring now and then and you would not notice the time if you are involved in something task. :) 

There are three steps in making kunda.
1. Curdling the milk
2. Caramelizing the sugar
3. Cooking the milk-sugar mixture to a thick consistency like halwa (The last step takes about 20 minutes but there is no need to hover around the stove.) 

Ingredients:
1 - 2 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp. semolina / rava
2 cups milk
1 - 2 tbsp. yogurt
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (elaichi powder)
Slivered nuts to garnish

Method:
1. Melt ghee in a sauce pan, preferably a non-stick one. Add semolina and roast it until it starts to turn golden brown.
  2. Add milk to the same pan and bring it to a boil.
 

* Then add yogurt, stir and turn off the stove after a couple of minutes. The milk would have curdled by the time.
3. Take another non stick pan and add sugar to it. Do not add any water to sugar. 
 
* Heat the sugar on a medium flame in a non stick pan. Just shake the pan holding the handle. You start to notice sugar melting after a few minutes.
 
* Just keep tilting the pan instead of using a spoon to stir it. When the sugar melts and attains a good amber color, turn off the stove.
 
4. Now add the caramelized sugar to the milk pan in step 2. 
 
* Cook the mixture on slow flame keep stirring the mixture  intermittently until it thickens and comes to a halwa consistency.
5.  Add cardamom powder, stir and turn off the stove.
 
 6. Garnish with nuts before serving.

Notes:
1. A tbsp. of edible gum powder was also added in the original recipe. If using it, add it to the ghee before semolina and toast it.
2. It thickens a little after cooling and so cook accordingly.
3. Using a non stick pan makes the preparation easier and mess-free. Otherwise there is a possibility of mixture getting stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mangalore Buns

Event: BM #47
Theme: One State - Different Cuisines
My Choice: Karnataka - Mangalorean Cuisine 
Course: Snack

From Kodagu, we are moving towards the neighboring district of Dakshina Kannada to taste one of the popular cuisines of Karnataka. Mangalorean cuisine to be precise. 'Dakshina Kannada' was formerly known as South Canara and Mangalore is the headquarters of this coastal district. Udupi district was carved out of 'Dakshina Kannada' a few years ago. And so basically, Mangalorean cuisine consists of 'Udupi' cuisine and cuisines of 'Mangalorean' communities for an easy reference. However Mangalorean cuisine collectively reflects the cuisine of 'Tulunadu' region. (Tulunadu consists of the above mentioned Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka and the northern parts of Kasargod district in Kerala.) I think it is quite confusing enough for the uninitiated.
Udupi cuisine has gone global and this vegetarian cuisine needs no introduction. The famed 'masala dose' has it's origin in Udupi. The cuisine takes it name from the temple town of Udupi, situated on the southwestern coast of India. It has it's origin in the Astha mathas of Udupi founded by Sri Madhvacharya.Whereas Mangalore / Mangalooru is an important port city situated between Arabian sea and the Western Ghats.
One of my close friends happens to be from Udupi and my parents' neighbors for 25 years had been Mangaloreans. I therefore have a fair idea about their food. Though Wikipedia says that Mangaloreans eat spicy food, I beg to differ. They prepare mildly spicy food and coconut is a must in their cooking. They use a variety of red chillies which gives a beautiful orange-red hue to sambhar but is very mildly spicy. Jackfruit, breadfruit, bamboo shoots, yellow cucumber, malabar spinach, colocasia leaves are commonly used. Rice is a staple food and fish is widely used in the non-vegetarian cooking because of the proximity to the coast.

I chose to go with Mangalore buns for today's post. They are unique to the Mangalore-Udupi region and are not served anywhere else outside, in the state. The 'bun' in the title is quite misleading, considering the fact that these are not baked. In fact these golden brown beauties are deep fried. I guess they are called so because of their soft, chewy texture. Though these buns are also referred to as banana pooris, they have no relation with pooris whatsoever. The texture is close to a bun and they are mildy sweet. These yummy buns can be served plain with a cup of coffee or with some coconut chutney if you prefer.
 Do you see now why they are called buns?

Ingredients: (Yield about 9 buns)
1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour + extra for dusting 
1 big sized banana
2 - 3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. yogurt 
1 tbsp. ghee
Oil to fry

Method:
* Peel and mash the banana finely making sure that there are no lumps. Add sugar, mix well and keep it aside.
* Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Next add banana mixture, yogurt and ghee and knead it into a firm dough. If the dough is sticky to touch, add a few tbsp. of flour to make it firm. Usually water is not needed to prepare this dough. However if the dough is too hard, wet your hands and try to fix the dough or add water in tsp. increments and work with the dough.
* Cover and rest the dough for 4 - 8 hours depending upon your convenience.
* When ready to fry the buns, heat about 2 cups of oil in a small kadai or a frying pan. Drop a small pinch of the dough into the pan. If it floats immediately to the surface then the oil is ready to fry. If the dough does not rise to the surface then heat the oil for a couple of minutes more and fry.
* Divide the dough into 9 portions and roll them into balls and keep them covered. 
* Work with one ball at each time and roll it into about 4 cm. circle. Roll it a little thicker than pooris and dust with floor if needed.
* Set the heat of the stove somewhere between low and medium. Slowly slide the rolled disc into the hot oil and fry for few seconds. Gently press the disc with the back of the spatula so that it puffs up nicely. Flip it and fry for few more seconds and remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent towels.
* Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough.
* Serve warm with coconut chutney or plain.
* They can be stored up to a couple of days.

Notes:
* The authentic version uses plain flour. For a healthy alternative, half or full quantity of the flour can be substituted with atta / whole wheat flour. However substituting flour with wheat flour would not retain the puffiness of the buns longer.
* Use overripe bananas to make these buns.
* 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds can be added too while preparing the dough but I usually skip it.
* These buns are subtly sweet and so add sugar accordingly.
* Usually these buns puff up nicely while frying. However if they don't, no need to panic since that would alter only the looks and not the flavor / taste of the buns.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Kadambuttu

Event: BM #47
Theme: One State - Different Cuisines
My Choice: Karnataka State - Kodagu Cuisine
Course: Breakfast

I chose to go with the Kodagu region for today. Living in Karnataka for most part of my life, I roughly have an idea about the geogarphy and the customs of the region. Kodagu that also goes by the anglicized name 'Coorg' and often dubbed as 'Scotland of India" is located in the Western Ghats. This administrative district in the southwestern region of Karnataka happens to be one of the top hill stations in India and a great tourist spot. Most of Kodagu's economy is based on agriculture, plantations and forestry. Kodagu is famous for it's coffee plantations and in fact, coffee revenue helped Kodagu to become one of the richest districts in India. Besides coffee, Kodagu is famous for its unique variety of oranges and forest honey. I remember that when I was younger, we always used to get Coorg honey through one of my father's colleagues.

Kodagu has a rich wildlife and has three wildlife sanctuaries and one national park. The river Kaveri originates in this region at Talakaveri. The river on the banks is dedicated to Lord Brahma, one among the only two Brahma temples in India. Other attractions include Bhagamandala, Nagarahole national park, Iruppu falls, Abbey falls and others. Bhagamandala is a 'Triveni Sangama' - where three rivers Kaveri, Kanika and Sujyothi meet.

The dominant community of the Kodagu region is Kodava, an ethnic indigenous group who were chiefly farmers and militiamen in the past. Guns and swords are essential for their religion, as ritual cult objects and they hold rights to carry light arms. Even a Kodava wedding is an unique affair. No priests are involved like in other Indian communities.

Traditional Kodava Dress:
One can easily recognize kodavas based on their traditional garbs, which of course they (especially men) seldom wear when living in the other parts of the state. I think with the changing ways of the modern world, Kodavas probably wear the traditional dress only on special occasions. The traditional dress for men includes a 'Kupya' - a knee length, half sleeved black coat worn over a full sleeved white shirt. A maroon and golden colored sash is tied at the waist and an ornately carved, silver dagger is tucked into it. Whereas a traditional dress for a Kodava women would be a saree which is draped in an unique way. It is pleated at the back and pallu also comes from back to front and tucked over shoulder. The blouse women wear usually would be a full length or 3/4th sleeved one and they cover their heads with a pice of cloth that usually matches their attire. If you are interested, check this link to see how they dress. (Some info from online sources)
 
Coming to today's recipe, it is going to be Kadambuttu - a guilt-free and gluten free breakfast option from the Coorg Region. As in most south Indian homes, rice plays an important part in Kodava / Coorgi cooking too. Among the long list of rice based 'Kodava' dishes, comes this traditional puttu. Puttu generally refers to steamed rice cakes that maybe either savory / sweet. There are three puttus that are quite popular in the region made with akki thari or coarsely ground rice - paputtu, nuuputtu and kadambuttu. In the case of kadumbuttu, thari (rice rava) is cooked, shaped into balls and then steamed. It is similar to Andhra undrallu without the seasoning. While with nuuputtu, the cooked thari is pressed into strings like noodles and then steamed. 
Usually kodavas prepare kadambuttu from scratch, making their own thari, where rice is ground in such a way that each grain is approximately broken into 3 - 4 bits. Store bough rice rava / idli rava could make a quick and easy substitute. These steamed rice balls are served with a a non-veg side dish like pork or chicken curry since majority of the Kodavas are non vegetarians. Vegetarians can serve this with a vegetable curry, dal or even chutney.

Ingredients: (Make about 15)
2 & 1/2 cups water
3/4 to 1 tsp. salt to taste
1 cup akki thari / rice rava
1 - 2 tbsp. ghee

Method:
* Bring water to a boil in a sauce pan. Stir in salt. Next add rava, stirring it continuously with a sturdy ladle to avoid the mixture forming any lumps. 

* Cover and let the mixture cook on low flame until done, about 10 minutes. The mixture should be moist and well done after cooking but not dried out. (In that case, add a small quantity of hot water, mix and cook further.)
* Remove the mixture from fire and cover. Let it cool enough to handle. Grease your palms with ghee and make smooth, lime sized balls out of the cooked mixture.

* Line a stainless steel container with a muslin cloth or a thin, breathable cotton cloth and place the balls to be steamed without overlapping. Cover loosely with muslin cloth and place it in a steamer/ idly cooker or a pressure cooker without the whistle on.
 * Steam on medium flame for about 20 minutes.

* Remove and serve hot with a side dish of your choice.

Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Indian Chinese Cooking ~ Vegetable Fried Rice

 
I chose to go with vegetable fried rice, one of the popular dishes from the Indian Chinese cuisine for today's post. If you have some left over rice and prepared vegetables then this dish could be made in a blink of an eye. And thanks to my husband, I could pair it with some gobi manchurian. Yes, my husband is the official manchurian maker in our home. :) I will post the recipe for manchurian soon.
Ingredients:
1 cup Basmati Rice

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sesame oil
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced
1/4 cup minced scallion (greens and white separated) 
1.5 to 2 cups mixed vegetables of your choice (I used thinly sliced carrot, beans, cabbage, and capsicum.)
1 - 2 tsp. soy sauce (or as per taste)
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Optional ingredient:
Red or green chili sauce to give a spicy kick

Method:
* Soak 1 cup rice in water for about 15 minutes and drain the water. Add about 1 & 1/2 cups water to the rice and pressure cook for 3 whistles. When the valve pressure is gone, transfer the rice to  a wide plate. Add a tsp. of sesame oil, fluff and keep it aside to cool.
(Whatever method you choose to cook rice, take care not to prepare a mushy rice. Leftover rice works good too for this recipe.)
* Chop the vegetables finely or into thin slices. (I prefer to cut into thin long strips as my husband prefers it that way). Use vegetables of your choice. Other than the vegetables I used, one can use celery, mushroom, broccoli, snow peas and so on.
* Heat the oil in a wide, non stick pan. Add scallion whites, ginger and garlic and toast for few seconds until you start to notice the aroma.
* Next add all the vegetables and cook on high flame for about two minutes. Keep tossing the pan frequently to avoid burning the vegetables. The vegetables must be cooked but still retain their crunchiness and crispiness.  
(If the vegetables are finely chopped then tossing them for about a minute would suffice.)
* Add soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce if using, salt and pepper and toss. Next add the rice and just gently mix. Don't over mix and break the rice grains.
* Garnish with scallion greens and serve along with a manchurian dish or your favorite side dish. I served it with gobi manchurian.

This 'Veg Fried Rice - Manchurian' combo goes to BM #46. Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon. 

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mor Kali

A few years ago when my SIL visited us, we both tried a dish that she had eaten in someone's home at Chennai. She mentioned that it was rice flour upma cooked in buttermilk instead of water. The idea of using rice flour for a upma sounded intriguing at that time and I wanted to see what texture we end up with. I had used a traditional style kadai and by the time the dish was done, I will admit I was fed up with the tedious stirring. And to top that, my husband commented that why did we guys take such pain to create 'vadiyala pindi'. (Vadiyalu is Telugu word for sun dried papads / vadagam / sandige. Vadiyala pindi is papad batter when loosely translated.) I guess there is no need to mention that I had dropped the idea of posting it on the blog.

I got to see the versions of mor kali on Tamilian blogs later many times and realized that it's what my SIL and I tried to cook on that day. Mor kali is a traditional recipe from Tamilian kitchens that is prepared using rice flour and buttermilk. It can be slightly gooey when done or can be cooked until crumbly. Using sun dried, salted chillies add a flavorful kick to this slightly tangy dish. This can be eaten as a light snack or as a meal.
Most of the recipes I had gone through online mention to stop cooking once the mixture leaves the sides of the pan or the mixture is not sticky to wet hands. This tip didn't help me as I was using a non stick pan and it started to leave the sides of the pan in less than ten minutes and it was no where close to the final stage of cooking. Going by my first experience, I did not care whether my mor kali was going to look snow white or soft textured. This time my criteria was to cook it enough that it didn't stick to my mouth and taste good. I cooked until it passed my taste testing and was satisfied with this second attempt.
Ingredients:
1 cup rice flour
3 cups thick butter milk (slightly sour one is preferred.)
(or use 1.5 cup butter milk + 1 cup water)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil (I used sesame oil.)
1 tsp chana dal / split chick peas
1 tsp urad dal / split, skinned black gram
1 tsp mustard seeds

A pinch of asafoetida 
Few curry leaves
3 - 4 sun-dried salted chillies / 5 - 6 red chillies

Method:
* Combine rice flour, butter milk, water and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk it to form a lump-free batter.
 
* Heat oil in a pan, preferably a non stick one. Add chana dal, urad dal, and mustard seeds. When the dals start to turn reddish, add the chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida. Saute them until the chillies are toasted and turn brownish. Next add the rice flour batter to the pan.
 
* Cook the mixture on medium flame until it is done. Stir continuously through out the process to avoid the mixture from forming lumps.
* This was after 10 minutes of cooking. I cooked for about 25 minutes on medium flame.

* You can serve as it is. Or grease a plate with some oil / ghee and transfer the cooked mixture to it. Flatten it with the back of a spatula and cut into desired shapes and serve.

This 'Mor Kali - Mor Milagai' combo goes to BM #46. Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Shrikhand (Short-Cut Method)

Shrikhand in short can be described as a thick, sweetened yogurt redolent with cardamom and saffron flavors and garnished with nuts. It is a sweet dish that is popular in the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and ridiculously easy to prepare. It is even eaten as a side dish to pooris in Gujarat. While this would be the basic, traditional version, another version prepared adding mango pulp, called aamrakhand is equally popular in Maharashtra.
Traditionally full fat yogurt is tied in a muslin / thin cotton cloth and allowed to drain until all the whey is separated and one is left with thick yogurt. Usually I follow this method when I have time. I leave the tied yogurt in a colander and place the colander over a container to catch the whey. And I place the whole setup in the refrigerator overnight so that I have the hung yogurt ready by the morning. If you want to prepare shrikhand from scratch then you can follow this method. However remember that the final hung yogurt would be less in quantity than the original yogurt you started with since some of it will be lost in the form of whey.
Then sugar is whisked into the hung yogurt until it is dissolved, garnished with spices and chilled before serving. 
For a short cut method, one can skip above steps and directly use the Greek yogurt as I have used here. I prefer powdered sugar over the granular variety since it is easy to mix. And sometimes I even use a sugar substitute. This shrikhand doesn't need chilling since the Greek yogurt comes from the refrigerator.
My husband and I love shrikhand and I frequently prepare it to eat as a dessert. However I paired it with pooris for the first time today and it was not that bad as I had anticipated. In fact I liked the combo.

Ingredients:
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used non-fat Greek yogurt.)
A generous pinch of saffron strands
1 tbsp. warm water / warm milk 
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (or as per taste.)
1/4 ground cardamom
Sliced almonds and pistachios to garnish
Method:
* Gently crush the saffron strands between your fingers and add it to the warm water / milk and leave it aside for about 10 minutes.
* Add the Greek yogurt and powdered sugar to a bowl and gently whisk it until blended. 
* Next add the saffron along with the liquid and cardamom to the yogurt mixture and mix gently.
* Garnish with nuts and serve. If not serving immediately, refrigerate it until ready to use.

This 'Poori-Shrikhand' combo goes to BM #46. Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"100 Kids Lunch Box Recipes" ~ A Free E-Cookbook

 Indus Ladies Ebook
'Indusladies', an online community catering to women of Indian origin recently partnered with Indian food bloggers to come up with an online cookbook. This cookbook focuses on kids' lunch box recipes and helps out parents who often face the 'lunch box' conundrum. The published e-book is called "100 Kids' Lunch Box Recipes" and is filled with simple to cook, healthy recipes and 30 printable lunch box love notes. Majority of the recipes involve Indian style of cooking and each recipe comes with detailed instructions and colorful pictures. I am happy to announce that my entries "Methi Rice" and "Tri-Colored, Multi Grain Flour Rotis" are a part of this e-book.
To check out all the recipes and download a free version of the e-book, check here.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vegetable Tikkis


Here are some guilt-free and filling tikkis made with mixed vegetables for BM #45 under the theme 'Healthy Tea Time Snacks". I made them spicy and they were a tasty treat to our evening beverage.

Ingredients: (For about 18 mini tikkis)
2 potatoes - peeled, cooked and mashed
1 cup finely chopped, mixed vegetables - cooked, drained and coarsely mashed (I used green beans, carrot and peas.)
Salt to taste
Dried red chili powder to taste
1/2 tsp amchur powder
3 - 4 tbsp. corn flour
Semolina to coat the patties (optional)
Oil to shallow fry (I used canola oil.)

Method:
* Add the mashed vegetables, salt, chili powder, amchur and corn flour to a mixing bowl. Combine all the ingredients to form a firm mixture (that can be shaped into patties.)

* Pinch about a small lime sized portion of the dough and slightly flatten it into a disc. Gently roll the disc in semolina so that is coated on all sides with semolina. This semolina coating step is optional but it adds a nice crunch to the patties. (I coated half of the patties with semolina. Both coated and plain versions tasted yummy.)
* Repeat the steps with the remaining mixture and keep them aside. 
* Heat a griddle or a non stick pan and spray it with oil. Place the patties on the griddle without over crowding and spray with oil one more time if necessary.
* Fry them on medium flame until they turn golden brown on both sides.
* Serve them immediately with ketchup or green chutney.
Check what other marathoners are cooking during BM #45.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Roti Sandwich Bites

Thanks to Harini and her friend, these roti bites have become a favorite tea time snack at my household. I usually freeze the extra rotis I make and this recipe has come handy in the recent times to convert them into a quick, guilt-free and chatpata snack during evenings. This also works when you are not in a mood to cook a side dish for rotis.
I used some left over green pea rotis when I first tried these. I had added the green pea stuffing directly to wheat flour to make rotis. I only added salt and some chili powder to chickpea flour paste as these rotis were spicy on their own. 

Ingredients:
4 rotis (Tortillas can be substituted.)
3/4 to 1 cup chickpea flour 
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1 small carrot, grated

Other Optional ingredients that can be used:
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Chaat masala
Mint / Kasuri Methi
Carom Seeds / Cumin Seeds


Method:
* Combine chickpea flour, salt and the spices that are going to be used in a mixing bowl. Next add water and mix with a spatula to make a thick, spreadable paste. Finally add the grated carrots and mix.
* Heat a griddle / non stick shallow pan and spray it with about a  tsp of oil.
* Spread the chickpea flour paste thinly on one side of the roti and place the paste side down on the hot griddle. 
* Turn the stove to medium flame and let it cook and turn golden brown. In the mean time, apply the paste on the topside of the roti.
* When the bottom side of the roti is cooked, lift the roti with a flat spatula and spray again the griddle with a little amount of oil. Now flip the roti and cook until the other side is cooked as well.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining rotis. Cut into wedges and serve warm with ketchup / sauce. 

Check what other marathoners are cooking during BM #45

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Poha Dhokla


Dhoklas are a quick, tasty and guilt free meal on their own and this poha variation is no different. These dhoklas need not much efforts or time to put together and can be a great tea time snack or can be served for breakfast. If serving young kids, green chili paste can be avoided. These are going to BM #45 under the theme "Healthy Tea time Snacks".

Recipe source: Here
Ingredients:
1/2 cup coarsely crushed beaten rice flakes / poha
1/2 cup semolina / rava
1/2 cup yogurt (I used homemade fat-free yogurt.)
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
1 tsp green chili paste
1 tsp Eno fruit salt (I used Lemon flavored fruit salt and it added a welcome tanginess to dhoklas.)
2 - 3 tsp oil
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of asafoetida powder
Minced cilantro to garnish
Note:
The original recipe mentions to add 1 cup yogurt + 1 cup water for the above quantity semolina and poha. The mixture ended up being so thin that I had to add 1/2 cup semolina and 1/2 cup crushed poha more. I have therefore reduced the quantity of the liquid in the above ingredients' list. If the mixture appears too thick then add water in tbsp. increments. The mixture should be thick with a dropping consistency similar to the idli batter.

Method:
* Combine semolina, poha, salt. green chillie paste, yogurt and water in a bowl and mix ell. Cover and allow it to rest for about 10 - 15 minutes. If the mixture has become too thick / dry, a little water can be added. 
* Grease about a 6 to 7 inch diameter thali / stainless steel plate with high edges.
Add fruit salt to the batter just before steaming and mix gently when you notice the effervescence.
Pour the batter into the greased thali and steam it until it is cooked.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add sesame seeds, mustard seeds and asafoetida. When mustard seeds start to pop, turn off the stove.
* Pour this tempering over the steamed dhoklas.
* Let cool the dhoklas and cut them into diamond shaped pieces and garnish with coriander.
* Serve with green chutney and sweet chutney. 

Bloggers who picked this theme were supposed to capture the dish along with their tea. And that is a piece of dhokla along with some hot chocolate as I don't consume tea / coffee. :)

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