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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cheese Crackers

The recipe comes from Mark Bittman's 'How to cook everything Vegetarian'. I took the basic recipe of crackers and prepared these cheese crackers since my kids love those commercially sold ones.
The plain crackers happened to be very bland to my taste. I felt that they were good substitutes for the hard poories used in Indian chaat recipes.
I halved the below recipe of basic crackers for one more batch and also added about 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. The kids said they loved them but recommended more addition of cheese to it. Since the crackers could be baked in no time, I want to try next time with some changes to the basic recipe.

Ingredients for the basic recipe:
1 cup four + some for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter / oil

1. Preheat the oven to 4oo deg F. Lightly dust a baking pan with flour.
2. Combine all the ingredients using a food processor or by hand. Then gradually add the water until the mixture holds together. The dough should be firm not sticky.
3. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface until 1 /4 inch thick or even thinner.
4. Score lightly with a knife to shape them into squares / rectangles.
5. Transfer them to the pan and bake them until lightly browned about 10 minutes or so. Cool on a rack.

These are going to 'Baking from the Book' event guest hosted by me this month, event creator being Champa.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bread Machine Baking: Hungarian Potato Bread

I prefer baking breads at home since I get to control the ingredients / flavors that go into them.  Besides enjoying the quality / taste of the final product, I also love the aromatherapy the process provides. However, I chose my bread machine to do the job for me, which makes the whole baking deal a simple and quite convenient one. Just add the ingredients to the machine and turn on, it does all the work. Kneading, rising and baking all happen according to the set course / time.
Usually I bake quick breads and so freshly baked bread would be ready in about a couple of hours. Today's recipe 'Hungarian potato bread' is one such tried and tested quick bread from Richard Langer's 'The Complete Bread Machine Bakery Book'.
Potatoes add subtle flavor and texture to the bread and this soft, light bread works for toast / sandwiches. I happen to add cumin seeds while baking this bread for flavor. Caraway seeds may also be a good substitution. Or potatoes seasoned with garlic or herbs also lend a nice flavor to the bread.

Ingredients for 1 lb bread machine:
3/4 cup (or a little less) potato cooked water / plain water
2 cups flour
1 potato (peeled, cooked and mashed)
1 Tbsp cumin seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 tsp rapid rise yeast

Baking instructions may vary depending upon the machines. I am therefore mentioning just the guidelines for baking.

1. Add the ingredients into the baking pan in the order listed.
2. Set the baking pan into the bread machine.
3. Select the 'quick baking' course choosing the regular crust setting and bake.

This goes to 'Baking from the Book', guest hosted by me this month, an event originally started by Champa.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010


Fougasse, pronounced fou - gas happens to be a unique, flatbread from Southern France. While shaping, it is pierced through to the bottom in a series of slashes to increase the quality of the crust. Several variations could be created by adding fresh rosemary / olives / shredded cheese or cooked bacon.

There are two principal shapes associated with fougasses - a pierced leaf shaped as the one presented here and a long rectangular shape that resembles a ladder. The ladder shape is not workable at home kitchens since they happen to be 2 - 3 feet long. Also there is a sweet version flavored with fennel and orange zest, encrusted with sugar before baking and are made in individual sizes.
(Source: The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri)
I was mainly attracted to this recipe because of the shape. This bread was a hit at home and was gone within 15 minutes after it was baked. 

Ingredients: *
Unbleached all purpose flour - 2 & 3/4 cups
Salt - 1 & 1/4 tsp
Active dry yeast - 2 tsp
Warm tap water - 1 cup or as needed
Olive oil - 4 to 5 Tbsp
Olive oil for brushing

1. Combine and stir flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Whisk the yeast into the water in another bowl. Then whisk in the oil.
3. Slowly stir in the flour mixture into the liquid, beating smooth.
4. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Fold the dough over onto itself several times (using a bench scraper or hands) to make it more smoother and elastic.
5. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it around so that the dough is oiled. Cover the bowl with a towel / plastic wrap. Leave it to rise until doubled in size, for a couple of hours.
6. After the dough has risen, transfer it to a floured work surface. Gently press and stretch into a triangle, about 8 inches at the base and a foot long from the base to top point. Transfer it onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
Use a pizza wheel to cut 3 -4 diagonal slashes on either side of the median strip that bisects the triangle from top to base.

7. Let the fougasse rest for about 10 minutes and then gently pull in both directions again. Brush the fougasse with olive oil and cover. Leave it again to rise for about an hour.
8. Preheat the oven to 450 deg F (230 deg C.) Bake the fougasse in the upper rack for about 10 minutes. Turn pan from back to front and bake again in the lower rack until deep golden and firm, for 10 15 minutes more.
(Mine was a little overbaked and hence a few dark spots.) 

* I have halved the original recipe keeping the oil quantity same. If you double the recipe for two fougasses, keep one baking tray on the upper rack and one on the lower rack of the oven while baking. After 10 minutes or so, switch the tray from the upper rack to the lower one and viceversa.

This goes to 'Baking from the book' event, guest hosted this month by me and was originally started by Champa.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Carom Flavored Straws

Recently I came across 'The Modern Baker' book by Nick Malgieri at the local library and the amazing presentation of the recipes instantly caught my attention. This baking book has been divided into several sections and one of it is entirely dedicated to puff pastry based recipes. Several of them were simple ones as these straws. 
Based on the 'Salt and Pepper Straws' in the book, I prepared these carom flavored, tasty straws, which were puffy and somewhat crispy accompaniment to our evening coffee.

How I did:
1. Flour the work surface. Roll gently the puff pastry sheet into a rectangle. After the dough is rolled, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I didn't do that long.)
2. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (180 deg C).
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle about 1 - 2 tsp of crushed carom seeds over half the surface of the dough. (The original recipe used coarse salt and ground black pepper. Check the background in the above image.)
4. Fold the dough over to enclose the carom seeds and again roll back so that it is almost the same size as when carom seeds were scattered over.
5. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips using a pastry wheel and twist each strip into a corkscrew shape.
6. Transfer the strips to prepared baking sheets, pressing the edges of the dough to the edges of the pan to prevent them from unraveling as they are baking. 
(Check the image.)
(The book mentions to chill them until they are cold and firm for about an hour. I overlooked this step.)
7. Bake the straws for about 10 minutes in the upper rack. Turn the pan back to front and move it to lower rack and bake for additional 10 minutes, until they are puffed, dry and golden.
8. After taking out the pans, trim the ends of the straws and cut them in half crosswise using a knife.

These are going to be a part of  'Baking from a Book' event, hosted by me this month and started by Champa.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Simple Meals ~ Whole Wheat Penne with Red Peppers & Onion Soup

For 2 servings:
1.5 cup whole - wheat penne pasta
1 tbsp butter / olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper / capsicum - cored, seeded & sliced into strips
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese*
Parsley to garnish

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta according to package directions until aldente. Reserve a few Tbsp of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a sauté pan / skillet. Add garlic and cook until just softened. Then add chopped onion and sauté till it turns translucent. Then add tomatoes and cook until done. Bell pepper slices, salt & pepper go in next. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers begin to soften.
3. Stir drained pasta and reserved pasta liquid into sauce. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes more.
4. While serving, top each bowl with about a Tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese and minced parsley.

* I had only cheddar cheese and so added it along with pasta at the end, for a cheesy base.

This pasta is going to be a part of Mansi's Presto Pasta Nights, an event originally started by Ruth.

Onion Soup:
Here is a simple, basic version of onion soup, on it's way to Priya's Healing foods - Onion, an event originally started by Siri.

For 2 servings:
1. Peel and thinly slice a big onion.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil / butter and add onion and a bay leaf. Stirring occasionally, cook until very soft and starts to brown.
3. Add minced garlic clove, salt, pepper and cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Then add about 2 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf and garnish with parsley before serving.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Delectable Dal Makhani

                   Dal Makhani literally means buttery lentils.

I did my spring-cleaning and cleared almost all the clutter from every nook and corner of our home, before my parents arrived. However, some ingredients from the pantry were begging to be cleared off. One among those was a cup of black urad dal bottled up, may be for years now after sunnundalu preparation.
Nupur's dal makhani seemed a nice way to use up that left over urad dal, to check one of the recipes from my 'bookmarked' folder and also to participate in this month's 'Blog bites - What's lurking in the kitchen'.
Dal makhani, one of the delectable sidedishes from the Punjab region of India also happens to be one of my favorite ones. However, I usually reserve this rich and creamy dish to those occasions when I dine out. To watch oodles of butter and cream going into a dish while cooking, (however favorite that may be) would give me a heart attack. Keeping apart my reservations, those butter and cream lend the flavor and richness to the dish and protein packed dal makhani happens to be one of the popular and standard items on Indian restaurant menus, here in this country.
Preparing dal makhani is a simple task and even a novice cook can master it. Urad dal with the black husk (not the skinned* ones), rajma, chana / garbanzo beans are soaked and cooked till they attain a creamier texture. Also in go the spices, butter and cream resulting in a palate pleasing dal.
This was a decent recipe that contained less amounts of butter & cream. 

Ingredients used:
Black uraddal (uraddal with skin) - 1/2 cup
Rajma / kidney beans - 1/2 cup
Chanadal - 1/4 cup
Tomato puree / tomato paste - 2 cups
Heavy cream - 1/4 cup
Butter 1 -2 Tbsp
Ginger paste / finely minced ginger - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp (or as needed)
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, 8-10 fenugreek seeds
(I doubled the recipe to serve us twice, about 10 - 12 servings to serve with rotis. I omitted the garlic from the original recipe, used about 12 oz tomato paste, homemade garam masala and about 3 tsp of chili powder in the doubled recipe.)

Cooking method:
1. Soak overnight (or as needed) the red kidney beans, black urad dal and chana dal. Throw away the soaked water and wash the legumes thoroughly. (Freeze the legumes, if using later.) Pressure cook them together and mash coarsely.
2. Heat the oil and add the minced ginger. When it starts to brown, add cumin seeds, asafoetida and the fenugreek seeds. When cumin starts to splutter, add the tomato puree. Cook the mixture for about ten minutes or till the tomato appears cooked, stirring often.
3. Add the cooked legumes and salt to the tomato mixture and bring to a boil. If it appears too thick, add a few Tbsp of water.
4. Stir in red chilli powder, garam masala, heavy cream and 1 tbsp. butter. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and turn off the heat.

Our dal makhani was served with rotis, along with onion slices and lemon wedges.

* Skinned - Skin/husk removed

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Friday, June 18, 2010

'Delicious Dals from India' Roundup & Announcing the Next Theme

'Delicious Dals from India' round up is here and I thank everyone who have sent in their entries that reiterated the diversity factor of Indian cooking.
Simple, nutritious yet delicious dals are created in Indian kitchens on a daily basis. Humble bean/legumes, fresh vegetables and flavorful spices that aid in digestion go into them and these home cooked delicacies vary from region to region. I tried to explore these myriad variations through this event and fellow foodies offered their support by sending in their favorite, home cooked dals.
As I expected, some of the entries were very novel to me and hope that the followers of this event may find them useful and interesting as well. I can't wait to try all these delectable dals in the coming days.
I must also mention the word 'dal' created some confusion among the people who tried to send in entries. The Hindi word 'Dal' happens to be a generic term used for the dried pulses and also to mean the cooked stews using them. While I was referring to the latter one, I got all kind of entries using dried beans including some sweets (mithai) / savories. I apologize for rejecting many of the entries that didn't fit the bill.
I also realized during this event that there is a very thin line between dals (the cooked stews) and subzis prepared with the dals (dried pulses). M convinced me that some entries that were considered as subzis (by me) might also fall under dal category since they are prepared with the same basic ingredients as dals and hence they also appear in the round up.
I have categorized the entries according to the bean group and have arranged them alphabetically for easy reference. Please click on the links to go to the respective posts.

(Dals prepared using Bengal gram/chana dal and chickpeas)

Mona's Chanay Ki Dal

Richa Agarwal's Chanadal with Lauki

Jagruti's Spinach Dal

Sonal Agarwal's Chanadal

Field beans (Mochakottai/Avarekalu/Anapakaya)

Manju Rajender's Mochakottai Kuzhambu


Pavithra Srihari's Horsegram Dal

Masoor Dal
(Dals prepared using whole / split masoor dal)

Bangalore Baker's Dilly Masoor Dal

(Dals prepared using two or more beans / legumes)

 Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal's Panchmel Dal 


Sonia's Tadka Dal

Priya Suresh's Pepper Cabbage Dal

Kanchan's Dal Makhani

Sanyukta Gour's Cucumber Spinach Dal

Ashalatha's Mango Dal

Ashalatha's Dal Tadka

Moong Dal
(Dals prepared using yellow / green moong)

Mona's Tamatar-Pyaz wali Dhulli Moong dal

Jyoti's Mooli Dal

Shabitha Karthikeyan's Snakegourd Kootu

Smita's Kerala Style Dal Palak

Nitha Kurumboor Jayasanker's Cherupayar – Vazhakkaya

Kalva's Lauki Moongdal

Shabitha Karthikeyan's Moongdal

Niloufer Riyaz's Dal Pakwan

Sanyukta Gour's Lahsuni Palak Dal

Sayali Shah's Easy Moong Dal

Nithu Bala's Poricha Kuzhambu

Kiran's Kale-Cranberry-Drumstick-Carrot Kootu

Gayathri Raj's Amaranth / Thotakura Dal Fry

Split Green Peas

Bangalore Baker's Methi with Split Green Peas


My Kobbari Pappu

Mythili Prabhu's Dalitoy

Priya Suresh's Mint Dal

Srividya's Mamidikaya Pappu

Mona's Mitthi Dal

Rachana's Goan Dal - Toi

Manju Rajender's Mangai Sambhar

Jyoti Valaboju's Dosakaya Pappu

Sayali's Gujrati Meethi Dal

Smitha's Nimmakaya Pappu

Smitha's Pappu Kattu

Priya's Tomato Pappu

Priya's Arachivitta Kadhamba Sambar

Rach's Lentils Kofta Curry

Tanmaya Kulkarni's Methi Che Waran

Rama's Dal and Tomato

Mansi's Gujarati style Toordal

Kairali Sisters' Cauliflower Dal

Niloufer's Idli Sambhar

My Gongura Pappu

Bangalore Baker's Long Squash Spinach Dal

Sanyukta Gour's Sambhar

My Rubbina Pulusu

Rupa's Traditional Gujarati Dal

Jay's Vegetable Sambar

Nithu Bala's Poricha Kuzhambu

Suparna Shaligram's Dal Fry

Jagruthi's Gujarati Tuver Dal

Kiran's Cucumber Daal

Kiran's Mango Dal

Kiran's Amaranth-Mango-Potato-Red Raddish Daal

My Vadiyala Pulusu

And non blogger, Geeta Ram has sent two entries and the recipes are below.

Geeta's Potato Dal
Medium size potatoes 2
Slit green chillies 4
Toor dal 1 cup
Tamarind juice to taste
Salt to taste
Few curry leaves
For tadka: cooking oil 2 to 3 teaspoon, 1/4 tsp each - mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds & urad dhal, hing to taste, broken red chillies 3 to 4

Cook dal in the pressure cooker,adding pinch of haldi powder. Cook the potatoes adding salt. Mix both. Add salt, tamarind juice, curry leaves and green chillies and tadka. Boil the dal till it gets the sambar consistency.
This is a very tasty dal that goes well with rice and roties. Adding hing is very important because this enhances the taste!!

Geeta's Methi Dal:
2 cups toordal
One big bunch fresh methi leaves - chopped fine
4 to 6 slit green chillies
Tamarind juice to taste
1 tsp rice flour mixed with little water
A pinch of haldi
Salt to taste
For tadka: 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp each - mustard seeds & urad dal, 1/4 tsp methi seeds, hing and broken red chillies 4 to 6

Cooking part:
Boil dal in a pressure cooker till it is soft and mushy. Wash the methi leaves and keep it ready. Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds, methi seeds, urad dal, hing and red chillies. Take care not to burn the tadka ingredients especially red chillies. Then add methi leaves and saute till it gets soft and well cooked. Add dal and water to get the sambar consistency. Then add the rice flour paste, tamarind juice, salt, green chillies and switch of the stove when you get a nice aroma.
This is a very tasty dal and goes well with rice.


Rupali Jain's Dal Dry

Dal / Subzi

Pavithra Srihari's Bottlegourd with Cowpeas

Jay's Chole Masala

Theme of the next event:

And now continuing the celebration of Indian cuisine, let's move to the other side dishes on our platters. For the next event, I want to concentrate on sidedishes other than dal / subzis.
Just to give an idea, some of the dishes that fall into this category (that I can think of right now) are rasams / gojjus / kadhis /  raitas / pachi pulusu / theeya pulusu kind of stuff. Any other suggestions are welcome.

Guidelines to participate in the event are as follows:
1. Publish and send me a vegetarian / vegan side dish entry anytime between June 18th - August 31st, 2010. Please do not send me a dal / subzi - curry / chutney - pickle recipe.
2. Link to this event announcement page in your post.
3. Please send me an email notifying about your entry at toveggieplatter@hotmail.com with the subject 'Side Dishes' and the following details - your name, name & URL of the recipe and a picture of the dish.
4. Non bloggers can email me the recipe and a picture, if they have one.
5. Multiple entries and recipes submitted to other entries are also welcome. Recipes from archives can also be sent if they are reposted with a link to this announcement page.

Expecting your enthusiasm and participation as always !!!

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