February 21, 2007

The eight step Pulao before a trip

1) Waste time wondering why days preceding a trip are so short
2) Remember the 101 things you have to do, especially clearing the fridge/ freezer
3) Go through your packing list as you chop fenugreek
4) Hesitate at #4, rummage through neatly packed bag, make a mess, repack
5) Pick up half used packets of corn and paneer from freezer
6) Look at fridge wistfully since your husband will be turning it into a science experiment soon
7) Make a pulao to use up everything and pretend that was the 'recipe' all along
8) Close blog before you miss the flight

pulao

METHI CORN PANEER (and anything else you want to get rid of) PULAO
(serves 2)
1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 bunch of fenugreek, washed and chopped
a handful of corn
5-6 paneer cubes (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 medium size onion, sliced
2-3 green chillies
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Roast lightly and powder - (more about this mix here)
1" piece of cinnamon
3-4 green cardamoms
3-4 cloves

Heat ghee/ oil in a pan. Add paneer cubes and fry till lightly browned. Remove and keep aside. Add bay leaf, then sliced onion and chillies. Saute till it turns translucent.

Next add ginger garlic paste and mix well. Toss in fenugreek and corn and season to taste. Cook until just done. Add cooked rice. Sprinkle spice powder evenly on top and mix well. Top with paneer cubes. Serve hot with a raita.

So dear reader, see you in three weeks.

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February 17, 2007

D is for Drumstick Dal

After her superb A-Z series of Marathi cuisine, Nupur at One Hot Stove is now compiling an A-Z of Indian vegetable dishes. She has invited all bloggers to participate and graciously made it flexible by leaving the choice of vegetable (and language!) to us. Rather than wait for an 'M' (for 'muskasang' in Konkani) or an even later 'S', I am sneaking in this Drumstick Dal for the on going letter D ;-)

Let me hasten to add the staid name doesn't do the dish justice. It's not just drumsticks and dal; though of course the story does revolve around the two. There is also a fiery coconut masala in the background that asserts itself when you least expect it, and a raw mango that adds a hint of mystery. The plot thickens with the blink and miss presence of an onion. What will happen next? Will you bite into a juicy drumstick? Or chance upon a tangy mango cube? Only time will tell...

dal

SHEVGACHYA SHENGACHI AMTI (Drumstick Dal)
(serves 2-3)
1 cup split red gram(tur dal)
1/2 onion, sliced
3 green chillies, slit
1/2 raw mango, peeled and cubed (or 2-3 kokum)
5-6 drumsticks, cut into 2" pieces*
salt to taste
For masala -
2-3 peppercorns
1/2 onion, sliced
5 tbsp grated coconut
For tadka -
oil
mustard seeds
asafetida
curry leaves

Wash dal in 2-3 changes of water. Combine with onion and green chillies. Cook in 1 1/2 cups of water until well done.

Grind coconut, peppercorns and onion into a fine paste adding a little water. Set aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds; when they splutter add asafetida and curry leaves. Next add drumsticks and mango cubes. Stir well and add cooked dal. Adjust consistency with water and season to taste.

Bring to a boil then add coconut masala. Simmer for 5-6 minutes and serve hot.
* I used frozen drumsticks available in Indian grocery stores

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February 14, 2007

Valentine-y Vanilla Hearts

Choose which applies best -
A) I think it's another marketing gimmick by greeting card companies, restaurants, soft toy manufacturers, Hollywood, chocolate makers, florists...

B) I don't go overboard with the mushy stuff but there's no harm in having some fun.

If you chose A, replace the word 'hearts' with 'cookies' and proceed
If you chose B this recipe is for YOU!!!

vancookie2

VANILLA HEARTS
(adpated from Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking)
(makes 16)
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup super fine sugar
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
sugar for dusting

Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter. Preheat oven to 350° F.

Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Rub in butter with your fingers until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add sugar and extract and knead into a firm dough.

Place on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a disc of 1inch thickness. Cut out heart shapes with a 2 inch cutter.

Arrange on sheet and bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes or until light golden. Transfer to rack to cool. Dust with sugar before serving.

cookie2

* These are the easiest cookies (rather shortbread) you will ever make. No stirring, whisking, creaming yet the dough comes together nice and fast. It gets a little difficult to cut out the cookies as the butter softens, so work quickly. They taste like the famous Shrewsbury biscuits of Pune ("khushkhusheet" for those who understand) with a more prominent vanilla flavor.

On another note, it's award season in blogosphere (thanks Manisha for the heads up). I am thrilled to be nominated alongside some fabulous blogs. Do visit the Indibloggies site and vote for your favorite - and I can't resist adding, it would be great if your favorite were me!

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February 12, 2007

Leafy thin - Paan Pole

This post was originally written in October 2006. Yes, that's how long overdue it is; but I have a valid reason for my procrastination - everytime I made these dosas, I forgot to measure how much water I added to the batter.

Sure I could have used the generic description of 'a flowing consistency', but how useful is that if you are trying a recipe for the first time? So this time I wrote a reminder to myself and stuck it on the burner the night before. And that's how this post finally saw the light of day.

I think the name 'paan pole' is an allusion to how thin these dosas are (paan = leaf). Its plus point - no fermentation required; its negative point - the batter, what else? I speak from experience when I say it's really easy to mess the batter up!

But don't let such talk scare you. They are worth a little sweat - as soft as a fine saree and equally comforting. Paan pole and chutney/ jaggery is a weekly affair at my in laws' home. It is a treat to watch my mother in law dish them out with perfection (I am nowhere close). However my favorite accompaniment to paan pole remains a spicy chicken curry - believe me it is a match made in heaven!

paanpole2

PAAN POLE (Thin Dosa)
(makes 6)
1/2 cup short grain rice
1/4 cup grated coconut
salt to taste
oil for frying

Soak rice in enough water to cover (1 1/2 cups) overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours. Wash in 2-3 changes of water. Then grind to a fine paste along with coconut and salt, gradually adding about 1 cup of water.

Remove to a mixing bowl and add water to get a very runny batter, about 1/3 cup. Mix well. The batter should have a few bubbles on top and the consistency should be that of buttermilk.

Heat a non stick skillet/ frying pan with a teaspoon of oil. Drop half a ladleful of batter into the centre of the pan. Lift pan and rotate gently so batter spreads into a thin circle (look at edges in photo).

Cover and cook for half a minute (on moderate heat). Fold twice and serve hot - they are best eaten fresh off the pan. Serve with chutney for breakfast or spicy chicken/ vegetarian curry for dinner.
(Remember to stir the batter everytime)

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February 09, 2007

Something Borrowed - Egg Curry

Remember when I mentioned here that we had family visiting? Though I didn't find the time to blog at the time, I did manage to finagle a couple of choice recipes from my sister in law. Like this egg curry.

Eggs are the quintessential stand by in my home, whether it's for breakfast or for dinner. Like potatoes, they help me delay a visit to the grocery store! But that's not the only reason this curry has become a favorite. It tastes just lip smackingly great - who'd have thought poaching eggs would make such a big difference to the flavor?

Grind masala, make gravy and break eggs. Is that it? Well, almost. The meat masala you use will make or break the curry. My meat masala comes from my mother in law and the lazy cook that I am, I have never bothered to ask her for a recipe! But a good quality meat (red not brown) masala should suffice.

Eat sitting cross legged on the floor, with pao or thick rotis, while imagining the scent of wood fired stoves and wet hay in the air - it's that kind of a hearty, rustic dish.

eggcurry2

EGG CURRY
(serves 2)
1/2 medium size onion, chopped
1 medium size tomato, chopped (kokum if you have it works too)
2-3 eggs
salt to taste
oil
For the masala -
1/2 onion, sliced
1/3 cup grated coconut
6-8 stalks of fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp fresh ginger garlic paste
1 tsp of meat/ Malwani masala

Heat half a teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add sliced onion and saute till it begins turning golden brown. Next add grated coconut and cilantro. Saute on medium heat until the coconut is toasted and the cilantro wilted.

Grind these ingredients in a blender along with ginger garlic paste and meat masala. Add water as required. Keep aside.

In a deep bottomed sauce pan (so the eggs remain intact) heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped onion and saute till it turns golden. Add tomato and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add coconut masala and stir until it loses some of its moisture.

Next add 1/2 to 1 cup of water to get desired consistency and salt. Bring to a boil on moderate heat. Break an egg into a small bowl, then tip into the pan gently from the side. Repeat with remaining eggs. Lower heat and bring to a second boil.

Check to see if eggs are well done. Simmer for a few minutes, garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve hot.

* Add red chilli powder if you want a spicy curry

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February 08, 2007

Interesting Reads

"High-tech tomatoes. Mysterious milk. Supersquash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us?" ~ Anita Manning

I posted this quote on my blog a while back, thinking at the time that it was funny but also that it hit the mark in an exaggerated sort of way.
Not that exaggerated I think, since reading an article I came across via The Accidental Hedonist, a blog I read often for Kate's unforgiving look at the American food industry. (Here's an ongoing list of products containing HFCS that she maintains).
The article is an eye opener - "What is 'real' Kraft cheese?"

While you are at it, spare a few minutes to read this excellent piece of writing - Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan. It's quite a long article so if you are in a hurry scroll down to the nine rules of thumb at the end.