Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Of Kids and Pets



I was in the middle of a long post when I lost it - the data, I mean! :) I do not have the patience right now to re-type. But I don't want to go MIA for too long too.So I leave you with this picture of M and S playing with “their” dog. This is my neighbor Chloe, whom they both call their own. Miss M loves dogs. She is fearless when it comes to dogs and that scares me. Not all dogs are friendly, but she tries to pet all of them anyway. She drops everything to run down to play with Chloe, when she sees her in the backyard. S on the other hand, is a bit of a scaredy cat – likes to admire them from far usually and make brave statements like "Chole is my dog. She loves me more than Akka". This picture was taken the first day he went up to Chloe to pet her and found out there was nothing to be scared of. I am certainly happy to have Chloe as my neighbor. The kids get to play and sorta have a pet, while I don’t end up with the responsibility of taking care of it. Great, na?


Friday, March 28, 2014

Bedmi Poori with Aloo Sabzi


This is an Old Delhi specialty – pooris made with wheat and dal, with a side of a spicy potato curry. It is very heavy on the stomach as ghee is used very liberally here. And as if that isn’t enough, it is usually accompanied with a sweet dish. For breakfast, no less! I had it for the first time in the bylanes of Old Delhi while visiting with a friend and it was one of those unforgettable things. You know, the kind where you can actually feel the taste of it just thinking of it.

The first few years of my life were spent in Delhi, though I have no recollection of the time then. Visited again in my early 20s with my friend A, when my sister and BIL lived there. We had a blast then. Wasn’t much of a foodie back then. It’d be a totally different story now. Our thing then was shopping - shopped like crazy...that is the thing I remember most vividly about our trip. We bought all sorts of things, required or not. My friend was great at bargaining, something I totally suck at. So at Palika Bazaar, we both were drooling over these beautiful leather bags. The vendor quotes Rs 750 each for them. She starts her bargaining at Rs. 100! I was gaping when I heard her. But guess what, we got those bags for Rs. 150 each! That was first I saw her in action. Since then, anytime we shopped at Commercial Street in Bangalore, we all knew to take A with us to get fair prices! I caught up with an old college friend of mine, V, that Delhi visit too.  He chaperoned us around Delhi one day - some touristy spots, some local food and shopping (I recently found a pic of the three of us from the Qutub Minar visit). He was the fun localite friend that one should have in every trip.

This recipe comes from V’s wife, M, who loves to cook and has turned her passion into a catering venture in Delhi - MV's Vyanjan. How neat to pursue your passion, right?  I know many folks, including the spouse, that just don’t dig Facebook. He does not even log in for months! I am the opposite. I have caught up with so many friends from the past and re-connected with relatives through FB. Some relationships have become closer now that we are in some way a part of each other’s lives. Well, long story short...I caught up with my old collegemate, V, on FB and through him, M. Even though we have not met, M has become a good friend too. You know how easy it is to connect with some people sometimes...it was that way with her. Her recipe for Bedmi puri was spot on and the aloo sabzi, spicy and delicious! Here is how I made it, following her recipe.



Ingredients:

1 cup urad dal
2.5 cups wheat four
2 tbsp sooji
1 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp each jeera, ajwain and saunf (cumin, carom and fennel seeds)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
A few dashes of hing (asafetida)
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method:

Soak urad dal for 2 hours and grind coarsely. Mix with the remaining ingredients and make a slightly stiff dough with some water. Add more flour if it is sticky. Knead for a couple minutes. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Heat oil for deep frying. To test for the correct temperature, drop a small bit of dough into the oil. If it rises immediately, the oil is ready.
Knead the dough again and make them into small balls the size of a small lemon. Roll out into discs, not too thin.
After the oil test, drop them in the hot oil one by one until the puff up. Turn over and let fry for a few seconds more.
Drain on a paper towel.

For the Aloo Sabzi

4 large potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 tsp cayenne/red chili powder
1 tsp jeera powder (ground cumin)
1 tsp dhania powder (ground coriander)
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kasuri methi

Tadka:
1 tbsp (or more) ghee
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin)
¼ tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
A few pinches hing
Salt to taste

Method:

Chop the boiled potatoes into thick chunks and mash 2-3 chunks.
Mix all the spice powders in one cup of water.
Heat ghee in a pan and do the tadka.
Add the spiced water and bring to a boil.
Add the potatoes, both the chopped and the mashed ones.
Mix in the kasuri methi and salt to taste.
Cook until you see ghee floating on the top.

Note: The consistency of this curry is runny. It does tend to thicken up with time (like in the pic). 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Veggie Crescent Dough Pizza


My baking only involves pre-made dough - frozen or refrigerated kinds. I usually have a few cans of croissant, dinner rolls and/or biscuit dough lying in my fridge. When I saw two cans of Pillsbury crescent about to expire, I turned them to four personal pizzas. And I must say, fresh off the oven, I liked them much more than with refrigerated pizza dough. I used leftovers from a fajita dinner the previous night - grilled onion, green pepper, jalapenos, cheddar - for topping.


Ingredients:

2 cans crescent dough
1/2 cup pizza sauce or marinara
1 medium onion, cut
1 small green pepper, cut
1 jalapenos, de-seeded and cut
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar (or mozzarella or any cheese of your choice)

Method:

Heat oven to 375F. Grease a cookie sheet. In a skillet, heat oil and cook onions and both the peppers until lightly browned.
Unroll dough and separate each can of dough into two rectangles on the sheet. Firmly press to seal perforations.
Spread sauce on each pizza, top evenly with cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 13-15 minutes until crust is golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie cheet and serve warm.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Huli Avalakki


As expected, life got busier since I started working. Cooking and posting have taken a backseat for now. Fitness is still not happening. It is all about getting the day done, some weekend cooking and a little help from a nice lady once in a while.

This dish called “Huli Avalakki” literally means sour beaten rice/poha. It is a spicy and tangy dish, with a hint of sweetness from shredded jaggery. This is a pretty quick, non-fussy recipe – great for a quick weeknight dinner. My Mom would make Huli Avalakki for supper on the festival of Shiva Rathri, along with thup-balehannu (ripe bananas with lots of freshly shredded coconut, jaggery, and spiced with cardamom) and kosambari . So on Shiva Rathri this year (which was sometime last month) I made this dish along with thup-balehannu. This here is the quickest version. There's another one with ground powder added to this, which I hope to post sometime. I did not have curry leaves and only a little urad dal and used pre-roasted peanuts, plus I took this pic at night. So I will need to update the picture sometime with the works.




Ingredients:

2 cups avalakki/poha/beaten rice, coarsely powdered
1 heaped tsp tamarind concentrate (or pulp from about a big lemon sized tamarind)
2 tbsp brown sugar/jaggery
1 tbsp Saaru Pudi/ rasam powder (or more, according to taste)
1 tbsp copra shreds
Salt to taste

For the tadka:
3-4 tbsp oil (I’ve used canola)
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/5 cup peanuts
1 tsp urad dal
1 sprig curry leaves

Method:

Dissolve tamarind paste (or pulp), jaggery, rasam powder and salt in 3 cups of water.
Mix in the coarsely powdered poha to this and let sit for at least 10 mins for it to absorb the water and soften. Fluff with a fork and keep aside.
In the meantime, heat oil in a pan and do the tadka. Add mustard seeds first and allow them to pop. Then add peanuts and urad and fry until slightly brown. Then add the curry leaves.
Mix in the soaked poha and dry coconut and let it just heat through. Switch off stove.
Taste to adjust the seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Cheese Tortellini in Marinara Sauce


I'm all for any help I can get when it comes to cooking and generally use store bought sauces in Italian cooking. Makes my life easy, not just cooking-wise but also because any pasta with any sauce works for the kids too. No fuss, plates cleaned out each time. And make it a pasta filled with cheese, and you have even the adults not fussing and cleaning out our plates! Every once in a while, especially when I have little people over, I make a big batch of sauce and refrigerate it. The sauce was made one of those times though the tortellini was a weeknight dinner (which also explains the bad lighting). The Indian in me likes to saute some onion each time and add some crushed pepper in my pasta but feel free to skip both. Another brand of crushed tomatoes I once used came out too chunky. Tuttorusso works well in this. And do try Giada's marinara recipe with carrots. It's the best, though because of the chunkiness that carrots add, I need to use a blender after to make it work for the kids.



Ingredients:

1 lb cheese tortellini ( I used the fresh cheese and roasted garlic tortellini from Buitoni)
2 cups marinara sauce (recipe below or store bought)
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 tsp parmesan, powdered or grated
1 tsp chopped parsley

Method:

Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and keep aside.
Heat oil and saute onion until golden, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the marinara sauce and bring to a boil.
Add tortellini and dried Italian seasoning and let stand 5 minutes.
Sprinkle parmesan and chopped parsley and serve.

For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (I use Tuttorusso)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste
\
In a medium pot, heat oil and saute garlic for a few seconds. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Super Simple Potato Curry


Remember the super simple potato curry that I mentioned in my poori-saagu post? Here it is. It is one of those quick go-to curries with minimum ingredients (for Indian cooking, that is!). Goes perfectly with puris and tawa rotis. I don't know what the deal is between puris and potatoes but they are a match made in heaven. This has a bit of sweetness with sugar and I absolutely love that! The other potato dish I make with pooris is the aloo palya/potato bhaji that is the "masala" part of the a masala dosa.



Ingredients:

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped cilantro
3/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Tadka:

1 tsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera
1/5 tsp turmeric powder
a few pinches of asafoetida
2-3 green chilies, slit
4-5 curry leaves

Method:

In a pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. Once they are done popping, add the remaining tadka ingredients and fry for 10 seconds.
Add chopped onion and fry until light brown.
Add diced potatoes and fry for another minute or so.
Pour in water and bring to a boil. Simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Add salt and sugar and cook until potatoes are soft and the water has thickened.
Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with puris.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Poori with Vegetable Saagu


Poori is a deep fried unleavened bread made with whole wheat flour. It is one of those universal favorites that no one can resist. I loved them as a kid and still do, though the deep frying part makes it a once-in-a-while kinda thing. My kids love them colored – leftover beet juice or spinach puree in the dough make them a tad bit healthier and pretty too.

Pooris go with pretty much anything..currys, dry sabzis, ketchup, jam, chutney..you name it! Potatoes and chickpea curries are typical accompaniments. A typical Kannadiga combination with poori is usually a coconut based mixed vegetable curry called saagu or a dry potato curry/aloo bhaji similar to the one with the masala dosa. My MIL makes a super-simple runny potato-onion curry that goes very well too (post coming up soon).

I've already posted the recipe for vegetable saagu here but just to save you a click, I’m re-posting the recipe in this post too.



Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp salt
Water to knead the dough
Oil for deep frying

Method:

Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and add salt, 1 tbsp oil and mix.
Make a well at the center and add 3 tbsp water and start mixing the dough.
Add more water, a little at a time, to form a medium soft dough.
Continue kneading for a minute more.
Cover with a damp paper towel and keep aside for 15 minutes.
Uncover and knead one more time and divide dough into small lemon sized balls.
Lightly dust a rolling board and roll them into discs, making sure they aren’t too thinly rolled out. Roll out many pooris at a time for ease.
Heat oil for deep frying. Slide in the rolled pooris one at a time, gently pressing them so they puff up. Fry for a few seconds, until brown. Flip and fry the other side for another 4-5 seconds.
Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Vegetable Saagu

Ingredients:

3 cups mixed vegetables, chopped & boiled (peas, carrots, potatoes, beans, capsicum etc)
1/2 cup water (I used water from the boiled veggies)
1 tbsp lime juice
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish

To Grind:
1/2 tsp jeera
2-3 cloves
2" piece of cinnamon
5-6 peppercorns
1/2 cup coconut
1 medium onion
3-4 green chilies (or to taste)
1/5 tsp turmeric
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp dalia or raw rice

For Tadka:
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Asafoetida

Pressure cook vegetables in a little water for 1-2 whistles. Alternately, you could microwave them for 4-5 minutes on high or boil them on stovetop with water. Strain & keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the tadka ingredients. Once the seeds start to pop, add the ground masala and fry for 5-6 minutes, until the smell of raw onion is gone.

Stir in the boiled veggies and water. Add salt and lime juice. Bring to a boil.

Transfer vegetable saagu a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro.