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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Celebrations of Life !!

Sixteen years of love, laughter and togetherness!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sorakaya - Tomato Pachadi ~ Bottle Gourd - Tomato chutney

It has been a while since I posted chutney recipes and so here we go with an interesting flavored chutney made with bottle gourd and tomato. Serve this with hot steamed rice and ghee. :)

1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, garlic,
4 green chillies
a pinch of asafoetida
1 cup grated bottle gourd
A pinch of turmeric
1 tomato, chopped
Salt to taste
a small marble sized tamarind
For tadka - 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp each - mustard seeds & urad dal (split, skinned blackgram), curry leaves

* Heat 1 Tbsp oil and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add chillies and saute them for few seconds. Then add bottle gourd, asafoetida and turmeric. Mix and cook until the raw smell of the gourd disappears. Then add tomato, tamarind and salt. Cook covered until tomato turns mushy. Turn off the stove and let cool.
* Grind the mixture to a coarse paste.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add the tadka ingredients. When uraddal starts to turn reddish, remove and add it to the ground chutney.

This goes to Priya's Veggie / Fruit a month event - guest hosted by Raji with the theme Bottle gourd this month.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chana Masala / Chole / Spicy Chickpeas Curry

The mouthwatering Punjabi dishes have become synonymous to north Indian cuisine among the Indian restaurants world wide.This chole or chana masala is one of the ubiquitously found and most popular one among the above genre. Depending upon the cooking methods, there may be slight variations in the flavor and the color of the dish but the basic idea remains the same. Call it chole masala / chana masala / Punjabi chole, cooked garbanzo beans are served in a spicy tomato - onion base and is a truly delectable one for spicy food lovers.
It is a surprise that I haven't posted this chole recipe yet considering the fact that it is prepared at least twice a month in my home. It is a favorite of mine and my son's. Anyhow better late than never and here goes the recipe, my style.

Ingredients: (Yield 4 servings)
1.5 cups garbanzo beans / chana
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp grated ginger / ginger paste as needed (I usually use 2 small chunks of ginger and grind it at the end along with some onion- tomato sauce.)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp chana masala powder (Any good quality store brought powder will do.)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder (optional)
1 tsp kasoori methi
Cilantro to garnish

* Soak garbanzo beans overnight in plenty of water. Throw away the soaked water in the morning and rinse the soaked beans well with fresh water. Place the drained beans in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover them. Cook until tender. Alternatively, the beans can be cooked in a sauce pan too but it takes longer.
* In the mean time, heat the oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to turn brown, add ginger, onion and turmeric powder. Stir and cook until the onion turns transparent. Next add the tomatoes and cook until they turn mushy.
* If you prefer gravy, take out a small portion of cooked onion - tomato mixture and a few Tbsps of cooked beans. Grind the mixture adding a little water if needed.
* Now add this ground paste, the rest of the cooked garbanzo beans, salt, chili powder, coriander powder and chana masala powder to the onion - tomato sauce. Add some water if needed. You can use the water used to cook the beans. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add kasoori methi, stir once and let it simmer for a few minutes, for the flavors to mingle.
* Garnish with cilantro and green chillies if desired. Serve with roti / bhature / naans.

1. Even canned garbanzo beans can be used if you have time constraints but remember to wash the beans thoroughly before using.
2. Soaked beans can be put in freezer in advance so that they come handy while cooking. A better option would be to freeze the cooked beans. However remember to cool the beans immediately after cooking and freeze.

Linking this to blogging marathon #12 under "delicious dals" theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out what other marathoners have been cooking.
Today is the last day of marathon and here is a recap of what I posted so far -

Under "Something Sweet" theme
Day 1 - Carrot - Apple Muffins
Day 2 - Kesar Sandesh / Sondesh 
Day 3 - Chocolate Chip - Oatmeal Cookies 
Day 4 - Microwave Apple Crisp
Day 5 - Blackberry Cobbler
Day 6 - Dates - Coconut Kheer
Day 7 - Eggless Banana - Semolina Cake

Under "Delicious Dals" theme
Day 1 - Masoor Dal Khichdi (Masoordal)
Day 2 - Dalia - Cilantro Chutney Podi (Dalia & Urad)
Day 3 - Chayote Kootu (Chana dal)
Day 4 - Alasanda - Vankaya Pulusu (Chori beans)
Day 5 - Dry Sweet Pongal (Moong Dal)
Day 6 - Moong Sprouts - Aloo Tikki (Green gram)


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Moong Sprouts - Aloo Tikki

I made these patties/tikkis today with some leftover homemade green gram sprouts I had and surprisingly, they turned out to be very addictive. I couldn't stop at 1 or 2 and was craving for more. These spicy patties obviously have a southern touch. They have a crispy exterior and soft interior with sprouts in between that not only add a crunch but make these patties special.

Ingredients for 8 tikkis / patties:
2 potatoes (about 1 cup cooked & mashed potato)
1/2 cup moong sprouts
2 minced green chillies
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp each - minced cilantro & curry leaves
2 Tbsp besan + 1 Tbsp rice flour*
Salt to taste
Oil to pan fry the patties
* I fried half of the batch and realized that I had bread crumbs in freezer and so added about 1/4 cup crumbs to the other half batch. If you don't have the flours, substitute 1/2 cup bread crumbs instead.

* Mix well all the ingredients with out adding water. Divide the mixture into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Grease your palms and shape the balls into patties.
* Place them on a shallow pan, add a few tsps of oil and fry them on low flame until golden on both sides.
They are spicy enough to be served on their own or can be served with ketchup. Or else they can be used in ragda patties recipe as well.

Linking this to blogging marathon #12 under "delicious dals" theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out what other marathoners have been cooking.

My posts so far, under "Delicious Dals" theme are -
Masoor Dal Khichdi (Masoordal)
Dalia - Cilantro Chutney Podi (Dalia & Urad)
Chayote Kootu (Chana dal)
Alasanda - Vankaya Pulusu (Chori beans)
Dry Sweet Pongal (Moong Dal)


Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweet Pongal (Dry Version)

If you are noticing the discrepancy between the title and the image, that is my doing. There are a few recipes where I can't beat my mother and this particular one is among them. As the title suggests, this pongal is not suppposed to be wet and mushy as the typical sweet pongal versions. This one is fairly dry and you must be able to notice each grain separately when done in the way it should be done. :) My mother cooks it to perfection but I have never been able to attain the required texture.
I had prepared it on Sankranthi day a couple of weeks ago and this time came closer to my mother's version and so thought of republishing it. It appears moist since I took the images soon after the preparation. It was dry after leaving it at room temperature for a couple of hours. The color of the pongal depends upon the jaggery used and my mother's version always looks darker. This pongal is very delicious but alas I can't prove the point with these images :)

1 cup rice
1/2 cup moong dal 
1 cup jaggery powder
1/4 - 1/2 cup dry coconut, grated 
1/2 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder 
Ghee as needed (You can be as generous as you can.)
1 Tbsp each cashews and raisins

2 ½ cups or a little less water


* Dry roast moong dal until you start to feel the aroma. No need to turn the moong dal red.
* Wash the rice thoroughly. Pressure cook both the rice and moongdal together adding water, until two whistles.
* Heat a pan / wok. Add jaggery and a tbsp of water to it and let it cook on a medium flame till you get the desired consistency.
The desired consistency is that you must be able to form a small ball when you put few drops of syrup into the water. For this purpose, keep a small plate with 2 Tbsp of water near the stove. If you are not able to form the ball out of the syrup and it just melts in the water, then syrup is not ready and you must keep boiling the syrup. It would be done in around 3 –4 minutes.
* After the syrup is ready, turn off the stove. Add the cooked rice - moongdal mixture, grated coconut, cardamom and mix well. You don’t have to cook further.
* Heat ghee in a small pan, toast the cashews and raisins and add to the pongal.

1. Coming to the ingredients measurements, there is no need to use the standard measuring cup. For this recipe, the ratio of Rice : Jaggery : Moong dal is always 2 : 2 : 1.
2. This pongal is supposed to be very dry and not mushy. I did use 2 & ½ cups of water to the 1 & ½ cups of rice and moongal mixture. It turned out good. I think 2 & ¼ cups of water will yield the right texture (like in my mom’s pongal).

3. Keeping cooked rice- dal mixture ready before preparing the jaggery syrup is a good idea. If you do the other way, the syrup becomes much thicker. 

Linking this to blogging marathon #12 under "delicious dals" theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out what other marathoners have been cooking.

My posts so far, under "Delicious Dals" theme are -
Masoor Dal Khichdi (Masoordal)
Dalia - Cilantro Chutney Podi (Dalia & Urad)
Chayote Kootu (Chana dal)
Alasanda - Vankaya Pulusu (Chori beans)


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alasanda - Vankaya Pulusu

When I saw Gayathri's announcement recently about an event revolving around our childhood favorite dishes which we never got to learn about, two recipes came to my mind instantly. Surprisingly both the dishes were not from my mother's kitchen but from my MIL's. That's probably because I have been planning for so long to post them. Besides, most of the recipes I publish here are the ones I grew up eating and thanks to my ma, I know how to prepare most of my favorite foods. Naturally, my focus shifted to my beloved late MIL.
One of those recipes happen to be this rustic, very yummy homestyle dal because it takes my husband down the memory lane. Yes my husband, not me. :) I didn't even know that it was his favorite until a few years ago when my SIL casually mentioned about this dish their mother used to prepare during their childhood. Until then I had never even noticed red chori beans at stores since I was so much used to dals made with toor. My MIL was a great cook and naturally my husband keeps reminiscing about her cooking and his wonderful childhood days. I never got a chance to see my MIL cooking this but I got hold of the recipe through my SIL for my husband's sake. Though I had not eaten it before, my version is decent and the beaming face of my husband is the proof. :)
I had this in my drafts folder for the past few years. I have cooked this a couple of times but each time I have to consult the folder and so I think this makes it eligible for Gayathri's event.

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients. Most of them go in tadka and grinding.

Alasanda / Red chori beans / cowpeas - 1/2 cup
Vankaya / Eggplant slices - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
Tamarind juice to taste (2 -3 Tbsp)
Salt to taste
1 tsp of jaggery powder (optional)
To toast and grind:
Coriander seeds - 1 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Red chillies - 12
1" inch piece cinnamon - 2
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
For tadka:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - A few pinches
Few curry leaves

* Pressure cook red chori beans, eggplants and turmeric adding about a cup of water.
* Meanwhile, add all the ingredients except the coconut to a pan and toast them until the coriander and cumin start to change the color. Let cool and grind them along with the coconut. Use a few Tbsps of water if needed.
* Heat oil in a pan and add the tadka ingredients. When mustard starts to pop, add the cooked beans, ground paste, salt, tamarind and jaggery. Add water if needed and adjust the ingredients if needed. Bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the stove.
Serve with hot steamed rice and papad.

This is my fourth day entry for blogging marathon #12 under "delicious dals" theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out what other marathoners have been cooking.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chayote Kootu

I grew up in a nuclear family with a sibling, five years younger than me. Flash forward 20+ years later, I ended up in a huge, I mean really huge family through my marriage to M. Just counting my husband's siblings' families, we are now somewhere around 70. It is almost like those large families in Indian movies / TV serials sans the drama and plotting, of course. :)) The new entrants to the family come from different backgrounds and regions ranging from Delhi, Gujarat to Karnataka. 
Though I never had an elder sister, I acquired nine "akkas" (elder sister in many South Indian languages) through my marriage, in between my husband's sisters and SILs. Each of them is a great cook and I get to learn some new recipes each time we get to meet. This kootu comes from one of the SILs with a Tamilnadu collection. I have eaten kootu many times before but have never tried cooking at home as M is not fond of coconut. A kootu is a delicious variation from the regular sambhar fare and tastes good with hot, steamed rice.

1/2 cup chana dal / Bengal gram (or substitute half the quantity with toor dal. Kootu can be prepared with moongdal as well.)
1 chayote squash, peeled and cut into cubes (Veggies like bottle gourd, ridge gourd, cucumber or cabbage can be substituted.)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 cup fresh, grated coconut
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp rice flour (optional)
Salt to taste
For tadka: 1 Tbsp ghee, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp skinned, split blackgram / uraddal, a pinch of asafoetida and curry leaves

* I soak chanadal an hour before preparation but that is optional. Cook chandal, chayote cubes and turmeric adding water as needed in a pressure cooker until done. No need to cook until very mushy.
* Grind the coconut and cumins to a fine paste adding little water if needed.
* Add this paste, rice flour, salt and chili powder to the cooked dal and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes and turn off the stove.
* Heat ghee in a small pan and add mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida and curry leaves. When the dal starts to turn brownish, remove and add to the cooked dal.

This is my third day entry for blogging marathon #12 under "delicious dals" theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out what other marathoners have been cooking.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dalia - Cilantro Chutney Podi

Spicy lentil powders / podis are a part of Indian cuisine and every home has a stock of their favorite ones. While some of these are added during cooking, some are served along with the breakfast dishes or even plain rice to add a spicy kick. Chutney powder / chutney pudi / podi chutney what ever you call it falls in the latter category and is a must in South Indian homes and mine is not an exception.
While the kids love this version because of the jaggery addition, I am mostly used to another version since childhood. My mother prepares chanadal - urad dal combo chutney powder, flavored with cilantro and asafoetida and is more spicier and flavorful than the former version. I have also eaten dalia - uraddal combination powder in one of my SIL's house and today's recipe is based on it. Tamarind, chillies and salt need to be adjusted according to one's own preferences. The color of the powder mostly depends upon the type of chillies used.

Ingredients required: (Makes about 1 & 3/4 cups)
Dalia / Roasted chickpeas / Pappulu - 1/2 cup
Urad dal / Skinned, split blackgram - 6 Tbsp / 3/4th quantity of dalia 
Dry coconut (Copra) grated - 1/2 cup
Tamarind - a big marble sized
Red chillies - 12
Salt accordingly
Oil - 1 Tbsp
Cilantro leaves - 1/4 cup (wash and wipe dry.)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - A pinch

* Toast the urad dal in a pan on low heat until it changes to a few shades darker (light brownish color) and let cool.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard starts to pop, add the cilantro leaves and saute for a few seconds. Turn off the stove and let this mixture also cool.
* Now add everything to a mixer / spice grinder and grind the mixture to a desired consistency. Some grind their chutney powder very fine and people like me prefer a coarser texture.

This is my second day entry for blogging marathon #12 under "delicious dals" theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out what other marathoners have been cooking.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Masoordal Khichdi

That's my theme for second round of blogging marathon #12. Yes, delicious dals - the recipes that are going to be posted this week long here need to showcase a dal / bean either in savory or sweet form, according to the marathon rules. I am going with this delicious, flavorful masoor dal khichdi on the first day, that has been the basis for many khichdi dishes posted at veggieplatter so far. It comes from M's SIL who happen to be a wonderful cook.
The original recipe includes onion and is sauteed after tadka. Next goes the veggies, dal and rice and fried for a minute before adding water. Somehow I hate to see onion in my rice dishes and so omit it. Even without a pressure cooker, my method takes only about 20 minutes from prep to plate. I also like the fact that this wholesome dish doesn't demand babysitting. :)

Prep & cooking time - 20 minutes
Servings: 2 - 3

1/4 cup masoor dal
1/4 cup sona masuri rice
A little turmeric powder
1 carrot, peeled and cubed
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 - 3 Tbsp peas
15 - 20 green beans, stringed and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups of water
1 tsp sambhar powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt to taste
2 -3 Tbsp tamarind juice
For tadka: 1 Tbsp ghee / oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, few curry leaves

* Wash masoor dal and rice thoroughly and throw away the water used to rinse. Add dal, rice, turmeric, vegetables and water to a cooking pot and cook on medium - high flame until the rice is done.
(I usually put the dal and rice to cook first and then start chopping vegetables. First, I go with the veggies that take longer to cook. By doing so, time can be saved.)
* Next add the tamarind, sambhar powder, salt and chili powder and cook for about five minutes and turn off the stove.
* Heat ghee / oil in a small pan and add the tadka ingredients. When mustard starts to pop, add it to the khichdi and mix well.
* Serve warm with papad / chips.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eggless Banana - Semolina Cake

Today is the 7th and final day of the first round of blogging marathon #12. I was planning to post a banana bread but couldn't take the pictures because of the bad weather all week long here. I so, thought of posting this banana - semolina cake instead, that was inspired from this recipe. This post was lying in my drafts as I was not happy with these images but since I couldn't come up with a post today, I had to use it. :) I need to update the images the next time I try this.
The cake is absolutely delicious and this recipe is a keeper. Keep rotating different fruits whenever you prepare this cake so that you end up with a different flavored one each time. Though it appears to have a gritty, crisp surface from the image, it becomes softer at room temperature.  

Before going to today's recipe, here is a recap of my "Something Sweet" themed posts.
Day 1 - Carrot - Apple Muffins
Day 2 - Kesar Sandesh / Sondesh 
Day 3 - Chocolate Chip - Oatmeal Cookies 
Day 4 - Microwave Apple Crisp
Day 5 - Blackberry Cobbler
Day 6 - Dates - Coconut Kheer

1 cup semolina
1 cup banana puree
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp raisins
2 Tbsp walnut pieces
1 tsp baking powder

* Combine all the ingredients except walnuts in a bowl and keep aside covered for 10 minutes.
* Preheat the oven at 375 deg F.
* Grease a baking pan. This batter doesn't raise much and so the batter can be filled up to 3/4th of the pan. I used 2 one cup capacity baking pans.
* Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with walnut pieces. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
* Cool, slice and serve.

This goes to Raven's CEDD event guesthosted by me.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kharjoora Payasa / Dates - Coconut Kheer

Sometimes it is hard to convey the deliciousness of a dish or it's rich flavor through an image. That's what happened to me while trying to capture this dates kheer last week and I finally gave up. I was trying to add some color to the pale brown, yummy kheer by adding toasted raisins and cashews in the form of garnish and everything except a couple sank to the bottom of the glass leaving back traces of ghee at the surface.
Here is a very delectable and simple kheer as my Day 6 entry for blogging marathon #12. The dates are cooked in coconut milk instead of the regular milk and the kheer stands apart for this reason. It makes it more rich and flavorful. If you have coconut milk ready, the kheer can be prepared in a jiffy. This can be prepared with regular milk too but once you taste the coconut milk version, you would not want to try the former one. For a true, authentic version go with homemade coconut milk instead of store bought ones.

Other coconut milk kheers posted earlier -
Godhi Nucchina Payasa / Cracked Wheat Kheer
Ananas Payasa / Pineapple Kheer

1/2 cup Pitted dates
1/4 cup Jaggery
About 1.5 cup - 2 cups Coconut milk
1/2 tsp Cardamom powder
Ghee toasted Cashews to garnish

Puree the dates. Add coconut milk as needed and jaggery to the dates puree. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add cardamom powder and toasted cashews and turn off the stove.
Serve warm or chilled.
Check out here to know what my fellow marathoners have come up with during this marathon.

This goes to Raven's CEDD event guesthosted by me.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Blackberry Cobbler

When I was looking for a blackberry cobbler recipe, I found an easy one here that had received great reviews from people who had tried it. I went ahead without a second thought and it turned out delicious. The original recipe uses an iron skillet but a 9" pie plate works fine. I wasn't sure whether it was the perfect size and so used an extra 1 cup baking dish for the below quantity but my pie plate would have been enough.

1/2 cup / 1 stick unsalted butter
4 cups fresh blackberries (I used about half the quantity)
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

* Preheat oven to 350 deg F/ 175 deg C.
* Melt the butter in a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof baking dish, in the oven, 5 to 7 minutes. (I just melted the butter in the microwave.)
* Meanwhile, put the blackberries in a large bowl and slightly mash them to release their juices. Sprinkle with sugar if blackberries are tart. (The blackberries I used were very sweet and I did not have to use the extra sugar.)
* In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Next add 1 cup sugar, milk, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Mix until well combined and add melted butter to the flour mixture. Stir to combine.
* Pour mixture into the skillet / baking dish and pour blackberries and their juices into the center.
*  Place the skillet / baking dish in the preheated oven and bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the batter comes out clean, about 1 hour. (I baked for 1 hour.)
* Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

This is my Day 5 entry for blogging marathon #12 . Check out here to know what my fellow marathoners have come up with during this marathon.

This goes to
1. Raven's CEDD event guesthosted by me.

2. Vardhini's Bake Fest, hosted by Pradnya this month.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Microwave Apple Crisp

Microwave Apple Crisp ~ My Day 4 entry for BM#12 .

I was looking for a quick and easy, fruit based microwave dessert to contribute to the Cook.Eat.Delicious.Desserts event I am hosting this month and landed up here. This delicious crisp is done in the microwave and a serving can be prepared under 5 minutes. I quartered the ingredients and got a single serving. The recipe was like a reflection of my style of cooking - simple, quick and undemanding one. 2 minutes of prep work and 2 minutes of cooking and you will end up with a generous serving of delicious apple crisp (or two servings if you prefer portion control). I have found equally tempting versions on other websites that I am planning to try later.

1 small apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly 
1.5 to 2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
3 Tbsp quick cooking oats
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder (I used cardamom-clove powder instead.)
1 Tbsp dessicated coconut (optional)


1. Combine butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon in a small bowl.

2. Arrange the apple slices on a baking dish evenly. For the above measurement, I used one cup baking dish. Sprinkle the topping prepared in step 1 evenly over apples.
3. Cook in the microwave for 2 to 2 & 1/2 minutes or until apple can be easily pierced with knife.
* Serve with a few scoops of vanilla icecream.

This is going to
1. Raven's CEDD event guesthosted by me.

2. Srivalli's MEC event guesthosted by Kalyani.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eggless Baking ~ Chocolate Chip - Oatmeal Cookies

My pantry auditing prompted me to look for ways to use the leftover oats I had so that I could free some space. And the search led me to this shortbread cookie recipe. What interested me was that the cookies were eggless and had chocolate chips in them. I didn't have to think twice since my daughter loves to eat chocolate chip cookies. I baked some last night for the third day of BM#12 under "Something Sweet" theme. They came out really crunchy.

Ingredients: (Yield 9 cookies)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp butter, softened (original recipe uses 1/4 cup.)
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
6 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk (or as needed)
6 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips

* Preheat oven to 325 deg F / 160 deg C.
* Beat butter and sugar using a electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, oats, baking soda and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. (The mixture was very dry since I didn't use the recommended amount of butter. I added 2 Tbsp of milk to it to form the dough.)
* Drop dough by tablespoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
* Bake 11 - 13 minutes or until lightly browned.

1. Regarding the temperature: After reading the reviews, I baked for 10 minutes at 335 deg F. The bottoms started to brown quickly and so I reduced the temperature to 315 deg F and baked for ten minutes more. I therefore think that 325 deg F temperature should work fine.
2. Regarding the time & quantity of cookies: The original recipe recommends to drop the dough by teaspoons and so the quantity will be more than what I got. The baking time of 11 - 13 minutes did not work for me. I baked for about 20 minutes, turned off the oven and let the cookies remian in the oven for 5 minutes more. The cookies came out with a bit darker bottom side but were good.
3. Use the recommended amount of chocolate chips. I used about a little less than 1/4 cup since they appeared to be more than the actual dough quantity. However after baking, I realised that I should have added more.

Check out here to know what my fellow marathoners have come up with during this marathon.
This goes to
1. Vardhini's Bake Fest, hosted by Pradnya this month.
2. Srivalli's Chocolate Mela 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kesar Sandesh / Sondesh

Bengali cuisine is well known for many mouth watering, dairy based sweets and I am fond of them all. I am a sucker for chhena based desserts like champakali, chamcham, rosgulla and rasmalai since I was a kid. Those were the things I would order at the end of a meal at restaurants back when I was in India and still do when I visit India. Somehow I like the succulent texture of the above dishes and they top my "most favorite desserts" list even today. I couldn't therefore let go this "Something Sweet" themed week of BM#12 without a milk based sweet and so here is kesar sandesh or sondesh, as Bengalis call it.
Sandesh is prepared with chhena and it has just melt in mouth kind texture and palate pleasing yumminess. If you have chhena ready, this is a simple dish to prepare and impress your guests. It gives an impression that you toiled for long in the kitchen.

10 cups milk (About 2 litres of milk)
6 Tbsp of sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
a pinch of saffron soaked in a tsp of warm milk
Sliced pistachios for garnishing
(Additionally vinegar / lemon juice to prepare chhena.)

* Prepare chhena with the milk as shown here.
* Traditionally the chhena and sugar are kneaded well, manually. This time around, I skipped that step since I had seen some of the blogger buddies blending the two ingredients in a mixer. I followed that this time and put the chhena, sugar and cardamom powder in the food processor and pulsed it until I got a smooth mixture.

* Put the mixture and saffron along with the warm milk it is soaked in, in a non stick pan and start cooking on low - medium flame. I added a pinch of yellow color for appeal and that is totally optional. Keep stirring in between to avoid the mixture from scorching, especially if you are not using a nonstick pan.

* After a few minutes, you will start to notice that the mixture almost reaches liquid stage again. Don't panic. Keep on stirring until it thickens. The whole procedure takes a good 20 - 25 minutes. This is really a simple dessert to prepare and woo your guests. No expertise or knack required. You just must be able to stir the contents in the pan. :)

* When the mixture comes together, turn off the stove and let it cool a bit. Then mould the mixture into preferred shape using your hands and garnish with nuts and extra saffron if desired.

Check out here to know what my fellow marathoners have come up with during this marathon.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Eggless & Delicious ~ Carrot - Apple Muffins

Another edition of blogging marathon starts from today and by now, my regular readers must have become familiar with the exercise attached to it. BM is for 2 weeks every month and the participants have the choice to take part in the 1st and / or second weeks sticking to a particular theme per week. My theme for the first round of BM#12 is "Something Sweet" and obviously the readers get to see some yummy stuff here all weeklong.

I have been noticing this muffin recipe for years now whenever I buy gold medal brand flour. The recipe comes printed on the flour pack under the name "glorious morning muffins". The yummy and healthy combination of carrots, apple, nuts and dry fruits had piqued my interest well enough that I tried them last week at last. Thanks to Gayathri's tips about egg substitutes during last marathon, I could convert these egg based muffins to eggless ones. They turned out truly delicious and actually were not dense as muffins would be. The texture was somewhere between a muffin and cupcake and so I really enjoyed them. We thought they were subtly sweet the evening I made them but by the next day, they were perfect for us.

The sweet stuff never counts as breakfast at my home and these could pass as yummy cupcakes actually. I am therefore sending them to Raven's CEDD (cook.eat.delicious.desserts) event, that I am guesthosting this month.

This also goes to Vardhini's Bake Fest, hosted by Pradnya this month.

Ingredients: (Make 12)
1 cup flour (1/2 the quantity can be substituted with whole wheat flour.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup yogurt
6 Tbsp butter
2 - 3 Tbsp milk (adjust as needed)
1 big carrot, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup peeled, shredded apple
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup sliced walnuts / almonds

* Heat oven to 350 deg F /175 deg C. Place paper baking cups in the muffin tray or grease them.
* Combine butter, milk, yogurt and vanilla in a mixing bowl and just whisk to blend the ingredients. Add flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in carrot, apple, coconut, raisin and 2 Tbsp of nuts.
* Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the batter.
* Place the muffin tray in the preheated oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and remove from the pan.

Check out here to know what my fellow marathoners have come up with during this marathon.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chiroti / Pathir Pheni for December ICC

Our Sankranthi / Pongal wishes to readers who are celebrating.

Thanks to ICC, I could try a recipe this month that I had been planning to do for years now. Actually I haven't eaten them in decades, if I remember correctly. Before some of you start wondering how old am I really, let's jump to the topic. :) For this month's Indian cooking Challenge, Srivalli went with pheni / chiroti, thanks to Harini's grandmother for the recipe. I must admit that I am still confused about the title and the dish though my son and I enjoyed it immensely. To be honest, until Valli announced this month's challenge, I hadn't heard the name pathir pheni in my life and according to web sources, it belongs to Karnataka. It was a big surprise to me as more than half of my life was spent in that state. And also the phenis of Andhra we are familiar with, do look different. When I told my mother and my husband about this month's ICC, they both were surprised to hear that phenis and chirotis are same. For us, they both are way apart. However such things do happen in India owing to the vast differences in the regional cuisines. As far as I know, this month's recipe is a mini version of Karnataka's weddings' staple dessert - Chiroti since the recipe is more similar to chiroti preparation than phenis.

Chirotis are synonymous to weddings in my dictionary since I have eaten them only during those functions. I am not aware of the present scenario but when we were kids, traditional style Brahmin weddings in Bangalore region used to have chirotis served mandatorily at the end. They are strong competitors to holiges, the other famous dessert from the region. Chirotis are flaky discs of about 10 inches diameter. When you tear a piece, you would be able to notice the layers. Chiroti itself is not sweet and so, usually powdered sugar is sprinkled on top and badam milk / milk is poured on it so that you can dunk it in the milk-sugar mixture and enjoy it. A pheni is either dunked in sugar syrup during preparation and it will have a sugar coating over the surface like a badusha. Or it can be eaten with milk - sugar mixture. Chiroti on the other hand is usually served with milk - sugar mixture. I am not aware about "behind the scenes" of chiroti making but my guess is that probably the cooks will go with many layers of large rolled circles of dough to get those super sized chirotis at wedding feasts.  

1/2 cup chiroti rave / pheni rava / fine semolina
1/2 cup maida / all purpose flour
A pinch of salt
3 Tbsp solidified ghee
2 Tbsp rice flour
Oil to fry
1/2 cup sugar powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 clove powdered (optional)

1. Mix the sugar, cardamom and clove powders in a bowl and keep aside. Or powder sugar, cardamom and clove together.
2. Combine the semolina and /or flour, 1 Tbsp solidified ghee and salt in a mixing bowl, rubbing the mixture with your hands. Then gradually add water and form a dough that of poori / roti consistency. Cover and allow the mixture to rest at least for an hour. The more the resting time, better the chirotis / phenis would be.

3. When you are ready to prepare the phenis / chirotis, whisk the remaining ghee and riceflour in a small cup and keep aside.

4. Divide the dough into 5 equal portions. Roll them out into thin circles. Apply the rice flour - ghee paste on each of the rolled out circle. Don't worry about getting perfect circles. It is hard because of the elasticity of the dough.

5. Place the rolled out circles, placing one on top of another so that you have layers of them with the flour - ghee paste in between. Apply the paste on the surface of the top rolled out circle too.

6. Starting from one end, go on rolling the layered circles like a carpet, to form a tight log. Apply the paste while rolling too. Tuck the ends securely.

7. Cut the log into one inch pieces. Roll out each piece again into a circle or press lightly with your hand.

8. Heat oil in a small wok for deep frying. Fry the rolled out circles on low flame until done, taking care they don't change the color. Drain them on paper towels. Serve warm with sprinkling on powdered sugar and pouring on some almond milk. Chirotis are best served warm but they can be stored for longer periods at room temperature.

1. This recipe source uses only chiroti rava. There are versions which use only all purpose flour and some use both flour and fine semolina.
2. If fine semolina is not available, grind and sieve the regular semolina to get a finer consistency.
3. For quick fix badam milk, add MTR's badam mix to warm full fat milk or evaporated milk and combine well.