Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Going Organic

A new kiosk in the cafeteria @ work. They promise organic food. Anyone tried The City Deli yet?

Post your feedback here while I might need time to check it out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hittu, Idli In A Jackfruit Leaf Basket



Yesterday a typical Sunday morning I was barely out of bed and the phone rang. Irrespective of the day we wake up early so a call at this time of the day makes both of us jump a little bit. It was Vidya Auntie at the other end, though she lives about 10 mins walking distance from our home she visits us just once in a while and she had just come over recently so I was surprised to hear her voice at the other end. She announced don't make breakfast today, I'm getting something for you. I was thrilled, I am not used to such pampering. Not to make breakfast on a Sunday morning and this showering of affection is something I have completely forgotten about. All those married ladies and those who have lost their Mom will understand this.


In a few mins. She almost ran up the stairs with a box filled with these beauties. WOW! I had only seen pictures of these idlis over here and followed the pictorial for making these baskets with Jackfruit leaves. At work I had eaten banana leaf wrapped ones but not these. Hittu in kannada/ konkani literally means batter. Only loving mothers can take so much trouble to make the baskets and steam these special idlis. It is to differentiate between the regular idlis and these it is called Hittu.


I am truly touched by Vidya Auntie's gesture and even more thankful to Uncle who drove her to our home so it would reach us hot straight out of the steamer. Currently her daughter is visiting her with the kids, so this speciality was churned out. It means a lot to me to know that they came home to deliver the first batch for me even though they had grandkids around. Fortunately I had baked a second batch of Choco Walnut Cake - II just the previous night for all those friends who did not get from my Valentines Day one, so thats what went back for the kids.

She now understands me so well and the crazy food blogger that I am, she got along a pretty chutney bowl to make lovely pictures. She knew I would take pictures of course! :). What she didn't know is I would ask her and Uncle to pose for a picture.

Thank you Uncle and Auntie for this surprise and all your love! Its been 14 years since I enjoyed this kind of pampering.

For all you guys out there the recipe is simple. Just your regular idli batter steamed in those dron/ baskets.

The leaves keep the idlis incredibly soft for two days. Yes We had those for 2 breakfasts :) as we could never eat so much in one go even though we wake up hungry these days.

Friday, February 22, 2008

God Appe

You see only half of the Appe here :)


Mrs. Vidya Shenoy is one of the many friends we made in Blr. She has an amazing home, an antique and artifact collection so huge that it keeps her busy all day long. She is one of those people that do every thing perfectly. Home, hearth or hobbies, she gives her best. She even packs her gifts carefully which is really rare here.

She likes to visit us once in a while and is always armed with goodies. Last time she had got figs in a lovely recycled paper bag. Remember the Fig Sauce. It is one of my most searched recipes . This time she got a bag of God Appe.

She loves to discuss about spiritualism with Dad and food, culture and art with me. Her sister introduced this blog to her when she was in Mangalore recently. So this time she has recommended that Dad see and read my blog. I don't know when that will happen.

As soon as Vidya Auntie handed the bag to me, I felt the warmth of the freshly made God Appe. I was not going to leave this opportunity to learn a recipe from a senior lady like her. She is a sugran, once she had served us dahi vada and moog dal payasa at her home and both tasted heavenly. The taste that I miss, of Mom's and Devaki Kaki's cooking, I find it in her cooking.



This is a sweet with old world charm and does not get made much in Mumbai homes. So I sat at her feet to learn the recipe and she eagerly shared it. Like all women her age she has to be prodded about the ingredients, gently asking how much of this or that did she use. They tend to assume that we would know and most measures are andaze, so I tried to measure out.
Ingredients
2 glasses raw rice
1/2 coconut
2 ripe big bananas
2 handfuls beaten rice/ pohe
1/8 kg jaggery
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup bits of cashew nut
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
ghee for roasting
Wash and Soak the raw rice for 2-3 hrs in water.
Drain and grind together the soaked plump rice, coconut, banana and pohe with minimum amount of water. It should be a thick batter.
Now this is a real tip from the sugran, jaggery has to be molten in a vessel with 2 tablespoons of water to get rid of the raw smell. Then cooled and added to the rest of the batter. Now add the baking powder, mix well and let the batter rest for an hour.
Just before you start cooking the Appe in the mould add the cardamom powder and cashew bits in the batter and mix well. About 1 tablespoon batter sits well in each cell of the appe pan. Roast it with ghee. Cook on one side then flip with a fork and cook on the other side.
Let them cool a bit and then enjoy.
This recipe is for 50 Appe. One can halve the recipe or quarter it to get 25 or 12 Appe. They freeze well and can be made in advance. Just zap up in the microwave before serving to get back succulent Appe.
GAS 2008 (God Appe standards patented by gourmet yours lovingly) say they should be spongy, sweet, and cooked well right to the center. The aroma of cooked ripe banana and cardamom brings the old world charm right back to you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I am speechless

My classmate. She was a delicate girl when in school. We have not been in touch since then. On a fluke I searched for her. Maria another classmate had mentioned about her. Read here.

Smita we are proud of you.
Love.

Cauliflower N Olive Bake



Sometimes we create something which is not quite what you set out to. This dish is just how I made it. This is a kid friendly recipe to make and eat too.

I wanted to create a spicy cauliflower bake but it turned out a fragrant one. This is a completely oil free dish. I think 1 tablespoon of oil to coat the cauliflower florets would have done a lot of good to the taste. It is a very bland kind of a bake so you see the sprinkle of red chilli powder. May be a sizzler sauce would have been a good addition to.

Though I did not enjoy it much Dad did and many who like bland food may like it.


Ingredients

1 head Cauliflower head
1 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

Break up the cauliflower florets and keep them immersed in water with 2 teaspoons of turmeric for 1/2 hr. The turmeric with make the cauliflower aseptic as well as a little tender.

In a bread pan put in the florets, olives, oregano and 1 tablespoon of Oil. (I did not use any but have included in this recipe to enhance the flavors, you can skip it if thats how you want to try it out. Toss them around a bit.) Top up with grated cheese, any type will do I used the regular Amul processed cheese. Preheat oven for 10 mins. Bake the dish for 40 mins. Serve hot with a sprinkle of red chilli powder. If you like to have it with a dip use schezwan sauce or just ketchup.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Orange Cup Yogurt

served with Sunday Lunch


The weekend treat for being good during the week and following the diet plan I mentioned in the last post. Last weekend I made Aloo Parathas with ghee, ketchup and pickle, Tomato N Corn Rice and Orange Cup Yogurt for desert.

This is a very easy to make desert and is ready in a jiffy. It can be prepared before hand for visitors and served chilled on a sunny day.

Ingredients

1/2 liter curd

1 orange

Sugar as per taste

Hang the curd in a muslin cloth for 15-30 mins until it is thick and reduced to 1/4 liter. Remove the curd to a jar and blend with a hand blender or whip it up in the mixie. Use sugar if you like it. I skipped it but added 2 teaspoon for Dad's cup.

Cut the orange at the equator to get two cups. Loosen the wedges, remove the threads and save the empty orange cups. I used one Valencia orange. Squeeze out the juice of half the orange and loosen the segments of the other. Mix in the curd both the juice and segments. Keep some segments to sprinkle on the top. Since Valencia orange is a sweet orange it blended well with curd.

Serve the orange flavored yogurt in the empty orange cups that we saved. This is a very refreshing desert and low cal too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Corn Bhel and a Lifestyle Change



Corn Bhel, Tomato saar, Cut veggies with salt and red chilli powder

Most people struggle with weight all their life. If you’re born thin and a fussy eater, parents spend years stuffing you to convert you into a chubby baby they wish you would be. That dream stays then you reach puberbity and all at once the skinny thing grows into a healthy woman. Healthy as is "Khate Pite Ghar Ki".


There is a turn around and parents now worry about who will marry their pretty daughter if she stays healthy. Now their dream is to make their daughter the model that would sashay down the street giving the guys hearts a skip. Now the same parent who built the habit of stuffing even when not hungry put tabs on what the young girl needs to eat thus causing eating disorders. Plus once she turns into a butterfly all sports are a no no as her coaching to become a good bride starts. Until the smart young lady decides for herself what is best for her and asks Mom and Dad to leave her alone.


The above is a slight exaggeration of what goes on in Indian homes. Yet parts of it are true in the life of different girls who become fine young women ofcourse because of their parents. The parent’s indulgence is to be forgiven.


Well my struggle with weight is still on. I have tried many diets. I am not much of a sports lover, not even a TV sports lover. So for me its long brisk walks and change in lifestyle that helps me. Diets went on and off. Finally I have chosen something that is working for me and looks like I may be able to keep my pace with this.


I have started following a routine that our grandmothers followed:

Breakfast:

Before leaving for work, small portions have a charm accompanied by a cup of tea.
Upma/ Poha/ 4 biscuits/ a vegetable sandwich/ tomato omelet/ thalipith

At 11 am:

A glass of buttermilk made with a table spoon of curd and salt diluted with water.

Lunch at work between 12.30 to 1.00pm:

2 chapatis or 4 phulkas and a bowl of vegetables made with just 2 teaspoons of oil per person.

4.00 pm:

Tea with just one teaspoon sugar.

6.30 pm in the bus while returning home:

A fruit OR a glass of buttermilk (mentioned above)

Dinner at 8.30 pm:

A big bowl of vegetable salad /fruit salad / vegetable bhel with corn/ sprouts of different kinds with non starchy soup/fresh fruit juice

Before retiring for the day:

2 glasses of water

Results:

  • I am able to pack more into my work week.
  • Waking up fresh in the morning.
  • Feel little lighter but have a long way to go ;).
  • My habit of napping in the bus on the way to work has changed. I am putting the time to good use.
  • Cooking just once in the morning, feels good to have time for other hobbies.
  • No more obsessive thoughts of what to cook for dinner.

Weekends:

Treat time. One sweet on Saturday and Sunday. One exciting breakfast or brunch. Occasional visit to a restaurant.

This is a plan that will last for sure.

One such dinner we enjoy is what you see in the plate above:

Ingredients
2 cups boiled sweet corn
1 onion chopped fine
1 tomato chopped fine
1 handful cilantro chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon roasted coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
salt and red chili powder to taste

In a vessel you can mix all items together and serve on a decorative plate. I like to mix my corn bhel while eating so I assemble it like this, corn, onions, tomatoes, chopped cilantro, salt sprinkle and all powders sprinkled. Enjoy every spoon while you meditate over your plate of corn bhel. It is very satisfying and calms the nerves as you mix it and chat up with your loved ones.

I have a sedentary lifestyle and a bad metabolic system so this intake in enough for me. I was not allowed to play right from a young age so lost interest in sports. Hope I get a chance to play with my kids, if I ever have some, err at least two.

Disclaimer:
My formula is not patented so anyone can use it yet no way is it prescriptive. Infact it’s stolen from my grandmothers from both sides and my many grand aunts who were very beautiful charming, intelligent women and who took good care of their health.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Choco Walnut Cake - II


Happy Valentines Day !!!

I revisited my Walnut Choclate Cake recipe for this Valentine's Day. It is this time of the year when I actually want to celebrate though I am not much of the crazy trend follower.

No expensive gifts. Just something I will be able to give every year, every day of the year. No and it is not this cake either. He knows it but this post is to show it.

I just changed the recipe a bit and it has turned out better.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup fine semolina
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup crushed walnuts
2 cups milk
70 gms ghee/ butter

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda bicarbonate
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon salt


Beat the sugar and ghee/ butter together in the food processor until fluffy.

Sieve together all purpose flour, semolina baking powder, soda bicarbonate, salt and cocoa powder.

Add the sieved mix into the processor little at a time. Add the milk a little at a time. Alternate this till all flour and milk is in the processor. Add the vanilla. Whip it up.

Grease a 9X11 baking tray with ghee/ butter. Sprinkle the crushed walnuts in a layer. Add the cake batter over it. Thump the tray lightly on the counter. This will spread the batter evenly. If it is not even spread it with a spatula.

Preheat oven for 10 mins. Bake the cake for 20 mins.

Cool the cake in the baking tray itself. Cut into squares like I did or different shapes with a cookie cutter. Invert the baking tray onto a decorative tray or remove each piece onto a fancy dish. Serve with icecream, milk or orange juice else nibble on it just like that.

My word: Since I make eggless cakes, they always are denser than the ones that have egg. Its the first time ever I had such a light crumbly cake.

Lots .....

Comments are disabled for this post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spice Burst Loaf

Spice burst Loaf is a bread that tastes very Indian. Most times when I make bread I make either sandwiches or use some spread to lather it. This time I wanted a bread that could be eaten without the paraphernalia. This loaf as the name suggest is bursting with spice and is loaded with flavorful sweet corn, black olives and the tart flavor of sundried tomatoes. It is a mouthful of flavors one will enjoy with every bite. It is non messy and just right for kids. The senior people who try to find Indian flavors in continental cuisine will be absolutely happy with this loaf.

Ingredients

2.5 cups all purpose flour + 1/2 cup
1.5 cups warm water
2.5 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4-5 cloves garlic crushed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 cup crushed paneer
1 handful sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped black olives
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil

Lets prepare the Spice burst first. Heat olive oil in a wok. Fry the crushed garlic till soft. Add the chilli powder and turmeric. Put off the heat and let it cool for 5 mins then add lemon juice. Add to this the chopped black olives, paneer and sweet corn. Keep it aside.

Soak the sundried tomatoes in water and let it stand while you get the dough ready.

In half cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it foam for 10 mins.

Meanwhile in a large bowl measure out 2.5 cups of all purpose flour. After the yeast has foamed well mix into the dry flour with a wooden spatula. Add 1 cup warm and knead well. On a counter sprinkle some flour and turn out the dough and knead. Now add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and knead. Leave the dough to proof for an hour or till it doubles.

After an hour flour the counter well and turn out the dough on the counter and knead lightly. Then drain the rehydrated sundried tomatoes and add to the dough. Now get the loaf pan ready by oiling it with the spice burst that we made. Add the rest of the spice burst into the dough and mix well. Roll up the dough like a mat and pinch the loose ends.

Put the loaf in th pan for another hour of proofing. Dust the loaf with some dry flour. It rises beautifully over the lip of the pan.


Preheat the oven for 10 mins at 180 deg celcius. Bake the bread for 25 mins.

Once the top is nice and golden remove from the oven and let the loaf cool on the grill. Slice it after it is completely cooled.

The slice can be buttered and enjoyed with a hot cuppa.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cheese-Gobi-Matar Paratha



I Love Parathas, there can be so many types of them. Yet the ingredients in it wins a victory over the wheat flour. I think whats wonderful about the Parathas is the pure tastes of the veggies that it brings out. Also they can be easily presented in a wonderful way. Hot paratha with pickle and curd takes you to heaven straight away. I used to love one of my juniors at university and later my colleague, Ritu's lunchbox. It was almost always paratha with pickle.

I make many many types of paratha too but Aloo paratha remains the favorite at home. My nephew Sujal, now a college kid was a big fan of the cheese parathas from my repertoir. It did a lot of good for my ego when he came back from a certain fashionable roti place and said it was a waste and that I made the best parathas in the world :D. Sujal you are the best nephew an Aatya can ask for! Hope you still feel the same.

Here is a paratha I just tried out:

Ingredients

For the stuffing

1 cup cauliflower broken into tiny florets
1 cup fresh green peas
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 handful cilantro
2 green chilies
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste

For the dough

1 cup of whole wheat flour
3/4 cup water
salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil for kneading

ghee to fry

First knead the dough for the parathas. Remove wheat flour, salt about 1/2 teaspoon or more and knead well with water. Add oil and knead again for 5 mins. Let it stand for 10 mins so that it becomes smooth.

In a chutney grinder put green peas, cilantro, garlic and green chilies. Just give it quick grhh.. leave it coarse ground.




Now remove the coarse ground peas masala, cauliflower florets and grated cheese. Mix well and divide into 4 parts. This is used to stuff the parathas


Divide the kneaded smooth dough into eight balls. Roll out poori sized chapatis. Now put the stuffing on 4 chapatis and cover with the other 4 chapatis. Seal the edges and flatten with the hand.

Dust the counter with flour and roll out into larger size. The parathas are then roasted on both sides with ghee on a hot girdle.

Serve hot with tamarind chutney or a dip of your choice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Multigrain Kakdi Vada




Kakdi or Cucumber as all of you know is one vegetable that has a wonderful aroma. In Thal we get these huge cucumbers that resemble gourds. These are the cucumbers that are used traditionally for Vadas. The traditional vadas are made with just rice flour. I decided to try a multigrain vada with grated cucumber. The idea was a hit. They tasted so satiating especially after a work week of simple food. These vadas are crispy and extremely aromatic.

In Thal these big cucumbers are not home grown but are brought in from nearby villages of Poynad, Shahbaz and the hills of Karnala. These areas are the cucumber growing areas in Alibag Taluka. The women from these areas come to Thal to trade their produce with the Kolis. These cucumbers are exchanged in barter with fish. Koli women too go to these villages to trade fish. These Kakdi vadas are paired with a bean or pea curry for a vegetarian combo and with Kolim (baby shrimps stir fry) for a non veg combo.

Ingredients

1 thick grated cucumber
2-3 green chilies chopped fine
2 handfuls cilantro
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup of different millet flours (ragi, bajra, jowar)
1 cup chickpea flour
salt to taste

Oil to fry

Mix all ingredients together. Do not use any water. As one kneads the cucumber releases enough water to knead the dough into a ball. On a plastic sheet shape the vadas with a lemon sized ball of the dough with a hole in the center. Heat oil and fry the vadas in it. The vadas should be fried untill red on medium heat. Drain on absorbent paper.

Serve hot with ketchup or curd.

My word : Its a sumptious breakfast.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Banana Fritters



Banana fritters remind me of Periyar. A visit to the Periyar wildlife sanctuary is a must when you are in Southern Kerala. A dam was built across the Periyar river that caused some trees to be submerged in water and its a wonderful scene. The best way to explore the wild life sanctuary is by boat, floating slowly on the Periyar river that flows through the sanctuary. Especially the 4 o'clock ride. It is that time of the day when animals come to the shore for a drink. We saw herds of elephants, bisons, deers and cute little otters jumping into the the waters.

After the boat ride we then went to the nearby spice market. I shopped for a whole lot of spices that lasted me almost 3 years. Near the spice market was a quaint little restaraunt where we ate banana fritters that I enjoyed a lot and everytime I make my own I remember those fritters in Periyar.

Ingredients

1 raw banana
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 handful chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
salt to taste

Oil to fry

Mix chickpea flour, red chili powder, turmeric, chopped cilantro, cumin seeds and salt with water to get a thick batter.

Peel and Slice the raw banana on a V-slicer using thick mode.

Dip the slices in the batter and fry in hot oil until crisp.

Serve with Ketchup or any chutney.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bhendyacha Bharit



Bhendyacha Bharit is a Koli classic that everyone loves. It falls in the category of elaborate cooking and lot of oil which is a quality standard for old world good food. There are very few Kolis who will complain about Bhendyacha Bharit though they might about the bhaaji. As I have said before in Koli Bharit means stuffed. So here you go with a stuffed ladies finger recipe.


Ingredients

1/4 kg Ladies Fingers of the vegetable kind
1/2 fresh mature coconut grated
2 onions
1 cup chopped cilantro
2-3 green chilies
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon oil to saute
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste

More oil to shallow fry

Wash the ladies fingers and pat dry them with a napkin. Make sure they are dried well. This will help to reduce the slime will cooking them. Cut up into finger lenght morsels if the vegetable in longer else keep whole. I made this dish with slightly bigger ladies fingers so I cut each one into two. Slit them lenghtwise as a provision to stuff with the chutney we will make later.

In a shallow pan add the oil and saute the onions to translucent. Add the grated coconut and saute. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 mins befor grinding the chutney. Grind the suateed onions and coconut with cilantro, green chilies, turmeric powder, cumin seeds and salt. Do not add water, grind coarse so that the chutney has a nice texture. Now mix in the lemon juice. Stuff all the morsels with the chutney and keep aside.

Use the same shallow pan that we used before. Add oil to get a nice layer of oil at the bottom enough to fry the ladies fingers. Line up the stuffed ladies fingers in the pan and cook till done. Do not shake or stir else the stuffing will come out. Ladies fingers get cooked in about 7-8 mins. To check if they are done see if they are slightly browned at the bottom. Be careful not to char them. Never cover the vessel while cooking ladies fingers, it makes them slimy. This is one dish that one has to be generous with oil while cooking.

We used to love to wrap Bhendyacha Bharit in hot Chavlachi Roti and chomp on the roll.

Stamp of Koli authenticity!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Kerala Paratha



An authentic Kerala Paratha is made with all purpose flour however an healthy option is making it with whole wheat flour, ofcourse that's what we have done here. This paratha is called Paratwala paratha in the north. Paratwala means layered and yes it is more delicious with goodness of wheat.

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
salt to taste

Remove all the ingredients on the counter and knead the dough. Let is rest for at least 10 mins. Then roll out 4 small chapatis. Lightly oil the chapatis and roll them up one by one. Divide the roll into six parts with a knife. Now take each piece and turn it to have the cut face up. Press it down to flatten it, dust with flour and roll out into thin parathas. Roast on a girdle with little oil. After roasting remove from girdle and crumple the paratha like a used paper but just lightly such that it should not break into pieces. This crumpling loosen the layers a bit and makes the paratha more delicious.
Click on the picture to see other recipes on the platter.

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