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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rajma Masala

For today's blogging marathon post, I had to pick a protein based gravy dish. Legumes and paneer seemed to be the obvious protein choices but decided to settle with the latter. I promptly prepared a paneer dish in advance but lost the pictures due to computer glitches. This is what I got for being ready in advance this time. :)At the last minute, I realized that I could go with rajma masala as I haven't posted it yet surprisingly.

Protein packed rajma masala happens to be a filling, comfort dish popular in Punjab and other north Indian states. Kidney beans are simmered in onion- tomato - spice gravy, yielding in a melt in mouth kind, delectable side dish. I have given below the method that I usually follow which gives more liquidy gravy. Sometimes I grind onion, tomatoes, ginger and the whole spices (instead of adding garam masala). I add the ground paste after step 2 and fry until the raw smell of the onion leaves, so that I have a thick gravy as shown in the image above. Basically the method below yields you a nice gravy while the rajma in the picture is on a thicker side.

1 cup kidney beans / rajma
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger paste / grated ginger
2 onions
2 - 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chili powder or as needed
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp crushed kasuri methi (optional)
Cilantro to garnish
(Rajma usually contains garlic and so feel free to add.)

1. Soak kidney beans overnight in plenty of water or for at least 8 - 10 hours. After the soaking period, cook the kidney beans adding water in a pressure cooker. The cooked beans should be soft but not mushy.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown add ginger and onion. Fry onion on low flame until it turns translucent.
3. Then add tomatoes and spice powders. Cook until the tomatoes turns mushy.
4. Next add the cooked beans and salt. Add water to the desired consistency and let it cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Add kasuri methi into the pan, stir and turn off the stove. Garnish with cilantro.
5. Serve along with rotis / rice. 

Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Aloo Mangodi Ki Subzi

My legume based gravy dish for today comes from a northwestern state of India, Rajasthan - "The land of the kings". The things that I visualise when I think about Rajasthan are the magnificent forts - the witnesses of the bygone grandeur, the Thar desert - the only desert of the nation and the delicious food I got to experience at the Rajasthani speciality restaurants, back in India.
The desert that lies to the northwestern region of the state and the arid conditions have influenced Rajasthani cuisine to some extent. The scarcity of water and fresh vegetables have forced the people to adapt to the conditions and they sun dried some of their harvest for later use during the dry months. As any other culture / region, the traditional cuisine here was built on the availability of the ingredients and the conditions of the region. It continues to influence the modern cooking though the modern technology have made the conditions of the region better for agriculture.
One of these sun dried products happens to be mangodi prepared from moong dal. I used them today while preparing a rasedaar aloo subzi. They really impart flavor to any dish they are a part of and make even the ordinary dishes special. I have tried them in three dishes so far and I have noticed that we have relished them all. The dried mangodis are available here in U.S at Indian grocers. Preparing them at home is quite simple and check here if you are interested to know how. The other dishes using mangodi published here - Nimona and Magori Palak Ki Kadhi.
1 cup mangodi
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp grated/minced ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 onions finely chopped
2 - 3 tomatoes finally chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
Salt to taste
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp each - cumin powder, coriander powder & garam masala
1 Tbsp kasuri methi / dried fenugreek greens
* Cook mangodis until they soften in a pressure cooker or in a pan. Mangodis are hard and take longer to cook than the vegetables. And so, I cook mangodis separately in a pressure cooker while I am cooking the veggies in a saute pan.
* Heat oil in a kadai or a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to change a shade darker, add ginger and saute for a few seconds. Then add onion and turmeric. Fry until the onion softens and next add the tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes turn mushy. Then add potatoes and a cup of water. Continue cooking until potatoes are cooked through. Add water intermittently as needed while cooking.
* Add the cooked mangodi at the final stages of cooking. Then add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes more. Crumble the kasuri methi, stir once and turn off the stove.
* I had served them with rotis and chopped onion. 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vegetable Saagu

Saagu - A vegetable based side dish from Karnataka for BM#24.

A bowl of bisibelebhath or a plate of poori saagu means heaven to me. I remember whenever my mother used to pack them for my lunch box, my concentration would be zilch towards the classes that day and I would be eagerly waiting for my lunch hour. Especially if it was a poori - saagu day, my breakfast, lunch and snack that day would be just poori - saagu and nothing else.When Valli threw us a challenge of preparing side dishes from different states, the first thing that obviously came to my mind was saagu. However I couldn't perfectly translate my love for the dish into words this time. I therefore kept procrastinating drafting this post since last week as I just didn't know what to write.

I only had two things in my mind that saagu is my most favorite side dish and I salivate even looking at a saagu picture. :) It is not exaggerating when I say many Kannadigas are with me on this point. While aloo bhaji / potato masala happens to be the most popular choice of side dish for pooris through out India, Kannadigas prefer something else. They have their own favorite and yummy vegetable side dish to go with those equally delectable puffy pooris - vegetable saagu or saagu. Like bisibelebhath, saagu also happens to be an iconic dish of Karnataka. Mixed vegetables cooked in a concoction of mild spices result in a delicious, finger licking dish. The ground dalia - spice paste lend the body to the gravy but is not on the watery side. Also the cooked vegetables still should hold their shape. Saagu happens to be the popular restaurant choice to go with pooris, rave idli and set dose.

Ingredients: (4 - 6 generous servings)

For tadka:
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp chana dal / Bengal gram
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Few curry leaves

Vegetables used:
3 finely chopped onions
2 - 3 chopped tomatoes
2 peeled and cubed carrots
3 medium sized, peeled and cubed potatoes
1 peeled and cubed chayote
20 - 25 stringed and chopped beans
1/4 cup fresh / frozen peas

To grind:
3 Tbsp dalia / roasted chickpeas / chutney dal
1 tsp poppy seeds
2 one inch cinnamon pieces
Green chillies as per taste
1 tsp coriander seeds
A handful of cilantro leaves
3 - 4 Tbsp shredded fresh coconut

Salt to taste

I usually prepare saagu directly in a small pressure cooker or a pressure pan for the ease and convenience. And so I am going to give that method. However if a pan / wok is preferred to cook, that's fine too.
* Heat oil to the cooker and add chana dal and mustard seeds. When dal starts to turn reddish, add curry leaves, turmeric powder and onion. Saute the onion for a couple of minutes. There is no need to fry the onions until they are done.
* Next add all the other vegetables and a cup of water to the cooker. Cover with the lid and cook up to 2 whistles. The vegetables should be cooked but not turn mushy.
* In the meanwhile, grind finely all the ingredients mentioned under "to grind", adding water.
* Add the ground paste and salt to the cooked vegetables. Add water if needed and cook for about  8 - 10 minutes on medium flame. Turn off the stove.

* I haven't mentioned the quantity of the green chillies used since it depends upon the spiciness of the chillis used and the heat preferred. If you are not sure how spicy the paste is, then add the paste to the veggies in little qunatities and check. In that way, you can keep the spice level under check.
* Quantity of coriander seeds can be increased and cilantro can be completely eliminated from this recipe. Personally I hate the strong flavor of coriander seeds dominating the flavor of saagu and totally eliminate it from the dish and use cilantro instead.


Saturday, January 19, 2013


 Chapatis served with green peas masala

Based on the grains grown and consumed traditionally, India could be divided into two regions. The upper northern part of the country is based on a wheat diet while the southern portion on a rice based diet. Times have changed  now and the whole nation eats both rice and wheat. Breads are a speciality of Northern region, the traditional ones originating from the wheat growing regions obviously. 

Rotis / chapatis / parathas / phulkas are all unleavened flat breads originating from India while kulchas and naans are the leavened kind. The latter ones being the speciality of restaurants since they need a tandoori oven to perfect them. Served along with a vegetable side dish and a dal (bean based dish),  rotis / chapatis form the basic meal, eaten on a daily basis in millions of households in India. 

The Indian breads are usually prepared using whole wheat flour and a good quality of wheat flour is the first step towards those perfect rotis . Like many Indian housewives, my mother till to this day buys wheat kernels and gets them ground finely at the local flour mill for a small price. The result is finely ground, whole wheat flour which in turn yields excellent, soft rotis. Indian grocers sell wheat flour bags as atta or chapathi flour here in USA and if you are planning to make rotis for the first time, it is good to invest in a bag available at an Indian grocery store instead of the whole wheat flour sold elsewhere in the supermarkets. The Pillsbury brand though expensive is really good. I have been using Aashirvaad brand recently and that one is good too.
The next thing for the successful rotis is of course practice. The saying practice makes perfect holds good especially for roti making. No need to lose hope if you are trying for the first time and don't get the perfect shape, thickness or the softness. Many Indian novice cooks who have grown up seeing their elders cooking rotis, also find roti making daunting. Just keep on trying and one day you will master the art of roti making. :)
Ingredients: (yield 16 - 17 rotis)
3 cups wheat flour (atta) + extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1-2 Tbsp oil (optional. I don't use it but highly recommend it.)
And extra oil for frying rotis

1. Combine flour, salt and oil if using in a bowl. Add water little by little and form a soft, pliable dough. Knead the dough for a minute or so and keep aside. 
* Just for an idea, I would like to mention that I added about 1.5 cups of water to form the dough. Use your discretion however while adding water. The dough should not be sticky since it would be hard to roll later. I used a standard American cup to measure both dry ingredients and the water.
2. Cover and allow the dough to rest at least for a couple of hours. Don't skip this step. I have noticed that this step ensures that you get good rotis even if you have don't have a good quality flour.  
* After the resting period, you can continue to make the rotis or refrigerate the dough covered for two days. When you want to use the dough, remove it from the refrigerator and just zap it in the microwave for 30 - 60 seconds, depending upon the quantity of the dough. However remember to cover the dough while microwaving. Otherwise the dough will dry up.
3.  Pinch a golf ball sized dough, shape it into a ball, flatten it and dust it with flour.
4. Roll it into a thin circle of about 5 inches diameter. At this point, you can stop rolling and fry it. Or you can pour 1/2 tsp oil at the center of the rolled circle, spread it with the back of the spoon.

5. Fold it twice to form a triangle and roll it thinly. Use flour for dusting if needed.
* I usually make chapatis in large quantities and so avoid the steps 4 & 5. Instead I take the dough ball from the step 2, flatten it in my palm and just fold it twice to form a thick triangle and roll it. And so I will end with flaky chapati without the extra work. :)
* Heat a griddle or a shallow pan. Place the rolled out dough circle on the griddle. When the bubbles start to appear, flip it.
* Spread 1/2 tsp of oil around the edges and fry flipping in between, until brown spots appear on both sides. Remove and repeat the steps with the remaining dough. Serve them with any subzi / dal.
1. A standard American size cup flour yields about 5 chapatis.
2. Chapatis can be refrigerated in a closed box or can be left on the counter for a day or two. Or they can be frozen after packing them in a ziploc bag or covering in an aluminum foil. The chapatis need to be reheated on the griddle when needed
3. If you stop at step 4, they are rotis. If you fold twice and roll again, they are called chapatis / plain parathas.

Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

Sada Dosa / Plain Dosa

I make dosas at least twice a week but have been postponing to post about them for ages, just because I wanted to do a pictorial presentation. Seems like I have to devote a post entirely for that later. I was planning to post something else from the "Subah ho ya Shyam" section of the "India House Vegetarian Restaurant" but since I made dosas yesterday and didn't have time to cook the planned stuff, it is going to be dosas for today's marathon post.

The yummy dosas happen to be a pretty common breakfast among south Indian homes. They need advanced preparation in terms of soaking the ingredients and an overnight fermentation of the batter. That may sound like a tedious and daunting process for the novices but it is not that difficult as it sounds. A little experience and skill will take you a long way in mastering the art of making delicious, crispy dosas.

Dosas can be served with an assortment of chutneys / sambhar / potato masala. Because of the morning rush hours, a chutney made with roasted chickpeas (dalia) or peanuts is the common stuff served along with dosas at homes. When served with potato masala, obviously it becomes masala dosa. And the word plain / sada in the title just is a restaurant term and doesn't mean the dosas are served just plain. They are the regular dosas that are served with chutney and sambhar and do not come along with the special potato masala.

Good dosas obviously result from good dosa batters and all the versions given below work excellent.

Ingredients for dosa batter:
My mother's version:
2 cups rice
1/2 cup urad dal / skinned black gram
1 Tbsp poha
Salt to taste
Oil to make dosas

My MIL's version:
2 cups rice
1/2 cup urad dal / skinned black gram
A handful of chana dal 
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds / methi seeds
Salt to taste
Oil to make dosas

My version:
I add rice, urad & chana dals, poha and methi in the same proportions as above to make my batter.

Dosa batter preparation:
* Wash all the ingredients (excepting salt and oil) thoroughly and soak them in water for at least 3 - 4 hours. 
* Then add the ingredients to a grinder / mixie / blender and grind into a smooth batter using water as needed. The batter should be on a thicker side and not be runny.
* Collect the batter into a container, add salt and mix well. The container should be big enough to allow the increase of volume of the batter due to the fermentation process.
* Cover  the batter and allow it to ferment overnight or for at least 10-12 hours in a warm place. I usually leave my batter in my convection oven overnight during winter, with the light on. I don't turn my oven on. :) This tip really works, if you live in a cold place.
* If the batter is fermented properly, there will be an increase in the quantity of the batter and so always use a container which can hold more than the ground batter.

Making dosas:
* Heat a tawa / griddle. When you sprinkle a few drops of water on the griddle, the water should sizzle and evaporate. This means the griddle is ready to go.
* Pour a ladleful of batter on the griddle and spread it into a thin circle with the help of the backside of the ladle.Take ½ tsp of oil and spread around the edges of the dosa. Cook on low - medium flame until the lower side turns golden brown. Flip the dosa and again spread some oil around dosa and let it sit for 30 seconds or so, so that it is cooked on the other side too. Remove the dosa with a spatula and repeat the process with the remaining batter.
* Serve dosas with chutney & sambhar. Traditionally, dosas are served with onion sambhar in India but surprisingly, I have seen restaurants in Chicagoland area serving dosas ranging from capsicum to ridge gourd sambhars. And so my dosas were served with carrot sambhar and chutney. :)

1. Don't go with Basmati rice. Even extra long grain rice or any cheap variety rice will do.
2. Allow the dosas to ferment in a warm place. If you are making dosas for the first time, the better time to try would be to grind the batter on a really hot, summer day. In that way, the fermentation of the batter is ensured.

Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Green Peas Masala

Cooking based on an online menu card of a restaurant is my theme for this week's blogging marathon and I picked it instantly when I saw Srivalli announcing it for BM#24. Of course I get to just pick what I am going to cook from the menu but the recipe is going to be mine. I went with "India House Vegetarian Restaurant" as my choice of restaurant and I prepared this healthy green peas masala from the "Hari bhari Sabjiyah" section.

Honestly, I would never order a green peas masala when I go to dine at a restaurant as I have a wide range of other interesting and of course fattening dishes to choose from. :) However when I am cooking at home, bean based curries appeal to me most because of their nutritive value and  my kids enjoy these healthy dishes
without any complaints. I prepare them regularly to go along with rotis and so this green peas masala attracted me.

The gravy is a flavorful one and the one most commonly used in north Indian cooking. Any beans can replace the dried peas in this recipe like the garbanzo beans, kidney beans, navy beans, soy beans etc.  I add chole masala when cooking with garbanzo beans of course but even here, you can leave out all the spice powders from the following recipe except the chili powder and add some chole masala powder. That works wonderfully too. Serve it warm with rotis / naan / pooris.

Ingredients:(3 Servings)
1 cup dried green peas 
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions  - finely chopped
1 tomato  - cut into chunks
1 small chunk of ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp each - cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder & garam masala
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves

* Soak dried peas in water overnight for at least 6 -8 hours. Discard the water used to soak and wash the peas. Pressure cook the peas adding water as needed, until tender but not mushy. (It can be cooked in a sauce pan but takes longer than pressure cooker.)
*  Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add one finely chopped onion and saute until translucent.


* Grind one tomato, one onion, ginger piece into a paste adding a little water if needed. At this point garlic can also be added if preferred. Add this paste to the sauteed onion.

* Continue to cook until the raw smell of onion disappears. 

 * Then add all the spice powders, salt and cooked peas to the pan. Taste and adjust the seasonings if required. Finally crumble the kasuri methi and mix well.

* Add water if needed. Cook for a couple of minutes and turn off the stove.

Fresh or frozen peas can be substituted for the dried version.  If using them, skip the soaking and cook as needed.

Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Eggless Chocolatey Cucumber - Walnut Cupcakes

Each month, Kalyani keeps throwing an interesting combination of two ingredients for Magic Mingle, which seem to not at all work together in any recipe. I guess that's what makes this event more challenging. I don't wrack my brain over our personal issues as much as I do for blogging events, my husband notes amused. A salad was out of question as I had already posted it. This time as usual when I was going bonkers over cucumber - walnut combination, my husband decided to put me out of my misery and suggested to core the cucumber and fill it with walnut stuffing. I wasn't sure whether he was serious or joking. I therefore decided to leave it for another time. :)

I took the hint of walnuts and decided to settle with a baking recipe since I like the crunch, the nut offers. And also I wanted it to be chocolatey to mask the flavor of cucumber, if any present. I  prepared these cupcakes inspired by these zucchini ones from here.

I didn't cream the sugar and butter since I was using a smaller proportion of ingredients. I just combined all the ingredients as in case of muffins. I used the chocolate frosting and sprinkled with walnuts. The resulting cupcakes had a perfect fluffy, moist texture with current amount of sweetness. Even the kids couldn't guess the presence of cucumber.

Ingredients: (yield 7 cupcakes)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
6 Tbsp sugar
3/4 baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peeled and shredded cucumber without seeds
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts (Save 2 Tbsp for sprinkling on the tops.)

1. Add vinegar to milk in a cup and leave aside for five minutes for the mixture to curdle.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Line the muffin cups with paper liners or grease them.
3. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
4. Add the curdled milk mixture, butter, sugar, vanilla, cucumber and walnuts to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
5. Fill the muffin cups up to about 2/3rds with the batter and bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Mine were done in 16 minutes.
6. Cool them on a wire rack. Remove them from the muffin tin and frost them when they are completely cool. Frost and sprinkle the remaining walnuts.

If not frosting, increase the sugar quantity in the recipe by 2 -3 Tbsp. They will be bland otherwise.

This goes to BM#24 under the theme of "Cooking with Appliances". Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ridgegourd - Coconut Chutney

When I chose "cooking with kitchen electric appliances" theme for this month's blogging marathon, what I had in mind was the fancy ones from my kitchen. However when I sat to make the list that I could use for the event, I decided to feature the most (ab)used appliances in my kitchen than the ones that get used once in a blue moon. These are appliances that are used on a regular basis and without which cooking seems next to impossible in my kitchen. My cooker, microwave oven, blender / mixie are some of the examples and they deserve this appreciation.

Blender / grinder has become an integral part of majority of Indian kitchens replacing the traditional stone grinders. Grinding breakfast doughs, preparing chutneys or gravies happens to be an essential part of  Indian kitchens, especially in the southern parts and a blender / mixer makes the job easier by cutting down the time and effort involved. The same applies to my kitchen as well and I own a grinder and even a stone one that I carried all the way from India and an American juicer / blender. The latter being the most useful or the abused one that comes to my aid at least 3-4 times per week.

This yummy chutney that comes from one of my SIL's kitchen was prepared using my blender. This looks like an assimilation of chutneys made individually using coconut, toor dal and ridge gourd but the flavors of coconut and toor dal are more dominating here. This is one of those recipes where I can sneak in ridge gourd without any complaints from my son who is averse to the gourd. :)

Ingredients: (yield 3/4 cup chutney)
1 cup peeled and cubed ridge gourd / Beerakaya
1/2 cup shredded fresh coconut
2 Tbsp toor dal
10 - 12 dried red chillies (Adjust the quantity if needed.)
Salt to taste
For tadka: 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, 1/8 tsp turmeric powder

* Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add ridge gourd and turmeric powder. Cook until the ridge gourd cubes turn tender. Add asafoetida powder and turn off the stove. Let it cool.
* Mean while, dry toast toor dal in another pan until they start to turn reddish. Keep aside and let cool. Also dry toast red chiilies for few seconds and remove.
* Add the cooked gourd, coconut, toordal, red chillies and salt to a blender and grind coarsely. Add a few Tbsp of water if needed to facilitate easy grinding.
* Serve it with hot steamed rice and a dollop of ghee. Refrigerate the leftover chutney.

This goes to BM#24 under the theme of "Cooking with Appliances". Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quick Microwave Chocolate Pudding

Whenever I ask my 11 year old to make a list for our weekly grocery shopping, the two things instantly that come to her mind are chocolate pudding and macaroni & cheese. They are so appealing to her that she never gets tired of them. If given a choice, she can survive on them alone. Chocolate pudding is her most favorite evening snack and so obviously, none of our grocery shopping goes by without buying cartons of chocolate pudding.
While she enjoys those store bought puddings, I keep worrying looking at the long list of chemicals added in the form of preservatives to the simple pudding. And so I was thinking of trying it at home from a long time now. Recently when I was browsing for condensed milk recipes, I came across this recipe at allrecipes and was impressed by the positive reviews the recipe got. The recipe is very simple even for a novice cook and can be prepared in a jiffy. I consider it a hit as my daughter was happy with this pudding. Try it if you are looking for a quick one to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

Ingredients: (4 servings)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk (at room temperature or warm)
1 tsp vanilla essence

* Mix sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in a microwave safe bowl.
* Gradually add milk to the bowl and whisk so that no dry lumps are present.
* Microwave the mixture for 3 minutes on HIGH. Remove and stir the mixture. Again at one minute intervals, cook for about 2 minutes or until shiny and thick.
* Stir in the vanilla and butter.
* If serving cold, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and chill. (I skipped this step as my daughter likes to eat the pudding at room temperature.)

* I halved the recipe to get 2 servings and it was done under less than 4 minutes.

This goes to BM#24 under the theme of "Cooking with Appliances". Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Spicy Vegetable Stuffed Buns

Snacking on a vegetable puff / stuffed buns / even a slice of cake from a local Iyengar bakery during evening hours was a common happening during my childhood and later during my college days. Though now I am in a faraway land, the memories still linger and get me all nostalgic when I think back about those carefree days. Naturally it was tempting whenever I happen to see these stuffed buns / palya buns (Palya is curry in Kannada.) allover the blogs.
Thanks to the bleak weather here, I tried them last week to lift up my mood. I followed this recipe, to the T, which yields great textured buns. The only complaint we had was that the yeast flavor was noticeable.
Usually a spicy potato preparation is used to stuff these buns but I used carrot and beans as well here. I prepared the stuffing exactly the same as in the potato masala I posted earlier here. I excluded onion and tomatoes from the recipe and added beans. I used 3 large potatoes, 2 carrots and about 30 beans. Cool the stuffing, divide it into 12 equal portions and shape them into balls.

Ingredients for the buns:
3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour
1.5 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2.5 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup luke warm water
1/4 cup dry milk powder / milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 Tbsp each - milk & oil for brushing the buns

* Add water, sugar, salt and yeast to a bowl and let it sit for five minutes to froth. Then add butter, milk powder / milk and flour to the yeast mixture and form a smooth dough. (My dough was little sticky at this stage and I added 2 extra Tbsp of flour.) Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Coat the dough ball all over with little oil.

* Cover the dough and let it rise for about 45 - 60 minutes or until it doubles in volume.

* Punch down the dough well. Divide it into 12 equal portions and shape them into balls. Cover and let again rise for about 10 minutes.

* Pat a dough ball into a circle of about 4 -5 inches diameter and place the vegetable stuffing at the center. Bring the edges together so that the stuffing is encased in the dough ball. Roll the ball slightly between your palms to smoothen the rough edges. Repeat the steps with the remaining dough balls and the stuffing.

* Grease a baking sheet or line it with aluminium foil / parchment paper. Place the stuffed dough balls on the baking sheet with the seam side down. Cover them and again let it rise in a warm place for about 30 - 45 minutes. Brush the tops of the buns with oil - milk mixture.
* At the final stages of rising, preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown. (I baked them for about 25 minutes.)

In the middle of baking 
The spicy buns on a gloomy day tasted very wonderful with a hot cup of coffee.
This goes to BM#24 under the theme of "Mixed Vegetables - Carrot, Potatoes & Beans". Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Mixed Vegetable Curry

This is a simple yet delicious side dish to go with rotis or rice. Any combination of vegetables that go well together can be mix and matched in this recipe.

2 onions, finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
30 beans, stringed and chopped into 1/2 inch bits
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
For tadka:
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chana dal / Bengal gram
1 tsp urad dal / skinned black gram
1 tsp cumin seeds

* Heat oil in a pan and add the tadka ingredients.
* When mustard starts to splutter and dals start to turn reddish, add onion. When it turns translucent, add the chopped vegetables and salt. Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are done. If the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle a tbsp of water and continue to cook. Next add the chili power, mix well and cook for a couple of minutes. 

This goes to BM#24 under the theme of "Mixed Vegetables - Carrot, Potatoes & Beans". Check here to find out what others are cooking during the marathon.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mild Vegetable Pulao & Onion - Tomato Raita

Before proceeding towards the recipe, I wish all my readers a happy and prosperous new year.

Today's recipe is for a mild, flavorful vegetable pulao that is regular at my home. Don't get intimidated by the long list of ingredients. It is a simple one for even novices to try.

Ingredients: (6 servings)
1.5 cup Basmati Rice
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cardamom pods
3 one inch cinnamon pieces
6 cloves
2 bay leaves
4 green chillies (I used Serrano peppers. Adjust the quantity if using other variety.)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (optional. I just add it to make it colorful.)
2 onions - finely chopped
1 - 2 tomatoes - finely chopped
2 potatoes - peeled and cubed
20 green beans - stringed and chopped into one inch bits
2 carrots - peeled and cubed
1/4 cup fresh / frozen peas
Salt to taste
(I omit the garlic paste from the recipe. If using, add along with the ginger.)

* Wash and soak rice in water for 30 minutes. This step is optional.
* Heat oil and add cumin seeds in a pan. When they start to brown, add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and ginger. Saute for few seconds and then add chillies and turmeric powder. Again saute the ingredients and then add onion. Fry until it turns translucent and then add tomato. Cook until tomato turns mushy.
* Add the chopped vegetables and drained rice to the pan and saute for a minute or two. Add 3 cups of water and salt to the pan, cover and cook until done. It usually takes around 20 minutes to cook this way and don't be tempted to stir often.
* Serve it with raita.

If you are not comfortable cooking directly in a pan, add the contents to a pressure cooker (up to 3 whistles) or a rice cooker and cook until done. Another method is to cook rice separately in a cooker and add it to the pan after vegetables are done.

Onion - Tomato Raita:

A raita is usually served as an accompaniment to a biryani / pulao to cool one's palate and tummy. The most common and simple one is where raw chopped onion, tomato, green chillies, cilantro and salt are added to beaten yogurt. I personally do not prefer the flavor of raw onion in a raita and so add cooked stuff as mentioned below.

2 cups yogurt (Fatfree will do.)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 - 2 green chillies
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 onion
1 tomato
1 Tbsp minced cilantro

* Add salt to yogurt, whisk and leave aside.
* Mince finely onion, tomato and green chillies.
* Heat oil and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add chillies and turmeric. Saute for few seconds and add onion. Fry until translucent and then add tomato. Cook until mush and turn off the stove.
* Let cool and add this mixture to the yogurt. Mix well, garnish with cilantro and serve.

This goes to BM#24 under the theme of "Mixed Vegetables - Carrot, Potatoes & Beans". Check here what others are cooking during the marathon.