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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Palli Pakodi / Peanut Pakodas

I exercise caution when dealing with fried foods. Not during preparation but during consumption. :)

Like any normal human on earth, I do enjoy devouring them but the guilt and the increase in the girth that comes along keeps me away from them. I believe in prevention is better than cure when it comes to guilt laden food and the consequences attached.
I am a lazy bum and have no inclination towards exercise regimen. Ditto wth the husband and he blames it on the time factor. Our treadmill and elliptical in the basement are laden with at least an inch of dust. Sigh. Our bodies in 20s seem to be a lot different than when we are in our 30's. Any fat - sugar we consume seems to like to settle in the mid sections, a factor that I completely detest. :) That's why the aversion but still I went ahead with fried fritters theme for  this week's BM thereby shocking myself.

The people around me keep reminding that my weight is perfectly normal considering my age and height but I know it doesn't take longer to go downhill if I don't watch what am I putting into my body. The kiddo who is home now for summer holidays have been watching my eating patterns and was commenting that I was acting like an obsessive anorexic while all I was doing was eating balanced meals and only as much as my body needed. He doesn't know what his mom looked like before he was born, 25 pounds thinner. It is another thing that I was extremely thin then and addition of pounds happened for a good reason. :)

While I was contemplating whether I need to mail Valli for a change in BM theme, my husband was all smiles since most of his favorite foods start with a prefix "fried". He was giving me the list of fried items he would like to have. Unfortunately he is away on work this week and so, didn't get to eat any of these but the kids are enjoying. And I got to try a couple of recipes I have been intending to do for so long. Thanks to BM, mission accomplished. :)

Today's recipe is peanut pakodis that are a perfect companion for your evening tea. These crispy, hard to resist pakodis are like little clusters of masala peanuts. They are so addictive that I had a hard time stopping myself after tasting a couple. The original recipe had double the quantity of peanuts. It also included ginger -garlic paste that I omitted. If you have any left overs, just store them in airtight container and leave it on the counter for snacking later on. They stay good for few days.

1/2 cup chickpea flour / besan
2 Tbsp rice flour
1/2 cup peanuts
Salt & chili powder to taste
Oil to fry

* Heat oil in a frying pan.
* Mix the flours, salt, chili powder and peanuts in a bowl. Sprinkle just enough water to bring everything together. The batter should be as stiff as possible and so don't pour water at once. Go on adding little by little.
* Drop a pea sized batter into the hot oil to see if it is ready for frying. If it sizzles and comes to surface then the oil is ready for frying.
* Use your fingers to drop the batter in small portions into the oil. Fit as many as the frying pan can hold. Turn down the heat to low setting (or somewhere between low and medium setting) and fry them until golden brown, flipping in between to ensure that they are cooked through.
* Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.

Check what the other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Theepi Pesara Punukulu / Sweet Moongdal Fritters

I am an ardent fan of a cooking show that airs on one of the popular Telugu TV channels and I particularly like the chef's style of cooking.  I am no longer watching the show but have some interesting and traditional recipes scribbled in my journal from the past shows. One of those happens to be these punukulu.

Punukulu / punugulu refer generally to the spicy fritters made with dosa / idli batter that is served as breakfast in Andhra homes. Though I am well versed with the spicy version, we are not the ones who would go with an oil filled kadai for the breakfast. I was contemplating whether to go with this traditional dish for this BM when I suddenly remembered the sweeter version from the show. I had jotted down the recipe since it was intriguing and probably if not for BM, I wouldn't have tried it. :) I prepared a small batch today and they came out really good. The recipe is a simple one and also the punukulu can be prepared quickly. These moong dal fritters are not overtly sweet and are delicious with subtle hints of pepper.

Ingredients: (Yield 10 fritters)
1/2 cup moongdal
1/4 cup powdered jaggery
1 Tbsp rice flour
1/8 tsp black pepper powder
A pinch of salt
Oil to fry

* Heat oil in a frying pan.
* Wash and soak moong dal for about an hour.
* Drain moong dal completely and grind without adding any water.
* Transfer the ground dal to a bowl, add the remaining ingredients to it and mix well.
* Take small portions of the batter, shape into balls and drop into the oil. Or drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. Fit only as many as the frying pan holds.
* Fry on low flame until golden brown, turning around intermittently with a spoon ensuring that they are cooked through.
* Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
* Serve them warm.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Crispy Uraddal - Pepper Fritters / Minapa Vadalu

Fourth week of BM#17 starts from today and I have chosen "vadas / fritters" as my theme. I am going with these crispy, urad dal fritters for my Day 1 post. These vadas are used to form the "vadamala"  - the garland of urad dal fritters, offered to Lord Hanuman on Hanuman Jayanthi festival or as an offering at temples. While the regular vadas are soft and fluffy these are on the crispier side and are spicy.
Though traditionally made for religious purposes, they are a wonderful accompaniment to evening coffee / tea.

1 cup black gram / urad dal
1 - 2 tsp rice flour
Salt to taste
Coarsely crushed pepper as per taste (Usually the vadas are on the spicier side.)
Oil to fry

* Soak urad dal for about an hour. Drain and grind dal into a coarse, thick batter adding no water. Or add a couple of teaspoons of water if grinding becomes difficult.
* Meanwhile, start heating oil in a frying pan or a kadai on medium flame.
* Transfer the ground dal to a bowl. Add rice flour, crushed pepper, salt and a Tbsp of hot oil to the dal and mix well. Addition of rice flour and hot oil is to ensure that the vadas stay on crispier side.
* Take a big marble sized batter and pat the batter ball as thinly as possible on a greased plastic sheet. Poke a hole at the center with the index finger. Open your right hand and gently flip the sheet onto the fingers so that disc is transferred to your hand. Gently slide it into the hot oil for frying. Fit as many vadas as the kadai can hold. Fry them on low - medium flame until golden brown. Keep flipping in between to ensure uniform cooking. 
If vadas are made for snacking, there is no need to poke the holes in discs. The holes are meant to thread the garland.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining batter, greasing the plastic sheet each time you use it.
* Store them in an airtight container.

Check what the other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mini Blueberry Almond Tarts

Desserts are not served at the end of a meal in my home. The other adult won't touch them while the kids treat them as snacks and eat  during evenings. That's why these mini blueberry tarts appear in this blogging marathon under the 'Evening Snacks" theme.
I got this recipe from BettyCrocker website and these tarts are similar to the apple crostatas that I posted recently. With very minimal efforts, one can create these yummy tarts.
Check what other bloggers are cooking during this marathon.

Ingredients: (yield 6 mini tarts or one 9 inched tart)
One Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (15 oz)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
3/5 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp granulated sugar (optional)

* Mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, water and almond extract in  a bowl.
* Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
* Prepare the crust as directed on the box. Unroll on an ungreased cookie sheet if planning to make one big sized one. If planning to make mini tarts, unroll the crust and roll out slightly. Cut into four 5 inch rounds. Collect the scraps, roll again and cut into 5 inch rounds again. (Totally I got 6 rounds). Place the rounds on a baking sheet.
*  Spread half of the almonds over crust (or mini crusts) and press slightly onto crusts. Spoon blueberry mixture onto center of the crust(s)  to within 1&1/2 to 2 inches of edge of crust. Fold the edge of crust over the blueberry mixture, crimping the crust slightly. Sprinkle the sugar along the edges, if using.
* Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Sprinkle the remaining almonds over blueberry mixture during the last five minutes of baking.

1. If baking as a single tart, the quantity of berries can be increased.
2. Don't be tempted to overfill the berries in the tart shells. The juices will ooze out and it would be a mess.

This goes to Priya's "Veggie / Fruit A Month" event hosted this month by Harini-Jaya with the theme Blue berries.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Masala Borugulu / Spicy Puffed Rice

I end up cooking two to three fresh meals each day during weekdays and my energy levels reach somewhere null point by weekend. While the working women look forward to weekends to create decent meals, I would be dragging myself into the kitchen to cook a meal that doubles up as our lunch and dinner. Let alone snacks, I don't even prefer preparing breakfast on a weekend morning. On weekdays, when I seem to have oodles of energy I deliberately cook extra breakfast so that I can freeze and serve it on weekends. However when the evening hungry pangs start to kick in, my poor husband jumps in to prepare a snack instead of bothering me. :) It usually turns out to be this spicy puffed rice or bhel puri that can be put together very quickly. Thanks to my husband, I don't remember preparing it myself in years though I eat it regularly. :)

And coming to recipe, there are no standard measurements to follow. Just I add a handful of this and a handful of that. If you like a particular ingredient, go with more of it. For instance, I tend to add more peanuts since my kids love it. I follow the below given method but my husband prefers to dry toast peanuts, dalia and puffed rice individually and then prepare a tadka with the remaining ingredients. Whatever method you follow, you will end up with a yummy and guilt free snack in about five minutes.

Ingredients for 4 servings:
4 cups puffed rice / mamra
2 - 3 handfuls of peanuts
2 handfuls of roasted chickpeas (dalia)
2 - 3 Tbsp dry coconut pieces
1- 2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves (wash and pat dry)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
6 red chillies
Salt to taste

* Heat oil in a wide pan and add mustard seeds and peanuts.
* Fry until peanuts turn golden brown and then add dalia, curry leaves, red chillies, coconut pieces, turmeric powder and saute for few seconds.
* Next add puffed rice and salt. Saute for a couple of minutes or until the puffed rice is crispy. Turn off the stove.
* Let cool and transfer the mixture to an airtight container.

Check what other bloggers are cooking during this marathon.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Milk Chocolate - Banana Milkshake

Fruits are my first choice when I am looking for something to snack on and ditto when packing kids' snack boxes. My kids love chilled fruit slices or fruit milkshakes / smoothies and so I thought of posting a quick and filling milkshake for my "Easy Tiffins / Snacks" theme in blogging Marathon #17.
I keep throwing surprises in the ordinary milkshakes when the kids' are not ready to drink any warm milk beverages during summer days. I found this idea of adding Nestle's nutrition drink mix to banana milkshake on the box and tried it. It definitely makes the ordinary milkshake more balanced and nutritive one and the kids' loved the chocolate flavored shake.  

Ingredients for one serving:
3/4 cup milk
1 small frozen banana
1 packet rich milk chocolate flavor Carnation breakfast essentials complete nutritional drink mix
Sweetener of your choice (optional)

Place everything in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Check what other bloggers are cooking during this marathon.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Savory Carrot Buns / Rolls

When I came to know that the theme "Magic Mingle #6" is all purpose flour and cilantro combo, I immediately decided to try a savory bake. I landed at Champa's blog when looking for low fat recipes and ended trying these savory carrot buns. Fresh from the oven, these spicy, delicious buns were a treat with our evening beverage.

Ingredients: (yield 12 rolls)
2&1/2 cups flour / whole wheat flour (I used 1&1/4 cup each of all purpose flour and wheat flour.)
3/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2&1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
1&1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 cup peeled and grated carrot
1/4 cup minced cilantro
Finely minced green chillies as per taste (I used 2 large Serrano peppers.)
A mixture of oil and milk to brush the tops of buns

* Combine warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and leave it until the yeast foams. (Generally the foaming with rapid rise yeast is barely visible. Don't bother with the frothing part as long as your yeast is not a stale one.)
* Add flour, salt and oil to the bowl. Knead and form a dough. Don't be tempted to add any extra water at this point even if the dough appears to be dry. The moisture from the addition of carrots would be sufficient.
* Next add the grated carrots, green chillies and cilantro and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. (Actually I didn't knead as I overlooked that part. I just formed the dough and left it to rise.) After the kneading (or not), you will end up with a smooth dough.

* Grease a bowl and place the dough in it. Turn once to coat all over the dough. Cover and let rise for about 60 - 90 minutes. The original recipe mentions that the dough might not double, but will be puffy. Mine doubled.
* After the rising period, deflate the dough and divide it into 12 equal portions. Pat them into rolls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Cover with a greased aluminum foil and let it rise for one more hour. After the waiting period, my rolls were again almost doubled. Brush them with oil and milk mixture before placing them in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.
Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 25 - 28 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
Brush with melted butter if desired, before serving them warm.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mini Apple Crostatas

I found this recipe on Pillsbury site and truly as the saying goes this recipe is as easy as a pie. :) It hardly takes around five minutes to put together these crostatas besides the baking time. And you will have a delightful dessert to please everyone. Even my daughter who hates sweet stuff tried it and said it was yummy.

Ingredients: (Yield 6 crostatas)

Pillsbury or any other brand 9 inch refrigerated pie crust (one from 15 oz box)
2 small baking apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
Vanilla ice cream for serving

1. Soften the crust as directed on the box. Unroll the crust and roll out slightly. Cut into four 5 inch rounds. Collect the scraps, roll again and cut into 5 inch rounds again. (Totally I got 6 rounds.)Place the rounds on a greased baking sheet.
2. Heat oven to 425 deg F.
3. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss apple slices into it. Divide evenly the apple mixture onto center of each round. Fold 1/2 inch of the crust over filling, pinching all around slightly so that crust lays flat on apples.
4. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until crust is golden brown
5. Serve warm with icecream if desired.

Check what the other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Granola - Strawberry Smoothie & Blueberry Yogurt

Finally , the summer seems to be here and suddenly we are craving for cooler things. The two ideas, a smoothie and a yogurt posted today were prepared to beat yesterday's heat. They use the store bought granola bars and yogurt and suit my BM theme of "Food prepared using ready made stuff".
Check what the other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.

Ingredients: (2 - 3 servings)
1 cup or 6 oz strawberry yogurt / Plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup strawberries, halved
1 small banana
2 granola bars (I used Nature Valley' Oats n Honey bars.)
Sugar or any sweetener if using plain yogurt

* Place yogurt, milk, fruits, 3/4th of the granola bars and sweetener if using in a blender. Blend until smooth.
* Pour into glasses. Crumble the remaining bars and sprinkle in each glass. Garnish with strawberry slices if desired. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Yogurt

Another cool snack idea for these sultry days. Though I am not a yogurt - granola parfait eating person, a fruity yogurt sprinkled with a small quantity of nuts and crumbled granola bar is appealing to me. Here is blueberry Greek yogurt sprinkled with almond and crumbled granola.
Either get blueberry yogurt from the store or prepare your own. Using Greek yogurt is the shortcut version but straining the yogurt in the refrigerator for a few hours will also give the same results. For each cup of Greek yogurt, pulse about 2 Tbsp of blueberries coarsely. Add crushed berries and sweetener to the yogurt and stir. 4 - 6 fresh berries can be added as well. Sprinkle with nuts and granola bar pieces if desired and serve immediately.

This goes to Priya's "Veggie / Fruit A Month" event hosted this month by Harini-Jaya  with the theme Blue berries.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Oats - Masoor Dal Bisibele Huli

The second week of BM#17 starts from today and I am going with "cooking with ready made stuff" theme. I did not have to go beyond my utility room (literally) for inspiration this time. I have a large utility room which doubles up as my second pantry or a mini grocery store as my mother calls it. We (particularly my husband ) know no boundaries when it comes to grocery shopping and keep stocking stuff as if there is going to be an emergency soon. My husband is very well versed with quality and price of the ingredients but goes overboard when it comes to the quantity. Result? My pantry and refrigerator are filled with loads and loads of grains, beans, dairy, veggies, fruits, snacks and so on enough to feed a crowd and to shock any newcomers to our home. :)

At any given time, I will also have a huge carton full of MTR instant mixes of all kinds. Not that I need instant mixes or use them enthusiastically but my husband feels that they will come handy during time crunches. For the first day post, I made use of MTR's bisibelebhath powder to prepare bisibele huli using oats and masoor dal for a quick and healthy lunch.
If you are bored to eat the mushy, bland oatmeal but would like to incorporate it into your diet, here is a spicy oatmeal preparation. This doesn't need even a pressure cooker as masoor dal cooks quickly and this comforting, one pot meal can be put together in around 20 minutes.

Ingredients: (3 - 4 servings)
1/2 cup masoor dal
1/2 cup old fashioned oats (Dry toast oats until they start to change color.)
1 to 1.5 cup chopped veggies (I used carrots, beans, potatoes and peas.)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 - 3 Tbsp MTR bisibele bhath powder or homemade BBB powder
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp thick tamarind juice
For tadka: 2 Tbsp ghee, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 Tbsp cashews and few curry leaves

* Wash masoor dal in two exchanges of water. Add washed masoor dal, prepared vegetables, turmeric powder and about 5 cups of water to a pan and cook until masoor dal is done. It will take around 15 minutes.
* When masoor dal is cooked, add bisibele bhath powder, salt, tamarind and oats. Continue to simmer until oats are cooked through.
* In the mean while, heat ghee in a small pan and toast the tadka ingredients. When cashews turn golden brown, remove and add to the cooked oats - dal mixture and mix well.
Serve warm with papad / chips / khara boondi.

Check what the other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bread Halwa

From this month, the marathon is going to be for 4 weeks - each one with 3 days of posting. And so, this edition of marathon seemed like a breeze and it's time already for the final post for the first week of BM#17. 
It's bread halwa's turn today under "Kheer / Halwa" theme. Like poori payasam, this is a dish I haven't made it in years though couldn't figure out why. :)) It is easy and can be prepared at a moment's notice besides being yummy. I should say the kind I prefer. :)

12 bread slices ( I usually go with brown bread. This time however I have used white one and hence I think the color of halwa was lighter.)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup ghee
3 - 4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Nuts to garnish

* Remove the crusts from the bread slices and cut the bread into small pieces. Toast them in the ghee until golden brown and keep them aside. 
* Heat the milk in a pan. Add sugar and cardamom and wait until sugar dissolves. Add the bread pieces and cook on low flame until they get cooked and incorporated into the milk. Turn off the stove and garnish with nuts.
* This can be served either warm or chilled.

Freeze the crusts instead of trashing and when you have collected a substantial amount, just process them to prepare your own bread crumbs.

Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Poha - Coconut Halwa

My husband started throwing me options when I went to him to get some ideas for this week's marathon. His suggestions however made me suspect whether he was really serious or gone delirious with his work load. He had flown from his work the previous night, worked way past midnight and was up in the morning again with his laptop on.  And so instead of arguing over trivial matters and getting preached on how I refuse to see beyond my mother's kitchen, I walked out of the room and began thinking about it.
Among the ones, a few seemed feasible like this poha one. My husband had claimed that he had eaten it somewhere but I wasn't  sure whether he was joking or serious. However I tried it since the idea of poha halwa seemed appealing. I loved it and it is a simple and quick option when you are looking for some yummy stuff to satisfy your sweet tooth.

2 Tbsp ghee
1 Tbsp each - raisins & cashews
1 cup thick poha / beaten rice flakes
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh shredded coconut (I used sweetened coconut flakes.)
2 Tbsp sugar (I used about 1 & 1/2 Tbsp as I used sweetened coconut.)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
A pinch of food color (optional)

* Melt the ghee in a pan and add raisins - cashews to it. Toast until the raisins become plump and cashews turn golden brown. Remove them with  a slotted spoon and keep them aside.
* To the same ghee, add poha and toast on low flame until it starts to change color. Transfer the poha to a plate.
* Add milk to the same pan and heat. Then add the food color, toasted poha and coconut and cook on low flame until poha is done.
* Next add sugar and cardamom to the poha. Continue to cook until the sugar gets dissolved and incorporated into the mixture.
* Turn off the stove and add the cashews and raisins toasted earlier to the halwa and mix well.
* Serve warm.

Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Poori Payasam

Kheers / payasams are my favorite just for the simple reason that they satiate my sweet tooth with less guilt and minimal work. I jump in whenever I see a kheer related event going on in the blogosphere and so no surprise, my theme for the first week of blogging marathon is going to be on the same lines- Kheers / Halwas.

When planning for kheer posts, I realized that I haven't posted the ones that are regular in our homes. Surprisingly, even the most mundane vermicelli kheer hasn't been posted yet though I have close to 30 kheer recipes on my blog. And so I chose to go with this yummy poori payasam that used to be prepared on special ocassions in my MIL's kitchen. My mother would reach for a bag of vermicelli or a bottle of sago on festive days when she thought of kheers while my MIL for the wheat flour bag / chanadal. Those are/were their preferred choices. I keep preparing a variety of kheers but the ones with less calories. I don't deep fry very often and so this poori payasam doesn't appear even rarely in my kitchen. :) Probably I have prepared it once or twice and so, today it was like walking down the memory lane, remembering the good times spent with my dear MIL.

As the title suggests, this payasam needs pooris. This delectable kheer is particularly a breeze if you have any left over pooris. Even if you have to start from scratch, that should be no big deal as you may need only about 6 pooris for about 2 cups of milk used. I have posted the simple version that my MIL used to prepare. If you have company or want to make this kheer extra special, 1/4 cup powdered almond - cashew mixture / khova / condensed milk can be added to make the milk base richer. Or the milk can be boiled and reduced to 3/4th of the original quantity. 

Ingredients: (3 servings)
1.5 cup milk
2 - 3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp MTR badam mix (Optional)
4 pooris
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 Tbsp nuts to garnish
* Bring the milk to a rolling boil and reduce the flame to lowest setting. Let it simmer until pooris are prepared. Add sugar, cardamom powder and badam mix if using.
* Tear the pooris into small pieces, add them to the milk and switch off the stove after a minute or so. Garnish with nuts. Let it sit for about 30 minutes or so.
* It can be served warm or chilled. I prefer it warmer.

If you need to prepare pooris, take about 1/2 cup of wheat flour / all purpose flour and prepare a firm dough adding water as needed. Let it rest for about an hour. Divide into 6 equal portions, roll them into rounds and deep fry until they puff and turn golden brown both sides. Drain them on paper towels and press them between paper towels if needed to remove excess grease.

Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking during BM#17.