Welcome aboard!

Indian cuisine is a riot of colours, flavours, and spices. Every state has its own unique culture- ingrained taste bud. And, to many of us staying within familiar tastes is a sacrosanct act. Of course an occasional trip to a speciality restaurant that serves another fare is ok. But, as a matter of routine ...at home...NO!

One of the benefits of being born to parents who dared an interstate marriage (am talking about India of the 70's) was being able to widen a regional taste bud to accept, experiment and, relish eclectic cuisines :-)

I love food! Be it traditional or fusion, cooking is all about turning out fare that is tasty and healthy.I welcome all lovers of good food to come on aboard and share your kitchen adventures.

If you like what you see, do leave a comment. If you don't, please leave a suggestion to help me make this better.

You can also request for any recipe you want. Just leave a note in a comment box.

Happy cooking!


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Steamed vada with plain coconut chutney

I'm going through this period where my internal antenna is always roving around on the look out for healthy, tasty, yet doable recipes. Patience, however, is not a strong point now and hence elaborate stuff that calls for exotic ingredients and lengthy preparation times are out! They say that women who are in the family way become mellow tempered, patient, and pleasant. I seem to have become clumsy, impatient, and cranky!!! I've even started 'channel hopping' because nothing catches or holds my fancy these days except if its a cookery show or a movie high on the 'emotional' count!!! Ok, to cut the gab, the other day saw this steamed food recipes special going on on NDTV good times. They showed a steamed, high nutrition "vada"..can you believe it??? Was sceptical about it turning into a 'kozhukattai' taste alike, but anyhow decided to give it a try. Surprise!! it actually tasted quite nice with a quick plain, coconut chutney. Mind you, have it steaming hot!

Wheat flour - 1 cup
Chickpea flour (besan/kadalai maavu, gram flour)- 1 cup
Spinach (palak) - 1 medium bunch
Coriander leaves (cilantro/kothamalli)- a handful of sprigs
Green chillies - 3 Nos (the slim Indian chilies for heat)
Ginger - 1 " piece
Cumin seeds (jeera) - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Soda bi carbonate (cooking soda) - 1/2 teaspoon
Olive oil - 2 teaspoons
Salt to taste
Water as required

Sift the flours and soda together. Rinse and chop the greens fine. Grate the ginger and chop the green chillies. Now add everything together into a bowl except for water. Knead well. Since the spinach leaves quite a lot of moisture, be careful not to overdo the water and carefully sprinkle just enough to make a soft, pliable dough.

Make lemon sized dumplings out of the dough, flatten each on slightly using your palms and make a small dent in the middle (see picture) to get the 'vada' shape. Arrange in a a steamer or idli maker and steam cook for about 20 minutes. Prick with a toothpick or fork to check if its done. Serve hot with the coconut chutney recipe below!!

Plain coconut chutney
Fresh grated coconut - 1 cup
Ginger - 1/2" piece
Salt to taste

For tempering
Dry red chillies - 3 Nos
Curry leaves - quite a few!
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Vegetable oil - 1 teaspoon

Grind the coconut and ginger into a fine paste adding very little water. Heat oil in a pan, crackle the mustard seeds, saute the red chillies and curry leaves. Add the ground mixture in, add salt to taste. Warm for a minute and transfer to serving bowl.
This recipe makes its way to the JFI - Chickpea event hosted at Sometime Foodie. The event is on at http://foodtravails.blogspot.com/2009/01/announcing-jfi-chickpea.html

Also sending this over to My Legume Love Affair, Seventh Helping which is being hosted at Cooking 4 all Seasons. The event details can be had at http://cooking4allseasons.blogspot.com/2009/01/announcing-my-legume-love-affair.html
The event was introduced by Susan of The Well -Seasoned Cook. Further details available at http://thewellseasonedcook.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-legume-love-affair-host-lineup.html

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mixed veggie fried rice with an overload of mushrooms

Like I mentioned in my previous posts, my first trimester was a period of lethargy, lack of energy, and absolutely no interest in food. Yet, I would be afflicted by pangs of guilt when I though I wasn't feeding the lil one inside. All the pregnancy guides and books that I mugged up spoke about the importance of eating and eating well...and here I was, throwing up if my neighbour cooked something strong!! This multi-coloured and hence multi-vitamin packed, mildly flavoured rice is something that my hubby made for weekend lunch to entice my appetite and it did!! I'd clicked the dish in hope that I will post it here when I got back to blogging.

Basmati rice - 1 cup
Button mushrooms - 200 gms
Beetroot - 1 small
Red bell pepper - 1
Orange bell pepper - 1
Green chillies - 3 Nos
Garlic - 2 cloves
Pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Soy sauce - 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon stick - 1" piece
Cloves - 2 Nos
Olive oil - 2 teaspoons
Salt to taste
For garnish
Cashewnuts - a few
Raisins - a few

Boil three cups of water and add in the basmati rice along with the cinnamon and cloves. Cook till rice is 3/4th done, drain water and fluff up with a fork to seperate grains.
Finely chop the garlic and green chillies. Cut the veggies and mushrooms into small slices. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the garlic and green chillies. Add the veggies and saute till done. Add in the rice, soy sauce, pepper powder and salt to taste. Toss everything well together. Roast the cashews and raisins seperately and add into rice.

This dish is making its way to Padmajha's lovely, 'Who's gonna cook for me????' event. The event is on at http://seduceyourtastebuds.blogspot.com/2008/12/whos-gona-cook-for-me.html

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tangy mango dip (Maanga vella pachadi )

Maanga vella pachadi aka tangy mango dip in jaggery was introduced to my palate by mom's aunt, Valli paati. Ease of making,versatality, high nutrition count, and taste make this dip a frequent fixture in my kitchen. Out here in Muscat, even the mangoes that bear labels like, 'produce of india', `alphonso' and so on are no guarantee that the fruit is anywhere as luscious as the ones we get in India. But, vella pachadi comes out fine even when fruit by itself is a let down. But this time I struck gold in my neighbourhood mart. Found a Kenyan mango variety that surprise...surprise...not only looked luscious but also bore a close resemblance in taste to the wonderfully succulent Salem Gundu (a type of mango variety from Salem district in Tamil Nadu).

Mangoes are high in dietary fibre, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and antioxidants. Jaggery is held high by Ayurvedic medicine and is attributed several nutritive and protective properties. High in folic acid and iron, jaggery is great for pregnant women. Just a teaspoon can contribute a lot in fighting anaemia (don't gorge on sugars of any kind!).

Ripe mango - about 200 gms ( 2 cups )
Jaggery (vellam/Indian unrefined brown sugar) - 50 gms
Red chilli powder - 10 gms
Salt to taste
Water - 2 cups
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Oil - 2 teaspoons

Peel and cube the mangoes. Heat the oil in a skillet and crackle the mustard seeds. Add a cup of water and the mango pieces along with the chilli powder. Simmer cook with the lid on till the mangoes and are soft and mushy. Add another cup of water and add the jaggery in. Keep simmering till the jaggery melts in completely and the mixture thickens to dip like consistency. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Add salt to taste. Cool and store in an airtight container. The pachadi stays great for upto a month.
Vella pachadi tastes good as an accompaniment to curd rice, dosas, idlis and rotis.
Maanga vella pachadi makes its way to Ramya's 'Chutney/Dip Mania Event'. The event is on at http://maneadige.blogspot.com/2009/01/inviting-entries-for-mania-event-here.html
This also goes to Sunshinemom's Food in colors - January 2009 . The color of the month is Yellow and what is more yellow than mangoes . The event is on at http://tumyumtreats.blogspot.com/2009/01/announcing-food-in-colors-january-2009.html

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chicken Dum Biriyani

Dum cooking, to those who aren't already acquainted to the term, implies a very slow cooking process in which the ingredients cook in their own juices and steam. Traditionally dum cooking was done over coal fires, in sealed containers, ideally with a layer of embers on top of the lid too.

I've made this biriyani over the stove top and am feeling mighty proud that I finally found the energy for a slightly elaborate dish! With the chicken making up for protien and the rice for carbohydrates, I hope it made the lil one inside happy too.

Basmati rice - 1 1/2 cups
Chicken - 1/2 kg
Ginger & garlic paste - 1 teaspoon each
Green chillies - 4 nos
Onions - 3 large
Thick curds (yoghurt) - 1 cup
Coriander leaves - a handful
Salt to taste
Lemon juice - 10 ml
Milk - 1/4 cup
Raisins - a few
Cashews - a few
Whole spices
Cardamom (elaichi) - 3 Nos
Cinnamon (patta) - 2" stick
Cloves (Kar - 3 Nos
Mace (jaathipathri) - a thread or two
Nutmeg (jaathikka) - 2 pinches (crushed)
Bay leaves (biriyani ila)- 2
Fennel (perumjeerakam) - 1/4 teaspoon
Star anise - 2 Nos
Saffron - a few strands
Powdered spices
Red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1/4 teaspoon

For making the Dum sealant
Wheat flour - 1 cup
Water as required

Knead the wheat flour adding enough water into a stiff dough.

Marinate the chicken pieces in a mixture made up of yoghurt, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and all the whole spices except bay leaves and
saffron. Slice the onions thinly and add half the quantity to the chicken marinade. Add enough salt. Let it stay for half an hour.
Wash and soak rice till the time the chicken marinates. In the meanwhile deep fry the rest of the onion slices and place on kitchen napkins to drain excess oil. Fry the cashews and raisins
till golden.
In a thick bottomed deep pan , biriyani pot, or pressure cooker place the chicken along with the marination as first layer.
Drain the rice and place it on top as second layer. Tear the bay leaves and bury them into the rice. Warm the milk and dissolve the saffron strands into it. Pour this gently over the rice.
Sprinkle the garam masala on top along with finely chopped green chillies and coriander leaves. Place the fried onions, cashews, raisins and a sprinkling of salt as final layer along with a
drizzle of the lemon juice.
Now, take the wheat dough and using your hands roll it into a thick rope. Stick this atop the vessal in which you've layered the biriyani ingredients ensuring that it goes all the way
around the top. Now take a plate that fits the circumference of the vessal and place it on the dough that has been coiled over the top of the vessal. Gently press to ensure that the lid is
glued firmly to vessal aided by the dough. The dough should act as a sealant and ensure no steam escapes from any crevice in between the vessal and its lid.
Place the vessal over a very low flame and allow it to cook for about an hour and quarter.

Gently prise open the lid with a knife. Your hot Dum biriyani is ready.The signature charecteristic of Dum cooked food is the wonderful aroma that emanates when the seal is opened! Use a fork to gently mix the layers together and transfer into serving bowl.

Serve hot with raita and pappad.

This biriyani makes its way to Sudeshna's "Harvest: The Festival of Rice". The event is on till Jan 31st at http://bengalicuisine.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/announcing-event-harvest-the-festival-of-rice/

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rava and oats idli with puthina (mint) chutney

The daily quest for healthier food options continues...Unlike some of my friends and acquaintances, pregnancy has not given me a raving appetite! One says, 'eat sweets, it's good for the baby's brain growth'; another one says, 'remember to eat something every one hour'; yet another recounts, 'I used to ensure I had one apple, one pomegranate, 250 gms spinach, and 1 rasgulla apart from the regular meals and milk, you too eat'....whew! the volley of well meaning advisors (eating champions??) make me feel I am starving my poor baby! The result is that my gynae bears the brunt! I keep pestering her with doubts :-)

However, I try my best to include wholesome ingredients into what I do eat. This time, the humble rava idli undergoes a tiny face lift in the form of oats and roasted peanuts.

Rava (Semolina/sooji/cream of wheat) - 1 1/4 cups
Quick cooking oats - 3/4 cup
Low-fat Curds (yoghurt) - 2 cups
Roasted and skinned peanuts - a handful
Soda bi carb - a pinch
Salt to taste

For tempering

Ginger - 1" piece (peeled and grated)
Green chillies - 3 Nos (finely chopped)
Bengal gram (channa dhal/kadalai paruppu)- 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds (Kaduku/Rai)- 1/2 teaspoon
Indian curry leaves - 2 sprigs

Warm a thick bottomed pan and add in the rava and oats. Dry roast on small flame stirring frequently to ensure even roasting. Brown speckles and an aroma from the rava denote the grains are roasted enough. Spread out on a plate and cool. Transfer to a bowl. Whip the curds with a fork and add to the roasted grains along with the cooking soda to for a thick batter. Let stay for half and hour.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and add the bengal gram. When it starts to turn a light brown , add the mustard and let crackle. Add in the finely grated ginger and chillies. Add the curry leaves. Saute for a minute. Add into the batter along with the roasted peanuts and salt. If the batter has turned too thick because of the rava having swollen up add in a little water. But remember that this batter should be considerably thicker than the ordinary rice idly batter. Pour into into idli moulds and steam for 15-20 minutes. Serve with puthina chutney.

Puthina - coconut chutney (Tamil Nadu style)
This version of mint chutney is made Tamilian style and goes well with south indian breakfast items like idlis and dosas.

Puthina (mint) - 1 big bunch
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Tamarind extract - 1/2 teaspoon
Green chillies - 5 nos
Ginger - 1 short piece (about 5 gms)
Salt to taste

For tempering
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cury leaves - a few

Destalk and clean the mint leaves. Place all ingredients , except salt in a skillet and simmer for 2 minutes with the lid on. Cool and grind to smooth paste in a mixer bowl. Add salt to taste. Check for tanginess, if less add a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Heat a teaspoon of oil and crackle mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add in.

Excellant with hot dosas and idlis.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Paneer Tikka Kaatti Rolls

Never imagined I would ever go through a period when the very thought (don't even mention the smell!!) of food would revolt me !!Well, I did... all for a good cause...the stork is on its way to our home. This is also why I haven't been updating this blog for such a loong time. Now you know...

Now that I'm back to 'eating' (dreaming about food takes top priority, however!)I've got back to 'cooking' too. Energy levels are not always at peak so I try to make up one dish options that can provide adequate, wholesome nutrition. The following has been adapted from Tarla Dalal's "Cooking with one teaspoon oil" with very minor tweaks.

Ingredients for Paneer Tikka filling
Paneer (indian cottage cheese) - 1 cup (cut into cubes)
Potato - 1 large (boiled and cubed)
Tomato - 1 large (diced)
Capsicum - 1 (deseeded and diced)

For the marinade
Hung curd - 1 cup (pour thick yoghurt through a muslin cloth, let the liquid part drain away)
Red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Ginger & garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Bengal gram flour (besan/chick pea flour/kadalai maavu)- 2 teaspoons
Chaat masala - 1/2 teaspoon
Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - 1 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1/4 teaspoon
Lemon juice - 2 teaspoons
Olive oil - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Mix together the ingredients for the marinade into a smooth batter. Add in the ingredients for the filling and let marinate for atleast an hour. Heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in a pan and add the marinated pieces in. Saute on medium flame for a few minutes. Let cool.

For the roll
Whole wheat flour - 200 gms
Warm milk - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Water for kneading

Knead everything into a chappathi (roti/tortilla) kind of dough. Cover and let stay for an hour. Shape into large lemon sized balls and roll (leaven) out into chappathis. Place each chappathi on a hot gridle (flat tava) and cook till light brown spots appear, turn and cook other side. Place a portion of the filling on one side of the chappathi and roll up tightly. If required secure with a tooth pick. Place in a greased baking tray and warm in an oven at 150 degrees for 5 minutes. Alternatively brown the rolls on a hot girdle with a light sprinkling of oil.

Serve hot with green chutney and salad.

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