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!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spicy brown bread

I have two major culinary blind spots. One, I cannot make deep fried snacks that look like what they are supposed to look. Two, I cannot bake without trying to sneak in something that's wholesome and cutting down on even essential fat with the result that the end product isn't always the best textured! As a result, I stay away from both these methods of cooking most of the time.
But I took the plunge and made a spicy, wheat flour bread yesterday! All because it's almost time for me to fly back home to India for delivery because international flights don't allow you on board once you cross the 32 week mark! So, what's that got to do with baking, you might ask. Back in India, my mom's house is in a little town in Kerala where maida (AP flour) rules the roost! The buns, cakes, breads, halwas, puffs, samosas...are all made with white flour! I sure am going to miss my trips to the local bakery out here that allows me a range of freshly baked multi-grain products.Don't know if I will actually bake once am back there, but anyway thought I'd give this a try here in my very own kitchen. A couple of months ago had attempted 'masala buns with potato stuffing' in whole wheat. Made slight alterations to it this time since the buns though they tasted good enough, were a little too chewy !

Whole wheat flour - 250gms
Fortified all -purpose flour - 150 gms
Oat flour - 50 gms
Instant yeast - 10gms
Baking powder - 5 gms
Extra virgin olive oil - 50 ml
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Buttermilk - enough to make a soft dough
Egg white - 1 (to egg wash the crust to prevent it from drying up)

The spice mix

Dry red chillies - 2 large (dry roasted and hand crushed)
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon (dry roasted)
Garlic - 2 large cloves (minced and dry roasted)
Fresh Mint leaves - a generous handful (roughly chopped)

Sift the flours, baking powder, yeast, and salt a couple of times together so that they mix in well. In a deep dish, throw in the ingredients along with the olive oil. Add the buttermilk little by little and knead the mixture into a soft, pliant dough. The texture should be a little sticky and easy on the palms. Continue kneading till the dough turns smooth and stops sticking to your palms (approx 10-15 minutes of kneading). Cover with a cotton/muslin cloth and allow to rise for an hour.

After an hour you will find that the dough has almost doubled in size. Add the spice mix, a little more olive oil and knead again for 10 minutes. Place into a greased baking dish and allow to rise for another 30-40 minutes.
Whisk the egg white and brush it on liberally over the top of the dough. Use a fork to stab a few air holes into the dough.
As for the baking,I have a very basic OTG that I preheated for 10 minutes at 100°C. The actual baking took 12 minutes at 250°C and another 5 minutes at 150°C to get the bread done.

The bread tasted quite nice with a warm cup of tea and even better the next day when I used the leftovers to make a quick sandwich with light mayonnaise and cabbage shreds.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chocolate morsels

Yesterday, a friend and family invited us over for a weekday night dinner without prior information. Hubby was busy at work and I was stuck with limited mobility (a woman catching a cab by herself out here is not a very sensible choice and I don't have a gulf valid driving license!). However, we have a small supermarket at walking distance and I decided to browse around for something to take for the host's little boys. Somehow din't find the regular, off the shelf choclates attractive. Suddenly remembered a Nigella Lawson recipe that I chanced upon a long time ago on Travel and Living. A simple chocolate recipe which called for very little time, effort, and ingredients. I really don't remember the exact name or propotions the recipe called for but decided to give it a shot anyway. Turned out quite nice and I felt extra nice when the younger child, an avid choclate eater, finished an entire set, ran up to me, and very sweetly said, "Aunty, this is really very nice. thank you so much". Must I say I am still grinning

Mars choclate bars - I used up an entire 27g gms bag of mini bars
Corn flakes - 2 cups
Unsalted butter - 10 gms
Water - 1/4 cup
Roasted, almond flakes - 1/2 cup (optional)
Cup cake cases - 40-50 small ones

Roughly break up the choclate bars into a thick bottomed skillet. Add the water and simmer stir till the choclates begin to melt. Add the butter in and keep stirring till the choclate completely melts and it thickens. Add the cornfllakes and almonds and stir till the choclate completely coats the flakes. Take off flame. Line up the cup cake cases on a tray and and spoon in the mixture while still warm into the cases. Allow to set for an hour or so.

Watch your lil ones enjoy the tiny chocolate morsels.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mixed veg kurma in nutty gravy with Beetroot paratha

Yesterday was one of those low energy days. Frequent trips to attend nature's call might be a common side effect of pregnancy, it also is a sure shot way to mess up a good night's sleep! Since hubby had an early meeting to attend, there was no way I could sleep on hoping someone would cook for me. Made this as lunch and also dinner.

For kurmaMixed vegetables - 2 cups (I used beans,carrot,cauliflower,peas,potato,capsicum)
Onion - 1 medium sized
Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - 1/4 teaspoon
Cilantro (coriander leaves) - a small bunch (10 sprigs)

To grindGarlic - 4 cloves
Ginger - 1" piece
Green chillies - 5 Nos (use less for lesser heat)

Dry masalaCinnamon - 1" stick
Cloves - 2 Nos
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Kitchen king masala - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)

For gravy
Almonds - 10 Nos
Cashews - 10 Nos
Low-fat milk - 1 cup (150 ml)
Low-fat paneer (Indian cottage cheese) - 1/2 cup (crumbled)
Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet, add the cinnamon and cloves followed by finely chopped onion. When the onions are sauted till translucent, add the ground garlic-ginger-green chilli paste. Saute well. Add the carrot and potato pieces in along with 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer till almost done, add the rest of the vegetables, coriander powder, turmeric powder, kitchen king masala, kasuri methi, crumbled paneer and half the milk. Cook covered till vegetables are soft.

Boil another cup of water seperately, add the nuts in and cook well. Drain and grind to fine paste adding the rest of the milk.

Add to the cooked vegetables along with finely chopped coriander leaves and salt to taste. Simmer cook stirring occasionally till the gravy thickens. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Cover and let stay for about 15 minutes before transferring to a serving dish.

For Beetroot paratha
Wholewheat flour - 2 cups
Wheat bran - 1/4 cup (optional)
Oat flour - 1/4 cup (optional)
Beetroot - 1 large
Salt to taste

Pressure cook beetroot with the jacket on. Peel and blend to smooth puree. Mix the flours and bran in a deep bowl. Add in salt and the beetroot puree. Rub the flours well and adding water little by little knead to dough. Cover and let stay for 1/2 hour. Shape lemon sized balls out of the dough and roll out (leaven) into chappathis (tortillas). Heat a flat pan and cook the chappathi with or without a little drizzle of oil. Turn over and cook other side. When done small golden brown blisters appear over the tortillas.

If paneer (Indian cottage cheese) is not commercially available in your area, you can easily make it at home. For the method, http://thefootloosechef.blogspot.com/2008/06/learn-how-to-make-paneer-cottage.html

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bird's eye chilli (kanthari) chutney and steamed sweet potatoes

Kanthari (bird's eye chilli/thai pepper/african peri-peri) is one of the ultra-fieriest members of the chilli family.
In India, this pungent and delicious chilli is rarely used in any other region apart from Kerala (open to argument). Even in Kerala, kanthari is not something you'd find on the menu of upmarket restaurants or the vegetable racks of supermarket chains. This is something that I grew up watching my parents and now my in-laws handpick fresh from the garden and then churn out superbly simple yet extremely delicious fare.If the taste wasn't enough, kanthari is also reputed to be high on the health quotient! It's supposed to be the foody way to a more temperate blood pressure ;-)

Kanthari- 5-6 Nos (less is recommended if you are are not used to heat)
Shallots (cheriya ulli/pearl onions/scallions)- 4 Nos
Ginger - 1/2" piece
Tamarind extract - 1/4 teaspoon
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Indian curry leaves - 4-5 leaves
Salt to taste

Peel the onions. Put all ingredients into a chutney mixie/blender and grind to paste. Add water only if required since the onions are quite moist.

This chutney is perfect with the smooth sweetness of steamed sweet potatoes. To steam sweet potatoes,scrub them well, cut into pieces and either place them in a pressure cooker and steam for 4 whistles on medium heat; or, place them in a stove-top or electric steamer and cook for about 15 minutes. Stab a fork in to check if tender. Peel and your meal is ready!

Bird's eye chilli chutney and steamed sweet potatoes make their way to Asvadha's 'Made for each other' event. The event is on till the 28th of Feb at http://www.asvadha.com/2009/01/announcing-made-for-each-other.html

So why are these two 'Made for each other'?
-The spicy, macho kanthari blends beautifully with the wonderful, natural sweetness of the sweet potato.
-Both are nutritional treasure troves, check this out:
Apart from being a great source of beta carotenes, fibre, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and iron, sweet potatoes contain a unique 'root-protien' that resemble one of our internally produced anti-oxidants and hence have dynamic anti-oxidant effects!
And now, kanthari (peri-peri) again is rich in Vitamin C, B vitamins, iron and calcium. The key ingredient 'capsaicin' helps lower cholestrol and decrease high blood pressure.

Take a closer peek:

This spicy chutney also goes to Mane Adige's Chutney/Dip mania event. The event is on at http://maneadige.blogspot.com/2009/01/inviting-entries-for-mania-event-here.html

Yasmeen has created this beautiful award and passed this onto all her blogger friends. Thank you for thinking of me too, Yasmeen!

Sathya of appetitetreats.blogspot.com has passed on the Good Chat Blog award to me. thank you so much, Sathya.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Carrot chutney with adai dosai

Made 'adai dosais' for breakfast today. Adai dosai, for those who aren't familiar, is dosa (crepe) made with a variety of lentils and a portion of raw rice. I don't like the traditional combination of 'avial' with adai and so make different veggie chutneys to go with it. Saw this colourful recipe in Mallika Badrinath's Vegetarian Curries recipe book and decided to make a go at it. It came out really good and was excellant when paired with adai.
Feeling extra good about the perfect carb-protien combo with that liberal dash of Vitamin A and beta- carotenes for accompaniment

Grated carrot - 1 1/2 cups
Roasted peanuts - 1/4 cup
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Dry red chillies - 4 Nos
Coriander powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Garlic - 1 clove
Salt to taste

For tempering
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs

Dry roast the red chillies and garlic. Add a teaspoon of oil and add the grated carrot and coriander powder. Saute till carrots are slightly done. Add in the rest of the ingredients and saute for a minute. Cool and grind to a smooth paste adding a little water. Transfer to serving bowl.

Heat a teaspoon of oil and crackle the mustard seeds and fry the curry leaves. Pour it over the chutney.

I had posted the 'adai dosa' recipe long back, for the recipe click on http://thefootloosechef.blogspot.com/2008/05/ada-dosa.html

Carrot chutney makes its way to FIC - February event. The colour this month is Orange and is hosted at My Diverse Kitchen. The event details can be had at http://mydiversekitchen.blogspot.com/2009/02/lets-paint-it-orange-this-month.html

The FIC event was launched by TongueTicklers. The original event details can be had at http://tumyumtreats.blogspot.com/2008/07/event-announcement.html

Also, sending this to Mane Adige's Chutney/Dip mania event. The event is on at http://maneadige.blogspot.com/2009/01/inviting-entries-for-mania-event-here.html

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dosa with Matta Rice - extra boost of nutrition

The other day, I was suddenly struck with a longing for the Kerala 'Chaaya kada' style dosas. Chaaya kadas or tea shops are an integral part of the Kerala countryside. Tiny one room structures with glass almirahs that display a tantalising variety of local snacks like vadas, ethakkappams (made from ripe malabar bananas), sukhiyan, and so on. Morning tiffin items, amongst others, include thick, small dosas that are served with a simple coconut chutney spiced with shallots and red chillies. The tamilian 'set dosas' look a little like these small, soft wonders but the taste of these chaaya kada dosas is something so very different from any other dosa variety.

Decided to try making these at home. But, in keeping with my current mood of adding a little extra nutritional boost to all that I make, decided to substitute one part of the usual raw rice with the Kerala Matta rice. Kerala Matta or rose matta as it is known is a reddish-brown rice variety that is unpolished and hence packs in heaps of B vitamins and fibre. The earthy, flavoursome rice forms the daily lunch staple of keralite households.

Raw rice/ idli rice - 2 1/2 cups
Rose matta rice - 1 cup
Cooked Rose matta rice - 1/2 cup
Skinned Black gram (urad dhal) - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds (uluva/vendhayam) - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Sesame oil - 2 teaspoons

Rinse and soak the rice varieties and black gram seperately for 2 hours. Grind the black gram in a processor/grinder/mixer adding water little by little. The batter should be smooth, fluffy and thick. Next, grind the rice varieties along with the cooked rice and the soaked fenugreek seeds. The rice batter should be slightly coarser. Mix both batters together in a big bowl that allows space for fermentation and rising. Add salt to taste and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Let ferment overnight or atleast for 8-12 hours based on the weather. Colder weather calls for more fermentation time.
Next day, use a ladle to nicely whip up the batter again. Heat a flat dosa gridle, rub on a little oil and pour out a ladleful of batter. Use the back of the ladle to slightly spread out the batter. Let cook for about 2 minutes, flip and cook the other side.
Serve with any chutney of choice. I served mine with coconut chutney and a dry chicken-mushroom masala.

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