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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Makai Methi Kebab

These kebabs make a guilt free and delicious evening snack. These are pan fried instead of deep frying and using a non stick tawa would help to ensure that only a little amount of oil is used in the preparation. This low calorie treat is easy to make and can be served with ketchup or green and sweet chutney or any other sauce you may prefer.
 Source: Tarla Dalal
Ingredients: (Yield 8 kebabs)
1 cup makai / corn kernels (I used frozen.)
1/2 cup boiled, peeled and mashed potato
1/2 cup methi / fresh fenugreek greens
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves
1 tsp. chopped green chili
2 tbsp. rice flour
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. oil
* Cook corn kernels in microwave for a minute or two adding a tbsp. of water. Drain and coarsely pulse them in a food processor.
* Wash and roughly chop the fenugreek greens.
* Now combine all ingredients except oil in a mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and pat them into discs.
* Place them on a large non stick pan and shallow fry them using the oil until they turn golden brown on both sides.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking on a Tawa'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Tawa Bhindi

Tawa subzi was what on my mind when I picked 'tawa recipes' as my theme for this week's BM. I went and bought even the needed vegetables only to back out at the last minute when I realized that too much work and time were involved in the preparation. At least in my case since I was planning to cook for one and that too for myself. And so instead I picked this spicy and delicious tawa subzi prepared with okra after I happened to come across it here. Tawa bhindi is stuffed okra curry that is prepared on a tawa / griddle. This curry uses a flavorful homemade tawa masala though a store bought version can be substituted for it. I did not play around the original recipe while preparing this tawa bhindi though I have reduced the quantity of red chili powder in the masala recipe given below. Tawa masala with a tbsp. of chili powder turned out to be a super spicy one, the kind which leaves you in tears especially if you use up all the masala prepared. And so, I recommend to go easy with the tawa masala, taste and adjust the quantity as needed in the tawa bhindi recipe. However I would like to add that this spicy masala is a flavorful one and would be a great addition to vegetable preparations and okra here can be replaced with other vegetables. 

Ingredients for tawa masala
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 or 3 cloves
1 inch piece of cinnamon
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
2 tsp. kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves

1 to 1.5 tsp. red chilli powder
1 tsp. amchoor / dried mango powder

1 tsp. chaat masala
1 tsp. salt

Preparing tawa masala:
* Heat the oil in  a pan and add mustard and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds start to crackle and pop, turn off the stove and add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Toast for a minute and let the mixture cool.
* Grind the ingredients finely and store it in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated and use as needed.

Ingredients for tawa bhindi:
1 lb. okra / bhindi (25 medium sized okra)
1/4 cup tawa masala or as needed 

 3 to 4 tbsp. oil

* Wash the okra and wipe them dry thoroughly. Otherwise the slime builds while chopping. 
* Chop off the edges of okra and make a slit along the entire length of it without chopping it into two pieces. Stuff the okra with a pinch or two of tawa masala and don't go overboard with the stuffing. Gently wipe away if any stuffing sticks on the okra as we don't want the mixture to burn while cooking the okra. Prepare all the okra this way and keep them aside.
* Heat oil on a tawa / skillet and add the stuffed okra. Toss them well to coat with the oil. Cook them on medium flame turning intermittently, until they are done to the desired crispness. Add oil if needed in between. (Cook in a saute pan if you are uncomfortable with cooking on a tawa.)
* Sprinkle a little salt and some tawa masala over the okra and toss well before turning off the stove. (Go easy with the salt since the tawa masala has already salt in it. The original recipe did not have this extra sprinkling of masala over the okra.)
* Serve with rotis / rice.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking on a Tawa'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tawa Paneer Masala

Today is turn for a quick and delicious paneer based curry made on a tawa. A tawa is a slightly concave griddle that is commonly used in Indian kitchens to prepare flat breads. Apart from flatbreads, there are a few other dishes that are associated with the tawa like a tawa pulao or this paneer masala for example, though the flat griddle seems like an unusual implement to cook them. Of course one can easily opt for a saute pan instead of a flat griddle when cooking at home, if the tawa cooking seems trickier and messier. This tawa paneer masala is entirely cooked on a tawa where paneer cubes are simmered in a spicy, sauteed base of onion, capsicum and tomato.

1 onion
1 small or 1/2 big sized green capsicum 
2 tomatoes 
1/2 cup paneer cubes
1 to 2 tbsp. butter / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small sized green chili
1 tsp. ginger - garlic paste 
2 pinches of turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp. pav bhaji powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. kasuri methi

* Finely chop onion, capsicum and green chili. Puree the tomatoes.
* Heat butter / oil on a medium / large sized tawa / griddle and add cumin seeds. When they start to turn brown, add green chillies and onions and saute until the onions turn translucent. Add ginger - garlic paste and capsicum and saute on low flame for about five minutes. 
* Next add turmeric, salt, pav bhaji masala, chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Stir for few seconds and then add the tomato puree. Cook until the raw smell of tomatoes disappear and butter / oil starts to leave the sides of the tawa. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Sprinkle a few tbsp. of water if the mixture appears dry while cooking.
* Stir in the paneer cubes next and cook for a couple of minutes more. Gently crush the kasuri methi between palms and sprinkle over the curry. Stir the curry once more and turn off the stove.
* Serve warm with rotis or bread of your choice.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking on a Tawa'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Podi Atukulu / Spicy Beaten Rice Flakes / Chutney Powder Chivda

This easy poha / beaten rice flakes based snack takes hardly 10 minutes to prepare irrespective of whether it was made for one or many. This guilt free snack is perfect when those evening hunger pangs kick in and one is not in a mood for a calorie laden treat or when one do not have enough time for elaborate prep work. This poha comes from my mother in law's kitchen and I have heard that the older kids in the family would make this quick fix snack for themselves while growing up. This is equivalent to our version of this sweetened milk poha while growing up, a snack that kids could make without disturbing the matron of the family. I had heard often about this podi atukulu from my husband over the years but somehow I had relegated it to weird food category until I tried it myself recently. This no fuss poha really tastes good and makes a nice crunchy snack. It can also be a part of picnic or travel food too. The original recipe do not have peanuts or curry leaves but they would make a great flavorful addition.

Ingredients: (Yield 1 serving)
1 cup poha / beaten rice flakes (I used thick variety poha.)
1 tbsp. chutney podi (adjust as needed)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. oil
A sprig of curry leaves
1 tbsp. peanuts

* Dry toast the poha on low flame until the flakes feel crisp thin to taste, about 5 minutes.
* Heat oil and add peanuts and curry leaves if using. Toast until the peanuts turn golden brown and turn off the stove. Add chutney podi, salt and mix well. Next add the poha and combine with a spatula until the poha flakes are coated well with the podi. Taste it and adjust the salt and podi quantities if needed.
* This can be eaten immediately or can be stored in an airtight container once it cools down.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking for One'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Banana and Chia Seeds Overnight Oats

Though I jumped late on the 'overnight oats' band wagon, I have come to realize that I love it more than the cooked oatmeal because of the texture of the oats. It doesn't turn mushy and there are zillion ways to jazz it up. All you need to do is mix equal parts of rolled oats, milk, yogurt, sweetener and flavoring agent if preferred in a sealed jar / container and refrigerate it overnight. And a hearty breakfast in a creamy base is ready by the morning to eat or carry it to go. There is no cooking involved and it is a fuss free preparation that hardly involves a couple of minutes of one's time. Just before serving it in the morning, fruits / dry fruits / nuts can be added to make it more interesting and nutritious. Or they can be added along with the oats at night. Overnight oats would make a perfect breakfast especially on hot summer days. 

I usually prepare this overnight oats using a little over 1/3 cup rolled / old fashioned oats but depending upon one's intake the oats quantity can range anywhere between 1/3 to 1/2 cup for one serving. Any dairy or non dairy milk can be used depending upon one's dietary preferences for the liquid portion. Though usually equal quantity of oats and liquids are used in an overnight oats recipe I tend to add more milk and yogurt since I don't prefer my oats with a thick consistency. Sweetener can be anything ranging from honey, sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, again depending upon one's taste and choice. I prefer to add the sweetener in the morning to decide the quantity depending upon what toppings I am going to use. In today's recipe, I mashed a overly sweet banana and added a tiny quantity of sweetener. Ditto with the flavoring agent though it is optional. Some of the choices would be vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. The basic overnight oats preparation is like a blank canvas though with garnishes and one's creativity, it can lead to great variety of breakfast options. There is no problem in eating the plain, basic version of oats but however it can be made more colorful and interesting with toppings. They can range anywhere from fresh and/or dried fruits, nuts, seeds, coconut, chocolate and many more. For today's version, I used a mashed banana, chia seeds, raisins and sweetened dried cranberries.
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup yogurt (I used homemade fat free yogurt.)
2/3 cup milk 
1 tbsp. chia seeds
Sweetener to taste (I used honey.)
1 banana, mashed or sliced into discs
1 tbsp. dry fruits / nuts to garnish (optional. I used sweetened cranberries and raisins.)

* Whisk oats, yogurt, milk and chia seeds in a pint sized container with a lid.
* Close the lid and refrigerate the oat mixture overnight or about 4 to 6 hours.
* Add banana slices or a mashed banana and toppings of your choice to the oats. Mix well and taste it before adding the sweetener to make sure whether it is needed.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking for One'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ringan Methi nu Shaak / Gujarati Style Eggplant & Fenugreek Greens Curry

I had come across recently a Gujarati style curry prepared using eggplants and greens and I was itching to try it ever since. The unusual combination had caught my attention and I was intrigued to find out how complimenting the vegetables and flavors were in the dish. I did try it over the weekend for our lunch, which ended up being a Gujarati meal without prior planning. 

I come from a region where eggplants are cherished in cooking but honestly speaking, I am not a fan of them though my husband is the opposite and loves any eggplant based dish. I try only those eggplant dishes which sound good to my senses and this curry was one of them. The methi used in the recipe may have played a part in it since I love the strong flavored greens. Spinach may be substituted in place of fenugreek greens for a different flavored curry. The dish doesn't take longer to cook as eggplants cook faster and is flavorful. My daughter and I enjoyed the simple and tasty curry and the below measurements are for one serving.

3 small eggplants (1 cup eggplant slices)
1 cup methi leaves / fenugreek greens
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida powder
2 pinches turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. cumin - coriander powder
Red chili powder to taste

* Wash and chop the stalks of the eggplants. Chop the eggplants into two lengthwise and chop each half crosswise into thin slices. Wash and roughly chop the methi leaves.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add cumin seeds.When cumin starts to turn a few shades darker, add the eggplant slices, turmeric, asafoetida and salt to the pan. Mix well and sprinkle a little water.
* Cover and cook on low flame until the eggplants are about 50% done. Next add the methi leaves, mix with a spatula and continue to cook covered until the eggplants turn tender. Don't let the eggplants turn mushy.
* Finally add cumin - coriander powder and chili powder to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the stove and serve it warm with rice / rotis.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking for One'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Simple South Indian Festival Thaali ~ Potato Bajji

I am wrapping up my thaali series this week with a festive one. This kind of thaali is a commonly prepared one on a festival day in majority of the homes across southern parts of India. I specifically chose dishes that are generic to the region than the ones which are specific to a particular state. The dishes chosen on a festival day would be vegetarian and do not even include onion and garlic. The usual fare of rice served along with a pickle, vegetable based side dishes, lentil based side dishes and yogurt with papad / lentil wafers on the side can be seen. And besides those, a traditional rice dish (like tamarind rice or raw mango rice), savories like bajji or vadas and sweet dishes would mandatorily appear as special festive treats.

My festival thaali of the day contains the following dishes.
Mango pickle 
Potato fry
Carrot curry 
Beans & Carrot Sambhar
Lemon Rice
Potato bajji
Poli / Holige
Semiya Payasam / Vermicelli Kheer 
Vadas based on black gram or split roasted chickpeas or bajjis are the commonly prepared savories during festivals in south India. While vadas need soaking and grinding the beans, the bajjis provide a quick alternative. Bajjis are fritters where thinly sliced vegetables coated with a spicy chickpea flour batter are deep fried. I chose potato bajjis for today's post and the recipe is below.

2 to 3 cups oil to deep fry (I used canola oil.) 
2 potatoes
1 cup chickpea flour / besan
2 tbsp. rice flour
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida powder (optional)
1/8 tsp. baking soda
About 3/4 cup water

* Heat the oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat. Don't bring it to the point of smoking.
* Peel the potatoes and slice thinly using a mandoline. Immerse the potato slices in a bowl of water to prevent them from turning brown.
* Sieve garbanzo flour into a mixing bowl. Add rice flour, cumin seeds, salt, chili powder, turmeric and asafoetida to the bowl and mix to combine. Next add water and make a batter of semi-thick consistency. It should be neither thick nor watery but should be able to coat when the potato slices are dipped in it. (I added about 3/4 cup water and the quantity can be increased if the batter is too thick to coat the potatoes.) Add the baking soda at the end and mix well.
* Drop a pinch of batter into the oil to test whether the oil is ready for frying. If the batter sizzles and immediately comes to the surface, it's ready to fry. If the batter sinks and doesn't rise, the oil needs some more heating. 
* Dip the potato slices in the batter so that it is coated well on both sides and drop it into the oil carefully. Drop as many coated potato slices as the pan can fit, without crowding.
* Fry on medium flame until they turn golden brown on both sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon draining as much oil as possible  and leave them on absorbent towels. 
* Repeat the steps with the remaining potato slices and the batter.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Thaali Recipes'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Punjabi Mini Thali ~ Jeera Rice & Punjabi Style Kadhi

My 'thaali' of the day comes from Punjab, a northern state of India. People who have tasted Indian food in any restaurant, especially in the western world can be automatically assumed to have tasted Punjabi food. The North Indian cuisine especially served in these restaurants is basically the delicious, calorie laden Punjabi food. The famous tandoor breads like naans, kulchas and parathas, the stuffed breads come from the region as are the paneer (Indian cheese) based side dishes. And of course the region can also boast about their mouthwatering side dishes like rajma, chole, dal makhnis which are equally popular in the other parts of  the country. And the scrumptious carrot halwa, the ultimate dessert of the bollywood movies also is a gift from the region to the Indian subcontinent.
My today's thaali consists of the following items and I had tried to cut down calories wherever I can though traditionally it is not done so. I baked the samosas instead of deep frying, prepared a microwave version of gajar ka halwa using skim milk, didn't use butter in dal and made rotis using a little oil. I wanted to try the famous combo of 'makki  di roti and sarson da saag' but wasn't sure how it would be received at home and decided to stick with roti, dal and palak paneer instead. I am posting recipes for jeera rice and Punjabi style kadhi today.

Baked mini Punjabi Samosa
Mithi chutney / Sweet chutneyJeera rice / Cumin flavored rice
Roti (Wheat flour based flat bread)
Achaar (Mango pickle)
Dhaabay di dal  (Mixture of lentils cooked in a spicy base)
Punjabi Kadhi (Spicy chickpea flour & yogurt based gravy)
Palak Paneer 
Gajar ka halwa
Onions and chillies on the side
Salted lassi

Ingredients for jeera rice:
1 cup Basmati rice
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 or 2 cardamom pods
Salt to taste
* Rinse and soak rice in water for 10 to 15 minutes and drain. 
* Heat a tbsp. ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom. When cumin starts to brown, add rice and saute for a minute. 
* At this point, the rice can be continued to cook in the pan or pressure cooked. 
Add 2 cups water and salt to the pan and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook on low flame until the rice grains appear cooked and fluffy. Don't be tempted to stir in between.
Or transfer the mixture to a container to place in a pressure cooker or directly to a small pressure cooker. Add 1&1/2 cups water and salt to it and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
Ingredients for tadka / tempering: 
1 - 2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 or 2 small dried, red chillies, broken into bits
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. ginger paste / minced ginger
2 pinches of asafoetida

Ingredients for the Punjabi kadhi:
2 small onions, thinly sliced lengthwise or chopped
1 cup sour yogurt
1/3 cup besan / chickpea flour
Salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
About 2 & 1/2 cups water or as needed
1/4 tsp each garam masala or as per tasteMaking kadhi:
* Heat the oil in pan and add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, bay leaf and red chillies. When cumin starts to brown, add ginger and saute for few seconds. Next add asafoetida and onion and fry on low flame until the onion turns translucent.
* Mean while churn / beat the yogurt to get a uniform consistency. Sieve the besan. (Sieving beforehand helps in preventing the besan forming lumps when added to the yogurt.) Add the yogurt to the besan and mix well. Pass the yogurt - besan mixture through a sieve again to avoid any lumps if present. (I take this extra measure to avoid the trouble of lumps in the kadhi mixture later.)
* Add this yogurt mixture, chili powder, turmeric powder and salt to the fried onions. Also add about 2&1/2 to 3 cups of water to it. Cook on low heat for about 15 - 20 minutes till it thickens. Stir now and then. In between, the heat can be increased once or twice for a minute or so to quicken the cooking process. Add garam masala and amchur too if preferred to the kadhi. Cook for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the stove.
Kadhi further thickens after sitting for a while and so prepare the kadhi a little thinner than you like.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Thaali Recipes'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Andhra Pradesh Homestyle Thaali ~ Panasa Pottu Koora / Raw Jackfruit Curry

This must be my first 'Thaali' post ever on my blog. I cook 2 to 3 side dishes almost on a daily basis to serve with rice besides the pickle / chutney and yogurt. However I am not adventurous enough to serve a thaali for my family on either a festival day or for blogging purposes. It seems suicidal to me, especially when you don't have a helping hand and you are staring at two sinks full of dirty dishes after the cooking and clicking part. However this time when the thaali theme was announced, it clicked that I don't need to cook everything on the same day and I can cook a mini thaali. And so, this thaali happened and I stuck to my home state of Andhra Pradesh for the first post to skip the 'exploring recipes' part. 

This homestyle or a simple festive thaali (sans onion and garlic) consists of 
Annam (Rice)
Gongura Pachadi (Sorrel leaves Chutney)
Cabbage - Pesarapappu Koora (Cabbage & Moongdal Curry)
Panasa Pottu Koora (Raw Jackfruit Curry)
Muddha Pappu (Lentils seasoned with just salt)
Majjiga Pulusu (Spicy yogurt based gravy)
Palakoora Pappu (Spicy Lentils cooked with Spinach)
Chaaru / Rasam (Spicy Lentil Broth)
Pulihora (Tamarind Rice)
Payasam (Kheer / Indian Pudding)
Garelu (Whole Black Bean Fritters)
Perugu (Yogurt)
Appadam (Papad) & Neyyi (Ghee)
Most of the preparations here are eaten along with rice and a dollop of ghee. The first course would be rice mixed with gongura pachadi and a tsp. of ghee. Followed by kooras / the vegetable preparations eaten in a similar fashion as above. Then pulihora and the lentil preparations again eaten with rice along with the appadam or the toasted lentil wafers . In Andhra, majjiga pulusu (a kadhi, if loosely translated) is always eaten with rice along with the muddha pappu / plain dal. Then the garelu / fritters and payasam. (My fritters are dark here because I used the whole black gram with out removing the skin.) The meal is rounded off with yogurt rice. 

I chose to post the recipe for panasa pottu koora from the above thaali for today. Vegetable preparations using panasa pottu or the shredded raw jack fruit is a common feature in the northern coastal areas of Andhra. Panasa pottu is readily available in markets there though a can of raw jack fruit in lieu of it would as well serve the purpose. My version today is one of the simple yet delicious preparations using panasa pottu.

1.5 cups shredded raw jackfruit
1.5 to 2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. split chickpeas / chana dal
1 tsp. skinned black gram / urad dal
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
3 to 4 dried red chillies, broken into bits
A stalk of curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. tamarind extract or 1 tsp. lemon juice
1 - 2 tsp. powdered jaggery

* If using canned raw jackfruit, drain and rinse thoroughly. Drain again and dry if needed. Shred the jackfruit pieces pulsing through a food processor as shown in the above picture.
* Heat oil in a pan and add split chickpeas, black gram, mustard seeds and cumin seeds in that order. When the split chickpeas and black gram starts turning brownish, add red chiilies, curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida. saute for few seconds and then add the shreeded raw jackfruit and salt.
* Mix well and cover the pan. Cook on low flame until jackfruit is done. Add jaggery and tamarind extract to the cooked curry and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Cook for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Thaali Recipes'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.