Friday, April 29, 2011

Rava Mushrooms (Shallow-fried)


During my last India trip, my aunt (in-law) made some tasty shallow-fried mushroom by coating them with rava (sooji). I loved the crispy outside and tender insides. Today I was very tempted to make them when I saw a box of mushrooms in my fridge. So I sliced them, threw in some spices, coated them with rava and shallow-fried them. See, it's that simple!

Ingredients :
12 to 14 mushrooms (8 oz/ 227 gm)
Rava (sooji) - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Juice of lemon (optional, about 2 tsp).

Powders  : (You can use all or some of these. Don't miss the chilli powder for a spicy kick)
3/4 to 1 tsp chilli powder
3/4 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp hing powder


Method :
Once you wash the mushrooms make sure you drain out all the water. You can wash in advance and place on a towel or a large strainer to remove all the water.
Chop mushrooms into slices (about 1/4th inch thick). You can also just cut them into halves.

Place mushrooms slices on a large plate or bowl and sprinkle spicy powders of your choice. Don't add salt. Mix well, coating all the mushrooms with the powders.  Keep aside for 15 mts.


Roll the mushroom slices in rava. [There will be some rava leftover, you needn't use up the entire lot]. Now sprinkle salt to taste and mix.

Heat 2 to 3 tsp oil or ghee in a shallow-bottomed pan and spread it with a spatula. Place mushroom slices and roast (uncovered) for a few minutes on each side till they turn golden brown. Squeeze juice of lemon if you like a lemony taste.


Enjoy the ooze of the juicy insides when you bite into these yummy mushrooms!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Muffins


A few weeks back, I purchased some beautiful cupcake liners from Michael's (did I ever mention I love that store?) and have been waiting to put them to use. A friend of mine had asked me for a good chocolate chip muffin recipe long back, so I thought of putting the two together - the yummy muffins in these pretty liners.

These muffins are easy to make and are hassle-free since you don't need an electric mixer and can use a large spoon or a wire whisk to mix the ingredients. I referred to this recipe and made a few changes as suggested by some reviewers - I increased the quantity of milk, sugar and oil, added vanilla, sprinkled some topping and got some pretty decent chocolate chip muffins.

Ingredients :
2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk

Topping:
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp brown sugar (or regular sugar)

Method :
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Line the muffin tray with muffin liners / baking cups. If you don't have muffin liners, grease each cup with oil, butter or cooking spray, so that the muffins come off easily. I definitely prefer using liners since they are more convenient. If you get pretty liners in the market (Michaels has some great ones) use them to package your muffins. They will look lovely specially if you are making them for a birthday party or any special occasion.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour chocolate chips, mix well and keep aside.
In a large bowl beat egg. Add vanilla and oil and beat further. Add milk and whisk till the mixture becomes smooth.



To this, add the flour mixture and mix gently for about a minute. Do not overmix, if the batter is a little lumpy, that's fine.

Fill each muffin cup with the batter till it is 3/4th full. I used a 12-cup muffin pan (diameter of each cup being 2 3/4  inches). This recipe yields 12 muffins (unless you like good things like uncooked cake or cookie batter, in which case you may get just eleven. I got eleven and a half, I'm on a diet).

Mix 1/4th cup chocolate chips with 1 or 2 tbsp brown sugar and sprinkle a little bit of the mixture on each.


Bake for 18 to 20 mts, till a fork inserted in the muffin (not the chocolate chip) comes out clean. [If you are using a mini-muffin tray, bake for a shorter time].


I baked for 20 minutes so I got a slightly crispy crust with a nice golden brown colour. Also, the brown sugar on top makes the top of the muffin slightly sweeter than the inside.

Gently remove the muffins from the tray along with the liners and allow to cool completely. Arrange them in whatever way you want. And just look at them. Say 'to hell with my diet' and eat one.




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easy Vegetable Pasta in White Sauce


If you have never made a pasta dish before, you can give this recipe a try. There are 4 steps involved:

1. Boil pasta
2. Roast vegetables
3. Prepare white sauce
4. Combine all three.

If you don't want to prepare sauce at home you can use any store-bought pasta sauce. If you don't have time to roast lots of vegetables you can add just one or two. Also, if you don't mind a dry-ish pasta made rich by the flavours of roasted vegetables, you can skip the sauce (just don't call it pasta in white sauce). You have so many options. So get going!

Ingredients :
12 oz  (340g) pasta
Salt
Oil

To roast :
Oil
Salt
4 to 5 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
Vegetables of your choice. I used -
2 carrots
2 zucchini
1 chinese eggplant
1/2 red capsicum
6 to 8 broccoli florets
1 handful spinach
8oz (226g) mushrooms
1/2 cup boiled / frozen corn

For the white sauce : 
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour / maida
1 1/2 cup cold milk
1 cheese slice or some grated mozarella
Salt
1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
[ I don't like too much of white sauce in my pasta, but if you do, increase the measures].

Method :
Boil pasta according to package instructions - Boil water, add some salt and olive oil, pour pasta and cook till pasta is done (about 10 minutes). Drain. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining.

Chop vegetables. In a large deep-bottomed pan, heat oil. Add chopped garlic and sauté till you get an aroma. Add chopped vegetables starting with carrots and roast on medium flame. Cover and cook till vegetables become tender, stirring a few times in between. To this add red chilly flakes, ground black pepper and any other seasoning of your choice. Add salt to taste and mix well.

Prepare white sauce. For this, in a medium deep-bottomed pan, with the flame on medium-low, heat butter. When butter melts, add flour / maida. Stir for a few seconds till butter and flour combine and the mixture slightly changes colour. Add 1/2 cup milk and with a manual whisk or a large spoon, whisk fast and continuously. The milk will boil, bubbles will appear and the sauce will thicken. Add rest of the milk and keep whisking. It will take a few minutes, but keep whisking till the sauce thickens. It will totally take about 7 to 8 mts. [Check the picture below for thickness. If your sauce isn't thick enough it will not taste good - it's almost like adding plain milk to yr pasta. Ugh!]


Add cheese slice or grated mozarella and whisk. If you love cheese go ahead and add lots more. I added just 1 cheese slice since the white sauce itself looks and tastes cheesy (cheesy?). Add the water reserved while draining pasta and bring to a light boil. Add 1/4 tsp salt, 1 pinch nutmeg and mix.

Now comes the fun part, combining all three. You can either mix them in the large pan in which you roasted the veggies, or you can layer them on your plate - spread pasta, arrange roasted vegetables and pour sauce all over.


I prefer to mix them all in the pan, since I have a few other things to do than sit and arrange things over my plate - like stopping my son from climbing on the dining table.


If you love the sight of your pasta drowning in white sauce then increase the portion of white sauce and cheese and treat yourself to a mouthwatering dish!



Monday, April 18, 2011

Tawa - Roasted Paneer Pudina Tikka


Here's an easy appetizer for your guests which can also serve as an evening snack - just make some mint chutney, marinate paneer in it and shallow fry. [I altered my mint - coriander chutney recipe slightly and used it as the marinade. ]

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups mint leaves
2 cups coriander leaves
2 green chillies
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp amchur powder (optional)
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tsp juice of lemon
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp thick curd / greek yogurt
Salt to taste
400g paneer
Oil for roasting

Method:
Chop paneer into 2" pieces. [I like to keep one side thinner for easier roasting].

Blend ingredients 1 to 10 into a smooth paste (without water).
Add thick curd and salt and pulse 3 to 4 times. [The marinade should be spicy and slightly salty, since it has to accommodate the bland paneer].
Pour this marinade into a large bowl. Dip paneer pieces one by one coating each piece with the marinade.
Refrigerate for  half an hour.


Heat oil in a tawa (shallow pan) and spread with a spatula. Place paneer pieces and roast on medium- low heat for a few minutes on each side till they turn golden brown.

Note  : Serve immediately. Otherwise the paneer will harden if it sits out for a long time. If you cannot serve immediately then before serving, microwave the roasted paneer till it becomes hot and soft. The best bet is to refrigerate the marinated paneer till your guests arrive and roast it just before serving so that your guests can enjoy these beauties when they are soft and succulent.


If the pieces are too big, you can cut them diagonally into little triangles and poke a fancy toothpick in each.


A hint of lemon juice on top will add an even better taste to the tikkas.

[Alternatively, you can bake the paneer at 375ºF for 7 to 8 mts on each side. Grilling tastes great too.]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eggless Oats - Dates Cookies with a Soft Chewy Interior


First of all, what's with the name? It's like this: This recipe was a last minute hodge-podge done after I realised that we were out of biscuits/ cookies, sort of a must-have in the home of a toddler, because you don't know when they will ask for one.
So I threw in some oats, some dates and then some, which resulted in a pretty tasty cookie, except that the interior was chewy, almost like it was a filling in the cookie. It wasn't uncooked, it was definitely baked, but it was still not how the inside of a cookie should be. I figured too much milk was the culprit and decided to not blog about these cookies at all and maybe modify the recipe and try some other day.

However, after I refrigerated the cookies for a couple of hours, the centres became harder and the cookies turned out to be just what they are supposed to be - crunchy, chewy cookies. To add to this, my son and my husband loved the cookies so I thought of blogging about them anyway.
If you plan to try this recipe, you decide whether you would like a soft- chewy interior or a crisp-chewy interior and refrigerate/ do not refrigerate accordingly.

Ingredients:
20 dates, pitted
1/2 cup hot milk
1 cup oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Method:
Soak 10 dates in hot milk for a few minutes. Chop the remaining 10 dates finely.

In a large bowl, combine oats, wheat flour, baking soda and sugar. Add melted butter and mix well.


Grind the soaked dates and milk into a smooth paste. Add to the above. Add chopped dates. Mix well to form a sticky dough.



Refrigerate the dough for one to two hours.

Preheat the oven to 375ºC.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. With a tablespoon measure scoop out the dough, form into balls and place on the sheet two inches apart. Using a tablespoon measure will give you cookies of the same size.



Bake for 13 to 14 mts till the sides look brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The interiors will be soft and chewy. For crispy interiors, refrigerate for a few hours.


Makes approx 24 cookies.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spicy Sukha Aloo


Potatoes are not exactly my favourite when they peek out of dishes that include some of my favourites. For example (and some Konkanis may agree) potatoes in alambe songa (mushrooms in spicy sauce) can be every annoying, atleast for me it is. I do not particulary like potatoes in any shrimp or chicken dishes, except maybe vindaloo. That said, I can be crazy about potatoes when they are the prime and only vegetable in the dish. Like batate songa (potatoes in spicy sauce), mashed potatoes, fries, aloo dum and sukha aloo.

Sukha aloo is very easy to make and is a good solution for a quick side dish. In this dish, spices get together and form a thin, aromatic, spicy-tangy crust over the potatoes, making them a pleasure to eat. The ingredient list is quite long but before you know it, they will do their job. Even if you skip a couple of them (except potatoes ofcourse), the rest will bring the act together.


Ingredients:
6 medium potatoes
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
1/4 tsp urad dal (optional)
1/2 tsp chopped ginger
2 green chillies, finely chopped
6 to 8 curry leaves (optional)
1 tsp hing powder
1/2 tsp haldi / turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp jeera powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp juice of lemon
2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp kasoori methi (optional)
Oil
Salt

Method:
Wash and peel potaotes. [I like to keep the skin on of 2 or 3 potatoes]. Chop them into 1/2 to 1" chunks. Boil till they are 90% boiled [I used a microwave]. Drain completely.

In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add coriander seeds, urad dal, jeera and mustard seeds. When they splutter, add ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and hing powder and roast for a minute. Bring the flame to low. Add all the powders and roast for 10 to 15 seconds. [ Make sure the flame is on low, do not over-roast. The powders will get burnt].


Add boiled potatoes, 1 tsp ghee/ oil and roast gently till all the potatoes are coated with the masala. Add salt to taste. Cover and let cook for about 5 to 10 minutes till the potatoes are cooked completely, stirring every 2 minutes. Drizzle lemon juice on top and mix well.

Note : If the dish turns out too spicy, drizzle some more lemon juice. If you need more spice, sprinkle garam masala.



Garnish with coriander leaves or /and kasoori methi. We like it best with chapati and curd.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stumbler / Scrambled Eggs with Bite-Sized Bread / Scrumbler


This dish is another childhood-favourite. I've been calling it 'stumbler' from the time I can remember. I've had it in a couple of fast-food joints in M'lore most often with a dear cousin, same age as me. During my summer vacations I would end up at her place and we would walk aimlessly, 'accidently' bumping into a particular store to have a plate each of spicy, hot stumbler.
My favourite stumbler, however is prepared by my Pachi who recently corrected me saying it's actually 'scrumbler' and gets it's name from the scrambled eggs in it.

I was expecting a friend and her family for tea today so prepared this dish following Pachi's recipe. It's an easy to make, delicious dish which your guests will enjoy eating.

[Video update on 1/08/2016

 ]


Ingredients:
3 or 4 medium onions
2 tsp chilli powder
2 medium tomatoes
2 green chillies
5 eggs
1 tsp garam masala
4 or 5 slices bread
Salt
Ghee
Oil
Coriander leaves
1 pinch black pepper powder (optional)

Method :
Chop bread slices into small bite-sized squares.
Chop onions, tomatoes and green chillies finely.

In a deep bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp ghee. Sauté onions till they turn translucent. Add chilli powder, roast for a couple of minutes and add tomatoes. Sauté till tomatoes are completely cooked. Add minced green chillies and black pepper powder and mix.


Now add eggs one by one, beating each egg till it gets scrambled. [ Add one egg, whisk, add another, whisk ]. To this add garam masala. Now add 2 tsp of ghee and salt to taste and mix. Add the bread slices, mix well and cook for 5 to 6 minutes till the bread becomes soft and pulls in the masalas. [ I added 5 bread slices. If you don't like bread in every bite you can reduce it.  Adjust the spices accordingly].
Garnish with coriander leaves.



Relish it for breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner - it's a complete meal in itself.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mint - Spinach Pesto Pasta


This is one of those pasta dishes that you can prepare when you don't have much time in the kitchen, yet are not comfortable with using store bought sauces. Pesto is like our chutney - just put the ingredients in the grinder and half your job is done. (Strictly speaking, however, pesto is prepared using a mortar and pestle).

I chose mint and spinach because they were both sitting in my fridge and I wanted to use them up. Last week I got this H-U-G-E (if you've seen it you'll know what I mean) packet  of spinach from Costco (what was I thinking), because spinach is good for health and I've been using it in many of my dishes (hoping husband dear doesn't get fed up of it).  I also added mushrooms and peas for some extra taste and fiber.

Ingredients:
13.25 oz (375g) pasta [ I used multigrain Penne Rigate]
5 to 6 garlic cloves
8oz ( 227g) mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 to 3/4 tsp black pepper powder
Oil
Salt

To grind:
3/4 cup fresh mint (pudina) leaves
1 1/2 cup packed spinach
1/3 cup almonds, pine nuts or macadamia
1 or 2 cheese slices
3 tbsp oil

Method:




Cook pasta according to package instructions - Bring water to boil, add some salt and oil, pour pasta into it and cook.

Meanwhile grind spinach, mint, nuts [ I used macademia because there was a brand new box of roasted, salted macadamia in my pantry, again from Costco. You could use almonds or pine nuts and lightly toast them before adding]. Add cheese. I used a couple of Kraft Singles cheese slices but you could use mozzarella or whichever you have. Grind to form a smooth [or if you wish, coarse] paste.

Drain the pasta. Reserve 1/2 cup of water.

In a deep bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Roast chopped garlic. Add chopped mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes. Add green peas. To this add the ground paste and reserved pasta water. Bring to a light boil. Pour in cooked pasta and mix throughly. Sprinkle pepper. Add salt to taste and mix well.



My son laps it up calling it green pasta. When he grows up he'll know.

This goes to Presto Pasta Night, started by Ruth.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Devasthana Saaru

Wishing you all a Happy Ugadi!!


When I was a kid, I was not a big fan of Konkani food, but this saaru, I loved. Still do. I've been calling it Devasthana Saaru from the time I remember and don't know if there's any other name to it. It is served in the temples during carfestival, and so the name. During weddings or special occasions, it is a usual accompaniment to rice.

I got this recipe from my Amma and don't know if this is exactly how they do it in the temples. But it tastes pretty much similar.

Ingredients:
2 tsp oil
3/4 tsp chana dal
1 tsp urad dal
2 tsp coriander seeds
3 to 4 red chillies
1/4 tsp hing powder
1 pinch methi seeds
1 pinch jeera
1 to 2 tbsp grated coconut
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 marble-sized tamarind
1 to 2 tbsp chopped jaggery
1 green chilli
2 strands of coriander leaves

To season :
1 tbsp ghee
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
6 to 8 curry leaves

[The chillies typically used are a variety called kumte mirsang. I used 2 kumte mirsang and 2 kashmiri chillies, hence the colour].

Method :
In a shallow bottomed pan, heat oil. Roast ingredients 2 to 8 one by one on medium low flame for a few minutes. When they release an aroma, add grated coconut and roast for a minute. Switch the gas off, sprinkle turmeric powder and allow to cool.

Grind the above with tamarind and enough water to get a smooth paste.


In a deep-bottomed vessel, bring two cups of water to boil. Add slit green chilli and jaggery [I added 2  tbsp of jaggery because I like the way it balances the spice. You can add less if you do not prefer sweetness in the saaru]. When jaggery melts, add ground paste. Add another cup or two of water and bring to a boil. Add salt [I added a little more than 1/2 tsp]. Add coriander leaves.

Season with ghee, mustard seeds and curry leaves.





Saturday, April 2, 2011

Celebrating World Cup Victory with Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Congratulations India on winning the 2011 Cricket World Cup!



Like every Indian cricket fan, I wanted the Indian team to win the World Cup. Like every optimist, I knew they would. And like every food-lover I wanted to celebrate with something delightful. 

When India was steadily marching towards victory,  I sneaked into the kitchen for a few minutes. At the risk of missing out on a few amazing overs, I went ahead and made these irresistible goodies, because I wanted to relish them as India was celebrating.

Recipe from here.
Ingredients :
4 oz (113 g) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
6 tbsp all purpose flour


[I used Baker's semi-sweet chocolate squares. Each square weighs 1 oz, so use 4 squares].

Method:
Preheat the oven to 425 ºF.
Liberally grease the bottom and sides of four ramekins or oven-safe custard bowls with butter or cooking spray.

In a large microwave safe bowl, place butter and chocolate and microwave on high for 1 minute.
Meanwhile, with a fork or whisk beat the eggs and egg yolks together.
Remove the bowl from the microwave. The butter would have melted, but not the chocolate. Mix thoroughly until the mixture is smooth.



To this, add powdered sugar and stir well. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix. Add flour and mix until everything is incorporated.


Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet (baking tray). Pour half cup of batter into each ramekin. 



Bake for 12 to 13 minutes. The sides should be done, but the center should be slightly jiggly. Do not cook the centers completely. If you do, you will not get the molten center and the cake will be like any other muffin. The original recipe asks you to bake for 13 to 14 minutes but mine took 12 minutes.

Also, the baking time depends on the size of the ramekins/ cups. I used 7 oz ramekins and 1/2 cup batter in each. You could also use a muffin pan to make these. If you are using less batter, reduce the baking time.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute. Run a butter knife or back of a spoon around the sides of the ramekins to loosen the cake. Invert onto the serving plate. 

While serving, wack off a small portion of the cake to display the oozing chocolate. Dust some powdered sugar or/and ...



... pour a dollop of slightly melted ice-cream on top. Enjoy the sinful pleasure.


When the Indian team lifted the World Cup, my husband and I celebrated by devouring the seeping lava of this luscious volcano cake, splashed generously with good old vanilla ice-cream. Pure bliss indeed.


These go to Hearth and Soul.

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