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Monday, May 26, 2014

Garbanzo Bean - Veggie Pasta

My younger one turned a teenager this weekend. And officially, I am now a mother of two teenagers, who happen to be the opposite ends of a spectrum in every aspect. The older one cannot throw a tantrum for his dear life while the younger one doesn't know how to stop from throwing one. She gets upset at the drop of a hat and so the situations demand a lot of tactful & patient parenting, cajoling and threatening from my side where she is concerned. And even though she is not little anymore, lunch box is still one mini struggle since the stuff she doesn't prefer comes home untouched under the guise of "being not hungry". I therefore involve her while planning lunches and we decide it beforehand what she gets to carry in her lunch box.
If given a choice, my daughter would survive on a salad and pasta diet. She loves pasta so much that she carries it to school at least 2 - 3 times in any given week. I therefore could not avoid from posting a pasta recipe for the lunchbox themed blogging marathon today. I wanted to try something on Mediterranean lines but it got changed into something else as my daughter was hovering around as it was a holiday here. I went according to her whim and choice of ingredients since it was her lunch and got a thumbs up from my kids. 

Ingredients: (2 servings)
1 cup pasta shells of your choice (I used sweetcorn, carrot and squash blend of twisted elbow macaroni.)
1/2 cup cooked / canned garbanzo beans
1 small tomato, chopped
1 small grated carrot
1/4 cup black olives
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese or any other cheese of your preference
2 -3 tbsp milk (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste 
1- 2 tbsp minced parsley / cilantro

* Cook pasta al dente according to the directions on the package and drain.
* Transfer the pasta to the pan and add all the ingredients except the parsley / cilantro. Just heat until the cheese has melted and blended into the mixture.
* Turn off the stove, transfer the pasta into a serving platter and garnish with parsley/cilantro.

This rice dish goes to 
1. Blogging marathon #40
2. Srivalli's Kids' delight event, hosted by Jayanthi this month with the theme - Lunch box.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Moongdal - Veggie Rotis

My daughter has always loved seeing rotis whether in her lunch box or at the dinner table. However when she started carrying it to school, she point blank refused to carry a side dish as it was messy for her. Up until today, the situation remains the same though she enjoys side dishes at home. Stuffed parathas are out of question as somehow she never even touches them. In the quest of making those rotis wholesome for her, I started to add veggies and dal directly to the roti dough itself. This is one of such experiments that I thought to share today - Soft, yummy and nutritious rotis made with moong dal and veggies.
For younger kids this is a mess free wholesome option and for older kids who can handle spice, the chillies can be added according to their level of tolerance and a can of yogurt would be a great accompaniment. I sometimes sprinkle some chutney powder on rotis, smear with ghee, roll them and pack. Ketchup can be also packed along with rotis. To make them nutritious, milk / yogurt can be added to dough preparation instead of water. Besides, the addition of milk / yogurt and potato keeps these rotis softer for a long time. The dough can be prepared ahead the previous night and rotis can be made in the morning. 

Ingredients: (makes 20 rotis)
2 - 2 & 1/4 cups wheat flour / atta
Salt to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
1/2 cup moongdal
1 inch peeled ginger piece
3 - 4 green chillies
2 carrots - peeled and grated
1 potato - peeled, cooked and mashed
2 - 3 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
Oil / ghee to toast rotis
Preparation of dough:
* Soak moongdal in water for about an hour or for about 30 minutes in hot water. Drain and grind it fine along with ginger and green chillies.
* Combine flour, salt, turmeric, mashed potato, grated carrot, cilantro and ground moong paste in a mixing bowl. Add a tbsp of oil and yogurt / milk / water as needed to form a pliable dough. 
* Allow it to rest for about 30-60 minutes. At this stage, you can go ahead with roti making immediately or refrigerate it to prepare rotis the next day. 

Making rotis:
* If the dough has been refrigerated, remove it and just zap it in the microwave for 30 - 60 seconds, depending upon the quantity of the dough. Remember to cover the dough while microwaving. 
* Pinch a golf ball sized dough, shape it into a ball, flatten it and dust it with flour.
* Roll it into a thin circle of about 5 inches diameterUse flour for dusting if needed. 
* 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.
* The left over rotis can be refrigerated / frozen. Just warm them again on the griddle before serving.

This rice dish goes to 
1. Blogging marathon #40
2. Srivalli's Kids' delight event, hosted by Jayanthi this month with the theme - Lunch box.


Monday, May 19, 2014


Event: Blogging marathon #40
Theme: Evening snacks

Somehow I could connect and remember more of my maternal grandmother's food than my paternal mother's even though we use to visit them both during our summer trips and in between. Both my grandmothers were excellent cooks but it was probably because of the delicacies my maternal grandmother used to whip up for us during those memorable trips, I guess I remember hers' better. Among the several traditional sweets and savories she used to prepare, this version of spicy boondi is one everyone used to enjoy. 

I wanted to try her laddu and karappooosa in my kitchen and during one of my trips to India, I had made it a point to buy a couple of boondi ladles to my mother's surprise. Later when my mother had inquired whether I got  a chance to try those ladles, I had to ask her the recipe. As a kid, I had never paid attention to what goes in the background of boondi making and so naturally I was at a loss, when I thought of trying this for the first time. My mother who eyeballs measurements for everything she cooks, had hard time explaining me the correct consistency for the boondi batter. All I could get was that it's somewhere near bajji batter consistency. And of course a little google search led to this vahchef's video that proved to be a great help. I have tried boondi making a few times after that and have got satisfactory results.

Karappoosa literally means spicy beads in Telugu, referring to the shape and taste of the boondis. This is a great snack on it's own or to clean your palate after enjoying a sweet. A sweet and karappoosa combo used to be an a accompaniment to evening coffee in my ammamma's kitchen. Generally several variations of kara boondi can be seen all over India and this was her version. It never came to my notice until my mother mentioned that the salt and chili powder are sprinkled over the freshly fried boondi instead of adding them directly to the batter. And I thought it would be not messy if we add them directly to the batter and when I checked it with my mom, she was like "You asked for ammamma's recipe and here it is. If you want to make alterations, it is upto you". And since I was looking for my granny's recipe, I tried it as it is as my mother suggested. Peanuts can replace cashews in this recipe.

1 cup besan / chickpea flour
Salt and chili powder to taste
2 tbsp Cashews
A handful of curry leaves 
Oil to fry

* Wash and wipe the curry leaves dry.
* Sift the besan and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Gradually add water and make a batter of about bajji consistency, without any lumps. Add a tsp of oil and mix well. Do not add water all at once. 
To test the correct consistency of the batter, gently dip the handle of the spoon into the batter and drop it into the hot oil from above. If the drop floats to the surface immediately and is round in shape, the consistency is right. Otherwise add water in increments of a tsp to test, until you reach the correct consistency. If the batter is too watery, besan can be added to fix it.
* Heat oil in a kadai / small wok on medium heat. Add cashews and fry them until light golden brown and remove them with a slotted spoon and keep them aside. Add curry leaves and remove them when they turn crisp.
* Pour a ladleful of batter into the boondi ladle. Hold it directly on the kadai and gently rub with the back of  a ladle. The batter drops into the hot oil as tiny droplets and immediately float to the surface forming rounds.
* When they appear cooked and attain a golden hue, remove them using a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent towels and repeat the process with the remaining batter.
* Transfer the fried boondi, cashews, curry leaves to a bowl and sprinkle salt and chili powder. Toss the bowl to combine. When cool, transfer the contents to an airtight container and store. This stays fresh for weeks.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bread Bhel

Event: Blogging marathon #40
Theme: Evening snacks

This low fat bread bhel is a quick, easy and tasty snack for lazy evenings. I used store bought seasoned croutons, sev and sweet chutney and so the chaat was ready in about 5 minutes.

8 bread slices or about 2 cups bread croutons
1 big sized tomato
1 big sized onion
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
2 - 3 tbsp green chutney
2 - 3 tbsp sweet date-tamarind chutney
1/2 cup sev
* If preparing croutons from scratch, remove the crusts of bread and cut the slices into cubes. Toast the bread cubes in oil / ghee until golden brown in a saute pan and drain them on absorbent towels. Or toast them in an oven and keep them aside.
* Chop onion, tomato and cilantro finely.
* Combine onion, tomato, cilantro, salt, lemon juice, green chutney and sweet chutney in a bowl. Just before serving, add croutons and sev to the bowl. Mix well and serve immediately. 
* Puffed rice and pomegranate seeds can also be added to the mix.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Andhra Cuisine ~ Pappu Chekkalu

Event: Blogging marathon #40
Theme: Evening snacks

Savory snacks that can be stored for weeks without any refrigeration is a part of Indian cuisine. Going by the regional variations, one would have plenty of choices to enjoy along with their evening coffee / tea. As in case of many south Indian homes - chaklis, kodbales and chekkalu are some of the snacks we love. And especially chekkalu are the most frequently made snack in my husband's family and a favorite of all. These crispy, addictive discs are prepared using rice flour and are deep fried. These are prepared with minor regional variations through out south India and go by the name of nippattu in Karnataka and thattai in Tamilnadu. I had previously posted another variation of chekkalu that gets frequently made in our home, here. This version uses green chillies while the other one uses the dry chili powder.

Ingredients: (yield about 18 - 20)
2 cups rice flour
2 green chillies
Salt to taste
1/4 cup skinned, split peanuts, 
Oil to fry (I used canola oil.)

* Grind peanuts and chillies coarsely. 
* Combine the flour, ground chillies-peanuts and salt in a mixing bowl. Add water gradually to make a dough of thick consistency.
* Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep frying pan / kadai.
* Take small lemon sized dough and place it on a thick, greased plastic sheet (such as a ziploc bag) or a wax paper. Flatten the ball with your fingers and press it to a thin disc of about 3 inches in diameter. Take the plastic sheet with the disc on and reverse it on to your right hand. Gently peel away the sheet from the disc so that the disc is in your hand.
* Gently drop the flattened dough disc into the hot oil. Without overcrowding the pan, fit as many discs as you can to fry. Deep fry on low flame till it turns light golden in color both sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon onto absorbent towels.
Repeat the procedure until all the dough is finished. Also remember to grease the plastic sheet every time with 1- 2 drops of oil, before making a disc.
* Cool and store the fried nippattu in an airtight container. They stay fresh for weeks and are good accompaniment for coffee / tea.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Yeast Breads ~ Bagels

Event: Blogging marathon #40
Theme: Yeast based breads

I came across these bagels at Kingarthurflour website and was influenced to try going by the good reviews the recipe got. This was my first attempt at making bagels and they turned out great. The instructions were simple to follow and this recipe yields eight big sized, beautiful bagels. I topped some of them with sesame seeds and some with the leftover mozzarella cheese I had. Everyone at home were impressed with the texture and flavor of the bagels. I particularly loved the bagels topped with cheese. The bagels were chewy but the helpline was suggesting that if one is expecting an ideal chewy Newyork style bagel, they should go with high gluten flour.

Ingredients for the dough:
4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 tbsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp non-diastatic malt powder or brown sugar or barley malt syrup (I substituted it with honey.)
1 & 1/2 cups / 12 oz lukewarm water

Ingredients for the water bath:
2 quarts / 64 oz water
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp non-diastatic malt powder or brown sugar or barley malt syrup (I substituted it with honey.) 

Dough preparation: 
The dough can be prepared using a bread machine, mixer or manually and I have provided all the methods below. I manually made the dough to prevent the after clean up mess. 

Mixer method:
Combine all the dough ingredients and knead by machine on medium-low speed for 10 minutes. It takes relatively more effort and time to develop the gluten because of the high protein bread flour used in the recipe. The resulting dough should have been quite stiff according to the recipe but mine was not as you notice in the below image. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and set it aside to rise for about 1 to 1 & 1/2 hours.  

Bread machine method:
Place the dough ingredients in the bowl of the machine. Program the machine for dough / manual and press the start button. Check the dough after about 10 minutes. It should be quite stiff and won't have formed a smooth ball. The dough would feel quite firm if you poke it with your finger. Allow the machine to complete it's cycle.

Manual method:
* Combine all the dough ingredients and knead vigorously by hand for 10 - 15 minutes. 
* Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and set it aside to rise for about 1 to 1 & 1/2 hours.
* After the resting period, the dough need not double in volume but noticeably rise to puffy.
* Divide the dough into eight portions. Work with one portion at a time and roll it into a smooth, round ball.
* Cover the balls and let them rest for about 30 minutes. 
* They will again puff up slightly. 
* Add water, sugar and malt to a wide mouthed pan and bring them to a gentle boil. 
* Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. 
* Poke a hole through the center of each ball with your index finger. Then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole until it's about 2 inches in diameter and the entire bagel is about 4 inches in diameter. It got a little tricky for me here since I overlooked the twirling part and by the time I got the hang of it, there were no dough balls to try. Place the bagels on a greased baking sheet.
* Transfer 3 - 4 bagels to the simmering water. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes.    
* Flip them and cook for one more minute. Remove the bagels using a skimmer. 
* Place them on the baking sheet. Add toppings of your choice now. There are plenty of choices when it comes to toppings. I topped some with sesame seeds. And some with mozzarella cheese since I had to finish off the cheese. One can top it off with poppy seeds or can add add raisins before the final kneading or go with other choices. Repeat the process with the remaining bagels.
* Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like, turning them over about 15 minutes into the baking time. Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a wire rack.
Warm and yum ~ Fresh from the oven

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Yeast Breads ~ Sweet Pull-Apart Bread

Event: Blogging marathon #40
Theme: Yeast based breads

I saw a monkey bread for the first time on American TV, about 15 years ago. The idea of pulling apart the chunks of bread seemed fascinating at that time. I have been planning  a pull apart bread since then and somehow the opportunity never came until now. In my quest, I landed at this recipe which was on the similar lines of a monkey bread. This recipe doesn't need the biscuits and the added bonus was my kids love cinnamon flavored bakes. The recipe uses bread machine and is easy, no fuss kind recipe. Recently I had stowed away my bread machine in the basement and was lazy to bring it up and so I hand kneaded the dough and baked in the convection oven instead. 
This recipe is very simple and reliable. There are no surprises springing up at you during any steps of the bread making and so even for novice bakers, it is good recipe to try. The dough balls are usually arranged in a bundt pan or cake pan but I layered them in a loaf pan. The shape wouldn't matter if you ask me since you are going to pull apart the pieces anyway to devour them. As expected, my kitchen was filled with cinnamon flavor while baking and the kids' who stepped into home a little later were inquiring whether I was baking any cinnamon buns. The texture of the bread pieces is somewhere between a cake and a bread. I have considerably reduced the brown sugar quantity when I made this bread and probably that's why it was not very gooey. That's a good thing if you ask me. The pieces were not sticking to your fingers and yet the bread was not bland. When you first bite into a bread piece, you encounter the sweetness but as you take more bites, the sweetness subsides because only a small quantity of sweetener went into the dough making. This was more than a super hit at my home and the bread was gone in about a day. 

Ingredients for the dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
4 tbsp butter
1& 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla

Ingredients for topping:
1/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar mixed with 1 tbsp cinnamon
Bread machine method:
* Place all the dough ingredients into the bucket of a bread machine. Program the machine for dough and press start. After about 10 minutes of kneading, check the dough's consistency. It should be soft and smooth; though it should form a ball and clean the bottom and sides of the bucket. If necessary, adjust the consistency with additional flour and water and allow the machine to complete it's cycle.
* Lightly flour the work surface if needed. Divide the dough into 32 small pieces and shape them into balls. Dip the balls in the melted butter and roll them in the cinnamon - sugar mixture. Layer them in the bucket.
* Place them in the bucket, close the lid and allow the bread to rise until doubled, for about an hour. 
Program the machine for bake only, 65 minutes, light crust and press start.
* Let the bread stand for a few minutes when the baking cycle is complete. Remove the bucket from the machine and turn the bread out onto a serving platter.

Manual method:
* If preparing the dough manually, combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead by hand for about 8 - 10 minutes. The final dough would be smooth and pliable, leaving not any residue on your fingers.
 * Lightly flour the work surface if needed. Divide the dough into 32 small pieces and shape them into balls.

* Dip the balls in the melted butter and roll them in the cinnamon - sugar mixture. 

*  I had lined the pan with foil as I didn't want to ruin the pan with those sugar stains.
* Place them in a loaf pan, cover it and allow to rise until doubled, for about an hour.

* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F / 175 deg C. Bake the bread for about 40 to 45 minutes.

* Let the bread stand for about 5 minutes and flip it on the serving platter. Serve warm.
* If serving on the next day, just zap them in microwave for few seconds before serving.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yeast Breads ~ No Knead Banana Bread

Event: Blogging marathon #40
Theme: Yeast based breads

We rarely run out of bananas as my husband keeps bringing them during each and every grocery trip. It is a fruit neither appreciated nor shunned at my home and somehow there are always a couple of bananas at the end, left hanging onto the stand. When the left overs are on their way to get overly ripened and attract fruit flies, I have to shrug off my lethargy and go search for recipes. Those kind of recipes where the final dish is appreciated by the majority of the family without an inkling about what went into it. In other words, baking does the trick most of the times. This time I was left with some more even after I had made muffins. And besides that, at the last minute the bulb went on that I had selected yeast breads as my theme for this week's marathon. I therefore went hunting for yeast based banana bread recipes so that I can kill two birds with one stone.
I ended up here during my quest and used the cardamom flavored rolls' recipe to bake a loaf. If you are looking for a bread with subtle banana flavor and a hint of sweetness, then this is the recipe you may like. It is not that sweet, quick bread kind where you dig into crunchy bits of walnuts with the goodness of banana flavor oozing from it. It is out and out a plain kind bread with perfect texture and goes well with a jam / jelly / Nutella spread. I would suggest to skip the cardamom if you are planning a loaf. Some how I didn't find the cardamom and the jam (or whatever spread you prefer) flavors jelling well. 
A very easy bread to put together manually and the fun part is you don't even need to knead. One would just need to combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and leave it to rise. It's that simple and quick - done under 5 minutes and cleanup is a cinch.

Ingredients: (1 loaf / 8 rolls)
1.5 tsp dry active yeast
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 buttermilk or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 cup mashed bananas
3 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour 

* If using milk and vinegar in place of buttermilk, combine both and leave aside for about 3 -4 minutes.
* Combine everything except the flour in a big mixing bowl. 
* Then add the flour and just mix well to combine. The resulting dough would be on a sticky side. 
* Cover and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until it doubles and collapses.
* Grease a loaf pan and transfer the dough to it. Cover the pan with a wet towel and leave aside to rise again for about 45 to 60 minutes.
* This recipe was originally for rolls. If you are planning to make rolls, refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes so that it would be easy to handle while rolling them. Divide the dough into 8 portions, dust the working surface and shape them into rolls. Arrange the rolls in a greased cake pan, cover and allow to rise again for about 45 minutes.
* Preheat the oven at 350 deg F or 180 deg C. Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes till done and golden brown. Remove, cool and slice the loaf.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sabudana Thaalipeet

Theme: Unused posts from BM #39 
Day 3: Maharashtra

I found this recipe in a Sanjeev Kapoor cookbook and the idea of sabudana thalipeeth was interesting to me as I am more used to the flour versions. Like the other sabudana / tapioca pearl dishes, these thaalipeet are meant for fasting / vrat. The ingredients that go into this thaalipeet are similar as in the case of sabudana vadas and so the following mixture can be used to make vadas too. And it is another thing that vadas would be a high calorie version and more yummier. These thaalipeet need a little bit of prior preparation as the sabudaana needs soaking and they would be a great evening snack if not fasting. 
1/2 cup sabudana
1/4 cup roasted and coarsely ground peanuts
1/4 cup sago flour (or substitute with rice flour)
1 medium potato - boiled, peeled and mashed
1 medium raw potato - peeled and grated
3 green chillies - stemmed and chopped
1/2 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp oil
* Put the sago in a large bowl and add enough water to cover it. Soak for about 3 - 4 hours and drain in a colander.
* Transfer the drained sago to a large bowl and add all the other ingredients except oil.
* Combine everything and divide the mixture into 4 portions. Shape them into balls.
* Place a griddle over medium heat and add 1/4 tsp oil.
* Grease thick plastic sheet and place a sago ball on it. Flatten the ball into 6 inch circle with moistened fingers. Gently transfer the circle onto the griddle and peel the plastic sheet of.
* Or pat the circle directly on the griddle before turning on the heat like I did.
* Add 1/4 tsp oil around the edges. Cook until the bottom side turns golden brown. Flip and cook until the other side turns golden brown.
* Repeat the process with the remaining sago balls.
* Serve warm with any chutney.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Masala Tikadia

Event: Blogging marathon #40
Theme: Unused posts from BM #39
Day 2: Rajasthan 

I had cooked these tikadias for my Rajasthan post only to realize later that it was somewhat similar to the "Besan ki masala roti", I had posted for Haryana. And so I had to save it in my drafts and go with another post instead. I tried this recipe from Tarla Dalal website and when you search for the recipe, the first two pages in the google search engine leads to the same recipe and same introduction. Besides these plain ones, there are stuffed versions too. I feel these tikadias are subtly spiced compared to the masala rotis and I preferred these tikadias over them. Usually these are served warm with gatte ki subzi but I went ahead with dal tadka instead.

Ingredients: (for 5 tikadias)
1 cup wheat flour / gehun ka atta
Salt to taste
Ghee for stuffing
Ghee / oil to toast rotis
1 tsp cumin seeds - roasted and crushed
1 tsp chili powder

* Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add enough water and knead into a soft dough. Divide the mixture into 5 portions and roll them into balls and keep them aside, covered. 
* Roll a ball into a circle of about 5 inches diameter.
* Smear the circle with a little ghee and sprinkle some cumin seeds and chilli powder. 

(I added the crushed cumin, chilli powder and ghee in a small cup and mixed them to make a paste. I smeared the paste on the rolled out dough circle.)
* Starting from one long end, roll it and then again like a Swiss roll and press gently at the end with fingers.

* Roll it out into a 5 inch circle. Cook it on a hot griddle using ghee / oil until both sides are golden brown.
 * Repeat the steps with the remaining dough balls to make tikadias. Serve them warm.