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Daring Cooks make Sushi 寿司…….I make it Vegetarian

Posted by vivnidhi on November 18, 2009

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Top: Caterpillar Rolls , Bottom L: Nigiri Sushi and Bottom R : Spiral Roll

I have not been able to post earlier about the fabulous sushi Daring Cooks made this month. I love sushi and really had my fill making vegetarian sushi. I couldn’t say enough of ” This is so much better than store bought and I made so much so cheap” I found this month’s Daring Cook challenge the best so far. The instructions are quite precise so no chatter in this post.  I was supposed to post on the 14th, ah well here I am …………

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

Sushi (寿司 or 鮨 or 鮓) is much appreciated for its delicate taste and exquisite appearance. Sushi actually means vinegared rice, which is the essential ingredient in every sushi recipe. Sushi is simple and cheap to make at home, needs no special equipment and is an excellent way to use left overs.

Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was invented in Japan in the 1800’s where a ‘hand-formed’ sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball was eaten as a snack food. Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw and cooked.

PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)

Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-
Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
Finishing the rice: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
  • 2½ cups water
  • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water

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Sushi Rice

Optional Ingredients

  • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavors  (I used Shimaya Instant Dashi Konbu powder …..I used only 1 tsp. in the water given……that’s what I got)
  • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

Sushi vinegar dressing

  • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
  • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
  • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

DIRECTIONS:
Rinsing and draining the rice

  1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don’t crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
  2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.

Soaking the rice

  1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminum foil to make the seal tight).
  2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu. (I used 1 tsp. instant powder)
  3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.

Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

  1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Heat on low setting.
  3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

Cooking the rice

  1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
  2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
  4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.

Finishing the rice

  • Turning out the rice

  1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
  2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
  3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.

  • Dressing the rice with vinegar

  1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
  2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don’t stir or mash rice.
  3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.

  • Fanning & Tossing the rice

  1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don’t flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavor, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
  2. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.

  • Keeping the rice moist

  1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

* Tip: While the rice is draining, soaking and cooking prepare your rice vinegar dressing, sushi fillings and toppings.

* Tip: Photo series on How to Cook Rice with a Pot
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/how_to_make_sushi/how_to_cook_rice_with…

* Tip: Photo series on How to Make Sushi Rice with Tools You Already Own
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/how_to_make_sushi/how_to_make_sushi_ric…

NOTES:
Sushi Rice – choose a short or medium grain rice. Do not use Arborio, long-grain, or parboiled white rice. Medium-grained calrose is a suitable rice. Rice expands (about 3 times) when cooked so make sure your pot is large enough. Washing the rice removes the rice flour that coats the rice and gives a fresh flavor and scent to the cooked rice. Look for rice that is labeled ‘sushi’ rice. Cooked sushi rice can be placed in plastic bags and frozen for 3 months, microwave when needed. Cooked sushi rice should be sticky, shiny and the individual grains of rice can been see. Price: AUS $4/KG.

Dashi konbu – or ( dashi kombu) – dried kelp, it looks like broad, leathery, wrinkly greenish ribbon often coated with a white powder. The darker green the leaves, the better the quality of kelp. Dashi konbu adds a refreshing light ocean taste to sushi rice. Price: AUS $1.50 for ten 3”(75mm) squares.

Rice Vinegar – this gives prepared sushi rice its unique clean, crisp taste. Do not use bottled “sushi vinegar” as it is too harsh and has a bitter after-taste. Look carefully at the label of the rice vinegar it should have NO SALT and NO SUGAR in the product. Apple cider vinegar is a good substitute if rice vinegar is not available. You can use mild white wine vinegar or mild red wine vinegar if you cannot find rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar. DO NOT USE NORMAL WHITE VINEGAR it is too harsh. Price: AUS $4 /500ml bottle.

Sake – Japanese rice wine. Do not use cooking sake or Chinese cooking rice wine, look for a reasonably priced drinkable sake. Refrigerate opened sake & use within two months. You can use vodka or a mild tasting gin if sake is not available. Price: AUS $10/500ml bottle.

Sugar – you can use mild honey or any other vegan substitute to give the equivalent sweetness.

 

PART 2 : Dragon Rolls (also called Caterpillar Rolls)

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice
Cooking time: about 5 minutes (grilling the eel)

Yield: 2 inside-out (uramaki) sushi rolls

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sheet 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm) of toasted nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut into halves
  • 1/2 Japanese cucumber
  • 2 cups of prepared sushi rice
  • 3 slabs tofu (sliced, seasoned with salt & paprika and baked at 400 F for 20 minutes) 
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Red onion thinly sliced and broiled for 7-8 minutes
  • Vinegared Water – ½ cup of water combined with a dash of rice vinegar
  • Various small amounts of sauces to use as the flames of the dragon (or legs of a caterpillar)

Optional

  • A mix of crumbled toasted nori, toasted sesame seeds and sugar and salt

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Japanese Cucumber and salt paprika seasoned baked tofu

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Oiled & Broiled thinly sliced red onions

DIRECTIONS:
1.Cut cucumber into strips ¼ inch (6mm) x 7” (175mm) long, then salt, rinse & dry the strips.
2.Grill (broil) the red onions for about 2-5 minutes until bubbling. Bake sliced seasoned tofu. Apply or spray some oil before baking.

3.Halve, pit and peel the avocado. Cut the avocado halves into thin even 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices. Fan out the cut avocado into a 7 inch (175 mm) overlapping pattern.
4.Cover bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Place a sheet of nori shiny side down, lengthwise, on the edge the mat.
5.Moisten lightly your hands in the bowl of vinegared water.
6.Place one cup of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
7.Flip the rice-covered nori over (so the bare nori is now on top) and place on the edge of the mat closest to you.
8.Slice tofu again in slices. Arrange sliced baked tofu across the length of the nori, not quite centred on it but a little closer to you. Place half the cucumber sticks & grilled onions next to the tofu.
9.Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands, keeping your fingertips over the fillings, and roll the mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches straight down on the nori, enclosing the fillings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you’re holding, and continue rolling the inside-out roll away from you until it’s sealed. Tug at the mat to tighten the seal. If the rice doesn’t quite close the roll add more rice in the gap and re-roll using the mat to completely cover the inside-out roll. Place the roll on a damp, clean smooth surface.
10.Spread about 1 tablespoon of the optional sesame mix along the entire top of the rice-covered roll. Using the plastic covered mat gently press the fish roe so it adheres to the rice.
11.Slide a knife under one fan of avocado and transfer it onto the top of an inside-out roll. Gently spread out the avocado layer to cover the entire roll. Lay the plastic wrapped mat over the avocado-covered roll. Squeeze very gently to shape the roll.
12. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the roll. Slice the roll into 6-8 equal, bite-sized pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Discard the plastic wrap. Repeat the above to make one more roll.
13.Arrange the cut pieces on a serving plate with the sauces so the finished dish appears as a dragon breathing fire and flames (or a caterpillar with many legs).

* Tip: The most common mistake is having too much filling the golden rule is less is more when it comes to making sushi it is easier to roll an under-filled roll than an over-filled roll.

* Tip: Dampen your knife with a moist lint-free towel before every cut – this prevents the sushi rice from sticking to your knife.

* Tip: Excellent videos on making Dragon Rolls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQZGRohVNFQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo55iBN9FQs&feature=related

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Caterpillar roll

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Caterpillar rolls with pickled ginger and wasabi

NOTES:
Bamboo mat (makisu) – A 10 inch (25cm) square mat made of thin slates of bamboo tied together with string.
Substitutes: a thin magazine cut to size wrapped in plastic wrap or a few layers of parchment paper cut to size about 10 inch (25cm) square.

Nori – Sheets of seaweed (laver) processed into thin sheets about 7 inches x 8 inches (17.5cm x 20cm) in size. Always re-toast the nori sheet over a gas stove on low flame for 5 to 10 seconds, or place nori on a clean oven rack and bake it in a preheated 350F-degree (180C) oven for 30 seconds. Nori should be sealed tightly in a plastic bag and used within a few months. It can be stored in the freezer. Nori will deteriorate if left out of its sealed package so use quickly.
Substitutes: Thin cooked egg omelette cut to same size as a nori sheet (7 inches by 8 inches or 17.5cm x 20cm). Also soya bean wrappers, rice paper, tofu wrappers, dosas, crepes or an overlapping layer of thinly sliced cooked vegetables.

Japanese Cucumber – Japanese cucumbers are thin-skinned, seedless and contain much less water than normal cucumber.
Substitutes: English or hothouse cucumbers which have been peeled, de-seeded and salted as above. If not available try matchsticks of your favorite crisp vegetable.

Avocado
Substitutes: If not available use slices of roasted capsicum (bell pepper), slices of roasted tomatoes, lightly cooked whole snap (snow) peas, slices of Japanese daikon radish or other cooked thinly sliced vegetables, or slices of ‘sushi’ grade fish such as tuna, yellow tail and red snapper; smoked salmon, pastrami, salami, various colour’s of fish roe, or various colour’s of sesame seeds.

PART 3 : Spiral Sushi Roll
This is easiest ‘decorative’ sushi roll.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: One Roll, cut into 8 pieces

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups prepared sushi rice
  • 2 sheets of toasted nori, each sized 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm)
  • Six assorted fillings, each filling should be the size of a pencil (see note below)

DIRECTIONS:
1.Join 2 sheets of nori by moistening the adjacent edges and overlapping them about ½ inch (12mm).
2.Place this double sheet shiny side down on a rolling mat, part of the nori will extend beyond the mat.
3.Using moist fingers place 2½ cups of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly, leaving ¼ inch (6mm) nori showing on the both ends of the sheet. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
4.Using your fingers form six grooves (in the same direction that you will be rolling the mat) at even intervals across the bed of rice. Make the first groove about 2 inches (50 mm) from the edge of the nori sheet. Form the grooves by pushing the rice away, do not mash or squash the rice, leave a loose one grain layer of rice in the bottom of the grooves. Level the areas between the grooves where you have pushed the rice.
5.Place your fillings in the grooves. Fill the grooves a little higher than the surrounding rice bed.
6.Then roll the sushi up from the edge closest to you, this will form a spiral pattern of nori, rice and fillings inside the roll.
7.Slice into 8 pieces with a very sharp wet knife, wiping the blade with a damp cloth after each cut.
8.Place the pieces on a platter and garnish.

NOTE:
Make each groove about a finger-width wide they will hold about 1-2 tablespoons of filling. Use fillings that compliment each other and are highly colored. Use parboiled vegetables cut into strips, seafood, left over eel, smoked fish or chicken, whole cooked beans, edible flowers etc….

I used baked seasoned tofu, roasted red bell pepper, carrots, salted and drained Japanese cucumbers, omelette and grilled onions. Grilled vegetables in sushi is absolutely fabulous. Take my word and try it.

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Spiral Roll

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Spiral Roll

 

PART 4 : Nigiri Sushi
Nigiri sushi is the type of sushi most often made in sushi bars. In Japanese, nigiri means “squeeze”.

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

Yield: 14-16 pieces of sushi

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 8 pairs of assorted toppings, 200 gms/7 ozs total of fish, meat or vegetables (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon Wasabi (paste, reconstituted powder) or any other paste to adhere topping to rice

Optional

  • Garnishes such as Ginger (pickled), chilli strips, vegetables flowers etc
  • Thin strips of nori or vegetables (for tying topping on)

DIRECTIONS:
1.When handling sushi rice, make certain your hands are very clean. To keep the rice from sticking to our hands moisten your hands with vinegared water.
2.Form nigiri sushi by scooping up a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of rice with your forefinger and second finger of your right hand and placing it in your cupped left palm.
3.Use the fingers and thumb of your right hand to form it into a long, narrow mound (about 2 inches x 1 inch wide or 50mm x 25mm) in your cupped palm.
4.Press enough to make the rice hold firmly together. Place the nigiri on a damp cutting board flat side down. Don’t let sushi touch or they’ll stick to each other. At this point, you can cover the sushi with plastic wrap, and they’ll keep at room temperature (not the refrigerator) for several hours.
5.Smear a thin line of wasabi on top of the rice and place the topping piece on it. You may need to press the topping down lightly with your fingers and adjust the shape of the rice accordingly to form an attractive piece of nigiri sushi. If your topping is very loose like fish roe you can place a strip of nori (higher than the rice) around the nigiri and form ‘battleship’ sushi. The cavity that the nori forms holds the topping so it does not fall off.
6.Garnish as desired and use strips of nori (or vegetable) to tie the topping to the nigiri if needed.
7.It is customary to make nigiri sushi in pairs, so make two of each variety.

* Tips: A great video on making nigiri sushi
http://www.howcast.com/videos/270-How-To-Make-Sushi
A great web page on slicing fish for nigiri
http://www.sushilinks.com/sushi-recipes/how-to-buy-fish/index.html

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Nigiri Sushi topped with vegetables

NOTES:
Seafood nigiri must use sushi grade (sashimi grade) fish. Try tuna, red sea bream (red snapper), yellowtail or salmon. Cooked shrimp, cooked crab, cooked meat can also be used! You can use any vegetable you wish try asparagus, pumpkin, carrot, avocado, cucumber, shiitake mushroom, tofu, thin sliced egg omelette, etc… Thinly slice or julienne vegetables, parboiling if necessary tie on with a thin (1/4” or 6mm) strip of nori or vegetable strip wrapped around the whole sushi if needed..

*MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE YOU MUST READ THIS* – If you are using raw fish or raw meat it must be ‘sushi’ grade (sashimi grade) ask your fishmonger or butcher for advice and if in doubt don’t use. Find your local Japanese market and ask them where the best sushi (sashimi) fish is. Maybe you can buy sushi grade fish at your local sushi bar. Purchase flash-frozen sashimi grade fish which is guaranteed to be free of all parasites. Only salt-water fish and shellfish should be consumed raw. Crab and prawn (shrimp) should always be cooked. Sashimi grade fish should have a clean cool smell if it smells fishy it is a sign that the fish is old and cannot be used. If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system only use cooked ingredients. There is no need to use raw fish or raw meat in sushi.

Resources
Written instructions on making various forms of sushi can be found here http://homepage3.nifty.com/maryy/eng/sushi_roll.htm
http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/index.html

 

Expenditure:

Sushi Rice………………………….$6.49 for 5 lb……………….HuaXing Asia Store ……….plenty left

Sake……………………………….$2.32 for 300 ml…………….HuaXing Asia Store………..plenty left

Instant seaweed powder……………$2.59 for 64 g……………….HuaXing Asia Store……….plenty left

Japanese Cucumber………………..$0.5 for 2 ………………….HuaXing Asia Store………..gone

Tofu……………………………….$2.49 for 2.65 lb……………HuaXing Asia Store………..plenty left

Sesame,nori mix……………………$2.49………………………HuaXing Asia Store………..half left

Wasabi powder…………………….$1.69………………………HuaXing Asia Store………..half left

Pickled Ginger……………………..$2.99 for 12 oz…………….HuaXing Asia Store…………half left

—————————————————————————————————–

Total………………………………$21.56

Now you know why sushi is so expensive. Anyway this much money will make many many servings till you really get your fill of sushi like me. And yes, this was not all, I bumped into another car on my way out of the store and so this sushi turned out really really expensive.

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Posted in - Red onion, --Pickled Ginger, -Avocado, -Carrot, -Cilantro, -Corn, -Dashi Konbu Instant powder, -Japanese Cucumber, -Nori Sheets, -Red Bell Pepper, -Rice Vinegar, -Sake, -Sesame seeds, -Sushi Rice, -Tofu, -Wasabi, Eggs | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Daring Cooks cook Indian : Masala Dosa (Updated)

Posted by vivnidhi on September 15, 2009

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Masala Dosa with Sambhar, coconut chutney and Podi

Debyi from http://www.healthyvegankitchen.com hosted this month’s challenge and ordered Indian Dosas for all of us at Fresh Restaurants (www.freshrestaurants.ca) in Toronto, Canada. Since we all live in a virtual world these days, we were all handed over a recipe from their cookbook  and asked to make dosas to serve ourselves. Now, masala dosas (and oh my dear idlis, made from a similar batter) are a very big favorites with me. I can eat them all the time. My parents and I spent a couple of years in Vishakhapatnam , Andhra Pradesh and that is where my mother learnt to make good idlis and dosas. Another big influence was my Aunt who spent half her life in Chennai, then Madras and cooked fabulous South Indian meals.

Unfortunately I cannot make something with grains and flour and call it a dosa. A similar fare called Chil-ra is made in North India and I will be talking about it at the end of the post. Hence, I used my regular recipe for making dosas . I hope Debyi won’t mind it……..I kept the whole thing Vegan 🙂 .

The Recipe:

Dosa:

  • Idli Rice 3 cups soaked in water overnight
  • Black gram (Urad Daal)  1 cup soaked in water overnight
  • Fenugreek seeds 1 tsp.
  • salt to taste

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Fenugreek seeds,urad daal soaked and drained and idli rice soaked and drained in picture 2

Soak fenugreek seeds and urad daal together in water overnight. Since I make idlis and dosas from the same batter, I soak rice and lentils separately. Grind the lentils with little water till a very smooth paste is achieved.

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Ground lentils

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Rice needs to ground well too…..adding rice paste to lentils paste and final paste before fermentation

After lentils and rice are ground well, add rice paste to lentils paste and add about 2 tsp. salt. Leave to ferment 12 to 14 hours. Unless, you live in a hot weather, in that case check after 5-6 hours. The dough should almost double.

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Half the batter : after fermentation. Add water as required and dosa batter’s ready

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Ladle the dosa batter in circular motion

Potato filling:

  • Potatoes 4 medium boiled and chopped
  • Onion 1 big sliced
  • Ginger grated 1 tsp.
  • Canola Oil 2 tsp.
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) 1/2 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds (Rai) 1 tsp.
  • Fresh Curry leaves 2 stems washed
  • Bengal gram (Chana Daal ) 1 tsp.
  • Black gram (Urad Daal) 1 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi) 1 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder (Lal mirch) 1/2 tsp.
  • salt to taste

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Potato filling ingredients clockwise:Fresh curry leaves, boiled potatoes, asafoetida, urad daal, chana daal, grated ginger, mustard seeds and sliced onions

To make the filling:

Heat the oil in a wok and add all the ingredients except potatoes, onion and salt.

Fry for one minute then add the onions. Let them fry for 2 more minutes.

When the onions start to turn translucent, add the potatoes and salt. If the mixture seems too dry, add 2 Tbsps. water. Cover and cook the filling for 5 minutes. The filling is ready.

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Add the potato filling as the dosa starts to brown at the bottom

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Fold the dosa and we’re done

I prepared 2-3 dosas at a time on a big electric griddle as I was serving 5 people at a time. The best crispness and color is achieved on an iron griddle. The iron griddle is heated , a couple of drops of oil are added to it and a raw onion just sliced at the top is used to spread the oil on the griddle. This is the traditional way of preparing dosas.

Sambhar :

  • Split yellow pigeon peas (Arhar/Toor Daal)  2 cups boiled in a pressure cooker with turmeric and salt
  • Canola Oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Mustard seeds (Rai) 1 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera) 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida (Heeng)  1/2 tsp.
  • Fresh Curry leaves 2 stems washed (remove the stems 😉 )
  • Ginger 2 tsp. grated
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Shallots/pearl onions 1/2 cup (cut if required to bite size pieces)
  • Tomatoes 2 chopped
  • Vegetables of choice (beans, bell pepper, bottle gourd etc. ) optional
  • Sambhar Masala powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Tamarind concentrate 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish

To prepare the sambhar heat oil in a big saucepan. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and fresh curry leaves. When you hear the mustard seeds crackle, add the ginger and garlic.

Next add the shallots or pearl onions and fry for a little bit more. Next add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes start getting mushy, add the boiled lentils. Mix well and let it come to a boil. The consistency should be like lentil soup. It can be thinned a bit more if desired.  Finally add the sambhar masala powder and the tamarind concentrate.

(If using actual tamarind, soak it in hot water for 15 minutes. Take the pulp out and discard the fibrous portion and the seeds.)

Garnish with cilantro leaves and the sambhar is ready.

Coconut Chutney:

  • Grated coconut (fresh/frozen) 1 cup
  • Dalia Daal (Roasted split Bengal gram) 1/2 cup
  • Peanuts 2 Tbsp.
  • salt to taste

for tempering:

  • Canola Oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds 1 tsp.
  • Fresh Curry leaves 2 stems washed
  • Whole Red chili 1

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Dalia Daal/ Roasted split Bengal gram

This is a very basic coconut chutney but tastes great! To prepare the chutney, grind the chutney ingredients in a grinder (ideally) or a blender (I use) and add a little water. Grind the ingredients well till you get a smooth consistency.

Heat oil in a small wok and add all the tempering ingredients. Heat till you hear crackling noise and the tempering ingredients look crisp. Do not let it burn. Add immediately to the ground chutney.

The coconut chutney’s ready!

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Coconut chutney

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Please help yourself 😉

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Dosa with Nutella , caramel sauce and some sweet butter

 

Chil-ra or Godhuma Dosa:

The actual recipe given by Debyi uses spelt flour to make the crepe. In North India , it is called Chilra and in South India, it is called Godhuma Dosa (whole wheat flour dosa)

The way we make it in North India is slightly different and hence my clarifications. We do not eat the chil-ra with any curry. It is usually eaten with pickle or cilantro chutney or even Bhukni (a dry tangy spice powder)

The Recipe:

  • Whole wheat pastry flour (atta) 2 cups
  • Onion 1/2 medium minced
  • Ginger 1 tsp. grated/minced
  • green chilli 1 cut fine
  • tomato 1/2 medium chopped fine
  • Carom seeds 1 tsp.
  • salt to taste
  • water

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Clockwise: Atta , water , onion, green chili, ginger and tomatoes

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Chil-ra with yogurt and mango pickle……comfort food

Add all the ingredients and enough water to make a smooth batter. Make sure no lumps remain.

Heat a griddle and make crepes out of these. These will not be as thin as the lentil mixture. But the meal’s ready instantly. I used to love eating these as kid and still do. My kids are a big fan as well……….only I do not know if it’s the chance to eat pickle or chil-ra that draws them to it. Anyway, it’s a good quick fix for me 😉 .

Edit : 17 Sep.  09 : Oh Dear me! I just re-read my post and realized that I have written the quantity of rice as 1 cup and that of the lentils too. It was a typo. I am so very sorry if anyone has tried making this with the wrong ratio given.  I have marked in red , please do check.

Posted in - Turmeric, -Arhar (Toor) Dal, -Asafoetida, -Canola Oil, -Cilantro, -Curry leaves, -Dalia Daal/Roasted split Bengal Gram, -Fenugreek seeds, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Idli Rice, -Mustard Seeds, -Onion, -Potatoes, -Red chili powder, -Tamarind, -Tomato, -Urad daal/ black gram, -Whole wheat flour, Shallots, _Chana Daal/ Bengal gram | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Daring Cooks make Rice with mushrooms, Tofu, Potatoes and artichokes

Posted by vivnidhi on August 14, 2009

Vegetarians Win!! Yeah well, I should not rejoice so much. My expertise at preparing any non-vegetarian food is pretty bleak………and if I have to cook seafood, its worse. I (with the husband’s help 😉 , of course ) can handle salmon well now ….and we know when it is done, but the rest of the stuff leaves me shivering. I tried making scallops thrice and only once did I get it right, rest of the times the family could not eat leather. So, this time we attempted squid…..and I FAILED ……….and hence, everybody ate vegetarian…….YEAH!!

Before I say anything about what I made and what happened, I must mention the accompaniment. This month I learnt to make allioli (the traditional way) and it is just phenomenal. No garlic lover should not – not try it.  To me , it was like tasting sheer bliss. I LOVE garlic. I can eat allioli with bread, pasta, roti, parantha, of course rice , just about anything (OK, spare the desserts 😉 )

This month’s challenge was hosted by Olga of  Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes . . She chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. The recipe is from his US TV show Made in Spain.  (Please note Olga’s tips (2) and (3) at the bottom for alternative cooking).

Allioli is my favorite and so lets begin with that. I made it the traditional way and just loved it. This will be made a lot in my house. A lot of people find it strong, but for this spice accustomed tongue, it was just great!

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Allioli…..the traditional way

 

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
Ingredients:

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

Directions:

  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)
Cooking time: 3-4 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 small egg
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
  4. Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
  5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
  6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
  7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
  8. Add salt to taste.

José’s tips for modern recipe:
(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.
(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

Why did I FAIL? OK, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to food. If a recipe calls for an ingredient and that ingredient is within my means, I try and go the extra mile. Well! in this case several extra miles around the town and just would not find the short grain Spanish rice. I went crazy and really could not believe that I could not find it. (I saw it at Kroger after I had finished all my experiments.) Anyway, I got short grain brown rice !!! Guess what I cooked sea food till the brown rice got tender. now who could eat what I had dished out? The husband, who could not believe his ears (and was really pleased) when I told him that I would be buying squid for him, asked me to never buy that stuff again :-)) . So all ate my vegetarian basmati version 🙂 . 

Here is the recipe:

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Equipment:

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or frozen if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • Tofu 1 block cubed and baked at 400 F for 15 minutes
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 Potato  cubed
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below) (pronounced so-frito)
  • 300 gr (2 cups) Basmati rice – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
  • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional

Directions:

  1. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the tofu cubes in the pan.
  2. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
  3. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  4. Add a bay leaf to the tofu and add also the artichokes,potatoes and the mushrooms.
  5. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  6. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  7. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  8. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  9. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  10. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  11. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  12. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

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Sofregit ingredients: Onion, tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and mushrooms

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Sofregit tastes superb with just about anything.

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Sofregit’s ready!

Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
(7) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
(10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.

My first attempt at cooking Spanish food apart from Sangria and we had a lot of fun in spite of the failure. The husband made  some sangria and I made flan. Thanks for a good meal Olga. Dinner’s ready!!

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Rice with mushrooms, tofu,  potatoes and artichokes

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Some Crema Catalana too…. (Olga’s recipe)

Expenditure:

Artichokes 2………………………..from Meijer ……………..$ 3.34 (I had bought some from Randazzo for 59 c each…..ah supermarkets)

Mushrooms 1 lb……………………..from Kroger …………….$ 1.00 (deal, deal)

Short grain Brown rice 1 lb…………from Arbor farms market $ 1.69

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Total……………………………………………………………..$ 6.03

Posted in - Bay Leaf, -Artichoke, -Cumin seeds, -Garlic, -Green Bell Pepper, -lemon, -mushrooms, -Olive Oil, -Onion, -Oregano, -Potatoes, -Saffron, -Tomato, -White Wine, Alcohol | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Daring Cooks # 3 Cod, traditional flavors powdered

Posted by vivnidhi on July 14, 2009

On time, first time………for the Daring Cooks. Oh well I had to be ….even tardiness has a limit and…….Sketchy from Sketchy’s Kitchen made all of us do something we never tried before. Really got us out of the comfort zone and try something absolutely new… 🙂 . He says ” If you’ve read my blog before -I have a minor obsession with molecular cuisine. I hopped between a MC dish and a classic rustic Italian dish (I know – two completely different worlds).

I opted to skip the 400 year old dish in favor of something that would be new and daring for most of you. ” This is a dish from Grant Achatz, found in the Alinea cookbook – page 230

So, here we are………

Definitely…Miss Measure….Miss Measure at 180 x 180 (largest)presents

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Cod with Traditional Flavors Powdered……the red is paprika

Skate, Traditional Flavors Powderedwith changes
  • 8 oz. Cod
  • * Beurre monte
  • * 150g fresh green beans
  • sea salt/kosher salt
  • 1 banana
  • 225g smart balance (substitute for butter)
  • 150g lemons ……1 lemon
  • 2.5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet ……1/4 tsp.
  • 75g cilantro
  • 75g parsley
  • 50g dried banana chips
  • 150g spray dried cream powder (or powdered milk)
  • 50g cup minced red onion ….1 small red onion
  • 100g capers (brined, not oil)

* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)
* Beurre Monte – 225 g smart balance cubed and cold, 30g water. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the butter 1 cube at a time. This should from an emulsion. Keep this heated, but under 195 degrees. The emulsion will not break – this is your poaching liquid.

Powders – prepare ahead of time
caper / onion
lemon powder
cilantro/parsley powder
‘brown butter’ powder

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L to R from back……citrus, cilantro/parsley,capers/onion and brown butter powders

Powders
once dried, all powders should be pulsed in a coffee grinder/spice mill/mortar and pestle then passed through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.

citrus powder
150g lemons……1 lemon
500g simple syrup….I used 250 ml sugar and 250 ml water, seemed to work for me…..maybe wrong ratio but worked 😉
5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet

zest lemons , remove the pith from the zest and poach in the simple syrup three times. dry with paper towels and move to a dehydrating tray. 130 for 12 hours. pulse the zest in a coffee grinder, pass through chinois, and mix with citric acid/vitamin C powder.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 8 to 10 minutes at medium powder. Once dried, follow the other instructions.

cilantro/parsley powder
75g cilantro
75g parsley

blanch the parsley in boiling saltwater for 1 second, submerge the leaves in ice water for 3 minutes. Dry on paper towels and place on dehydrator tray. 130 for 12 hours. grind and pass through chinois.

If you do not have a dehydrator, place in microwave for 30 seconds, turn over leaves and microwave for another thirty seconds. They should be dry by now, pulse in coffee grinder, pass through chinois and reserve.

onion powder
50g cup minced red onions

dehydrator – 130 for 12 hours
microwave at medium power for 20 minutes.

pulse in grinder, pass through chinois

Caper powder
100g capers (get the ones packed in brine/vinegar)

run the capers under cold water for two minutes to remove some of the brine.
dry on paper towels and dehydrate for 12 hours at 130 degrees.
microwave instructions are unclear. Dry them as much a possible with paper towels, the microwave on medium for 1 minute. Check the moisture content and stir them. repeat for 30 second intervals until they are dry. If you use this method, pleas post the time needed to dry the capers.

Once dry, pulse and sift the powder. Mix it with the onion powder.

Brown Butter powder

50g Dried banana chips (unsweetened if possible – many are coated in honey – the freeze dried ones would be brilliant)
150g spray dried cream powder

If you cannot find the cream powder, you can substitute Bob’s red mill non fat dry milk powder, or even carnation instant milk powder. The substitutions will alter the flavor a little, but you will still get the general idea.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees, sift the cream powder into a fine layer on a silpat or on parchment. bake for 4 minutes, then remove for heat. If it bakes for too long, it will burn. Be very cautious with all powders in the oven. They all go from browned to burnt in a few seconds.

grind the banana chips in a coffee grinder and mix with the toasted cream powder. Pass this through a chinois and reserve.

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Red Onion and capers before going in the oven

July2_24

This is what became of it :-)…from back, L to R….onion, parsley, lemon zest, capers and cilantro……dried

I made half the recipe. Actual recipe calls for double the ingredients and skate wings instead of cod fish. I used the oven to dry the powder ingredients.

Onion/capers……3 hrs at 150 F

Cilantro /parsley…2 hrs at 150 F

lemon zest…….4 hrs at 150 F

And………those banana chips gave me a hard time. I got freeze dried whole banana(that’s what I got unsweetened)……which wouldn’t powder at all…all gluey. So,….I chopped it fine in my blender and spread as well as possible on baking tray……..2 hours at 200 F and finally it powdered well . Let me tell you it was a relief.


Cod

Prepare the cod – 50G v shaped cuts are recommended
Bring 50g water, 50g beurre monte, and green bean rounds to a boil over high heat. Cook until the water has evaporated (about 3 minutes), when the pan is almost dry, remove it from heat and season with 3g salt

bring 150g water and 150g beurre monte to simmer over medium heat, add skate wings and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and flip the wing over and let rest in pan for two more minutes. Transfer to warming tray lined with parchment and season with 2.5 grams of fine sea salt.

Plating

Take the tip of a small spoon and make a small mound of the citrus powder, the onion-caper powder, and the cilantro parsley-powder. Swirl these around in a hurricane type pattern. I found that it is easier, and you get finer lines if you lightly shake the plate to flatten out the mounds, then swirl the spoon through it to get the pattern.

peel the remaining banana into very think slices (3mm) fan three slices on the plate, place green beans on top and place skate wing portion on top. On the tall edge, sprinkle the brown butter powder.

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Sequence of plating…..banana , green beans, cod and finally brown butter powder

 


Substitutions
The Skate can be replaced with flounder or cod.
If you can get skate that is not ‘prepared’ IE – Skinned- get the fish monger to prepare it for you.

The powdered cream can be omitted completely, just replace it with more banana powder, or pineapple powder. Possibly non dairy creamer, but I have NO idea what would happen if you tried to brown it.

The poaching liquid is pretty much butter – it could be replaced with other poaching methods. Water, wine, bay leaf, garlic clove, pepper, etc. Try to go easy on the salt in the liquid if you use a replacement.

Disclaimer – the sample dish was made with cod because Skate was not available at the time in Richmond. Whole Foods usually carries it. Check your fish markets before you head out to buy some.

July2_42

The next day….:-)

Verdict: Husband (since I do not eat meat) found it very very interesting and liked the flavors but wondered if the effort is worth the result. But it’s quite easy to make if the powders are kept ready beforehand as we found out the next day. The dish was good ( I believe ) but pictures are all bleak because it was night by the time I finished…..and I rely solely on natural light :-). Shall try taking better pics next time.

Expenditure:

Cod…………….from Whole Foods……1/2 lb……….$ 6.48…….finished

Green Beans…..from Kroger…………..1/2 lb……….$ 0.69…….finished

Cilantro………..from Farmers Market…1 bunch……..$ 1.00…….some left

Banana freeze dried ..Peoples Food Co-op……………$ 2.00…….very little left (we ate some and burnt some;-) )

Powdered Milk….from Walmart………………………..$ 4.30…….lots left

Capers ………..from Meijer………….100 g…………..$ 3.69…..all gone


Total……………………………………………………..$ 18.16

My only grouse has been measuring everything on the scale…..that must have slowed me down by an hour or so ;-).

Posted in - Cod, - Milk Powder, - Red onion, - Smart Balance, -Banana, -Cilantro, -Green Beans, -lemon, -Parsley, Capers, Daring Cooks | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Daring Cooks First Challenge : Ricotta Gnocchi

Posted by vivnidhi on May 16, 2009

flame_w180x180 presents

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(Drum rolls Please!!!!)The Daring Cooks are out with their first challenge……..Ricotta Gnocchi !

The inaugural May 2009 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was brought to us by Ivonne of Creampuffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina. They chose a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

As I joined the Daring cooks, I was determined that my version of daring cooks challenges is going to be low fat and mostly vegetarian…..it can only get fishy 😉 , I know but then it won’t be for me ;-).

Long long back, when I did not know how to pronounce (no-kee) correctly, I had attempted making potato gnocchi. I think it turned out ok but since we can’t stay away from spices, after the first day, the leftovers were transformed to aloo kofta curry and THEN they were thoroughly enjoyed 🙂  .

For some strange reason I believed that this won’t be the case with ricotta gnocchi. If you look at Judy Rodgers preparing ricotta gnocchi in this video here, you will feel like picking one up right away.

The first thing I learned that making homemade ricotta is exactly like making paneer. The only difference is that for ricotta Whole milk is used and cream is also added to it, in India nobody adds extra cream. But, I bet anyone will tell you that the creamier the milk, the better the paneer/chhena  will turn out.  Other difference I can think of is that we mostly use buffalo milk in India and here in US, we use cow’s milk and hence the fat content definitely varies.

Well, I used 2% milk , now I do not know how much healthier it was but I tried. I did end up with a ton of whey because of using 2% milk but it was quickly used up in making my regular atta. To make paneer , just bring the milk to a boil and then add lemon juice to it. When the milk separates, drain the whey and further press it to dry it out completely.

Here are the pictures:

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Draining the ricotta, whey and the drained ricotta

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Can’t help using hands: smoothening out the ricotta, and the gnocchi, ready to be boiled

Oh, I have completely forgotten to mention my discovery. Yeah going very early to our vegetable market has its plusses. I have discovered the “reduced price box”. In $ 2 I end up getting a box full of a particular fruit or vegetable. It’s absolutely amazing, the stuff is good and not old, a few blemishes here and there but it’s far from bad. Honestly, it’s not bad at all. When we shop in the day, those boxes are long gone, but if one is there when the store opens its gates at 6 am, you can find treasures. So, this time I returned home beaming with boxes of green apples, orange bell peppers and pickles :-).I am talking of Joe’s Randazzo, if you are in the Detroit area.  Oh yeah that’s the Scrooge me talking but that’s how I am and always have been;-)

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Orange Bell Peppers, now who would mind these?

I used some, froze half of them (a couple month’s supply) and roasted the rest. Pealed and in the refrigerator hee hee.

Ok, back to the gnocchi. I believe you can take an Indian out of spice land but you cannot take spice out of him. Its true for our household. First I served it up with roasted bell pepper cashew sauce with dried fenugreek. The sauce was good but the husband wondered aloud, why didn’t you make matar paneer:-). I know he did not mind the gnocchi but matar paneer is the way to go in our house:-).

Next day, I pan fried the gnocchi in a Tbsp. of oil and added salt, pepper and lime juice. Sprinkled some fresh cilantro and the husband absolutely perked up.

Late Update June 28th 2009 : Just uploaded the lost pictures of pan fried ricotta with Indian spices:

May_03

Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi with spices

Well! my advice is that if you are not particularly fond of gnocchi, this recipe will not change you. Just take the pressed ricotta/paneer and pan fry it and serve it with preferred seasonings. You will not miss gnocchi:-)

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Cheese, -Kasoori Methi, -Orange Bell Pepper, -Red chili powder, Eggs, Milk | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Rajma (Red Kidney Beans Curry)

Posted by vivnidhi on November 12, 2008

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Dried Red Kidney Beans

Rajma or Red kidney beans were rarely made in my house in India. It was a treat made, like, once in 6 months and that too……..with potatoes like a vegetable;) . My grandmother had a grave dislike for kidney beans for its flatulent tendencies. She also believed that its ‘taseer’ was hot. Now, that means that it was one of the foods that would cause excess heat in the body when eaten. The flatulence part of kidney beans cannot be disputed but I really don’t know much about “hot” and “cold” foods :). Anyway, kidney beans are quite a favorite with people from Punjab and Delhi. I believe that it is not that commonly eaten in Uttar Pradesh. I got a request a few days back from Lavanya, who wanted me to tell her how I made Rajma. Thank you for considering my recipe worthy enough to know. Well! this is how I make Rajma,it is mostly liked by all who have had to eat it. Try it out and let me know what you think. This blog is nearing its first anniversary which is BIG for me cause it’s hard to believe that I am still blogging:).

I ate Rajma a lot when I was suffering from Gestational Diabetes. This is one of  the few foods that women who suffer can eat without worrying about the numbers, as it has enough protein and folate AND is also filling:).One can have  2 servings, 1/2 cup each and that would equal approximately 30 g. carbs. At least this paired with 1 thin roti 6″ in diameter along with LOTS of lettuce and cucumber worked very well for me. This is when my lunch was restricted to only 45 g. carbs.  Since, I have gone through the pain of gestational diabetes and am a good candidate for diabetes in the future , I try to eat as much sugar as I can eat now:))…………………….NO, I am careful of my diet and I am sending this recipe to all diabetes conscious people:)  Sangeeth’s  Eat Healthy Fight Diabetes Contest of Art of Cooking Indian food and Raulillo OK’s Blogg Event: Gastronomical adventure 2008 on the occasion of World Diabetes Day on November 14th.

I have learnt to make decent Rajma from my Husband’s  Aunt who makes Rajma quite well. Never really sat and jotted down this recipe from her but I believe that mine turns out quite like hers now:).  The key points in a good rajma recipe is that the kidney beans should be well cooked (one should not need to apply pressure to break the beans (hey, we don’t want a paste either…..somewhere in between) ) and the gravy should not be watery.

The Recipe:

  • Red Kidney Beans 1 1/2 cups soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
  • Vegetable oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Bay Leaf 1
  • Cinnamon stick 2″ piece
  • Onion 1 big chopped very fine
  • Ginger 2″ piece minced
  • Garlic 5-6 cloves minced
  • Green Chillies 2 chopped fine (add less for less heat, though this results in medium hot)
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera) 2 tsp.
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) 1/2 tsp. (optional)
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi) 2 tsp.
  • Coriander powder (Dhaniya) 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Tomato puree/Tomato sauce 1 1/2 cups or about 4 medium sized tomatoes chopped fine
  • Water 3 cups
  • Garam Masala 1 Tbsp.
  • Kasoori Methi 1 Tbsp.
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish 1/2 cup

I used to boil the kidney beans prior to adding it to the gravy but now I have learnt that it is not a necessary step. With the help of a pressure cooker, a well soaked kidney beans gets cooked quite well in the gravy itself. Hence all the masalas can be directly fried in the pressure cooker itself. This recipe makes quite a lot of curry, but then who minds rajma leftovers?

Heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add asafoetida (which I add in addition to garlic to reduce the flatulence tendencies of the beans), cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and turmeric powder. Add finely chopped onion, ginger,green chillies and garlic. Fry it well, when this mixture starts to brown, add coriander powder, salt and tomatoes. Fry a little more till this mixture starts to dry out and one can specks of oil on the masala. If you are using fresh tomatoes, the tomatoes should be all mushy at this stage. In case the masala starts sticking to the pan, you can add 2-3 Tbsps. of water to it and stir well. Next add the kidney beans and the water. Close the pressure cooker. Keep the gas on high flame till you can hear the pressure being built up (approximately 2-3 minutes), then reduce the flame to medium low. I tend to cook until I hear 4 whistles (approximately 30 minutes).

When the pressure cooker can be safely opened, open it and check the salt. Add more if needed. If the curry is dry, one can add some warm water to the rajma or add plain water and heat the gravy well again. Now add the Garam masala and Kasoori Methi. Its a good idea to crush the kasoori methi between your palms as you add to the curry. Add fresh cilantro leaves just before serving.

Rajma Chawal (Red kidney beans with Rice) is quite famous and pairs beautifully but the last time I made Naan with it and so the rice had few takers:). In fact, the best quality of rajma is that it can be paired well with almost anything………roti, parantha, tortilla, bread…………:) Save leftovers in the refrigerator. This is ideal for freezing too, lasts a good couple of months in the Freezer and the taste remains the same. And yes, if you are short on kidney beans, by all means, add a potato to this recipe………..I sometimes do that just cause I want my mother’s rajma:)

nov-21.jpgEnjoy………Rajma

Posted in - Bay Leaf, - Turmeric, -Asafoetida, -Cinnamon, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Garam Masala, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Green Chillies, -Kasoori Methi, -Onion, -Red Kidney Beans, -Tomato, -Vegetable Oil | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Hot Hot from the oven……Pizza…….

Posted by vivnidhi on October 30, 2008

A very happy Deepavali to my readers!!  Had a fabulous festival of lights, cooking for Diwali was a very satisfying experience this year with just a  few hitches..:)

As I had not tried this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge early enough this month, I am a day late in posting this month. This month’s challenge was hosted by the benevolent Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums. This challenge is also a tribute to the memory of Sher of What Did you Eat who passed away suddenly in July. She was to host this month’s challenge along with Rosa and Glenna of a Fridge full of Food.

Here are the pizzas I made up without much pre-planning.

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Garden veggie pizza with Paneer

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Olives, spicy lentils, paneer and cilantro Pizza

The main thing is the pizza base.

The Recipe:

EQUIPMENT: Stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments (optional, see recipe), cooking thermometer, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooking oil, plastic wrap, pizza peel/scraper, pizza stone or pan.

RECIPE SOURCE: “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

***************

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

Ingredients:

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled – FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum

1 3/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp

1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)

1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)

1 Tb sugar – FOR GF use agave syrup

Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.

The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

Or

2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

Or

8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Or

10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.

During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.

In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.

You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

Or

11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

Or

12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

Or

13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

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Garden Veggie Pizza with Paneer:

  • Tomato 1 sliced thin
  • Shallots 2 sliced
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Ginger 1/2 inch piece minced
  • Roasted Red Bell Pepper 1/2 sliced
  • Paneer 1/4 cup sliced
  • Sea Salt 2 tsp.
  • Chat masala 1/4 tsp.
  • Cilantro leaves 10-12 for garnish

Since sauce and toppings both were a MUST according to the rules…………my sauce for this was a very unusual one………if it can actually be called a sauce;)

Mix ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Add salt and let the whole thing sweat for 5-10 minutes. After we have some liquid in the mixture…….this becomes our sauce;). Spread this on the pizza base. Add shallots, roasted bell pepper and paneer.

In the 500F oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro leaves immediately and sprinkle with chat masala.

The result was absolutely delicious:) A great quick fix if you have pizza base ready.

Note: Chat masala can be bought at most Indian Stores. It is basically a tangy spicy mix.

Olives, spicy lentils, Paneer and cilantro Pizza

Kaheen ka eenth, kaheen ka roda………..Bhanumati ne Kumbha joda

(bricks from somewhere and pebbles from somewhere else, Bhanumati somehow made a house………….)

Diwali had some leftovers too:) Made Kachoris for Diwali and the (peethi) spicy lentils were left. They are a big favorite in my house as you must have seen in my previous posts:) Peethi Bhara Daal ka Dulha, Peethi ki Paronthi……….;)

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The Recipe:

Spicy Lentils:

  • Urad daal/ split black lentils without skin 1 cup
  • Ginger 2″ piece chopped fine or grated
  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Green chili 2 chopped fine
  • Red chili powder 1 tsp.
  • fennel seeds/saunf 1 Tbsp.
  • cumin seeds/jeera 2 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds/methi 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam masala 1 tsp.
  • coriander powder/dry cilantro powder/dhaniya 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/heeng powdered 1/2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder/Amchur 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Trader Joe’s Mixed Olive Bruschetta
  • Paneer 1/4 cup crumbled
  • Cilantro leaves 10-12 for garnish

For the spicy lentils, the lentils, ginger and green chillies are ground coarsely. They are then fried in oil with the rest of the spices.  These can be stored in the refrigerator for upto two weeks.

Bake the pizza crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread the bruschetta mix , top with spicy lentils and paneer. In  the oven again for 6 minutes.

Out form the oven and garnish with cilantro leaves.

The son just loved this one. This is a strange combination but delicious………..trust me:)

By the way, here’s the snap of me trying to toss the dough. All rules satisfied;) I don’t think I know how to toss the dough at all but it was fun.

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That’s my flying Saucer……..

Thank you for a fun challenge Rosa. Have you checked other Daring Bakers’ posts on pizza as yet or not?? Don’t be late like me;)

Expenditure:

  • Bread Flour $ 2.68 ………from Kroger…………lots left
  • Paneer $ 4.49 …………from Indian Store ………………lots left
  • Total ………….$ 7.17 …………not bad at all:)

Posted in - Bread Flour, -Asafoetida, -Cilantro, -Coriander, -Cumin seeds, -Dry Mango Powder, -Fennel seeds, -Fenugreek seeds, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Olive Oil, -Olives, -Red Bell Pepper, -Red chili powder, -Tomato, Daring Bakers, Paneer, Shallots, Sugar, Yeast | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera (Taro & Cucumber Gravy)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 10, 2008

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Cucumber and Taro root/Colocasia/Ghuiyan/Arbi

I am having a tough time describing ‘Rassa’ in English. I call it a gravy but rassa is not exactly a gravy.It is a thin watered down version of gravy.Another popular word for it in Hindi would be ‘jhol’.

As the title would suggest, this is not the sexiest of recipes.”Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera” is no competition to “Chhole” or “Rajma” or “Butter Chicken” & the spicy likes. But, on days when comfort food tops the list and one is tired of spicy food, this is what I make. The more I pay attention to what people are eating these days……I realize that simple, blandish food is not cooked in Indian homes anymore. I grew up eating the most bland and simple food in my house as I also previously mentioned……I used to be completely tired of bottle gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber, potato and hardly any spices…….. Spicy food was only made on weekends or if we had visitors. My parents have always been too careful of what they ate and the other reason was that my grandmother (who lived with us)did not even eat onions and garlic. So, it was plain food on the table every day. But nowadays I realize that I am done with enjoying the spicy food I missed and now I miss the simple dishes that my mother mostly served.

This recipe used to be a favorite of my grandmother who was quite a good cook. I didn’t see her cook too much but she was quite knowledgeable.

Colocasia or Ghuiyan in India can irritate the throat at times so it should be cooked well. In the USA though, I have not encountered the variety that causes the irritation. Though I think the taro I have mostly found here is much drier than the ones eaten in India. There are a lot of varieties of this starchy sticky root:). Cucumbers used for this can be the bigger ones too. Big cukes do not make flavorful salads but just fine in this recipe:) .  Please do not skip the carom seeds and dry mango powder in the recipe.

The recipe:

  • Cucumber 1 chopped
  • Taro root/Arbi/Ghuiyan 6-8 boiled, peeled and chopped
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tsp.
  • Carom seeds/Ajwain 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/Jeera 1/4 tsp.
  • Turmeric /Haldi 1/2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Dry mango powder/Amchur 1-2 Tbsp.

Boil the colocasia root in a pressure cooker till tender but not too mushy. One whistle would be enough. Peel it and chop.

Chop the cucumber. Discard the big seeds, if any.

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Chopped Cucumber and Colocasia

Heat the pressure cooker and add oil to it. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, carom seeds, turmeric and red chilli powder. When the mixture starts sizzling, add the chopped vegetables to it.

If you like a thicker gravy, saute the colocasia till you get a thin film at the bottom. Add 1 cup water. Traditionally, water is added right after the vegetables, cause the gravy is quite thin. Add salt and close the lid of the pressure. After 2 whistles, open the pressure cooker and add the amchur powder. Mix well. If you want a thicker gravy at this stage, a couple of pieces of colocasia can be mashed in the gravy. Adjust salt, chilli and amchur as per your taste.

Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera is ready. Hardly any fat and delicious. I must say that this is an acquired taste though. Its not spicy at all but quite tangy. My  son is fond of this vegetable precisely for this reason. Too easy to make and goes fabulously with paronthis/paranthas :). A side of greens or a salad with fresh paranthas would make a fabulous meal.

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Rasse ki Ghuiyan aur Kheera

This is my contribution to  Cooking 4 all seasons, ‘Curry Mela’. Wonderful Srivalli is so great in hosting her melas that you just can’t miss it. So, here we come ‘Curry Mela’.

I would also like to contribute this recipe to ‘Eating with the Seasons- August’ hosted by Maninas: Food Matters. The seasonal item here is definitely the cucumber. If you have a bounty from your garden, this is the recipe:).

Posted in - Turmeric, -Asafoetida, -Carom seeds, -Colocasia, -Cucumber, -Cumin seeds, -Dry Mango Powder, -Red chili powder, The staple | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

American Chop Suey

Posted by vivnidhi on July 14, 2008

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The “AMERICAN CHOP SUEY”

Almost all restaurants serving Chinese food in India boast of the “American Chop Suey”.

American Chop Suey (also American Goulash, Chili-Macaroni, Chili-Mac, Mac ‘n Beef, Macaroni and Beef, or simply Macaroni) is an American pasta dish. The preferred name and recipe varies by region, for example, the name American chop suey is most prevalent in New England. Commercial preparations of this dish are commonly marketed as Macaroni and Beef. Classic American chop suey consists of elbow macaroni and bits of cooked ground beef with sautéed onions and green peppers in a thick tomato-based sauce. Though this decidedly American comfort food is clearly influenced by Italian-American cuisine, it is known as a chop suey because it is a sometimes-haphazard hodgepodge of meat and vegetables.………….source Wikipedia

Food historians generally agree that chop suey as we know it was invented in the United States in the mid-1800’s, possibly by one of the Cantonese immigrants who flooded California searching for work. Constrained by the lack of Asian vegetables, and trying to produce a Chinese dish palatable to westerners, a Cantonese cook stir-fried whatever vegetables were handy, added some meat or chicken, and served the finished product on a plate of steamed rice. He christened his creation, chop suey, which is the English pronunciation of the Cantonese words “tsap seui” (“tsa-sui” in Mandarin) which means “mixed pieces”. …………source Chinesefood.about.com

Anyway, American chop suey is quite a favorite of a lot of people and its quite wholesome and delicious too.  Here is a recipe that I learnt from a professional cook Mrs. Minocha in Aurangabad , India.

The recipe:  (4 servings)

For the Noodles:

  • Maggi/Ramen/Mama noodles  2 Packs (200 grams)

For the Sauce:

  • Garlic 7 cloves (minced)
  • Tomato sauce/Ketchup 1 cup
  • Soya Sauce 1 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Sugar 1 1/2 Tbsp.
  • oil 1 tsp.
  • Corn starch 1 Tbsp. (called corn flour in India)
  • salt to taste

For the Vegetables:

  • Onion 1 sliced lengthwise
  • Green Bell Pepper/Capsicum 1 sliced thin
  • Cauliflower 3 Flowerets chopped
  • Carrots 2 sliced like matchsticks
  • Green Beans 7-8 french cut(lengthwise)
  • Soya sauce 1 Tbsp.
  • Crushed Black Pepper 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste

The actual recipe called for Mama noodles first boiled in salted water and then deep fried. I used Maggi masala Atta (whole wheat) noodles (available in Indian grocery stores) . Ramen noodles can easily be substituted. I did not use the masala sachet i.e. the seasoning. I sprayed the noodles with oil spray and put them in a preheated oven. 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Make sure to keep moving them every 3-4 minutes to avoid them getting burnt.

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Noodles on the baking tray

For the Sauce: Heat the oil and fry the garlic for 1 minute.  Add tomato sauce, red chilli powder, salt , soya sauce and sugar. Add 1- 1/2 cups water. Let the whole thing come to a boil. Mix the corn starch with 1 Tbsp. cold water and add it to the sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 more minute. Orange color is added in Indian restaurants but I have never felt the need to do so.

For the vegetables: First par boil cauliflower in a little salted water. I used the microwave for 1 minute. Heat oil in a wok and fry onion for a minute. I use high flame for the vegetables. Next add the capsicum and cabbage. Next add carrot, green beans and cauliflower. Mix well. Next add salt, soya sauce and crushed black pepper . Mix well and turn off the heat. The key is to keep the vegetables quite crunchy.

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Baked noodles, sweet & sour sauce and Chop Suey Vegetables

To assemble: First make a layer of the vegetables. Add fried noodles on top and pour the hot sauce on top of the noodles. Indianized American Chop Suey is Ready!!

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Dinner’s ready. The crunchy noodles had to be hidden cause the son couldn’t keep his hands off them!

This Indian-Chinese “American Chop Suey” (Shouldn’t we be thankful it does not involve more countries;) ) is headed to DK of DK’s Culinary Bazaar for AWED Chinese. This is the main course……….a complete meal in itself. Hence it is also headed to Archana of Archana’s Kitchen for Monthly One dish Meal event. Enjoy!!

Preparation time for this would be about 20 minutes and cooking time would be 25 minutes.

Posted in -Cauliflower, -Garlic, -Green Beans, -Green Bell Pepper, -Onion, -Tomato Sauce, -Whole wheat flour | Tagged: , | 25 Comments »

Peethi ki Paronthi (Lentil filled Flatbread)

Posted by vivnidhi on June 4, 2008

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Peethi ki Paronthi & Aam ka Achar (Mango Pickle)

Paronthi is the Parantha’s younger sister OR………. who knows………. maybe Parantha is the husband and Paronthi, the wife. Well, the relationship is quite hazy here. But, as the wise have said……….”Don’t go where you are not required to go” All I can tell you is that the Paronthi is smaller and thinner than the parantha, (may I add , a little more delicate there;) ).

Peethi is a filling made with Urad Daal (Black gram lentils). I have heard that there was a time when people in Northern India would only eat Pooris and Kachoris at every meal. For the longest time, my husband’s Grandmother ate Poori or Kachori, she was not a Roti, Phulka liking person. She was a fabulous cook and would work very very hard to cook good food. I have been fortunate enough to taste her handmade Mungodis which absolutely melted in one’s mouth when cooked. I am mentioning Kachori several times cause a very similar filling is used in traditional North Indian Kachori. But for the faint of heart like me, making a paronthi with peethi is good enough. It’s made very rarely at our place and it is such a treat, that we all end up eating way more than we should.

The Recipe: (For 18-20 paronthis)

For the Dough:

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cups water

For Filling (Peethi):

  • Urad daal/ split black lentils without skin 1 cup
  • Ginger 2″ piece chopped fine or grated
  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Green chili 2 chopped fine
  • Red chili powder 1 tsp.
  • fennel seeds/saunf 1 Tbsp.
  • cumin seeds/jeera 2 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds/methi 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam masala 1 tsp.
  • coriander powder/dry cilantro powder/dhaniya 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/heeng powdered 1/2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder/Amchur 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste

Make a dough with whole wheat flour and water. More about the dough can be found in my post here.

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In the plate (clockwise) green chili, red chili powder, fennel seeds,cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, Garam masala, coriander powder, asafoetida powder, dry mango powder, ginger minced and salt in center. Soaked and ground black gram also in picture.

To prepare the peethi for the filling, soak urad daal overnight or at least 4-6 hours. Grind it coarse in a grinder the next morning. In a wok or sauce pan (preferably non-stick), heat 2 tsp. oil and add the rest of ingredients except salt and dry mango powder. Add the ground urad daal and fry a little till it dries. Next add salt and dry mango powder. Mix well.

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Peethi is ready!

Make balls of the whole wheat dough of the size shown below.

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Whole wheat balls with dry flour for dusting

Flatten the dough balls with a rolling pin and fill the peethi as shown below.100_1640

Whole wheat dough flats and the filling

Pull the whole wheat edges and form a ball again. Dust a little flour and roll out the Paronthi. Heat a cast iron griddle. Oil the griddle a wee bit and then put the rolled out paronthi on the griddle. Make sure you put the paronthi only when the griddle is sizzling hot, that is you should be able to throw some drops of water and they should first sizzle and then evaporate. If they evaporate right away, the griddle is too hot. Turn the paronthi over when you start seeing tiny bubbles on the surface. Spread a little oil on the surface of the paronthi and apply a little pressure with a spatula to ensure uniform cooking. Turn it over once more and apply pressure gain. A well made paronthi will puff up on all sides.

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Peethi ki paronthi on the griddle

A paronthi well cooked should not have doughy edges and should be uniformly cooked. Peethi ki paronthi tastes fabulous with achar, dried potato curry or my all time favorite Masaledaar Aloo ki Sabji.

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Have a bite!!

Peethi ki Paronthi is off to Srivalli for the Roti Mela. Looking forward to a variegated collection of flatbreads there.

I was making paper fans for my son and he was scribbling on them. A few minutes later he comes to me & asks me to make a paper AC this time……….ha. I could only look at him in astonishment! Now, if we could all make paper AC’s , wouldn’t that solve India’s energy problems!  I asked my son to grow up and do something about alternative energy as I have little hope from myself. That certainly left him content with paper fans………..for now.

Posted in -Cumin seeds, -Fennel seeds, -Fenugreek seeds, -Ginger, -Urad daal/ black gram, -Whole wheat flour, Daal, Flours, Spices | Tagged: , | 15 Comments »

Tofu, Chhole Aloo aur Dhaniya ki Dandiyan (Tofu, Chickpeas, potato and Cilantro stems)

Posted by vivnidhi on May 28, 2008

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Tofu, Chhole Aloo garnished with onions

There are numerous things that I want to post about, but boy! have I been busy!! Yes, my mother left for India a few days back and now its only me with two young kids……………:(. How do people manage twins…………I’d go nuts. On the positive side, my older son does manage to entertain my little one so that I can finish the daily chores. But that’s about it (even that is an achievement some days). One day as I was busy with my younger one, the son wanted me to do something else as well……..and I just couldn’t help saying ” I have only two hands”. Just then, the son remembered of Brahmaji (an Indian deity having 4 arms and 4 heads) His reply was ” You should be like Brahma, then you would have four hands” Now do you think , I could hide my smile.

Fresh Cilantro (Coriander leaves) are the best and most essential garnish in North Indian cuisine. The fresh leaves just really enhance the flavor in spicy curries. In order to keep these leaves fresher longer, I like to remove the leaves from the stems and save them either in a paper bag or the leftover boxes of berries which also have holes to breathe. So, that’s a reuse tip. Honest confession is that my kitchen pantry is full of plastic boxes that came with something else and are saved up to keep something else. I just can’t throw them in trash without thinking of me adding further plastic garbage.I know one day all this will be thrown but at least after being  reused several times. Now, a PHD student’s wife also saves money on containers this way too;).

So, I got 4 bunches of cilantro and saved the leaves. I was left with really tender cilantro stems. Mom suggested I use them and when they were added to the curry, they just made the curry taste so very delicious, I could lick the bowl.

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Fresh Cilantro stems and soaked and boiled chickpeas

Its quite a medley but delicious combination.

The Recipe:

  • 2 slabs extra firm tofu cut into cubes
  • 1 cup soaked and boiled chickpeas
  • 1 small potato cut into cubes
  • 2 onions chopped very fine
  • 1 tomato chopped fine
  • 1 tomato cut into cubes
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2″ piece of ginger minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Yogurt
  • salt to taste
  • 2 Tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • 2 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Coriander powder (Dhaniya)
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1-1/2 bunches cilantro stems chopped fine

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Star of the show: finely chopped cilantro stems

Heat oil in a saucepan and add cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder. Fry finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic well till they change color to brown.

Add finely chopped tomatoes till they have almost melted in the onions.

Add the yogurt, mix well and fry for 2 more minutes stirring continuously.

Next add the potato, tomato, tofu ,chickpeas and salt. Add 1/2 a cup of water and cover.

When the vegetables have softened enough, check for gravy, add more water if need be.Add Garam masala and cilantro stems.Cover for 5 more minutes till the stems have mixed well in the gravy. This curry is very fragrant on its own. Even the kitchen starts smelling wonderful. Tastes great with paranthas or rice.

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Tofu Aloo Chhole with paranthas and Coleslaw

I am sending this recipe to Wandering Chopsticks, guest host of Weekend Herb Blogging which is a creation of Kalyn.

Edit: August 8’08 : I mention in my post that its a good idea to keep the cilantro leaves in a plastic box which has holes to let the leaves breathe. This is a great idea if one has a lot of cilantro………like I did, 4 bunches. Soon, the leaves in the box will dry out and they can be used later. Keeping them in the box saves them from rotting. If there is a very small quantity of cilantro like a bunch which you know will be used in a week or so, it is best to keep the cilantro leaves in a brown paper bag. It will help the leaves from drying out. Cilantro stems are best in the crisper in a plastic bag.

Posted in -Cilantro, -Garbanzo Beans, -Potatoes, -Tofu, Dried Beans, Herbs | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

Dressing up the Dulha……….Bhara hua Daal ka Dulha Series……….Round 2

Posted by vivnidhi on May 9, 2008

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Peethi Bhara Daal Ka Dulha

Ok, so we are onto filling no. 2 for our daal ka dulha. Peethi bhara daal ka dulha means ground black gram (peethi) filled whole wheat pastas. I could have easily listed the types of fillings for daal ka dulha but I wanted to chronicle the procedure as well. Please refer to my earlier posts Daal Ka Dulha and Dressing up  the Dulha………… if I seem to be talking Greek (or khadi boli (that’s village Hindi) for that matter;))

Peethi means soaked and ground Urad daal/Black gram. This dish is like pasta with spicy lentil filling in lentil soup. Sounds strange but tastes quite good;).

The Recipe:

Initial tempering:

  • Oil 1/2 tsp
  • cumin seeds/Jeera 1/2 tsp.
  • turmeric powder/Haldi 1 tsp.

For Daal:

  • Toor Daal/Arhar daal/split yellow pigeon peas 2 cups
  • Water 6 cups
  • sugar 1 tsp
  • salt to taste

For Dulha:(This is the ratio for making roti dough.About 1/10th is used to make the dulhas in the daal given)

  • Whole wheat flour 4 cups
  • Water 1 3/4 cups
  • Salt (optional)

For Filling:

  • Urad daal/ split black lentils without skin 1/4 cup
  • Ginger 1″ piece chopped fine or grated
  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Green chili 1 chopped fine
  • Red chili powder 1 tsp.
  • fennel seeds/saunf 2 tsp.
  • cumin seeds/jeera 2 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds/methi 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam masala 1 tsp.
  • coriander powder/dry cilantro powder/dhaniya 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/heeng powdered 1/2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder/Amchur 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste

Final tempering:

  • Oil (preferably ghee) 2 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/heeng powdered 1 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds 1 Tbsp .
  • Red chilli powder 2 tsp.

We begin as usual by making the daal or lentil soup in a pressure cooker. Heat oil and add the initial tempering. Once the cumin seeds are crackling, add the ingredients listed under daal and close the pressure cooker. Further details on making the daal can be found in my post Everyday daal.

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In the plate (clockwise) green chili, red chili powder, fennel seeds,cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, Garam masala, coriander powder, asafoetida powder, dry mango powder, ginger minced and salt in center. Soaked and ground black gram also in picture.

The most important part is our Dulha (filled pasta). Dulhas can be prepared while the daal is cooking. To prepare the peethi for the filling, soak urad daal overnight or at least 4-6 hours. Grind it well in a grinder the next morning. In a wok or sauce pan (preferably non-stick), heat 2 tsp. oil and add the rest of ingredients except salt and dry mango powder. Add the ground urad daal and fry a little till it dries. Next add salt and dry mango powder. Mix well.

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Fried urad daal along with spices ………peethi is ready:)

Take a small ball from  the whole wheat dough. Make a thin flat round of the ball. A drop of oil can be spread on the fingers and the dough while making the flat. Keep the filling (peethi) in the flat and close it. Use the palm of the hand to flatten the filled round of the dough. Make as many dulhas as required.

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Peethi filling and wheat dough flats

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Flattened uncooked dulhas

Heat the daal if made earlier. Make sure that the daal is hot when the dulhas are added to it in the pressure cooker. Give two more whistles to the cooker or let it simmer for at least half an hour if one is not using a pressure cooker. Make the final tempering in a separate pan. When the cumin seeds start crackling, add it to the daal.

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Daal ka dulha and final tempering (chhaunka in Hindi)

Peethi (ground urad daal) filled daal ka dulha is ready to be served. It does not soften up as much as plain daal ka dulha or the potato filled one but this is really delicious too. It can be eaten alone or with roti and some vegetables also.

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Here’s the authentic rustic peethi bhara daal ka dulha

Posted in -Arhar (Toor) Dal, -Ginger, -Urad daal/ black gram, -Whole wheat flour, Daal, Spices | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

Dressing up the Dulha……….Bhara hua Daal ka Dulha Series…….Round 1:

Posted by vivnidhi on May 4, 2008

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Aloo Bhara Daal Ka Dulha

Our dulha is coming of age in my house (the daal ka dulha is being made so often). So, we thought we start dressing it up in various forms we know of and then decide the winning costume for our dear dulha:). Credit goes to my mother for all these recipes.

The first filling is of the evergreen potato. This dish is like spicy pierogies in lentil soup. This truly is a delicious combination. Our dear rustic dulha too can stand among the finest raviolis and pastas of the world when dressed up;)

The Recipe:

Initial tempering:

  • Oil 1/2 tsp
  • cumin seeds/Jeera 1/2 tsp.
  • turmeric powder/Haldi 1 tsp.

For Daal:

  • Toor Daal/Arhar daal/split yellow pigeon peas 2 cups
  • Water 6 cups
  • sugar 1 tsp
  • salt to taste

For Dulha:(This is the ratio for making roti dough.About 1/10th is used to make the dulhas in the daal given)

  • Whole wheat flour 4 cups
  • Water 1 3/4 cups
  • Salt (optional)

For Filling:

  • Potatoes 2 boiled and mashed
  • Ginger 1″ piece chopped fine or grated
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves a handful chopped fine
  • Green chili 1 chopped fine
  • Red chili powder 1 tsp.
  • Garam masala 1 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder/Amchur 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/heeng powdered 1 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Onion 1/2 finely chopped (optional)
  • Garlic 1 clove finely chopped (optional)

Final tempering:

  • Oil (preferably ghee) 2 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/heeng powdered 1 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds 1 Tbsp .
  • Red chilli powder 2 tsp.

We begin as usual by making the daal or lentil soup in a pressure cooker. Heat oil and add the initial tempering. Once the cumin seeds are crackling, add the ingredients listed under daal and close the pressure cooker. Further details on making the daal can be found in my post Everyday daal.

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Filling Ingredients clockwise……potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, asafoetida, red chili powder,dry mango powder, Garam masala, green chilies and salt………missing is cilantro leaves…

The most important part is our Dulha. Dulhas can be prepared while the daal is cooking. To prepare the potato for the filling, I like to pierce the potato with a fork, wet the potato well and bake it in the microwave.Boiling the potatoes in water causes them to get watery at times. Mix all the ingredients listed under filling and make small balls of the filling. Onions and garlic are optional, I like them, but the original recipe as made by our elders did not have onions or garlic. Make a thin flat round of the wheat dough. A drop of oil can be spread on the fingers and the dough while making the flat. Keep the filling in the flat and close it. Use the palm of the hand to flatten the filled round of the dough. Make as many dulhas as required.

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Potato filling and wheat dough balls

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Flattened uncooked dulhas

Heat the daal if made earlier. Make sure that the daal is hot when the dulhas are added to it in the pressure cooker. Give two more whistles to the cooker or let it simmer for at least half an hour if one is not using a pressure cooker. Make the final tempering in a separate pan. When the cumin seeds start crackling, add it to the daal. Aloo (potato) bhara daal ka dulha is ready to be served. It can be eaten alone or with roti and some vegetables also.

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So, how does the bhara hua daal ka dulha look?

Posted in -Arhar (Toor) Dal, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Onion, -Potatoes, -Whole wheat flour, Daal, Flours, Spices | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Daal ka Dulha

Posted by vivnidhi on April 23, 2008

Hi, Not that I have started looking for a dulha or groom for my daughter already. Daal ka dulha is the name of a favorite recipe of mine. After eating 3-4 types of pasta that I had been making for my mother, Mummy (with a smile) asked me if I had made daal ka dulha in the recent past? I had completely forgotten about daal ka dulha these years.

I mentioned pasta cause daal ka dulha comes closest to pasta in North Indian cuisine (of course leaving vermicelli aside). This recipe can also be called a very crude form of Daal bati……….but crude really:)).

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Daal ka Dulha

Recipe:

Initial tempering:

  • Oil 1/2 tsp
  • cumin seeds 1/2 tsp.
  • turmeric powder 1 tsp

For Daal:

  • Toor Daal 2 cups
  • Water 6 cups
  • sugar 1 tsp
  • salt to taste

For Dulha:(This is the ratio for making roti dough.About 1/10th is used to make the dulhas in the daal given)

  • Whole wheat flour 4 cups
  • water 1 3/4 cups
  • salt (optional)

Final tempering:

  • Oil (preferably ghee) 2 Tbsp
  • asafoetida 1 tsp
  • cumin seeds 1 Tbsp
  • red chilli powder 2 tsp

Ok, this is a quick, simple one. Begin by making plain simple toor daal as detailed in my everyday daal post Arhar daal.  That is : add the initial tempering, add daal ingredients and give two whistles in a pressure cooker.

Make the whole wheat dough (which is basically roti dough). The directions for making the dough is detailed  in  Beginning with the staple: The ROTI . The important part of this recipe is making the dulha. Take a small ball in the and thin it it out with fingers. One could use a rolling pin, but traditionally hands were used to flatten the dough ball. Once you have made it quite thin. Apply a dropful of ghee or oil in the center of the flattened disc. Bring  four ends of the disc together and pinch making a flower like shape.  The shape is very important as it allows the daal to seep in and soften the dulha. 6 to 8 dulhas can be made per person.

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When the cooker is safe to be opened, open the cooker cover. Add the dulhas  while the daal in the cooker is hot, otherwise the dulhas don’t soften properly. Close the pressure cooker and give two more whistles. When the pressure cooker is cool enough to be opened, add the final tempering. The plain daal also tastes more delicious than usual. One could try adding this in everyday daal to see if they like the taste of it before making a complete meal only of daal ka dulha.

And daal ka dulha is ready to be served. A drop of ghee in individual servings adds a lot of taste. Anybody fond of pasta should like this, though this is quite an old simple recipe concocted when women of the house would be in a hurry. There are other varieties of dulhas like stuffed about which I will post soon. This is the simplest form. This is also my entry in Lights Out, Knives Out event  hosted by Celine Asril. This is a great earth hour event in which no electricity is used in cooking. Well! in this recipe, no electricity is used (apart from using an electric stove) nor are any knives used:)

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Daal ka Dulha with pickle………..fabulous afternoon meal

Posted in -Arhar (Toor) Dal, -Whole wheat flour, Daal, The staple | Tagged: , | 13 Comments »

Quick Thai Yellow curry

Posted by vivnidhi on January 9, 2008

My last entry for food during pregnancy hosted by simpeindianfood. I think the readers would just get tired. But if there are any pregnant women reading this………please keep an eye on this blog cause most of the stuff I write here is going to be food for pregnant women. I am in my last trimester and soon there will be common and not so common recipes eaten postpartum:).

I love Thai food and the curries come out as delicious as the restaurant even at home. The secret ingredient is the readymade curry pastes I get from my Chinese or Oriental stores. Readymade pastes are extremely convenient as one does have to worry about having galangal and kaafir lime leaves etc. at home all the time and one one can churn out delicious curries when one desires. It is also a delicious way of incorporating tofu in the diet. Since I am a vegetarian I am always looking ways to eat tofu and eggs these days.

Yellow curry is the least favorite of mine but a big fav with hubby dear(its closest in taste to Indian curries, according to him) . And since, yellow curry paste was the only one I had on hand yesterday night……..we had yellow curry and rice for dinner.

The Recipe:

  • Oil 1 tsp.
  • Yellow curry paste 1 Tbsp.
  • Soya sauce 1 Tbsp.
  • Coconut milk 1/2 cup if using full fat or 3/4 cup if using lite
  • Potato 1 chopped
  • Shallots 2 (Red onion can be substituted) chopped coarse and big
  • Tofu Extra firm 2 slabs cut in blocks
  • Fresh basil 1 Tbsp.

Heat the oil in a wok and fry the curry paste lightly. Add soya sauce and coconut milk. Add the potato, shallots and tofu and cover the wok. Reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer. The curry is done when the potatoes have softened (in about 10 -15 min’s). One can add vegetables of choice in this curry though we like it plain with potato and onions. Check the salt in the curry, if desired, add more soya sauce at this stage. Add fresh basil if you have them on hand. Sometimes, I even like a tsp. of lime juice in the curry but that’s completely on the kind of taste a person has. Quick spicy yellow curry is ready! Goes best with jasmine rice although nothing beats steaming basmati rice in my house:).

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Yellow Curry, Rice and Sambal Oelek………spicy dinner in minutes:)

Posted in -Onion, -Potatoes, -Tofu, Thai | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

New Year Shots and Rassedaar Lauki

Posted by vivnidhi on January 1, 2008

Its difficult to live in Michigan and not fall in love with nature. When we moved from the bay area in California to Michigan , it was scary. Most other students who were then leaving this beautiful University town would say that they are glad to leave the snow behind as they had grown tired of it. But three winters here and I still look forward to the ground turning pure white…….as if defining the color white for me. The trees still, frozen, laden with white. Let me not start poetry and prose here……..but its difficult you see……..

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A lot of people can complain that so much snow isn’t really conducive to driving around and partying all night. But, we enjoyed a fantastic home made 6 course meal, good music and just being us in this lovely weather…..yay:)!!

Anyway…why am I digressing…………mine is a food blog! So, yesterday’s efforts at cooking left me a little exhausted today. Well! third trimester of pregnancy is certainly slowing me down a little now. So, this morning, I decided to indulge in easy, quick, pure comfort food for me………Rassedaar Lauki. The humble Opu (as called here in the USA) or bottle gourd does not get its due most often. We usually don’t make it for company……unless we make koftas out it and dress it in so much masala that lauki/ghiya gets lost somewhere. I have an unusual memory of Lauki, different from most people…….I think. My father has always been careful about what he ate and so rassedaar lauki would be made at least 2 times a week in my house. My mother would also find it very easy to cook when she would return from work. I would really get tired of eating it. Why is it that masala, onion, garlic is used so sparingly in my house……why is it like a Sunday treat. Today, I am grateful to my parents for helping me eat right. Now, I crave the same simple food after every heavy meal.

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The humble Lauki/ Opu/Bottle Gourd

This is my first entry to food-during-pregnancy-event hosted by simpleindianfood. I think its quite an interesting concept……….specially for me, right. Everything I make should be included……..right:)) ? Bottle gourd is also good for pregnant women because of its high water and fiber content. It also helps in relieving constipation.

The Recipe:

  • Lauki/Bottle gourd/Opu 1 medium
  • Tomatoes 2 medium
  • Ginger root  1/2 tsp. minced (optional)
  • Oil 1/4 tsp.
  • Asafetida/Heeng 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/Jeera 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp.
  • red chilli powder 1/4 tsp.
  • salt to taste.
  • Coriander/Cilantro leaves for garnish 1/2 bunch

Oh! What would I do without a pressure cooker? Ok, I can’t do much, I accept. This can be made in a wok/kadhai also but it would take a little longer to cook. In case, you have to use the wok, add tomatoes after the bottle gourd has softened.

Chop the opu and tomatoes. Heat the pressure cooker and add the oil to it. Add heeng, jeera, turmeric, red chilli powder and ginger. Let the cumin seeds pop a little and then add the chopped vegetables. Add salt to taste and two cups of water. Close the pressure cooker and let it work while you catch up on another food blog:). After two whistles, the bottle gourd is ready. Let the pressure cooker cool and then garnish the bottle gourd with lots of chopped cilantro leaves. You could adjust the amount of liquid in this stew to your liking but traditionally it has a fair amount of rassa (liquid). Its this easy to make it but the taste is really delicious. Traditionally, it goes best with hot paranthas but I like it with roti, rice or even plain.

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Rassedaar Lauki

Edit July 15 2008:
I tried but I could not get bottle gourd this month. I am submitting this posted recipe to Vegetable of the week-Bottle Gourd hosted by Pooja of My Creative Ideas. Thanks for the opportunity to resubmit Pooja.

Posted in -bottle gourd/Opu, -Tomato, Posted again, The staple | Tagged: , | 12 Comments »

Salmon Biryani

Posted by vivnidhi on December 19, 2007

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Salmon Biryani

So, after losing my entire post, I am back, re-posting the original recipe.

I am a vegetarian and so I have not tasted the recipe I write here. My husband likes to call himself a ” wannabe vegetarian”.  He is extremely fond of non-vegetarian food but to make better choices nutrition wise, he likes me to try recipes with fish. This salmon biryani recipe is a favorite of my husband’s.

I searched various sites and blogs for a biryani recipe with Salmon but just didn’t find any. I decided to give it a try myself. My Bade and Chhote Nawab were quite impressed with the result and hence the post. The search for a perfect biryani recipe led me to Kitchen wonder’s Chicken Biryani recipe which had a very informative post on Biryani history History of biryani.

The Recipe:
(For 4 servings)

  • Basmati rice 2 cups
  • Salmon fillet 8 oz.
  • Milk 1/4 cup

For the Marinade:

  • Yogurt 1 cup
  • Chili powder 2 tsp.
  • 1″ piece of ginger minced fine or ginger paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced fine or garlic paste
  • Coriander (Cilantro/ Dhaniya)  Powder 2 tsp.
  • Garam Masala 2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder (amchur powder) 2 tsp.
  • Poppy seeds ground to a powder 2 tsp.
  • Fennel seeds/saunf ground to a powder 2 tsp.
  • Mint leaves chopped very fine or grinded to a paste 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt 1 Tbsp.

For Tempering:

  • Cinnamon 2″ piece
  • Black Cardamoms 2
  • Peppercorns 8
  • Bay Leaves 2
  • Cloves 4
  • Saffron a big pinch
  • Oil/ Ghee 2 Tbsp.

For Garnish:

  • Onions (Cut into rings) 2
  • Cashews 1/4 cup
  • Green Bell Pepper(medium size)  1/2
  • Tomato (medium size) 1/2

Prepare the fish by skinning it or defrost if using frozen. Cut the salmon in bite size pieces. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and marinate the fish in it for 1 hour.

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Marinated salmon

I am very careful when I deal with Basmati rice. Here in the U.S., basmati rice is the norm in Indian homes, but in India , in my house, basmati was always saved for special occasions cause it was so expensive. My mother made sure that each grain of rice remained separate. She had devised a technique of cooking rice and I follow it completely. Do not rub the rice much with hands when washing it for fear of breaking the grains. Soak the rice in ample water for 20-30 minutes. Heat a large amount of water in a deep pan and bring it to a rolling boil on high heat. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium high. Soaked rice cooks quite fast so check if the grains have softened after 10 minutes. Then strain the rice in a colander and throw the water. Fluff the rice with a fork. For biryani, I like to strain the rice before the grains soften completely.

Heat the oil (preferably ghee, if you can indulge) and add all the tempering ingredients except saffron. Add this hot tempering to the rice when the whole masalas start getting a little brown and when your neighbors start getting drawn to the aroma coming out of your kitchen. Well! don’t start looking for neighbors, the masalas might get burnt!!. Heat the milk to lukewarm and add saffron strands to it. Add the milk to the rice as well.  This is definitely a longer method of preparing the rice but I find it foolproof.

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Rice tempered with whole spices and saffron

Preheat the oven to 400° F /200° C .  Cook the salmon pieces in the oven for about 4 mins, remove from oven, turn and cook again for 4 minutes. I like to add all the marinade along with the fish and save all the leftover marinade along with the fish after its cooked.

Meanwhile, prepare the garnish. Heat oil ,fry cashews and keep separate. In the same pan, fry the onions till crisp.  Slice bell pepper and tomato thin.

Gosh! Are we done yet? Nope! Heat the oven to 400° F. In an ovenproof casserole, layer 1/3 of the rice at the bottom , then 1/2 the fish along with the marinade and repeat. The top must be a layer of rice again. Garnish the biryani and cover it well with an aluminum foil. Keep it in the oven for 10 minutes.

Whew! Long process but the effort is completely worthwhile when the Nawabs relish it! Tastes great with mint chutney and raita.

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Treat fit for the Royals!

I would like to send this recipe  to Sunita for her monthly Think Spice event which features cinnamon this month. I believe this biryani would be incomplete without cinnamon in the rice.

Some nice biryani recipes I came across are RP’s My workshop Fish Biryani, Pachakam.com’s Fish Biryani , Kitchen Wonder’s Chicken Biryani and Bawarchi’s Vegetable Biryani

This a big favorite at our place. Hope you would like it too!

Posted in -Salmon, Rice | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Masaledaar Aloo ki sabji

Posted by vivnidhi on December 7, 2007

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Acorn Squash & Potatoes

The acorn squash was sitting there, turning orange by the day……” Why am I being neglected?”, it said, from the top of the refrigerator. Drawing all my attention yet being silent. Yes, I am talking about squash and pumpkin when the title screams potatoes:). The quiet pumpkin (again silently) adds  a lot of taste to my favorite recipe.  So, finally, before it would dry up on me and blame me for its condition, I picked it up. The squash certainly seemed happier, all peeled and cut up next to its dear potatoes. What the leftover squash; saran wrapped and in the refrigerator is saying to me now is another story:)).

Masaledaar aloo ki sabji (poor pumpkin wasn’t even mentioned) was always made in my house to be paired with Calcutta crisp Kachoris (wonder why we named it so but someday I will blog about it too!). Ah! those Sundays when my mother would make them……I would rarely have a count of how many Kachoris I ate or how many times I served the sabji. Now, when I can’t go frying kachoris and eating them often, at least I can indulge in this favorite vegetable gravy. As I was making it, I remembered of the Grindless gravies . This recipe has no grinding involved whatsoever. It uses a few ground masalas found in almost every Indian kitchen.

The most important ingredients here are ginger, heeng (asafoetida),coriander powder and kalonji (nigella seeds). Without kalonji, it just would not taste as good and without coriander powder,  it just won’t get the right consistency and smell. A very informative post about nigella seeds is Mistress of Spices, finally .

The recipe:

Potatoes 2, chopped into bigger pieces
pumpkin about 1 cup, chopped small
ginger 2 Tbsp., chopped up
green chillies 2
tomato 1 (optional)

Masala
Heeng 1/4 tsp.
nigella seeds 3/4 tsp.
cumin seeds 1/4 tsp.
turmeric 1/2 tsp.
red chilli powder 1/4 tsp.
coriander powder 2 heaping Tbsp.
Dry mango powder/amchur 1/2 tsp.
Garam Masala 1/2 tsp.
yogurt 2 Tbsp.

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Heeng in the box & clockwise from left: cumin, nigella seeds, turmeric,red chilli
powder, coriander powder, amchur powder in the center is garam masala

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Chopped up pumpkin, potatoes, ginger and green chillies

Once the masaldaan (a round box with small cups for holding dry masalas)is out and vegetables chopped, we are almost done. First heat the pressure cooker and to 2 tsp. oil add heeng, cumin and nigella seeds.  Once they start to splutter, add yogurt, ginger, green chillies, chopped tomato, turmeric, red chilli and coriander powders. Brown them well, add a Tbsp. of water if need be to prevent the masalas from sticking to the pan. I used canned sliced tomatoes as I didn’t have any fresh ones. Next, add pumpkin and potato along with 1 1/2 cups water and salt and mix well. Close the pressure cooker, put in low medium flame and say the mantra” Fill it, shut it and forget it” You can forget it for upto 30-45 mins but after that you will have to remember it. You could add some water and reheat if the consistency is thicker. After putting the gas off, and when you can open the pressure cooker, mix the contents well, the pumpkin should just dissolve in the gravy.  Add garam masala, amchur powder and garnish with chopped cilantro. You may avoid adding the amchur powder if you find the gravy sour enough.

The sabji goes best with kachoris, but pooris or pranthas  do fine as well.

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Masaledaar Aloo ki Sabji

Posted in -Potatoes | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »