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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Indian Chinese Cooking ~ Vegetable Fried Rice

I chose to go with vegetable fried rice, one of the popular dishes from the Indian Chinese cuisine for today's post. If you have some left over rice and prepared vegetables then this dish could be made in a blink of an eye. And thanks to my husband, I could pair it with some gobi manchurian. Yes, my husband is the official manchurian maker in our home. :) I will post the recipe for manchurian soon.
1 cup Basmati Rice

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sesame oil
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced
1/4 cup minced scallion (greens and white separated) 
1.5 to 2 cups mixed vegetables of your choice (I used thinly sliced carrot, beans, cabbage, and capsicum.)
1 - 2 tsp. soy sauce (or as per taste)
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Optional ingredient:
Red or green chili sauce to give a spicy kick

* Soak 1 cup rice in water for about 15 minutes and drain the water. Add about 1 & 1/2 cups water to the rice and pressure cook for 3 whistles. When the valve pressure is gone, transfer the rice to  a wide plate. Add a tsp. of sesame oil, fluff and keep it aside to cool.
(Whatever method you choose to cook rice, take care not to prepare a mushy rice. Leftover rice works good too for this recipe.)
* Chop the vegetables finely or into thin slices. (I prefer to cut into thin long strips as my husband prefers it that way). Use vegetables of your choice. Other than the vegetables I used, one can use celery, mushroom, broccoli, snow peas and so on.
* Heat the oil in a wide, non stick pan. Add scallion whites, ginger and garlic and toast for few seconds until you start to notice the aroma.
* Next add all the vegetables and cook on high flame for about two minutes. Keep tossing the pan frequently to avoid burning the vegetables. The vegetables must be cooked but still retain their crunchiness and crispiness.  
(If the vegetables are finely chopped then tossing them for about a minute would suffice.)
* Add soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce if using, salt and pepper and toss. Next add the rice and just gently mix. Don't over mix and break the rice grains.
* Garnish with scallion greens and serve along with a manchurian dish or your favorite side dish. I served it with gobi manchurian.

This 'Veg Fried Rice - Manchurian' combo goes to BM #46. Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon. 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mor Kali

A few years ago when my SIL visited us, we both tried a dish that she had eaten in someone's home at Chennai. She mentioned that it was rice flour upma cooked in buttermilk instead of water. The idea of using rice flour for a upma sounded intriguing at that time and I wanted to see what texture we end up with. I had used a traditional style kadai and by the time the dish was done, I will admit I was fed up with the tedious stirring. And to top that, my husband commented that why did we guys take such pain to create 'vadiyala pindi'. (Vadiyalu is Telugu word for sun dried papads / vadagam / sandige. Vadiyala pindi is papad batter when loosely translated.) I guess there is no need to mention that I had dropped the idea of posting it on the blog.

I got to see the versions of mor kali on Tamilian blogs later many times and realized that it's what my SIL and I tried to cook on that day. Mor kali is a traditional recipe from Tamilian kitchens that is prepared using rice flour and buttermilk. It can be slightly gooey when done or can be cooked until crumbly. Using sun dried, salted chillies add a flavorful kick to this slightly tangy dish. This can be eaten as a light snack or as a meal.
Most of the recipes I had gone through online mention to stop cooking once the mixture leaves the sides of the pan or the mixture is not sticky to wet hands. This tip didn't help me as I was using a non stick pan and it started to leave the sides of the pan in less than ten minutes and it was no where close to the final stage of cooking. Going by my first experience, I did not care whether my mor kali was going to look snow white or soft textured. This time my criteria was to cook it enough that it didn't stick to my mouth and taste good. I cooked until it passed my taste testing and was satisfied with this second attempt.
1 cup rice flour
3 cups thick butter milk (slightly sour one is preferred.)
(or use 1.5 cup butter milk + 1 cup water)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil (I used sesame oil.)
1 tsp chana dal / split chick peas
1 tsp urad dal / split, skinned black gram
1 tsp mustard seeds

A pinch of asafoetida 
Few curry leaves
3 - 4 sun-dried salted chillies / 5 - 6 red chillies

* Combine rice flour, butter milk, water and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk it to form a lump-free batter.
* Heat oil in a pan, preferably a non stick one. Add chana dal, urad dal, and mustard seeds. When the dals start to turn reddish, add the chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida. Saute them until the chillies are toasted and turn brownish. Next add the rice flour batter to the pan.
* Cook the mixture on medium flame until it is done. Stir continuously through out the process to avoid the mixture from forming lumps.
* This was after 10 minutes of cooking. I cooked for about 25 minutes on medium flame.

* You can serve as it is. Or grease a plate with some oil / ghee and transfer the cooked mixture to it. Flatten it with the back of a spatula and cut into desired shapes and serve.

This 'Mor Kali - Mor Milagai' combo goes to BM #46. Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Shrikhand (Short-Cut Method)

Shrikhand in short can be described as a thick, sweetened yogurt redolent with cardamom and saffron flavors and garnished with nuts. It is a sweet dish that is popular in the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and ridiculously easy to prepare. It is even eaten as a side dish to pooris in Gujarat. While this would be the basic, traditional version, another version prepared adding mango pulp, called aamrakhand is equally popular in Maharashtra.
Traditionally full fat yogurt is tied in a muslin / thin cotton cloth and allowed to drain until all the whey is separated and one is left with thick yogurt. Usually I follow this method when I have time. I leave the tied yogurt in a colander and place the colander over a container to catch the whey. And I place the whole setup in the refrigerator overnight so that I have the hung yogurt ready by the morning. If you want to prepare shrikhand from scratch then you can follow this method. However remember that the final hung yogurt would be less in quantity than the original yogurt you started with since some of it will be lost in the form of whey.
Then sugar is whisked into the hung yogurt until it is dissolved, garnished with spices and chilled before serving. 
For a short cut method, one can skip above steps and directly use the Greek yogurt as I have used here. I prefer powdered sugar over the granular variety since it is easy to mix. And sometimes I even use a sugar substitute. This shrikhand doesn't need chilling since the Greek yogurt comes from the refrigerator.
My husband and I love shrikhand and I frequently prepare it to eat as a dessert. However I paired it with pooris for the first time today and it was not that bad as I had anticipated. In fact I liked the combo.

1 cup Greek yogurt (I used non-fat Greek yogurt.)
A generous pinch of saffron strands
1 tbsp. warm water / warm milk 
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (or as per taste.)
1/4 ground cardamom
Sliced almonds and pistachios to garnish
* Gently crush the saffron strands between your fingers and add it to the warm water / milk and leave it aside for about 10 minutes.
* Add the Greek yogurt and powdered sugar to a bowl and gently whisk it until blended. 
* Next add the saffron along with the liquid and cardamom to the yogurt mixture and mix gently.
* Garnish with nuts and serve. If not serving immediately, refrigerate it until ready to use.

This 'Poori-Shrikhand' combo goes to BM #46. Check what other marathoners are cooking during this marathon.