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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Recipe Index ~ Indian Dals & Kadhis / Legumes


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Friday, May 29, 2015

Recipe Index ~ Andhra Pickles / Chutneys


Recipe Index ~ Kitchen Basics

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nan Khatai

Probably nan khatai are the first cookies I ever baked in my kitchen and so, they are special to me. Over the years I have tried various versions, liking them all even without realizing they had Parsi connection. This time around I tried this semolina-almond version which yield crispy, crumbly delicious nan khatai that are quite addictive. For the uninitiated, nan khatai are shortbread biscuits that are believed to be originated in Surat, a city in western India during 16th century. The word nan khatai is said to have derived from a Persian word 'naan' meaning bread and an Afghani word 'khatai' meaning biscuit.
According to the ebook Eat, Pray and Live, some of the Parsi cooks who worked for the Dutch in Surat had learnt to bake soft bread by fermenting the dough with toddy, which is supposedly the beginning of the legacy of Parsi bakeries in Surat. Parsis were inspired by the eggless Scottish shortbread, to create nan khatai, one of Surat's famous confections.The Surat bakers realized that the recipe was suitable for Gujarati vegetarians who did not eat eggs and adapted to suit the local populace by adding nuts and cardamom. Here is another interesting read about how nan khatai came to existence.

Ingredients: (Yield 18 - 20 cookies)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina (I replaced half of it with ground almonds.)
2 tbsp. ground almonds (Optional)
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
A pinch of baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp. slivered almonds for garnish

* Sift together flour, semolina, cardamom and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add ground almonds to the same bowl if using and mix to combine,
* Cream butter and sugar in another bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture in small increments and blend until a dough is formed. If for any reason, the dough turns out hard / dry, moisten it with little milk. (I didn't need any milk.)
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F / 180 deg C. Grease or line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
* Divide the cookie dough into 18 - 20 portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand and decorate with almond slivers. Gently press the almond pieces so that they stick to the cookie.
* Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them an inch apart since they expand while baking.
* Place them in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until they turn light golden in color. (I baked them for about 20 minutes, turned off the oven and left them in the oven for another 6 minutes or so.)
* Let them cool on a wire rack and store them in an airtight container.

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


Monday, May 25, 2015

Parsi Style Masoor Dal

Coincidentally a 'Parsi' special was airing on TV when I was deciding on the themes for this marathon and on the spot I got to decide on the dishes for the Parsi theme to my amazement. However it turns out that those recipes were just not destined to appear here yet. Wouldn't it be surreal if everything goes according to the plan in life? Turns out that I had run out of the essential ingredients at the right time. My husband who always ends up buying ten extra things which are not on the list when sent grocery shopping came home this time missing the exact key ingredients I needed. It seems he had decided to get them at the end and forgot and decided that I can do without them. :) Obviously I had to change my plans and went looking for other recipes though we ended up liking the dishes I tried. This delicious Parsi style masoor dal from here is one of them. It is prepared with whole masoor instead of the split orange colored masoor dal and was quite a treat. Parsis use the unique balance of acid and sweetness in their dishes called khattu-mithu as the vinegar - jaggery used in this recipe. This wholesome, nutritious dish goes well with rotis.
Ingredients: (4 servings)
1 cup whole lentils (I used whole masoor dal.)
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. grated ginger / ginger paste
1 tsp. garlic paste
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. corainder powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder (I used more.)
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (I used less.)
1 tsp. powdered jaggery (or substitute sugar.)
1/2 cup chopped tomato
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. garam masala
Minced cilantro to garnish

* Wash and cook lentils in pressure cooker for 2 whistles, adding 2 cups of water. The lentils must be cooked well but still hold their shape.
* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and the bay leaf. When cumin starts to sizzle and brown add the ginger, garlic and chopped onion. Fry until the onion turns brown.
* Next add the vinegar, tomatoes, jaggery and salt to the pan. Cook on low flame until the tomatoes turn mushy and the flavors incorporate. (Lentils can be added at this point and can be cooked. I preferred to pressure cook the lentils separately and added the cooked lentils to the tomato - onion mixture.)
* Add the cooked lentils and simmer for a couple of minutes and turn off the stove.
* Garnish with garam masala and cilantro before serving.
This is my post under 'Parsi dishes'. Check the blogging marathon page to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking for BM#52.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Channa ni Daar ~ Parsi Style ChickPeas

I am going to post 'Parsi dishes' this week as part of the blogging marathon. The present day Parsis in India descend from a group of Zoroastrians who fled Greater Iran to escape religious persecution during 8th / 10th century and migrated to Gujarat and Sindh regions. Over the centuries, Parsis have integrated themselves into Indian society while simultaneously maintaining or developing their own distinct customs and traditions. The same applies to their cuisine as well and over the time, it has evolved into a delicious blend with Persian, Indian and western influences. Today's post, channa ni daar comes from 'Eat, Live and Pray', an online compilation of Parsi recipes. I guess this dish is the Parsi take on the popular Punjabi chole. The spices here are not roasted before grinding as Parsis believe that the aroma / flavors of the spices are more pronounced this way. We are a chole loving family and so obviously us, including the kids enjoyed this Parsi variation and I found this an easy preparation compared to the Punjabi version.

Ingredients: (yield 3 - 4 servings)
1 cup garbanzo beans 
2-3 tbsp oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. roughly minced cilantro to garnish
Ingredients to grind:
4 dried red chillies
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1" piece ginger
6 pepper corns
1/2" cinnamon piece
2-3 garlic cloves (I omitted it.)

* Wash and soak garbanzo beans in water for about 8 hours or overnight to facilitate fast cooking. Drain the soaked water and rinse the beans well. Add 2 cups of water and pressure cook for 3 whistles (or more depending upon the cooker) until they are cooked. They should be soft but still hold their shape when done.
(Canned garbanzo beans can be substituted if there is no time to start from the scratch. Skip the above steps of soaking and cooking if using canned variety and use 2 cups of beans instead of one. Remember to rinse the beans well before using to get rid of the slimy liquid.)
* Heat oil and fry the onion slices until they brown. Reserve a quarter of fried onion slices for garnishing.
* In the meanwhile, grind all the ingredients mentioned under to grind. Add the ground paste and turmeric to the (3/4th quantity) fried onions in the pan. Fry for about 5 minutes.
* Then add the cooked chana and salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until a little gravy is left. Turn off the stove.
* Garnish with the reserved fried onion and cilantro.
* Serve warm with rotis.

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


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".