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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 »

Matariya Aloo (Spicy Pea like potatoes)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 19, 2009

aug1_08

It’s been a while since I posted anything North Indian on the blog. I have barely been able to post about the Daring Kitchen challenges. But, I am trying and here is a fresh, new authentic recipe 🙂 .

Pea like potatoes, not peas and potatoes. This is about the very new smallest potatoes that you can find. Even in India, folks would be really pleased if they could lay their hands on fresh small potatoes. You can get very very tiny ones there. Spring and summer months are usually the best bet to find them freshest. Its difficult to find really tiny ones here but Farmer’s Markets usually carry fresh baby potatoes. These have very tender skins and are never peeled. On our visits to the Farmer’s Market, the husband does not like to pass by these without buying cause potatoes are his favorite vegetable 🙂 . In my grandmother’s house, ‘aloo ka rassa’ or (potatoes and water with spice should be the correct description :-)) ) was made every day…..every day for 30-40 years……can you believe that? Now that I have finished describing our undying love for potatoes, let me proceed to the recipe. It is an easy one and requires very little preparation.

The Recipe:

  • Baby Potatoes (smallest you can find) washed and scrubbed 1/2 Kg
  • Fresh Ginger washed, scrubbed and minced  2″ piece
  • Green chilli minced 1 (optional)
  • Canola Oil 2 Tbsp. (Vegetable oil is fine too)
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric  powder 1 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander seeds dry roasted and ground coarse 2 Tbsp.
  • Amchur/Dry mango powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Garam Masala 1 tsp.
  • Cilantro leaves torn 1/4 cup

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Washed scrubbed baby potatoes

The most important step I believe in these potatoes is the grinding of coriander seeds. In a wok, dry roast the coriander seeds till they turn aromatic and lightly brown in color. Set them aside. When they are cool enough to handle, grind them pretty coarse. This one ingredient will enhance the taste of the potatoes.

Heat oil in the wok (not a great idea to skimp on oil if looking for best taste……I must admit, I most often do 😉 ) add cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder. When the spices seem to be frying a little, add half the ginger and green chilli (if using). These do taste good when a little spicier than usual.

Next add the scrubbed potatoes, sprinkle the salt, mix and cover the wok. Reduce the heat to medium low. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. When the potatoes become tender, add the coarsely ground coriander powder, remaining amount of ginger, garam masala and amchur. Mix well and cover again for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and finally add the cilantro leaves and mix well.

Spicy baby potatoes or Matariya aloo are ready! Try these and I bet, these won’t last for long. These can be eaten on their own, as a side dish or with paranthas.

I would like to send these potatoes to Laura of The Spiced Life. It’s my grandmother’s recipe. This is indeed a simple, treasured recipe enjoyed by all at home. The spiced Life

Posted in - Turmeric, -Asafoetida, -Baby Potatoes, -Canola Oil, -Cilantro, -Coriander, -Dry Mango Powder, -Garam Masala, -Ginger, -Green Chillies, -Red chili powder | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Beirut Tahini Swirls…….Sukkar Bi Tahin

Posted by vivnidhi on July 29, 2009

Bread Baking Babes make Sukkar bi Tahin.

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Sukkar bi Tahin

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Here’s my savory …garbanzo filled swirls and sweet Tahini paranthas

As soon it was approaching the middle of the month, I was frantically searching for bread baking babes….what are they baking this month, I hope I don’t miss it……….I did not 😉 . I made 2 batches at least and mix and match here and there ;-). This month’s host babe was Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies.

The recipe she chose is for Beirut Tahini Swirls, Sukkar bi Tahin. It is a cross between a flatbread and a yeasted pastry, only mildly sweet. It is street food in Beirut, and very addictive!
“Beirut has a lot of good food at every level, from fancy restaurants to local eateries, from home cooking to quality market shopping. And for a curbside snacker like me, it’s paradise. There are sesame-covered flatbreads, grilled meats, and sweet and not so sweet cookies; there’s always something nearby to eat.” “These tahini swirls, called sukkar bi tahin in Arabic, are flattened flaky rounds flavored with tahini and sugar, not too sweet, not too strong tasting. Serve them warm or at room temperature-they’re just right either way.”
Alford and Duguid, Home Baking .

The recipe:

Sukkar bi Tahin – Beirut Tahini Swirls

Home Baking, The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Makes 6 golden brown, flaky textured coiled rounds, about 6 inches wide, filled with sesame paste and sugar.


Ingredients


Dough

  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • about 1/2 cup all purpose flour for dusting
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Filling

  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 3/4 cup sugar

 

Garbanzo Bean Filling

  • 1/2 cup Garbanzo beans soaked for at least 4 hours and boiled…mashed lightly
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes soaked in water and drained
  • 1/2 cup Tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 Cilantro chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • salt to taste

 

Directions

In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.

Stir in one cup of the flour, then add the sugar and oil and stir in.

Incorporate a second cup of flour, then turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or a baking sheet) on the middle oven rack and preheat the oven to 375 F.

Mix together the tahini and sugar and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.

Work with 3 at a time, keeping the others covered.

Flatten each out on a lightly floured surface, then roll each out to a rectangle about 5 inches by 10 inches.

Spread the top surface with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the filling mixture, spreading it almost to the edges.

Roll up the rectangle from a long side into a cylinder, which will stretch as you roll to about 20 inches long.

Anchor one end and coil the bread around itself, then tuck the end in.

Flatten with the palm of your hand, then set aside, covered, while you fill and shape the other 2 rectangles.

Return to the first coil and roll out gently with a rolling pin.

Roll the other 2 out a little and then return to the first one and roll it out a little more thinly, and so on, until you have rolled each to a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter.

A little filling may leak out—don’t worry, just leave it.

I brushed the top with a wee bit of oil and sprinkled some sesame seeds before baking. (optional)

Place the breads on the hot baking stone or tiles (or baking sheet) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky.

Transfer to a rack to cool.

Shape and bake the remaining 3 pieces of dough.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


*Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds. It can be found in health food stores, Middle Eastern markets and some grocery stores. It is a common ingredient in hummus, and is gaining in popularity in most parts of the world. It must be refrigerated after opening.

Natashya says: “The swirls should end up like puffy pita. If they are very thin they will be crispy, if they are not rolled enough, they will puff up like cinnamon rolls. We are striving for a flatbread pastry that puffs a little. Try them a couple of times, experiment. They are fun to bake.”  You bet they are ……I had a ton of fun……as usual 😉 .

I used half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour for sweet tahini filling ones and all whole wheat flour for the savory garbanzo beans ones. Original recipe uses all purpose flour only.

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Left: 1/2 whole wheat with 1/2 all purpose flour dough Right: Whole wheat flour dough

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We have risen..the 1/2-1/2 dough was a little behind, but it did catch on

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Dough cut in 6 pieces ..sweet tahini filling behind

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1 piece rolled

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Filled up

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Rolled up again

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Ready to be baked

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Sukkar bi Tahin

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Had some leftover sweet tahini filling…..what did I do with that

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Made sweet paranthas of course…..dough details here and here

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Filled up and closed

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rolled …

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On the griddle…ready to be turned and oiled

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The other side…..

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Quick , delicious sweet treat…….kids will thank you…..this tastes best warm, will harden as it cools cause the flour cover is thin….does not taste bad even then 😉

You bet I enjoy taking pictures and posting huge ones on the blog 😉 . I dare say I loved making these. Thank you Natashya and Bread Baking Babes.

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Cilantro, -Garlic, -lemon, -Olive Oil, -Sesame seeds, -Sun dried tomatoes, -Tahini, -Whole wheat flour, Sugar, Yeast | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Daring Cooks # 2 Potstickers / Gyoza

Posted by vivnidhi on July 21, 2009

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Yaay! I can make neat Potstickers  too!

Those who have read my earlier post know that I am late in posting about practically all the posts for the past two months. OK, enough of apologizing. Lost time can’t be brought back again but I can try to learn (Oh yeah………. 😉 )

The reason these potstickers are late is that I experimented a lot with these. Since I first ate the vegetarian gyozas that Trader Joe’s sells, I have been hooked. I remember telling the husband very comfortably……I can make these as he was trying to pick up the last TJ’s one off my plate too. I generously handed the last gyoza to him and said to myself, “shouldn’t be a big deal really”. Before I could fully make a plan about these gyozas, Jen from use real butter announced that the Daring cook challenge as Potstickers. I was very excited (shows when I don’t post on time, right 😉  ).

Anyway, the bigger challenge these days is posting , not making.

Let me start with saying, I have made it four times now (very unusual for me, I hate repeating) and don’t think my stint with gyozas ends here. I only repeat recipes which I am trying to master…….say Idlis………and now potstickers :-).  How do people write recipe books, how many times do they test?

Round 1: Stuffed whatever I had on hand, forgot soy sauce and cornstarch. You bet………..it tasted great…….I was the only one who ate 🙂 .

Round 2:  A planned visit to the Asian store, bought garlic chives, tofu etc…….pantry equipped. Even though I baked the tofu and drained it well, I found the end stuffing mixture to be quite wet. This resulted in not well shaped gyozas. Anyway, tasted great, got a pat on the back 🙂

Round 3: Cooked the stuffing up, mixed it with some finely chopped veggie burgers (this was for something else) but ended up in potstickers. Husband said, I liked round 2 better.

Round 4: This time, I was dead sure of what I wanted to do………everything in place……….yet the husband said…….round 2 was better…………and boo hoo hoo ……..he is right.

Round 5: Got filled with coconut fudge and some also had chocolate ganache filling , and topped with powdered sugar…Yes, I was cleaning the freezer which is filled with small tit-bits.

Here’s the recipe with my vegetarian filling and the best proportions *(these matter….all I had wrong in round 4 was a little extra daikon radish ):

Jen says “It’s a basic concept: a filling inside a dough wrapper, sealed, and cooked. This delicious theme runs through many cultures and is among the more popular bites at Chinese restaurants – especially dim sum. “

The process goes a little like this:

You can (and should) reference instructional photos and discussion on Jen’s blog post here.

Wrappers: Well yes, you could purchase pre-made dumpling wrappers at the store (NO WONTON WRAPPERS – they have egg), but they are inferior compared to homemade. The whole point of this challenge is to make the dumpling wrappers by hand. So here is the one requirement: the dumpling wrappers must be made by hand. It isn’t all that hard, it just takes a little time and practice. People usually get the hang of it after making about a dozen.

Fillings: the beauty of the Chinese dumpling/potsticker is that the filling is very versatile. That’s why there are so many different kinds of dumplings when you go to dim sum. The two most common are pork and shrimp. You can make them with other ground meats (beef, chicken…) or vegetarian (tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, glass noodles, Chinese chives – oh yum!). The important thing to keep in mind is that the filling needs to “stick” to itself or else you will make your life incredibly miserable wrapping up filling that keeps falling apart. I think if I were to make vegetarian dumplings, I would sauté the cabbage and mash up the tofu for a better cohesiveness. It’s up to you how you want to fill your dumplings and I say – run with it! Just keep it cohesive and no big chunks of hard ingredients (they poke through the wrapper dough = disaster). I realize it may be tempting to dump all of the vegetables into a food processor and give it a whir, but I caution against it. You don’t want a slurry, you want a mince. Practice your knife skills and be careful.

Special Equipment: A rolling pin – preferably not tapered. (see blog pictures for the type I use).

Time: Prep for the filling takes me 30 minutes – longer if peeling and de-veining shrimp. It will depend on your proficiency with a good sharp knife. Rolling and wrapping several dozen dumplings takes me 1 hour by myself. My parents can crank through it in 30 minutes when one person is rolling wrappers and the other is wrapping dumplings. Might be fun to get a second person to help! Cooking: I have to cook mine in batches. When steaming, I can cook a dozen at a time in about 10 minutes. Potstickers: 15 minutes per 2 dozen determined by the size of your pan. Boiling – 6 minutes per dozen or so depending on size of pot. My own personal preference is for potstickers – mmmmm! But they are ALL good.

The Recipe:

Dough:

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup (113g) warm water
    flour for worksurface

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Make the dough, Method 2 (my mom’s instructions): In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in Jen’s post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

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The dough, even though feels very dry….just let it rest ;-)…..this is after the rest

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Dough cut into 5 pieces

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The cut portion of the dough is rolled into a thinner round and cut further. Good idea to cut it bigger than I am showing here. This was my first attempt.

  • Vegetarian filling:
    2 carrots minced
  • 4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
    3 stalks green onions, minced
    6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 bunch Chinese chives/garlic chives minced
  • 1 medium red onion minced
    1/2 cup Daikon radish peeled and minced (lesser than shown in picture below)
    1/4  cup ginger root, minced
  • 1 cup tofu (baked in oven at 400F for 15 minutes) mashed (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
    3 Tbsp (40g) soy sauce
    2 Tbsp (28g) sesame oil
    6 Tbsp (16g) corn starch

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Finally some color……spring onion, carrots, napa cabbage, garlic, garlic chives, red onion,ginger and daikon radish

Even though Jen asks to mince  the veggies by hand, I chose to use the food processor………and was I glad I did ;-). Mince these veggies and drain the water by pressing with hands. Add the sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and corn starch.

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Vegetarian filling

  • dipping sauce:
    2 parts soy sauce
    1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
    a few drops of sesame oil
    chili garlic paste (optional)
    minced ginger (optional)
    minced garlic (optional)
    minced green onion (optional)
    sugar (optional)

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.

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Pan fried is the way to go for us: these look  darker than they actually were ….trust me, these are delicious

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Ah…..my black background

One more pic and the one with the coconut fudge filling (tasted like modaks :-)) )

Posted in - Napa Cabbage, - Red onion, -All Purpose flour, -Carrot, -Daikon Radish, -Garlic, -Garlic chives, -Ginger, -Sesame oil, -Soya Sauce, -Spring Onions, -Tofu, Corn Starch, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

YES….Asparagus bread with Parmesan cheese and Walnuts and uh… Arugula

Posted by vivnidhi on June 26, 2009

It’s been a long time that I wrote anything on the blog. Not even posting more photographs of the gnocchi , not posting about the daring bakers and cooks challenges. Past couple of months have been absolutely crazy. It’s an absolute surprise how time flies by, really…….doesn’t the time ever get tired of just ticking. Oh, I get crazy running after it, never really making it. I want to be on top of situations and reach appointments early……….but the reality is …I am mostly running late. If I wake at 5 am in the morning, the day and the task list gets longer……..I start thinking…..”Oh, why didn’t I wake up at 4″ And……I don’t even work outside the house……..I don’t know what is wrong and do I even have the time to think of it…..ha?

Anyway, now that I have opened up my heart, written a full paragraph without interruption……….(ah, lets not count the fact that I have a fidgety 1 year old who landed up on my lap scribbled a little on the table till I actually handed her “writing book”) OK OK……focus, focus………I just had to break my silence on the blog and I have been so excited this past month about the Bread Baking Babes.

I baked the bread they blogged about and it just tasted superb. I had to blog about it and yeah………..today is the last day if I want the badge. I always manage doing things…….it’s ok if on the last minute. A friend a few years back illuminated me about the JIT….Just in Time Theory. Well, I am a perfect practitioner.

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Asparagus, walnuts, parmesan cheese and baby Arugula/Rocket

I was going to bake this month’s BBB bread no matter what cause I love baking breads and these folks bake great looking breads:-) . I was out of almost every bread baking ingredient so I bought a lot of stuff. It was fun. Baked the bread yesterday…..and was really thankful that it was not difficult. The only added activity for me was shelling the walnuts but I better use them before they go bad.

The Recipe:

Asparagus Bread (with Parmesan Cheese and Walnuts)

2 small loaves

This bread goes very well with a cold meat and salad buffet.

125 g green asparagus ……..9 pieces for me

25-30 g rocket

50 g walnuts,

50 g freshly grated parmesan cheese

450 g strong bread flour (you can also use half whole wheat and half white or white whole wheat if you can get that)

12 g fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast

250-270 g water

25 g olive oil…….1 1/2 Tbsp for me

10 g (sea) salt………….1 1/2 tsp. for me

  • Boil 3/4 liter of water with a pinch of (sea) salt. Clean the asparagus, set two of them aside, cut the rest into 4 pieces. Boil these pieces for 2 minutes in the water, scoop them out (so you can use the water for the rocket as well) and rinse under cold water (to stop them cooking).
  • Put the rocket in the boiling water for a few seconds (until wilted), drain and rinse under cold water and drain again.
  • Press the water our of the rocket, chop it coarsely and cut the asparagus into 1/4 inch (± 1 cm) long pieces, set aside.
  • Crush the walnuts coarsely and grate the parmesan.
  • Measure the flour and yeast in a large bowl, mix in most of the water and knead for a few minutes (on low speed), add the olive oil and knead for 10-12 minutes. Add the salt and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes until very elastic.
  • Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Work the asparagus pieces, rocket, walnuts and parmesan in with care so that they’re evenly distributed. The dough should be very supple and elastic, hence the long kneading time. For me the best way to incorporate all the ingredients is to spread the dough out into a large slap, sprinkle all the ingredients on and roll it up. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, press flat and fold… rest 5-10 minutes press flat and fold. Shape into rounds.
  • Place the dough in a greased container, cover and let rise for about 2 hrs.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
  • Make round balls, cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Flatten the balls and fold into taut breads with slightly tapering ends. Lay one asparagus in lengthwise in the middle of the bread and press in slightly. Sprinkle with wheat flour and cover to rise for 70 minutes or until doubled. Before baking you can sprinkle a little grated cheese on the bread if you like (optional).
  • Preheat the oven (preferably with stone) to 460ºF.
  • Place the loaves directly on the stone. Spray with water (or poor some hot water in a metal container on the bottom of the oven that you preheated to create steam)
  • Lower the temperature after 5 minutes to 400ºF. Open the door after another 10 minutes to let some air in. Repeat twice during baking.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

(adapted from: “Artisan Bread” -Jan Hedh)

Original post can be found on the blog “Notitie van Lien” ©2009.

www.notitievanlien.blogspot.com

I used half whole wheat and half bread flour. I followed the recipe exactly except for these changes: Mixed with hands, mixed flour, yeast , salt and water together and then knead in oil.  After letting the dough rest for about minutes, I incorporated the greens and walnuts , shaped the dough and left it to rise. No excessive resting allowed in this house. Next I shaped the bread for final rising on the sheet I was going to bake it in. I do not have a stone, so I baked the breads on a normal baking sheet. Sprayed some water on the loaves before baking and baked for 40 minutes. The bread tasted fabulous. One thing I’d change about my recipe is that I would spread some cornmeal instead of the whole wheat flour I put under the loaves as I was in a rush (always!!)

One more note about the ingredients: I should admit that I am not an asparagus fan at all and the husband has very limited likes in the vegetable world. But, what do you do if you have an adamant wife determined to put all kinds of vegetables on the plate:-) ? And the husband can’t even complain these days cause the 31/2 year old catches it instantly …….”even Papa doesn’t like broccoli” . So, I these days find the husband eating broccoli and actually saying  that he likes it:-)………even when there are other choices:-). Ok, gist of the matter…..everybody at home enjoyed the bread thoroughly. This is a delicious bread, do try it…..and it’s even good for beginners as the recipe is so simple. Thanks Lien!

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After the second rise, before baking

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Baked loaves

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Pick a slice………….

Expenditure:

Asparagus………………….1.57 lb. …………$3.12 ,        from Busch’s………lots left

Arugula……………………5 oz………………$ 3.99        from Busch’s………lots left

Argentine Parmesan……..0.62 oz……………$5.57          from Busch’s………lots left

Whole wheat flour(KA)…. 5 lb………………..$3.22          from Walmart…….lots left

Bread flour………………..5 lb……………..$2.64         from Walmart…….lots left

——————————————————————————————————–

Total………………………………………….$18.54………..

That’s an expensive bread! The pleasure I got out of baking and eating it……….priceless……

 

Posted in - Bread Flour, -Arugula/Rocket, -Asparagus, -Olive Oil, -Walnuts, -Whole wheat flour | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Marbled Tea Eggs

Posted by vivnidhi on July 27, 2008

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Stained by Addiction: Marbled Tea Eggs

I am a big fan of Martin Yan, the celebrated chef of Chinese cuisine with his famous Yan Can Cook show on television. He taught me how to mince garlic and ginger in seconds. Anybody who visits me gets a performance by me:) . Yeah, yeah, I know I like to show off…….:). I used to love his show and I watched him so much that I actually learnt from him…..now that says a lot. A few days back I came across his book : Martin Yan Quick & Easy at the library. This book is a companion volume to his public television series. I couldn’t help but bring it home.

One recipe that I tried and liked a lot was marbled tea eggs. I had heard of tea eggs from my husband when he had an authentic Chinese meal at a friend’s place so I wanted to try it too.

In Taiwan, tea eggs are a fixture of convenience stores. Through 7-Eleven chains alone, an average of 40 million tea eggs are sold per year………….source Wikipedia

The best thing is that these hard boiled eggs keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It was great for breakfast when we were out of home. These are interesting addition to a salad or soup too or just as a snack.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Martin Yan’s Quick & Easy:

  • Eggs 4
  • Spring Onion coarsely chopped
  • Ginger 1″ piece. minced
  • Soya sauce 1/4 cup
  • Regular Black Tea 2 bags
  • Dark brown sugar 1 Tbsp.
  • Ground cinnamon a pinch
  • Ground star anise a pinch
  • Ground cloves a pinch
  • Ground fennel a pinch
  • Pepper a pinch
  • Cinnamon Stick 1

Chinese five spice powder can be used in the recipe instead of the ground spices if available. It can be purchased ready made from an Chinese grocery store. Since I did not have it, I used the ground spices.

Place the eggs with cold water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to simmer over medium heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Drain the eggs and rinse them with cold water. When cool enough to handle, gently tap each egg all over with a spoon until hairline cracks cover the entire shell.

Return the eggs to the pan. Add all the rest of the ingredients and some water to cover the eggs completely. Place over low heat, cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 hour for a more intense color. I like to simmer only for 30 minutes, otherwise the eggs tend to get too tough for my taste.

Remove from heat, let eggs cool in the liquid and then refrigerate, still in the liquid, at least overnight or for up to a week.

Peel them just before eating. I like them best with some mayonnaise mixed with soya sauce and balsamic vinegar. Another interesting recipe for tea eggs is here.

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All Cracked Up for CLICK…photography event hosted by Jugalbandi

These marbled eggs are also on their way to Happy Love Strawberry’s 18th Birthday Party and the theme is Welcome to Wonderland. Have fun, everyone!!

Posted in -Cinnamon, -cloves, -Ginger, -Spring Onions, -Star Anise, Eggs, Tea | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

Soya Aloo ki Sabji (Fresh Dill and Potatoes dry curry)

Posted by vivnidhi on July 11, 2008

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Soya Aloo ki Sabji

In Hindi, Dill is called soya.  Wonder why, huh. Anyway, fresh dill is quite a favorite with me. The most common preparation in my house is the one with potatoes as the picture says. Another great snack is when you mix dill with rice flour and coconut, make small flatbreads and pan fry. Sindhi Sai Bhaji needs Soya. Another most common use in north Indian homes is to knead it with whole wheat flour and make paranthas/flatbreads with it. And yes, it pairs pretty well with Methi/Fenugreek leaves too. The husband loves salmon with a side of dill dip.

Soya Aloo ki Sabji: (2 servings)

  • Potatoes 1 large or two medium chopped
  • Fresh Dill/soya 1/2 bunch cut fine
  • Ginger 1/2 ” piece minced or grated
  • Green chilli 1 cut fine
  • Oil 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/ Jeera 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder/ haldi 1/2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/4 tsp.
  • Coriander powder/Dhaniya 1/2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder/ amchur 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam Masala 1/4 tsp.

A cast iron skillet is great to cook potatoes in. It gives the potatoes a great crust which makes the dish delicious, so use it to cook the potatoes in if you can. Heat the skillet and add oil. Add asafoetida, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder to the oil.

When you hear the sizzling sound, add the green chilli and ginger. Saute briefly for 30 seconds and then add the potatoes and the dill. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the skillet. Let it cook like that for 15-20 minutes till the potatoes look like they are done. You can stir a couple of times in between.

Lastly add dry mango powder and the garam masala. Mix well with a light hand. And soya aloo ki sabji is ready. This makes a fabulous side dish, whether with lentil soup or even a spicy curry. Its delicious to just snack on them too:). Tastes great with rotis, paranthas or even rice.

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Simple lunch: Soya Aloo ki sabji, daal, yogurt and rotis

I forgot to mention that we lost power for almost 34 hours last week. It was a nightmare, I had to heat milk on a candle for my son in my apartment. After 2 meals outside, we were tired of eating out and guess what, we fired our charcoal grill for an impromptu BBQ on 3rd July. The son was craving regular roti sabji………….so I realized I could cook up an entire Indian meal on our small grill. It was just fantastic……tandoori rotis and Rajma………..and potatoes with dill:).

Just mix all  the ingredients listed above in an aluminum foil. Make a sort of a pocket which holds all the ingredients and close it. Put it directly among the coals. In 15 -20 minutes, the potatoes are ready! You will open up to an aroma of asafoetida when you open the packet. Some may not like that but in a few minutes, the smell reduces and then the potatoes taste really good. This is on its way to Joelen’s Culinary adventures Grilled recipes.

This is also on its way to Sweetnick’s ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday cause this is certainly antioxidant rich:).

Posted in - Dill, -Cumin seeds, -Ginger, -Potatoes | Tagged: , , | 15 Comments »

Imli ke Bade (Lentil Fritters in Tamarind Sauce)

Posted by vivnidhi on July 1, 2008

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Imli ke Bade

Barely any time to say anything. Coming steaming hot from an American kitchen which has roots in Uttar Pradesh, India.

The Recipe:

For the Fritters: (Makes 18 medium size badas)

  • Black Gram lentils/Urad daal 1/2 cup
  • Ginger 1″ piece
  • Green chillies 2
  • Oil for frying

For the Sauce:

  • Tamarind concentrate 1 Tbsp.
  • Jaggery / Gud 2/3 cup
  • Fat free Yogurt 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Asafoetida powder/heeng 1/2 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/Jeera 1/4 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds/ rai 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder/Haldi 1/2 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds/ methi 1/4 tsp.
  • Fennel seeds/ saunf 1/4 tsp.
  • Green chilli 1 minced
  • Ginger 1 ” piece minced or grated
  • Cilantro to garnish

1.Wash and soak black gram lentils in water for 2-4 hours.

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Black gram lentils before and after soaking.

2. Drain the water from the lentils completely. Grind with ginger and green chillies. Start with no water and keep adding 2 Tbsp. of water till you can grind very fine. Keep grinding and cream if possible. To test that the lentils are ground properly, take a cup full of water. Make a small ball of the ground lentils and drop in  the water. If it floats, the lentils are ground well. If the ball of lentils sinks to the bottom, the fritters are going to hard, so grind more, maybe add a little more water to facilitate grinding. Grinding the lentils properly is the most important step.

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Lentil ball floating in water: the lentils are ground well.

3. Now heat the oil to high in a saucepan. When the oil is ready, lower the heat to medium high and fry the fritters. Let them turn golden brown.

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Fried lentil fritters

4. Mix 1 tsp. of tamarind concentrate with 2 cups water. Remove the fried fritters on a paper towel and put them in the tamarind water. Let them soak for a while till they have softened. Remove them when soft and press lightly with your hands to remove the water. This just helps further soften the badas. These can be refrigerated like this for a couple of days. This can be done ahead and kept.

5. Soak jaggery in 2/3 cups of water for 10-15 minutes. Press with your hands, and mix jaggery well with the water. Strain the water so that no dirt comes in the sauce. Blend this jaggery water with yogurt. Mix well.

6. Heat the saucepan again and add the  2 tsp oil. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida, turmeric fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds.  When all this sizzling, add ginger and green chillies. To this add the jaggery yogurt mixture and 2 cups water. The water used to soak the badas is ideal. Add salt and stir well initially. Cook for 5- 10 minutes on medium heat till the whole thing comes to a rolling boil.  Put the gas off, add the badas and cover. In 10 minutes the Imli ke bade are ready!  Adjust the salt, chilli, jaggery as per your liking. Add red chilli powder and roasted cumin seeds powder if you want it hotter and spicier. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Tastes best with rice, even though Rotis are always made along with it in my house. It can also be eaten like a snack.

The Imli ke Bade are rushing to Sig hosting the JFI – Tamarind this month which was started by Indira of Mahanandi. I hope I make it in time. Huff, puff, bye everyone!

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Deliciously sweet & sour : Imli ke Bade

Posted in -Cumin seeds, -Fennel seeds, -Fenugreek seeds, -Ginger, -Tamarind, -Urad daal/ black gram, -Yogurt | Tagged: , | 12 Comments »

Choode Matar ki Tehri (Beaten rice, peas pilaf)

Posted by vivnidhi on June 30, 2008

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Choode Matar ki Tehri

Chooda or poha in Hindi or beaten rice, flattened rice is eaten all over India. It is widely available at Indian stores in the US. It comes in two varieties..thick and thin. Kande pohe (onion beaten rice) is a very popular snack in Maharashtra, India. Choode matar ki tehri is more like a delicacy eaten in Uttar Pradesh(Benares or Varanasi region to be more specific) when the fresh peas are harvested. It is similar to poha yet has a very distinct Uttar Pradeshi stamp on it:). One should use thick poha to make the Maharashtrian version. In Uttar Pradesh, the thinner kind was more widely available, hence even thin beaten rice can be used to make this but one has to be very careful with the thinner ones as they tend to stick to each other. So, anybody trying this for the first time should go for the thicker poha.

The Recipe:

  • Beaten Rice/Poha/chooda : 2 cups
  • Milk 1 cup
  • oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida/ Heeng powdered 1/2 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/ Jeera 1 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder 2 tsp.
  • Red Chili powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Rai / mustard seeds 1/2 tsp.
  • Ginger 2″ piece minced or grated
  • Green chilies 2 minced (can be adjusted as per taste)
  • Green peas 1-1/2 cups
  • salt to taste
  • Garam masala 2 tsps.
  • Fresh Cilantro leaves/ Dhaniya 1/2 cup chopped
  • Lime juice 2 tsps.

Soak the beaten rice in 3/4 cup of milk for 10 minutes. Keep fluffing every 2-3 minutes to avoid them sticking together.

Heat oil in a saucepan and add asafoetida, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When you hear the mustard seeds popping and cumin seeds sizzling, add half the ginger and the green chillies.

Saute briefly and then add the green peas.  Cover the pan and lower the heat. Add half the salt. Frozen peas are ideal as they tend to be really fresh. Contrary to popular belief, frozen peas are actually better than supermarket peas in the pod. If you grow your own or buy fresh from a farmer, its a different story. But, in general, peas tend to lose the fresh flavor quite quickly , the companies which freeze the peas, do it quite quickly to retain the flavor. Hence, the frozen peas are quite fresh, in general. So, stop feeling guilty when opening the freezer pack:).

When the peas have turned to a fresh green color, add the soaked beaten rice and sprinkle turmeric, red chili powder and rest of the salt on top. Mix well, with a light hand, making sure that not a lot of beaten rice is broken. If the mixture looks too dry, sprinkle some milk on it and cover again. Work on a low flame. In about 5 minutes, the tehri is ready.

Garnish with cilantro leaves and half the ginger that we saved. Sprinkle the garam masala on top. I like to cover the pan again for 5 minutes after putting the gas off for the flavors to mingle. The ginger added in the end and the cilantro adds a lot of flavor to the dish.

This is distinct from the regular poha we make cause 1) it is soaked in milk instead of water. 2) Traditionally it does not use onion or potato. 3) The main flavors are that of asafoetida and garam masala and a lot of peas are used. 4) no curry leaves are used.

Do try this version. Even though I love the quick regular poha, this is a delicious change and loved by all at home. When you would want to reheat (if there are any leftovers) use 2-3 tsps. of milk before heating so that it doesn’t taste dry.

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Enjoy!

I couldn’t miss the SWC- Uttar Pradesh, hence, here’s my entry on the final day. This is also my entry to WBB -Express Breakfasts……heading to Raaga in an express…………

Posted in -Beaten Rice, -Cilantro, -Green Beans, -Peas, Milk | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Baked Rice Wrapper Rolls with Peanut Wasabi Sauce

Posted by vivnidhi on June 24, 2008

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Baked Rice Wrapper Rolls with Peanut Wasabi Sauce

No, I have not told you the entire recipe in the title:). More to it;) , I am telling you…..you will have to read the whole post for the recipe. OK, on to the topic, fresh spring roll wrappers are widely available at Oriental stores. These are predominantly Vietnamese & Thai, I believe. These use the rice based wrapper (Banh Trang: Vietnamese) and it is served fresh and generally not fried. There is a tapioca variety as well and well! I ended up with one which had both rice and tapioca starch:). So these rice wrappers do not need a lot of cooking , just slip in hot water and they are ready. 2 good recipes I found for them are Vegetarian and with shrimp. BUT, in our house, the husband is not particularly fond of the fresh ones.

So, now I had rice wrappers AND Wasabi paste ( about to expire in August, cause I got it at Thanksgiving;) ) and I had to make something before all of this went waste…………I KNOW. Then Kay announced Think Spice, think Wasabi event, brainchild of Sunita. I knew I was going to make something sooner than later. My first stint with wasabi were the wasabi peas which I fell in love with. Then I first used them in these won tons…………of course mine were filled with Tofu and the Husband’s were imitation crabmeat.

I have not had the courage to make sushi yet……..looking forward to some great ideas at the Think spice event. So, to make full use of the stock in my pantry, I baked the rice wrapper rolls and made a sauce with wasabi.They turned out deliciously crunchy , heavenly with the peanut wasabi sauce.

The Recipe:

For the Rice Wrapper Rolls:

  • Rice wrappers 25 sheets
  • Nutrela granules 1 cup, soaked in salted water and drained
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Ginger 1″ piece minced
  • Green beans 1/2 cup french cut or julienned
  • Carrot 1 cut lengthwise matchsticks
  • Red bell pepper 1 julienned
  • Napa cabbage 1/4 cup sliced thin
  • Cilantro/ coriander leaves 1/4 cup
  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Soya sauce 1 Tbsp.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar 1 Tbsp.
  • Black pepper powder 1 tsp.
  • Salt to taste

For the Wasabi Peanut Sauce:

  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Peanut butter 2 Tbsp.
  • Soya Sauce 3 Tbsp.
  • Sugar 1 tsp.
  • Wasabi 2 tsp.
  • Sambal Oelek/ red chili paste 1 tsp.
  • Water 2 Tbsp.

Since I made this recipe up, the vegetables can be varied as per one’s liking.  Heat the oil in a wok and add ginger and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds and then add the carrot, green beans and bell pepper. Saute further for a couple of minutes and then add cabbage. Stir fry further for a minute and then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Preheat the oven to  400 degrees F.

Heat 2 cups of water in  pan and put off the heat. When the water temperature becomes tolerable, dip each rice wrapper in it , turn and dip the side you were holding and spread it on a plate.

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Then put  about 1 Tbsp of filling and fold and roll as shown below.

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Spray a little oil on aluminum foil and place the rolls on them. Spray some oil on the rolls as well and they all go in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes and then broil for another 2-3 minutes. When they are crisp all over , take them out of the oven.

Mix all the sauce ingredients and the peanut wasabi sauce is ready. Tastes great with the rolls. In fact, the sauce is so good, tastes great on plain rice noodles or even boiled eggs.

This recipe is on its way to Sangeeth for the eat healthy….. protein rich event as well. Rice vermicelli could also be used in  the rolls but I chose nutrela cause it’s full of protein and delicious too.

Posted in -Cabbage, -Carrot, -Cilantro, -Garlic, -Ginger, -Green Beans, -Red Bell Pepper, -Wasabi, Rice | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Where’s the Roti?

Posted by vivnidhi on June 17, 2008

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Fresh Rotis pampered with a little ghee

I know that there is a “Roti Mela” going on at Srivalli’s Cooking 4 all seasons. There are some fabulous stuffed paranthas , pooris and all sorts of exotic rotis on their way there to be displayed.  But where is our humble, simple, everyday roti? That thought led me to repost my first post ever. It talks of the basic North Indian phulka that is made in our households everyday. The post is quite detailed with instructions on how to make it on an electric coil.

So , here is the link to the post……Beginning with the staple : the Roti. Srivalli, please accept my second entry to your fabulous event.

Posted in Posted again | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

Here’s Hot and Sour Soup

Posted by vivnidhi on May 31, 2008

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This is a big favorite in  the house with “Indian Chinese” food. So, here’s a soup- Chinese but completely Desi. Credit for this recipe goes to Mrs. Minocha of Aurangabad, India who taught us to cook Indian Chinese food. A lot of my friends and I have learnt some good cooking from her.

The Recipe:

  • Green Bell Pepper 1 chopped coarse
  • Cabbage 1/2 cup chopped thin
  • carrots 2 cut into cubes
  • Green Beans chopped into 2 ” lengths 1/2 cup
  • cauliflower 2 flowerets broken into smaller pieces
  • garlic 6-8 cloves minced
  • Soya Sauce 4 Tbsp.
  • Vinegar 1 Tbsp.
  • sugar 1 tsp.
  • Black pepper powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Cornstarch 3 Tbsp.
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tsp.
  • Spring onions 1 bunch chopped fine
  • Boiled egg whites 2 chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste

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Getting ready for the soup

Heat the oil and fry garlic for a minute.

Add cauliflower, french beans and carrots. Fry a little more till they soften a wee bit.

Add red chili powder and 6 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil and then add soya sauce, sugar, vinegar, bell peppers and cabbage. Boil the soup for a couple of minutes more.

Lastly add spring onion and black pepper powder. Make a paste of cornstarch in cold water and and add to the soup. Taste for salt and vinegar. Add more if desired and serve hot.

Bow when you are praised;)

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The soup’s hot!!

I would like to send this as an entry to Eat Healthy – Fiber Rich, an event hosted by Sangeeth.

And yes, this is also my entry to Fortune Cooking Contest hosted by Nithu & Shriya. It is dedicated to my mother whose sun sign is cancer, hence she qualifies with the cauliflower entry and she loves the soup too.

Now, are there any other events missing my entries??

Posted in -Cabbage, -Carrot, -Cauliflower, -Garlic, -Green Beans, -Green Bell Pepper, -Spring Onions, -Tofu, Eggs | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Indian Chinese Menu for the JIHVA

Posted by vivnidhi on May 31, 2008

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Bell Peppers, Tofu and a budding cook’s hand

In everyday Hindi, Jihva means tongue. This week, my jihva has been devoid of taste, thanks to a lingering cold. So, the jihva needed something really spicy to perk it up. And, this month’s VOW-JFI hosted by Pooja of The Creative Ideas calls for bell peppers. This is my entry for the two year completion of Jihva started by Indira of Mahanandi.

Excuse for me to cook up something Chinese (only in the US, I realized that there is an authentic Chinese also;) , otherwise our Desi Chinese was Chinese food to me:) ) I can’t think of “Indian Chinese” food without capsicums (bell peppers, got carried away to India again) So, tonight’s menu is Hot and sour soup, Chilli Tofu Fry and Rice!

Here’s Chili Tofu Fry for you. Well, I know you sort of make it too, but try this too……….oh please try it. Its good you know, its been experimented upon, its the best……….it is ………..try it please.

now what do you want me to beg…………

OK, people , try it if you feel like:)

The Recipe:

  • Tofu Extra Firm 3 slabs chopped in cubes
  • Green Bell Peppers 2 chopped lengthwise thin
  • Garlic 6 cloves minced
  • Spring Onions 4 chopped fine
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tsp.
  • Soya Sauce 4 Tbsp.
  • Black Pepper Powder 1/2 tsp.
  • sugar 1 Tbsp.
  • Cornstarch 1 Tbsp.

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All chopped up

Place the tofu pieces on a greased baking sheet and spray some on the tofu as well. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Turn over and bake for 10 minutes more.

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Baked Tofu

Spread the julienned bell pepper on the baking tray and spray some oil on it too. Bake at 400 degrees F till they are crisp on the sides.

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Crispy bell pepper

Heat the oil and fry garlic till it turns light brown. I had to run around my son as he ran away with the spoon. So, mine were dark brown but that was fine too:)

Add 1-1/2 cups of water and increase the heat to high. Once the water starts boiling add soya sauce, sugar and tofu pieces. Next add bell peppers, spring onions and black pepper powder.

Make a solution of cold water and cornstarch.  Add to the tofu chilli fry and its ready! Best served immediately. OR the sauce can be made ready and then add the tofu and bell pepper and heat just before serving.

Tastes great with rice , though my son ate it with roti as his mother refused to make any other curry. The Husband was pleased, now what else do I want in life, huh?

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Tofu Chilli Fry is ready….now, will you try it…….please….

Posted in -Garlic, -Green Bell Pepper, -Spring Onions, -Tofu | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Rainy Day Pyaaz ki Sabji……for Jihva for Ingredients……Onions

Posted by vivnidhi on February 1, 2008

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Finally made it to writing another post. Just in time for Jihva for Ingredients hosted by radhiskitchen AND talking about rainy days in the middle of winter!

Goes way back to my childhood days when frozen vegetables were completely unheard of. Buying fresh vegetables from a sabjiwala/sabjiwali was the norm in India. Those days a household could be out of vegetables after a heavy rain or just because all the sabjiwala gang was out watching an Amitabh Bachchan  movie the previous night. That was indeed a rainy day!!

Ok, so no fresh vegetables at home, so? Mom had to think of something quick. I distinctly remember this happening to my mother and she prepared a delightful dry sabji from just small onions. This is a quick delicious recipe and I am so glad that I could reproduce it as my mother had made. My parents have tried my version here and since they found it good too, I am quite confident that it will be liked by people who try this one with such few ingredients.

The Recipe: (For 3 people, 1 serving)

  • Oil 2 tsp.
  • Shallots/small onions are preferable  10-12 peeled and halved
  • Ginger 1″ piece minced or grated
  • Tomato 1/2 chopped fine or 2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
  • Yogurt 1 Tbsp.
  • Turmeric 2 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds 2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1 tsp.
  • Coriander( Dhaniya) powder 1 Tbsp.
  • Garam Masala 2 tsp.
  • Amchur( Dry Mango)  Powder 1 tsp.
  • salt  to taste

The list looks big but this one is really quick.

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Shallots

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Shallots all cleaned up and ready to be dressed with ginger and masalas

Heat the oil in a wok or pan.  Add the shallots and saute them on medium heat till they start to change color to light pink.  Take the shallots out of the pan. Add all the other ingredients other than the amchur powder and fry them in  the residual oil of the pan. When the masalas start to dry a little, add the shallots. Reduce the flame to low medium and cover the pan.  Add a Tbsp. of water if the sabji seems too dry. When the shallots have become tender, add amchur powder. The sabji is ready!

This is really a delightful, easy and spicy curry. It requires a curry with gravy or daal to accompany it. Tastes great with Paranthas, rotis or rice.

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Delicious Lunch: Rotis, Pyaaz ki sabji and Daal

Mentioned in IndiWo which is a highly addicting e-magazine.

Posted in -Ginger, -Onion, Shallots | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Moong Ki Daal

Posted by vivnidhi on January 9, 2008

Another addition to my staple meals. Washed Moong ki daal or Split green gram without skin was always sick peoples food for me as I was growing up. I wanted arhar/toor/pigeon pea lentils on my plate every afternoon. How boring can that be. Ah, but my Mother would make all varieties of lentils nevertheless and I had to eat or go hungry. Wonder when but I really started liking her version of moong daal by the time I was a teenager.

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Moong daal (washed), tomato and Coriander leaves

Very simple to make. This is my second entry to food during pregnancy hosted by simpeindianfood. Just hearsay maybe but after my son was born, I had eaten a lot of moong dal , just like soup to aid lactation. More than anything, it would help fill me up with something nutritious as I would be always hungry those days:).

The recipe:

  • Moong Daal 1 cup
  • Oil 1/2 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds/ Jeera 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric/Haldi 1/2 tsp.
  • Tomato 1 big chopped small
  • water 3 cups
  • Salt to taste

Tempering:

  • Asafoetida 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds 2 tsp.
  • Chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil/Ghee 2 tsp.

Garnish:

  • Cilantro/Coriander/Dhaniya leaves 1/2 a bunch chopped fine

I always like to temper my daals before I put the daal in the pan. So first heat the 1/2  tsp. oil  in a pan and add cumin seeds and turmeric. Once they start to to brown a little, add the moong daal and 3 cups of water. Add the tomato and salt. Now cook the daal without covering for 30-40 min’s on medium flame. Keep stirring in between to avoid the daal from settling at the bottom and getting burnt. The idea is not to mush the daal too much and that is why its not covered. Daal when ready, is tender but not mashed and consistency is thin. In case the daal thickens, please add some water. This moong ki daal tastes great when it is of watery consistency.

The main thing is the final tempering. Heat oil or ghee (ah! if you can indulge;) ) and add 2 tsp. cumin seeds, chilli powder and asafoetida. Add it to the hot daal and cover the daal for a couple of minutes so that the vapors stay in the daal. Add coriander leaves and enjoy! Cilantro adds a lot of flavor to this daal.

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Moong ki Daal

Very simple to make but tastes really good. Moong ki daal goes best with hot fresh rotis and also with rice.

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Moong ki daal, mixed vegetables and roti……tasty, simple meal

This is the only way I enjoyed eating Moong ki daal until I came across Indira’s beerakayapesara-pappu-kootu. This is a very different taste of moong daal but delicious. So, go ahead and enjoy moong ki daal.

Posted in -Moong Daal, -Tomato, The staple | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Choco-Makhana for Jihva for Chocolate

Posted by vivnidhi on January 4, 2008

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Choco-Makhana

I was determined that I will not participate in jihva this time around. No more indulging in sweets….and that too just because I want to blog about it. Yes, I can’t come up with a recipe with chocolate that does not have sugar in it. But blogging is too tempting……..wonder what the motivation is …….No, my idea is not to impress and wow. I just want to participate. It just tingles the creative nerve and forces me to think out of the box. That’s where all the satisfaction comes from. So, here I am, finally with a recipe for Jihva for Chocolate hosted by Deepz. Jihva for ingredients was started by Indira of Mahanandi fame and since I am a big fan of hers, that is another reason to participate;).

Makhanas are a big favorite of mine. Specially since my Mother in Law brought some really huge, puffed up ones from India. You can get them in Indian grocery stores here in the US but the ones from India are really bigger and without blemish. Makhana/Phool Makhana /(Euryale ferox)/Gordon nut is relished in Bihar and also in Uttar Pradesh. I always remember my Mother getting these packed from her mother’s place to enjoy year round. Some really informative sites on makhanas is nifindia.org and makhanawet.com. After reading these, did I realize what a difficult job it is to get makhanas on our plate and so the high price is justified.

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Makhanas

So, let me tell you of  this heavenly choco-makhana recipe I came up with which needs 2-3 basic ingredients and 10 minutes maximum to make. My favorite baking chocolate is Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate baking bar. It really is smooth and rich. If one really is indulging, ghiradelli is quite a favorite. Please do not use chocolate morsels for this as they do melt well because of lesser fat content.

The Recipe:

  • Makhana 1 cup
  • Baking Chocolate 1 oz.
  • Golden raisins 1/4 cup

Makhanas need to be made crisp. The traditional method is to fry it in pure ghee or stir fry in a little ghee. I have found that microwaving it makes it quite crisp without any added fat. I like to microwave it 1 minute at a time and then check. Wouldn’t want them burnt in any way. These choco-makhanas would taste good only if the makhanas are quite crisp.

Spread a parchment paper sheet or even aluminum foil works fine for this on a baking sheet.

Melt the chocolate squares in a microwave proof bowl. I do it 30 seconds at a time and then stir cause it melts quite quickly.  That’s it, we are done:). Add the makhanas to the melted chocolate, mix well and spread on the prepared baking sheet. Try to separate the makhanas after they get coated well with the chocolate. I like to clean the melted chocolate with raisins and spread it as well in the plate. Leave them for an hour or so and then choco-makhanas can be scraped off and filled in an airtight container. This way, these should stay crisp for at least a week. Makes a great gift as well. The picture does not do justice but the taste is superb!

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Enjoy: Choco-Makhana

Posted in -Raisins, Chocolate, Lotus seeds | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Salmon Tikka

Posted by vivnidhi on December 23, 2007

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Salmon Tikka

Certainly not my genes, I wondered aloud as I saw my son just devour the tikka pieces I had prepared for my husband. And, hubby dear had hopes of eating these in two meals! But the entire 6-7 oz fillet of salmon was gone in one meal just between my husband and two year old. My son did not eat anything else besides this. I think anyone who is fond of fish should like this tikka recipe.

This can be made very quickly if only you have the time to marinate the fish. My husband certainly gets the credit for this recipe as he wanted me to try it with tandoori masala and yogurt. Since I had no readymade masala at home, I made this up….(hey! who gets the credit…..you are the judge;)) But anyway, let me be honest, I only prepare the marinade, handling  the fish and checking its done-ness etc. is all my husband’s job:).

The Recipe:

  • Salmon fillet 8 oz.
  • Yogurt 1/2 cup
  • 1″ piece of ginger minced fine or ginger paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced fine or garlic paste
  • Chili powder 1 tsp.
  • 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 2 tsp.

The list is long but almost everything is just an assembly task. Defrost the fish if frozen or skin it it if fresh. Cut it in bite size pieces. Mix all the ingredients and adjust salt as per your preference.

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Yogurt, minced ginger, garlic, salmon pieces and dry masalas……….all ready to be mixed up

Marinate the fish in the refrigerator for one hour. Heat the oven to 400°F /200°C . You could use aluminum foil on a baking tray (for easier cleaning) and grease it using an oil spray. Spread the salmon pieces and top them with all the left over marinade.

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Salmon pieces ready to be baked.

Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes, turn and bake again for 5-6 minutes. The fish should flake easily when done. I have got rave reviews for this one! Garnish with sliced onions and lemon slices. These can be eaten with naan, rice, parantha or you can try it like my son…..just plain:).

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Salmon Tikka

Posted in -Salmon, Fish | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Quince Jam’s spicy nuance

Posted by vivnidhi on December 20, 2007

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Quince

The sweetest aroma fills my house as I write this post. “This is Quince”, said the friendly cashier at ZZ’s produce market in Ann Arbor. I usually shop for fruits and vegetables at ZZ’s and he now recognizes me. He was making sure that I knew what I was buying. He said most people get drawn to the sweet smell of quince and are just not prepared for the hidden tart taste. Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is related to apples and pears, looks like a cross between them and has a sweeter smell than both. It is said that this is a very tart fruit and just can’t be eaten raw. As luck would have it, I have bought it twice now and found that my quinces have a woody , very agreeable taste. Less tart than granny smith apples. So, I went ahead and tried to read as much literature was available about this fruit on the internet. Came to know that the sweetness of quince varies from year to year or tree to tree.

Quince is also supposed to be found all over deciduous forests in India but I had never heard of the fruit until I came to the U.S. It has been traditionally used as a medicine and flavoring agent. It is used in colisting diarrhea, dysentery, constipation and diarrhea. It is aromatic, astringent, cooling, febrifuge and also acts as tonic for heart and brain. The gel from the quince seed provides essential vitamins and minerals to nourish the skin. I had never heard of any of this. Quince tree is a valued dwarfing rootstock for pear which produces more fruit-bearing branches and has accelerated fruit maturity when used in this way. Sources of this information are quince seed, Indian-herbs and quince disease report.

I had been thinking of cinnamon subconsciously because of Sunita Bhuyan’s “Think Spice” event as she wants food bloggers to think, think. Cinnamon or Dalchini was a favorite of mine when I was a child. I would eat cinnamon sticks or quills raw cause I loved the sweet taste. My conclusions about its use in my kitchen is that, it is either used to flavor sugar cause it enhances the sweet flavor so well OR in Indian cooking, it is used along with other very strong spices (whole or powdered) to give a sweet tinge to the sharpness of other spices. Then came my regular RealAge food bites email, which said that this natural germ fighter also helps lower blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels — one-quarter teaspoon a day is a healthy goal. Now anything that helps maintain blood sugar levels and and lowers triglycerides is a must in my kitchen.

Somehow, quince and cinnamon paired up well for me. The regular quince jam was flavored with cinnamon and ah! the result was impressive. Cinnamon’s subtle sweetness perfectly complements the quince’s sweet aroma. The following recipe is my adaptation of this Quince Jam recipe. Also, “Marmalade” comes from the Portuguese word marmalada, meaning “quince jam”, most marmalade today is made from citrus fruits, especially oranges.

The Recipe:

  • Quince 2
  • Sugar  1/2 cup
  • Water
  • Cinnamon 1/8 tsp.

Scrub the quinces well as the peel enhances the flavor. Slice the quince in quarters and remove the seeds.  Do not remove the core and add enough water to cover the slices.

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Quince slices ready to be heated

Cover the pan and let it boil on medium heat for about 35 minutes. Remove the cores now and strain and save the leftover water. Puree the boiled slices in a blender. I needed to add all the saved water when pureeing the quince pieces. Two quinces produced exactly 2 cups of puree. I added only 1/2 cup of sugar to the total puree as my quinces were quite sweet. Heat the quince puree and sugar on high heat while stirring constantly. Bring it to a rolling boil and then reduce the heat to medium high. Keep stirring all along. Very long back in India , I had taken a course on Jam and jelly making. Even though I have forgotten most of what I learnt, I know that a plate test is done to test if the jam is done. Pour a tsp. of the jam on a cold plate.If it spreads a little, not leaving water around it, then the jam is done.Put the heat off. Add cinnamon to it and fill it in a sterilized, dry bottle. I did not find any need to add extra pectin as quince has enough natural pectin in it. And, since I made a very small amount,no preservative was used.

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Spicy Quince Jam

Not a great picture, but you get it, right? :). On tasting the jam, my two year old tester immediately responded with “Bahut Achha Hai” (meaning:its very good) and the slice of bread was eaten up after a meal. This is rare!!  So, if you come across this sweet smelling, tart fruit, please don’t shy away, it is delicious. It would be great in a chutney too……..now lets think about that later!

Posted in -Quince | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Baked Guna

Posted by vivnidhi on December 10, 2007

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Baked Gunas with a cup of milk and thekuas

Its fun participating in the various events going on this season. That was part of the reason why I wanted to write a foodblog; to be able to participate and chronicle my recipes. So, I have been really excited about participating in the Eat Christmas Cookies event hosted by http://foodblogga.blogspot.com. And, I got a surprising go-ahead from my Doctor when it seems like I am not going to get gestational diabetes this time around. This news definitely called for a celebration!

I have never seen my mother bake a lot except cakes and nan khatai……..the only Indian cookie that could be made at home. But I have seen my mother deep fry a lot of snacks.  As I wanted to try something authentic, I decided to try one of her standard recipes and bake it instead of frying. The result was fabulous, delicious like fried yet healthier.  I also wanted to use a recipe which had whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour and oil instead of ghee which is almost entirely saturated fat.

Though not a regular everyday snack, Guna is certainly made on Hartalika teej in Uttar Pradesh. It is  accompanied by “mathi” which is plain, unsalted form of Guna made using all purpose flour.  Hartalika teej is a 3 day festival which takes place on the onset of monsoon, the third day of first fortnight of ‘Bhadra’ month based on lunar calendar. Its a festival very dear to the womenfolk cause it celebrates them in a way. Rural parts have fairs and make shift swings seem to spring up on every tree. Women adorn themselves with jewellery, new clothes and its basically fun time.  Mythology states that Goddess Parvati had penanced for a 100 years to be able to unite with Lord Shiv. Goddess Parvati is worshipped on Hartalika teej  as her blessings would lead to marital bliss. The difficult part for married women is that they have to fast, without water on the second day. The next day, fasting women break their fast with guna and mathi. As I do not celebrate teej anymore here in  the US, I can certainly make it as a sweet treat for Christmas. The festive spirit’s the same!!

The recipe:
(Makes 50-60 gunas)

Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Almonds 1/4 cup
Walnuts 1/4 cup
Jaggery 1 cup
Green Cardamom 2
Vegetable Oil 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.

I have used jaggery in this recipe cause it gives a very distinct taste to the gunas. First wet the jaggery in as little water as possible, just to make it pliable enough to be mixed with flour. Alternatively you can put small pieces of jaggery in a food processor and mix the sticky jaggery with flour. Soaking the processor container in water for 10 mins will clean it without a hassle. Grind the almonds and walnuts along with cardamom to flour like consistency. A few bigger pieces remaining would be fine. Mix all ingredients really well. This is the most difficult and important part: mix everything really well.

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Flour, oil and grinded nuts

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Mix the ingredients well

If you need to add any water, just keep adding by fistfuls, till you are able to make a hard dough.

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Guna Dough

Make 3 parts of the big dough and roll it with hands till you have a thinner, longer dough piece. There will be oil on your hands as well as the rolling board. Having enough oil is the key to making crisp yet not hard gunas. Break it with hands along the cross section into smaller pieces or use a knife to cut. Heat the oven to 350° F. Flatten the small rounds now using a rolling pin. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and keep putting the flattened rounds on it.  Bake it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The gunas get crisper as they cool.

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The gunas are ready!

Another sweet called thekuas can be made from the same dough.

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Small rounds are made of the dough. The colander imprint is made by pressing on the colander.

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These are baked at 350° F for about 15-20 minutes.
My personal choice are the gunas. Hope you like them too!

Posted in -Almonds, -Walnuts, -Whole wheat flour, Sweets | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

The everyday Dal

Posted by vivnidhi on December 1, 2007

Presenting…..The everyday dal

Presenting……..the everyday dal

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of arhar (toor) dal is this everyday dal recipe. I have eaten it, in at least one meal for at least 60% of the days of my life………yeah that boring…………yet so intriguingly delicious that I still make it 4 days a week. So when I read about  Jihva for Toor dal , I thought I should muster courage  to post it for a fellow Michgander.

This recipe is of my favorite basic dal. Right from childhood, we are encouraged to eat the everyday dal in a big katora ( steel bowl) so that we vegetarians get our required amount of protein. I have read a lot of recipes of arhar dal on the internet but my version is the simplest,  emphasising the taste of the dal more than anything else. Even salt and red chilli are miserly used.  The most important thing is heeng (asafoetida), that is what imparts the most distinguishable taste to it.

Recipe:

Initial tempering:
oil 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp

Toor dal 1 cup
water 3 cups
sugar 1/2 tsp
salt to taste

Final tempering
oil (preferably ghee)  2 tsp
asafoetida 1/4 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

The intial tempering ingredients are added directly to the pressure cooker. Once the cumin seeds start crackling, toor dal , water, salt and our secret ingredient: sugar is added.  The dal is then pressure cooked on low-medium heat for at least 45 mins or until 4 whistles, till the dal reaches the consistency of thick pumpkin soup. If the dal is too viscous, some water may be added to achieve the consisitency mentioned. Conversely, if the dal is thin, it can be heated further in an open cooker.

The most important step is the final tempering. In a separate small pan, ghee/ oil is heated. All the ingredients except red chilli powder are added to hot ghee/oil. The chilli powder is added at the end, after the cumin seeds have crackled. The tempering is then added to the dal in the pressure cooker and the lid is closed to retain the smell of the tempering.  And voila……our everyday dal is ready to be enjoyed with roti and rice.  Top it with good “danedaar ghee” and the day is made:)

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Our daily meal: Roti, dal, vegetables and yogurt

Posted in -Arhar (Toor) Dal, The staple | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »