Sunday, May 22, 2011

Capsicum / Bell Pepper Raita

When my mom last visited us, she made this simple, tasty raita using green capsicum. I, however, am a big fan of the beautiful, vibrant colours of bell peppers (I mentioned them here too). So I spiced up the dish a little bit by adding all these lovely colours and some chaat masala.

1 cup finely chopped capsicum (I used a combination of red, green and yellow).
2 to 3 tsp ghee / oil
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 cups yogurt (curd)
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Coriander leaves

Heat ghee /oil. Add jeera. When it splutters add turmeric powder and roast for a few seconds. Add chopped bell peppers and sauté for a few minutes till they become soft. Add salt to taste and mix.

Beat curd thoroughly with a fork or whisk. Add chaat masala, chilli powder and salt and mix well. Add the sautéed capsicum and mix. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Goes well with rice or chapatis.

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eggless Microwave Chocolate Cake

So you always wanted to bake a cake, but do not have a convection oven. You do have a microwave oven but you never thought of making a cake in it. Wait. Look at this cake.

Soft, spongy and super-easy to make. Take a deep breath. And get started.

Ingredients :
 1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
¼ cup cocoa powder
¾  tsp baking soda
½  cup oil
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
1 cup milk (room temperature)
2 tbsp water

In a small bowl, add all purpose flour, cocoa powder and baking soda and mix well. [Make sure the flour and cocoa powder do not have lumps. If they do, then using a large sieve, sift them first].

In a large bowl, with a manual whisk or large fork, mix oil, sugar and vanilla. Add milk and whisk thoroughly into  a smooth solution [get rid of all the lumps. Scrape the sides as well].

To this, add the flour mixture little by little whisking as you add. Add water and mix thoroughly (scraping the sides) for 10 to 15 seconds to form a smooth cake batter.

Grease the insides of a large microwave safe round bowl with oil or cooking spray liberally. Pour the cake batter into the bowl. The cake batter should fill half (or less than half) of the bowl. Otherwise it will spill out.

Microwave for 6 to 7 minutes in regular microwave mode (NOT convection mode).
You will see moist spots in the center and sides of the cake. No worries.
Switch the microwave off and let the cake remain untouched for another 10 to 15 minutes. This is the standing time where the cake will continue to cook even after you turn the microwave off, with the heat generated within it.
[If you wait for the cake to cook completely before you turn the microwave off, the cake will continue to cook during the standing time and will become rubbery].

If you plan to invert the cake, allow to cool for another 20 to 25 minutes. [The bottom of the bowl should not be hot.] Then place a large plate or cake board on top of the cake bowl. Turn the bowl upside down and tap the bottom (which is now on top). The cake will slowly slide onto your cake board/ plate. Remove the bowl carefully.

You will not get beautiful neat sides like oven baked cakes. You can cover this up with a chocolate glaze. A quicker solution would be to frost the cake with Nutella like I have done here.

Chocolate Glaze :
In a saucepan or microwave, melt 2oz (57g) chopped baking chocolate (or chocolate chips) with 1 tbsp milk. Remove, mix well and add 4 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp water and 3/4 tsp vanilla essence. Mix well.
[Amount of sugar depends on whether you use semi-sweet or milk chocolate (I used semi-sweet), so adjust accordingly. Add more water if you prefer a thinner glaze.].
[I actually used 3 oz chocolate, which gave me too much glaze, so I scaled down the proportion in the recipe. Feel free to adjust your glaze the way you like it]. Cool.

Pour the glaze on top of the cake and watch it as it slides down the sides and oozes onto the bottom.
Refrigerate the cake for an hour or two to let the glaze set.

So what did I do with the extra glaze? See for yourself.

Go ahead, give it a try. Who knows, for the next birthday in your family, your cake may be sitting at the centre-table!

Check my Eggless Microwave Coffee Cake.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paneer Achari by Him!

My dear husband made Paneer Achari for me last night. It was definitely yummy! He referred to the Mushroom Achari recipe and made some changes - he added some garam masala and mint leaves. It was a welcome addition (and definitely a welcome change from the routine), and the dish was happily lapped up by a beaming me!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Idli Sambar

Idli Sambar is one of the most common breakfast dishes in most South Indian homes. At my Amma's place idli sambar is, by default, the breakfast on sundays. Somehow I have never taken a fancy to idli-sambar in restaurants - the strong smell of sambar totally puts me off. But this one, I like. I learnt this from my Pachi (aunt) when she visited us in Bangalore. She did all the cooking and I did all the hogging but thankfully I took some notes.

There are a few variations in making the idli batter. Some people add 1:2 (dal: rice) measure, some add cooked rice, some add beaten rice, fenugreek seeds. I have never tried these methods since I'm quite satisfied with this measure.

1 cup urad dal
1 1/2 cups idli rava

Wash and soak urad dal in about 3 cups water for three to four hours. Drain completely.
Grind with very little water [start with 1/2 cup water and add more as needed] into a thick but pour-able consistency. [ Make sure the dal is completely ground]. Transfer to a large vessel.
Wash idli rava. Squeeze out all the excess water and add the idli rava to the ground dal. Mix thoroughly.

Cover and place the vessel in a warm place and allow to ferment overnight.
[The vessel has to have enough place to accommodate the fermented batter or else the batter will spill out.]

Next morning, mix the idli batter, add salt [there are times when I have totally forgotten to add salt!] and mix again.

Boil some water in a pressure cooker or steamer. Grease the idli plates with oil or cooking spray. Pour idli batter into each mould till it is 3/4th full [the batter will expand when heated, so leave some room].

Place the idli stand in the cooker. Make sure that the holes and the moulds alternate so that steam can escape easily, otherwise the idlis will become soggy. [Also, I use a perforated steel plate under the idli stand (upside-down), so that it gets some height and the lowest one doesn't get soggy -  a useful tip from my mum-in-law].
If using a pressure cooker, do not add the weight. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Switch the gas off and allow to cool for sometime. Remove the idlis from the stand with the back of a spoon or a flat butter knife.

3/4 cup dal (I used 1/2 cup toordal + 1/4 cup moong dal)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 gooseberry sized tamarind
3 to 4 tsp sambar powder
Oil / ghee
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
6 to 8 curry leaves

Pressure cook dal with about 2 1/2 cups water for 3 to 4 whistles. Churn with a whisk or large spoon.
Soak tamarind in 3 tbsp warm water, pressing it into the water.

In a large deep bottomed pan, heat oil + ghee. Saute onions till they turn transluscent.
Add sambar powder and roast for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out and discard tamarind and add the tamarind water to the onions. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Now add dal and mix. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. [I like my sambar a little watery, so adjust water accordingly. Also if you refrigerate the sambar, it will thicken so add more water and boil before serving]. Add salt and cook.

To season, heat oil/ ghee. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter add curry leaves. Immediately add to the sambar.

Serve idlis with steaming hot sambar. My dad likes to put a dollop of curd on top. It does add a different taste.

Note - If you stay in a cold region where the batter does not ferment overnight, you can heat the oven to about 105ºF. Turn the oven off and after a couple of minutes, place the batter in the oven. The warmth in the oven will speed up the fermenting process. Thought it's spring here right now and the weather is warm, I applied this method to make sure the batter ferments.

Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baked Potato Chips

Oh well, these may not be as crunchy as the fried ones, but atleast you can eat 'one more' without guilt.
I've been wanting to bake these chips for a long time - ever since my cousin-in-law asked me to make 'healthy lays', but what kept me from making them was a mandoline slicer. I did not have one.
Finally I bought one this weekend, tried these chips out today and wondered why I didn't make these earlier. My husband and son both love chips. I'm hoping my husband likes these (he hasn't eaten them yet) and if he does, well, one more reason to don the apron.

Ingredients :
1 large potato
1 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Chilli powder or any other spices of your choice

Method :
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Wash, dry and slice the potato into very thin slices [I did not peel mine]. It will help if you have a mandoline, you can get equally thin slices. If not, try to slice them as thin as you can with a knife.

Transfer them into a bowl. With a paper towel remove all the excess water. Pour oil [I used olive oil] and mix. Just before baking [otherwise the potato slices will release water], sprinkle salt and chilli powder and mix till all the slices are coated well.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place potato slices in a single file, so that they don't overlap. [You will be doing more than one batch, so don't try to squeeze all the slices on one sheet].

Bake in the preheated oven. The baking time depends on how thin the slices are. Mine were this thin -

- and they took 12 minutes. If your slices are thicker, they can take much more (even upto 20 minutes) and you may have to flip them halfway. Keep checking on them. They can burn easily.

Allow to cool and crisp up.

Give me a bag of fried potato chips any day, but hey, these aren't bad either.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Methi Malai Mutter

Methi malai mutter figures in my husband's list of most favourite dishes. So when my cousin, Aruna, gave me this recipe I tried it immediately. I have made it several times after that with some minor changes here and there. What I liked best about the recipe is that there's no 'malai' to be added, and the milk gives a creamy texture.

2 medium onions
4 to 5 garlic cloves
3 to 4 green chillies
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
1 tsp cumin/ jeera powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 bunch (about 2 cups) methi leaves
1 cup coriander leaves
2 tsp maida
2 cups milk (room temp)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp lime juice (see note)
Salt to taste

Method :
Roughly chop onions, garlic and green chillies. Wash and coarsely chop methi leaves and coriander leaves.
Heat oil. Saute onion, garlic and green chillies for a few minutes till onion turns brownish. Allow to cool. Transfer to a blender. Add all the powders and blend into a smooth paste (without water).
In the same pan, heat 1/2 tsp oil and saute methi leaves and coriander leaves for 3 to 4 minutes. Add it to the above paste and blend for 6 to 8 seconds.

[In the original recipe, you roast all the above mentioned ingredients together and blend them together into a smooth paste. However, I like to see little specks of methi and coriander leaves in the curry so I roast them separately and pulse them with the onion paste. If you don't like the taste of tiny methi leaves, blend together into a smooth paste].

Heat 2 tsp oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Add maida and stir till oil and maida mix well, making sure no lumps form. When the mixture changes colour slightly, add the ground paste and roast for a minute. Add milk little by little and mix. [Add 1/4 cup milk at a time, mixing well with each addition]. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes till the mixture boils, keep stirring so that the paste doesn't stick to the bottom.

Add green peas and cook for a few minutes. Add salt to taste, sugar (to remove bitterness of methi) and juice of lemon. [ Note - I actually hesitate to use lemon juice because I'm scared it'll curdle the milk. I mentioned it here since it's included in the original recipe].

Add cubes of fried paneer if desired. Goes well with chapati, tandoori roti, naan or jeera rice.  

Sending this to bookmarked recipes.


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