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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tri colored Multi Grain Flour Roti

I am pretty sure that mothers with school age kids across the globe constantly face the 'lunch box' conundrum. In an ideal world or in a food commercial, a mother lovingly packs a substantial, healthy meal for the kids and they return home with empty boxes and happy faces. In reality, the scenario would be quite the opposite. The kids sometimes come home with untouched boxes and sour faces, giving lame excuses. 'The most favorite food in the world' keeps on changing for every few days. The conundrum turns nightmarish especially when the kids are picky eaters and moms have to wreck their heads for creativity. 

Probably all mothers agree with me when I say that packing a nutritious meal that appeals to kids' senses can get quite challenging sometimes. I have been packing my kids' lunch boxes for more than a decade now but it is still hard to please my younger one sometimes. These rotis are for kids like her who do not prefer carrying a side dish along with rotis or refuse to touch stuffed parathas. These colorful rotis are prepared with multi grain flour and vegetable puree to make them more nutritious and healthy. You can of course pack a side dish / yogurt / ketchup for kids if they prefer or add spices directly to the dough so that little ones can just roll them and eat. Three different kinds of vegetable based doughs are prepared. A small portion of each one is rolled into a log and then coiled tight to form a disc. It is rolled into a thin circle and toasted like regular rotis. These patterned colorful rotis are visually very much appealing to little ones and may not even realize that they are eating vegetables with the surprise thrown at them. Of course one need not go with my choice of vegetables and substitute them with their favorite vegetables. 

Ingredients: (Yield about 7 large rotis or about a dozen small rotis)
3 cups multi grain flour (See the notes below)
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala  
1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrot cubes
1/2 cup peeled and cubed beetroot
1/2 cup spinach puree
Milk / yogurt / water to grind the vegetables
Canola / vegetable oil 
Extra wheat flour for dusting
(The quantities of spices can be changed or omitted according to one's choice).

* Combine the flour, salt and spices if using in a mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into three parts.
*  Add carrots to a blender and grind finely using as little liquid as possible. (I use milk / yogurt for grinding, to make the rotis more nutritious and keep them softer.)
* Similarly grind beetroot pieces separately and keep it aside.
* Blanch the spinach if using fresh leaves or thaw in the microwave for 4 -5 minutes if using frozen spinach. Grind it into a fine puree and keep it aside. If you don't prefer the strong flavor of ground spinach, just wash and chop the spinach leaves finely.
* To one part of the flour add carrot puree and about 1 tbsp of oil. Combine to form a firm, pliable dough. (If the dough appears to be sticky, add some extra flour and if the dough is too dry then add some extra liquid.)
* To the second part of the dough, add beetroot puree and a tbsp. of oil. Again form a firm dough and keep it aside.
* To the third part of the flour add the spinach puree / finely chopped spinach and a tbsp. of oil and prepare the dough.

* Keep the dough balls covered for minimum 30 minutes. I left it on my counter-top for about an hour. 
* Pinch small lime sized balls from each colored dough.
* If you want to make small sized rotis, you can make still smaller sized balls. Roll each ball into a log of about 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. 
* Bring the logs together and twist them together to form a disc.
* Flatten the disc lightly with your fingers and gently roll it into a thin circle, dusting intermittently with flour if necessary.
* Transfer the rolled out disc onto a hot griddle. Flip after about 30 seconds and pour 1/2 tsp of oil around the edges and 1/2 tsp on the surface. Gently press down with a flat spatula and cook until golden spots appear on both sides. Remove the cooked roti and transfer onto a plate.
* Repeat the steps of rolling and frying with the remaining dough. Work with one portion at a time and keep the rest of the dough covered. Keep covered the toasted rotis in a towel or in a covered box or a hot pack box.
* Serve with a side dish if serving adults. For kids, ketchup / a small box of yogurt can be packed.

1. Multi grain atta can be store bought or home made. For home made versions, try to keep the ratio of wheat to the other grains combined 5:1 or 4:1. If you are lucky enough to have a local flour mill, you can grind wheat kernels along with ragi, oats, barley, soya beans, maize and chana dal and store the flour in an airtight container. 
After learning what is present in the store bought flour, I instead started to combine the flours I have at home just like this dosa flour. For today's version, I combined 2 & 1/2 cups of atta / wheat flour, 2 tbsp. each of besan / garbanzo flour, corn flour, finely ground oats, and 1 tbsp. each of ragi flour and soy flour.
2. If planning to make the rotis for lunch boxes, this dough can be prepared the previous night itself. Cover and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use in the morning. Just before making the rotis, thaw the dough in the microwave. Place the dough covered in the microwave and heat for about 30 to 60 seconds depending upon the quantity of dough you have. and then proceed with the recipe as usual.
3. Other vegetables can be substituted. 

This is my contribution to Indusladies Recipe book with the theme "Kids Lunch Box".

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Z for Zimbabwe ~ Chikenduza / Zimbabwe Candy Cake

Event: BM #44         
Choice of Country: The Republic of Zimbabwe
Capital City: Harare
Official Languages: English, Shona and Ndebele

It's now time for the alphabet 'Z' and the last post of the marathon that has been going on this month, with the theme 'Around the World in 30 Days'. I picked Zimbabwe as my "Z" country. This landlocked south African nation was formerly called as Rhodesia. 'Zimbabwe' literally means 'House of Stone', which refers to the 800 year old stone ruins left by the Shona people. The Shona and Ndebele people alternately held power over this land until the Europeans occupied the region in 1850's. The Britishers occupied it until 1923. 

Zimbabwe Cuisine:
I must say I was shocked to learn about what they call delicacies in the region. (No offense meant). During the summer, open-air markets sell dried mopane worms (spiny caterpillars) and flying ants by the pound. They are eaten fried and are said to taste chewy and salty. Flying ants can be eaten live. They tear off the wings and eat the bodies. 
Meat and game such as beef, springbok (African gazelle), kudu (large antelope), and goat are eaten, the larger game reserved for special occasions. At more expensive restaurants, crocodile tail, shoulder of impala (a type of antelope), and warthog may be on the menu. (Source: Here) 
As a result of British rule, their cooking infiltrated Zimbabwean cuisine with non spicy food, sugar, bread and tea. The Lipopo and Zambesi rivers which border the nation provide the source for cultivating crops. They dry various produce and meat after the rainy season for consuming during winter months. "Sadza" a cornmeal based dietary staple happens to be the national dish.

I thought it would be befitting to end this journey on a sweet note as I ended up posting mostly sweet treats from around the world. I tried this popular candy cake called chikenduza from Zimbabwe and people in the region who grew up eating it seem to have fond memories attached to it. This is not really a cake but a 'cakey' bread if you ask me. It is sweet to taste like a cake and even have beautiful hued icing but the texture is more like bread / buns. I tasted one without icing and liked it. It was a hit with my son too while my daughter who went crazy icing the cupcakes wasn't so when it was time to taste them. She is not into sugary stuff unless they have chocolate in some form and so her opinion didn't matter. :) 
The recipe comes from here and the blogger had mentioned that the original cake is about the size of 2 muffins. She used a 15 cm cake tin (I guess it is around 6 inches tin). I halved the recipe and chose to go with a muffin pan for individual servings and besides I didn't have a small cake tin. If you are planning to bake this as a cake, double the ingredients and use a baking pan of that size mentioned in the original recipe. Also I would recommend using muffin liners for a muffin pan (even for a silicone pan) since the finished product tends to get stuck to the pan. (Mine did.)

Ingredients for cake: (for 6 standard sized cupcakes)
1 tsp yeast (I used dry active yeast)
1/4 cup warm milk
6 tbsp. sugar
1 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 - 4 tbsp milk
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp vanilla 
Ingredients for icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tsp water
A few drops of food color (I am assuming from the post that originally the icing is pink but I went with orange color instead.)

* Combine yeast, 1 tbsp sugar and warm milk in a bowl and leave it in a warm place for about 10 - 15 minutes or until frothy. Add the remaining sugar and mix well.
* Now add all the other ingredients (except water) to the yeast bowl and mix well to form a thick dough. Add water if the dough appears dry. 
* Cover the dough and leave it in a warm place to rise. Let it proof for about one hour or until it bulks up. The leavened dough would be on the sticky side.

* Grease the cake tin if using or line the muffin cups. If using a muffin tin, fill 3/4th of the cups with the dough using a greasy spoon. (They rise again after the second proofing and so don't fill the cups to full. This quantity gave me 6 cupcakes). Allow to rise for about 20 minutes.

* When you are through 10 minutes of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350 deg F. 
* Bake until they turn golden brown, about 30 minutes.
 * Whisk powdered sugar with enough water and a few drops of food color to make a thick icing.
* Decorate the cupcakes / cake with the icing and serve.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Y for Yemen ~ Malikia / Masoob

Event: BM #44, Around the world (A - Z Series)        
Choice of Country: The Republic of Yemen
Capital City: Sana'a
Official Language: Arabic

We are into the final days of  'Around the World in 30 Days' themed blogging marathon and today I am going with 'Yemen', the only choice for alphabet Y. This Arab nation in the southeast Asia includes more than 200 islands in it's territory. It's cuisine is widely distinct from the more widely known Middle Eastern cuisines and is extremely popular one among the Gulf nations. The cooking varies region wise and goat, lamb and chicken are the popular meats. Cheese, butter and other dairy products are not commonly used in Cuisine. A meat stew known as Saltah is the national dish and is usually served with Yemeni flatbread. Tawa, tameez, laxoox, kader, fateer, kudam, rashoosh, oshara, amd malawah are the popular breads eaten in Yemen while malooga, khuba and khamira are the popular home made breads. Store bought pita and rotis are also commonly used. (Source:Wiki)
I settled with this simple and quick dessert for Yemen and was quite happy with the results. It may not be visually stunning but is quite a delight to devour this concoction of fruit, cream, nuts and honey. This recipe is a great way to use the left over flat breads / rotis and over ripe bananas. It is supposedly a sweet - savory dish that is quite popular in Gulf countries but I omitted the cheese as it was optional and I felt like that flavor is not needed here. (I even doubt whether this cheese is traditionally used). This banana and bread based sweet dish is called Malikia in Yemen while it goes by the name masoob in Saudi Arabia. The ratio of the bread crumbs and the fruit puree should be roughly equal for this recipe. I substituted the rotis with brown bread in one of my trials and I think rotis taste better. This malikia is close to rasayana in the taste department, a favorite of mine and so I had no problems in falling in love with this dish. My husband didn't care for it but I made it for myself already thrice this month.

Ingredients: (2 -3 servings)
2 flatbread (I used left over rotis)
1 big banana (Use about 1 & 1/2 if using small sized bananas.)
1/2 cup whipped cream
1/4 cup dry fruits / nuts to garnish (I used raisins, sliced pistachios and almonds.)
Honey to taste
Shredded mild cheddar cheese (Optional and I didn't use it.)

* Tear rotis into tiny pieces and process into fine crumbs in a food processor / blender.
* Finely mash the banana in a bowl.
* Combine the roti crumbs and mashed banana in a serving dish. (I would recommend dividing the mixture into three portions and arrange on three serving platters. The final dish is very rich and I felt it is heavy for one person.)
* Spoon whipped cream (or you can use a piping bag for fancy presentation.) and garnish with nuts. Sprinkle cheese if using.
* Drizzle generous amount of honey all over and serve immediately. You can also heat it in microwave for 30 seconds before serving.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Brown Rice Flour & Vegetable Rotti

Rotti is a staple of Karnataka cuisine and these unleavened flat breads are usually prepared using rice flour / finger millet flour or jowar flour. Jolada rotti / jowar floured rottis are a specialty of the North Karnataka region and they are commonly eaten for meals there whereas akki rotti, the rice flour based ones are commonly prepared through out the state. These akki rottis are frequently eaten as a breakfast at homes or lovingly packed for kids' lunchboxes. ('Akki' is rice in the local language). 
I replaced a portion of white rice flour with brown rice one to up the health quotient. (The brown rice flour I buy at 'Whole Foods' is not very fine ground and so need some regular rice flour to bind the dough.) Rottis can be kept simple with the addition of green chillies, salt, onions and coconut. Or vegetables can be added to pack a nutritional punch. Fenugreek leaves can be substituted with amaranth or spinach leaves. The combination of veggies I have added here, especially the cucumber helps in keeping the rottis softer longer. To make the job easier during the morning rush, the dough can be prepared on the previous night and stored in the refrigerator. In the morning just the dough can be taken out and used. There is no need to thaw it.

Ingredients: (Yield 5 rottis)
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup rice flour (Store bought can be used.)
Salt to taste
1 carrot
1 small cucumber
1/4 to 1/2 cup fenugreek leaves / methi leaves
1 - 2 green chillies
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded, fresh coconut
A handful of cilantro leaves, finely minced
Oil to make rottis
Peel and grate the cucumbers. If the cucumbers are not tender, quarter them vertically, remove the seeds and then grate.

* Peel and grate the carrot. Wash and roughly chop the fenugreek leaves.
* Chop green chillies very finely. Or if you prefer not biting on green chillies, just pulse chillies and coconut in a food processor / mixer without adding water.
* First combine the flours and salt in a mixing bowl. Then add all the other ingredients except the oil in a mixing bowl.

* Add water as needed to form a firm dough. At this point, you can proceed with the recipe below. Or if planning to make the rottis later, transfer the dough to a closed container and refrigerate it until use. However plan to use the dough within the next two days.
* Divide the dough into 5 equal portions. Work with one portion at a time and keep the rest covered. Shape one portion into a ball.
* Pour a tsp. of oil in the center of a griddle / skillet you are going to use to make rottis. Place the dough ball at the center of the griddle and pat with your fingers till you form a thin, flat circle.  (You don't need to make it super thin like pancakes.) How big the rotti size can be depends on one's preference. Some prefer to make it griddle size and some go with smaller ones. Poke a hole in the middle with your index finger if you wish or just leave it out.
* Pour a tsp oil around the edges of the dough circle and over it. Cover with a lid and turn on the stove. Let it cook on a low - medium flame and flip it when golden brown spots develop on the bottom side and the upper side doesn't look raw. It may take around 5 -6 minutes. 
 * Add half a tsp of oil around the edges again if needed. Cover it again and cook for about 3 -4 minutes or until the other side turns light brown too. Turn off the stove and remove the cooked rotti.
* Repeat the above steps with the remaining dough.  However be sure to turn off the stove and cool the griddle before using it again. I usually turn my kitchen faucet to the colder side and rinse the hot griddle with cold water to cool it faster. Or simultaneously 2 griddles can be used to quicken the cooking process.
* Rottis are usually served with chutney pudi. When serving kids, they go with a combo of jaggery and ghee. The latter combo remains my favorite even though I am no longer a kid. :)


Saturday, September 27, 2014

X for Xīn Xīlán / New Zealand ~ Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Event: BM #44, Around the world (A - Z Series)      
Choice of Country: Xīn Xīlán / New Zealand
Capital City: Wellington
Official Language: English, Māori and NZ sign language

People who follow my blog regularly might have noticed that I have been on a blogging this marathon with the theme 'Around the World in 30 Days' - cooking from 26 countries around the world, going in an alphabetical order. Today it is the turn of letter 'X' and since there is no country starting with that letter we had a choice to cook from any city in the world that started with the alphabet 'X'. 
My planning for the marathon started with this letter and without putting much thought into it, I settled on a Mexican city called 'Xalapa' in the first five minutes of my research since the city and the state that it comes from had some dishes of their own. However recently I had a Eureka moment when my daughter who was going through a story book connected to the old silk route innocently mentioned to me that Persia is present day Iran pointing to a map. I got the idea for checking out the alternative names for the countries and luckily landed here. I found 15 countries that had alternative names starting with 'X' in other languages. Valli gave a green signal that I could go with alternative names and so my pick for today is going to be Xīn Xīlán which is a Mandarin Chinese name for New Zealand.
New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific ocean. It has a diverse British-based cuisine and largely driven by local ingredients and seasonal variations. The main meal of the day when families gather is dinner which is also known as 'tea'. Lolly cake, Hangi food, Pavlova, Anzac biscuits and Hokey Pokey ice cream are some of the dishes that developed in New Zealand.
The recipe I had bookmarked earlier came handy earlier for today's post. Hokey pokey ice cream is a flavor of ice cream in New Zealand, consisting of plain vanilla ice cream with small, solid lumps of honeycomb toffee and is the most popular one after vanilla ice cream there. Hokey pokey is a New Zealand term for honeycomb toffee where as in the 19th and the early 20th centuries, it was a slang term for ice cream in several parts of the world. I had used honey instead of the golden syrup and these crispy bites add a nice twist to already yummy vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup / honey
1 tsp baking soda
Vanilla ice cream to serve 

* Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil / parchment paper or a silicon mat and keep it handy.
* Add sugar and honey to a medium sized saucepan and stir constantly on low heat until it starts to boil. 
* Boil for 5 minutes more on a very gentle heat taking care not to burn the mixture. (I had checked another recipe which gave a helpful hint in avoiding this turning into a chewing mess. Cook until it reaches a hard ball consistency.)
* Remove the mixture from heat and add baking soda to the pan and whisk vigorously until the mixture starts to froth. You would notice the mixture ballooning up and once it stops, immediately pour the mixture onto the prepare sheet.
* Let the mixture cool down and once when it is solid, break it into chunks. Store them in an airtight container.

* If you are preparing your own ice cream then you can stir it into the ice cream mixture before freezing it. Or add some chunks to your vanilla ice cream.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Methi Rice ~ Lunch Box Recipes

Rice dishes are one of the easiest and probably more frequently packed lunch box items among Indian households. And so, I thought of posting a quick and yummy rice dish for today's post. This dish can be customized according to one's preferred spice levels and so works for all kids who like rice dishes and fresh fenugreek leaves. To make it a substantial meal, fried paneer / tofu cubes can also be added to this rice.

Ingredients: (3-4 servings)
1 cup Basmati Rice
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cashews
1 big onion, sliced
1 - 2 green chillies (I used 2 and it was spicy enough for us. Reduce the quantity for kids or add little chili powder at the final stages of cooking.)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 bunch fresh fenugreek leaves / methi leaves (At least 2 cups packed)
Salt to taste

* Wash and soak Basmati rice in water for 15 - 20 minutes. Drain and cook adding 2 cups of water. (I used a pressure cooker.)
* Heat oil and add cashews. Toast them until golden brown and remove them with a slotted spoon and keep them aside.
* To the same oil, add green chillies and onion and fry until onion turns translucent. Then add roughly chopped methi leaves, turmeric powder and salt.
* Keep sauteeing until methi leaves wilt and are cooked. Next add the cooked rice, toasted cashews and mix well.
* Pack along with a can of yogurt. 

This is my contribution to Indusladies Recipe book with the theme "Kids Lunch Box". 
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W for Wales ~ Tiessennau Mel

Event: BM #44, Around the world (A - Z Series)    
Choice of Country: Wales
Capital City: Cardiff
Official Language: Welsh & English

For alphabet 'W', I thought of sticking to a country instead of selecting a city that starts with the letter W. And so I picked Wales that is a part of Great Britain. Great Britain or Britain refers to the island together with a number of surrounding islands that constitute the territory of England, Scotland and Wales. And Great Britain and the northern Ireland together form the United Kingdom. Basically, 'The United Kingdom' or 'UK' consists of four countries - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The governments of both UK and Wales almost invariably define Wales as a country. The Welsh Assembly government mentions that Wales is not a principality and is a country on it's own right, even though it s a part of Great Britain. The title 'Prince of wales' is still conferred on the 'Heir apparent to the British throne' but he has no constitutional role in modern Wales.
'Cymru' is the Welsh name for Wales whereas the word 'Cymry' refers to Welsh people; the source of these words meaning "fellow-countrymen. Wales has a distinctive culture including it's own language, customs, food, holidays and music.
the vegetarian tradition in Wales is stronger than other parts of Britain. This is partly due to necessity. Wales does not have much rich agricultural land and farming, of necessity, is mostly associated with the husbandry of animals. But most of the cattle, sheep and pigs grown were sold further afield and so meat, even on farms was not commonplace. St David (Dewi Sant), patron saint of Wales was vegetarian and extolled a vegetarian diet (which is one reason the leek is a symbol of Wales). Seafood is also an important part of the diet,

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/cymraeg.php
Copyright © celtnet
the vegetarian tradition in Wales is stronger than other parts of Britain. This is partly due to necessity. Wales does not have much rich agricultural land and farming, of necessity, is mostly associated with the husbandry of animals. But most of the cattle, sheep and pigs grown were sold further afield and so meat, even on farms was not commonplace. St David (Dewi Sant), patron saint of Wales was vegetarian and extolled a vegetarian diet (which is one reason the leek is a symbol of Wales). Seafood is also an important part of the diet,

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/cymraeg.php
Copyright © celtnetz

Welsh Cuisine:
The Welsh are famous for their meats, fish and seafood, their cheeses are unique and they even produce wine. Traditional Welsh cooking derives from the diet of the working man and thus fresh vegetables from the garden, fish from the rivers, lakes or sea, meat from the family farms form the basis of traditional Welsh cooking. Welsh lamb and beef feature prominently as do freshly caught fish such as salmon, brown trout, white crab, lobsters and cockles. The Welsh love their teatime. Traditional bara brith ( the famous speckled bread of Wales), Teisen lap ( a shallow moist fruit cake) teisen carawe (caraway seed cake), tease sinamon (cinnamon cake) and teisen mêl (honey cake) are favourites for the tea table. Such cakes are still made today throughout Wales, although the ancient recipes have been updated to suit modern methods of cooking.
(Info gathered from several online sources.)
The Welsh word for cake is 'Tiessen' and 'Tieseennau' is the plural form of it. It is supposedly pronounced as 'ti-es-sen-naa-ee'. Mel is honey and so the recipe title basically means honey cakes. When I was looking for sweet Welsh treats, two caught my attention. These honey cakes and a fruit loaf named bara brith and of course as you see it, I went with the former choice. Traditionally patty tins are used to make these cakes but muffin pan can be substituted by filling the batter only up to half of it.
I made these cakes twice, the second time tweaking the recipe to suit our tastes. The first time I went with flax seed meal as an egg substitute and added honey as suggested. The resulting cakes were dense and just subtly sweet and I guess that's why the dusting of sugar. They are seen in the background in the first image. I used yogurt the second time as the egg substitute and the resulting cakes were moist and fluffy as you can see and we all loved them.

Ingredients: (Yield 8)
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
3 - 4 tbsp honey (I used 1/4 cup honey)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup yogurt
1 to 2 tbsp milk
Powdered sugar for dusting

* Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C.
* Grease the patty tins or the muffin pan.
* Sieve flour, cinnamon and baking soda together.
* Beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Next add yogurt and honey and beat until combined.
* Now stir in the flour mixture to the butter mixture adding milk as 
 needed and mix everything lightly.

* Half fill the patty tin /muffin pan with the batter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar on tops. (I skipped the sugar sprinkling the second time I tried them.)
* Bake for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them during the last minutes of baking to avoid them from over browning.
* Dust with sugar again when they come out of the oven.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

V for Venezuela ~ Cachapas

Event: BM #44, Around the world (A - Z Series)  
Choice of Country: The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Capital City: Caracas
Official Language: Spanish 

I am moving to Venezuela today for the "Around the World in 30 days", an alphabetical based global culinary tour. It is a South American nation situated on the northern side of the continent and it's cuisine is influenced by it's indigenous people and the European ancestry. The cuisine is varied and greatly reflects the climatic contrasts and the diversity in culture among it's people. Food staples include corn, plantain, yams, rice, beans and meat. 

During my recipe hunt for this marathon, I realized that plantains, yuca and corn are an integral part of Latino cooking. And so I made it a point to cook three dishes based on these ingredients which were simple and kid-friendly - Yuca fries, patacones and these cachapas. Like baleadas, these pancakes were a super-hit with my  

Cachapas are fresh corn pancakes topped with cheese and they are a popular street food in Venezuela. These traditional pancakes are made using fresh corn dough or wrapped in dry corn leaves and boiled. They are served at breakfast or as an appetizer at homes. The most common and simple variety is made by grinding fresh corn into a thick batter. These thick, lumpy pancakes are traditionally eaten with a soft cheese from Venezuela called Queso de Mano and occasionally with fried pork. Mozzarella or feta cheese can be substituted in absence of Queso de Mano. Cachapas may also include different kinds of cheese, cream or jam.

Ingredients: (makes 4)
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen)
Salt to taste
3 tbsp masa harina (I substituted it with corn flour.)
Oil to make cachapas
1 cup Venezuelan cheese / shredded mozzarella cheese

* Grind corn kernels and salt to a thick, coarse paste in a food processor. Add masa harina / corn flour and pulse to incorporate.
* Heat a nonstick pan and pour a ladleful of batter. Don't spread but just using the back of the ladle, shape into a circle.
* Add 1/2 tsp of oil around the edges, cover and cook until golden brown spots appear on the bottom side. 
* Uncover the pan and carefully flip the cachapas without breaking.
* Cover and cook again until it turns golden brown on the other side too.
* Top with about 1/4 cup of cheese and cover until the cheese has melted.
 * Repeat the process with the remaining batter and serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

U for Uruguay ~ Garrapiñadas (Maní)

Event: BM #44, Around the world (A - Z Series)
Choice of Country: The Eastern Republic of Uruguay
Capital City: Montevideo

Official Language: Spanish 

It is the turn of alphabet 'U' today in the "Around the World in 30 days", an alphabetical based global culinary tour. I chose to go to Uruguay, a southeastern nation of South America for a yummy treat. The Uruguayan cuisine is heavily influenced by European cooking, especially from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. The European pastas, sausage and desserts are commonly found in Uruguay. The most famous and exquisite dish from this nation is asado - a grilled version of beef and nation's beverage is mate (pronounced maa-tay). These garrapiñadas are a favorite streetfood among Uruguayans.

Garrapiñadas pronounced 'Gur-ra-pin-yaadas', are nothing but caramelized nuts with a hint of vanilla, when simply put. This recipe is very popular in Uruguay though the recipe is shared by Argentina as well. This yummy treat is very commonly sold in small bags in the shape of tubes on the streets of Uruguay.  Maní in the recipe title refers to the peanuts used. Peanuts can be replaced with almonds, hazelnuts and so on. The almond ones are called almendras garrapiñadas. Honestly, I didn't realize that I was preparing candied nuts until I tasted them. I buy candied nuts now and then for my kids, especially during holiday season when one can't avoid noticing them at stores, in beautiful tins and bags. I had no idea that preparing them at home would be so easy and the only skill you need for this yummy preparation is stirring. :) And these were a hit with my kids.

The sugar syrup formed during the cooking process is let to undergo a 'sugar inversion' while making garrapiñadas. When the sugar syrup is cooked further, the sugar recrystallizes leaving behind the nuts with a sugar coating. And next the sugar caramelizes, creating a crunchy, sweet texture that is characteristic of garrapiñadas. It was fun making them and seeing the sugar recrystallize in front of my eyes.

1 cup roasted, skinned peanuts
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 to 2 tsp vanilla

* Heat sugar and water in a wide, non-stick pan.
* Keep stirring the mixture until all the sugar melts.
* Next add peanuts and vanilla to the pan and keep stirring occasionally for the next 6 - 7 minutes. However keep an eye on the pan even though you are not stirring.
* You will start to notice white foam after cooking for about 3 minutes (that is after the sugar has melted.). The below image is after 5 minutes of cooking.
* After 10 minutes of cooking, you notice that the syrup has thickened and is all foamy. Turn off the stove at this point.
* Stir continuously for few seconds and you would notice sugar recrystallizing back and all the peanuts are covered with a sugar coating. Also there would be lumps of dry sugar.
* At this point, turn on the stove again and start reheating the mixture. The crystallized sugar will start to caramelize in about 2 -3 minutes. 
* Cook only until the syrup turns an amber color but not beyond where the syrup/peanuts may burn.