Monday, May 21, 2012

Broccoli Naan

Weekend is the time I like to cook elaborate meals. A few months back, I was at an Indian restaurant for a  lunch buffet where they served broccoli naan. I am not a big fan of this vegetable and never really enjoyed eating it - be it baked or boiled - the flavor is a little too strong for my taste. Naturally, I was a little skeptical as to how the naan would taste. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. It was really amazing and it didn't taste at all like broccoli.  It was a good revelation for me as it gave me a way to eat broccoli - sneak it in parathas or naans. After all you cannot give a miss to eating something that is so packed with nutrients.  

Broccoli naan has been on my to do list of recipes ever since I had it at the Indian buffet. Making this naan is just like making any regular naan. The only addition is stuffing the broccoli.  
Broccoli Naan

(Makes 6 palm sized naans)
1.5 cups APF (I used equal amounts of APF and whole wheat flour)
1 tsp instant/rapid rise yeast
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lukewarm water
1/4 cup yogurt (at room temperature)
2 tbsp melted butter/oil
Salt to taste
1/2 cup shredded broccoli  
Water/Milk to knead the dough

Making the naan is a simple 3 step process - 
1. Make the dough 
2. Make the stuffing 
3. Stuff and roll the dough out, and bake the naans

Start by preparing the dough. The dough needs to be rested for at least half an hour (more is always better). Since we are using instant yeast, the dough rises pretty quickly and you can make naans with as little as 30 minutes of resting time. 

1. The Dough:
  • In a bowl, mix sugar and yeast together and pour lukewarm water over the mix. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. 
  • In another bowl, take flour and add salt to taste. Mix well and pour the yeast mixture over along with yogurt and melted butter/oil. 
  • Mix all of the ingredients and add water/milk as required to form a loose, sticky dough. 
  • Oil the dough, cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for at least half an hour.  

2. The Broccoli Stuffing: 

To use broccoli as stuffing, it needs to be finely chopped, or shredded in a food processor. I find it easy the food processor way. All you need to do is clean the broccoli, put the florets in the food processor and pulse it a couple of times. 

I used just the shredded broccoli without even the added salt, but you can spice the broccoli up and use a spicy stuffing if you like. I prefer mine the simple way. 

3. Making the Naans:

  • Now that the dough has been resting for some time, divide it into 6 equal balls. 
  • Dip the ball in flour and spread it out with your fingers or simply roll it out to about 3" diameter.
  • Put 1-1.5 tbsp of shredded broccoli in the center, and gather all sides around the stuffing to form a ball.
  • Dust this ball with some flour and press it between your palms. At this point, you can choose to either roll it out or stretch it from all sides to form a triangular/oval naan. It should be about a quarter inch thick.  
Before baking, sprinke some dry flour onto a baking sheet/pan and then lay the naans over it. Bake the naans in a preheated 500 F oven for 10-15 minutes or until done. Apply butter on top and serve hot with your favorite curry.

The naans turned out really soft and stayed soft even the next day. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Ferment Dosa

Even though Idli, Dosa, Uttappam are popular breakfast items, A and I can have them at any meal. I love these foods and make them at least three to four times a month. Of the meals that we eat on weekends, usually one comprises of idlis or dosas. I SO love these foods that even the thought of it makes me hungry sometimes. The only problem is that it takes a whole day just to get the batter ready. But thanks to cousin M, now I can at least make dosas in very little time.

The reasons I love this quick dosa recipe are - it is very simple, and the dosas are very close to regular dosas in taste (especially when dunked in sambar). The recipe calls for soaking the rice and lentils for a few hours and grinding them to a smooth paste, just like any other dosa recipe. But batter can be prepared with as little as 4 hours of soaking the ingredients and dosas can be made as soon as the batter is ready.

Rice and Mixed Lentils Dosa

1/8 cup whole urad dal/split urad dal
1/8 cup toor dal
1/8 cup masoor dal
1/8 cup chana dal
1/8 cup moong dal
1/4 cup white rice
1/4 + 1/8 cup brown rice
1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)
Salt to taste

1. To make the batter, soak rice and lentils separately for 4 hours or more. You can use all types of dals (lentils) that you have on hand. The amount of rice used in this recipe is same as the total amount of all the lentils together. So if you have a cup of mixed lentils, use a cup of rice. I generally use whatever lentils I have on hand.

2. Once soaked, grind the rice and lentils (together or separately as you prefer) to a smooth paste. Add salt to taste. I have seen that many people add little bit of baking soda or ENO to the instant batters/mixes as it gives the batter some lightness. I normally don't add these to the batter, but you can use it if you want.

3. Now that the batter is ready, heat a griddle and pour a ladleful of batter in the center. Spread the batter from the center of the pan towards its edge in a circular motion.

4. Drizzle a few drops of oil along the side as dosa cooks. Once the batter on top starts looking dry, flip the dosa and let the other side cook. Add little more oil if required.

Serve hot with sambar and potato masala.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Onion-Spinach Pakodas

This season winter hit us a little too late. We practically did not have any snow and honestly it felt good to have warmer weather... no shoveling the snow or clearing the windshield. But somewhere deep inside, I was looking forward to at least a little bit of snow. So yesterday when I read about a winter storm with a few inches of snow accumulation, I got all excited. I absolutely love watching the snow and was thrilled with the weather we had today.

It had been snowing since this morning, and by afternoon it was just beautiful. The backyard and the leafless trees were all covered in a white blanket. A and I spent a lazy afternoon watching a movie followed by a hot cup of tea and some crispy pakodas.

Onion-Spinach Pakoda

I forgot to freeze leftover spinach puree from last week and it needed to be used at the earliest. So I just thought of using it along with onions to make pakodas. You need the following to make these pakodas -

1/2 medium onion (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup spinach puree
1/2 cup chickpea flour (more or less as needed in order to make a thick batter)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (more or less as per your heat preference)
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp carom seeds
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp baking soda (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

1. In a bowl, take thinly sliced onion and add all the spices along with salt. Rub the spices on onion and let rest for at least 15-20 minutes. This will release the juices and onions will soften.

2. Add spinach puree and chickpea flour, and make a thick batter.

3. Add baking soda to the batter and mix well.

4. Drop a spoonful of batter in oil and deep/shallow fry on a medium heat until golden brown.

Serve hot with the condiment of your choice(tomato ketchup/date-tamarind chutney/green chutney).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Prepping for Sankranti - Gul Poli

Today I want to share with you my very first experience of making Gul Poli (Jaggery Flatbread). Over all these years, I have been making Tilgul every Makar Sankranti. Apart from Tilgul, a very popular dish made on occasion of Sankranti in Maharashtra is Gul Poli. I had been holding myself back from making it just because I always thought it to be something very difficult and time consuming. Unlike many other festive dishes, I had never actually seen the process of making these. So, in spite of knowing the recipe I never made it. This year I was determined to try these as my husband and I absolutely love this dish.

Gul Poli is a flatbread that is made by stuffing a mixture of jaggery, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds inside a dough. For me, the actual process of stuffing, rolling and cooking did not take very long, but the preparations took quite some time.

Gul Poli
(made 11 flatbreads of 6-7 inch diameter)

To make Gul Poli, you need the following ingredients -

For Dough:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp besan (chick pea flour)
3 tbsp hot oil
1/2 cup milk
A pinch of salt

For Stuffing:
1 cup jaggery (grated)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup poppy seed powder
1/4 cup besan (chick pea flour)
1-1.5 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Before you make the stuffing, make the dough. The dough needs to rest before you roll it out.

Making the dough:

1. First sift all flours and add a pinch of salt.

2. Heat oil in a pan. The oil should be very hot.

3. Add oil to the flour mixture and incorporate well with the flour. To make sure that oil is well incorporated in flour, take a fistful of flour and rub it with your fingers. Continue this process until the oil is well mixed. To make sure, take a small quantity of flour and squeeze it in your palm. If the flour holds together, you can start making the dough. If not, add some more hot oil.

4. Now make the dough by adding milk to the flour mixture. The dough should be medium soft.

5. Once the dough is formed, knead it well. Apply some oil and cover it. Let the dough rest for a couple of hours (I let mine rest for 2 hours).

Making the stuffing:

1. In a pan, heat about a tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) and cook besan on it on low heat until golden brown. It took me about 5-7 minutes.

2. Dry roast sesame seeds, let them cool completely and then grind to a powder.

3. Mix cooled besan, jaggery, sesame seed powder, poppy seed powder and cardamom powder until well blended. This takes quite an effort, so I mixed them in a food processor. All you need to do is pulse all of these ingredients together. Once well mixed, the stuffing looks like this -

Making the Flatbreads:

1. Take a small ball of dough and roll it out about 3-4 inches in diameter (I divided my dough into 10 equal sized balls before I started).

2. Take some stuffing and put it in the center of rolled out dough (I used 1/8 cup measure to have the same amount of stuffing for each flatbread. Since there is nothing binding the stuffing, it is in a loose form. So, I packed the measuring cup with stuffing and it was easier to stuff that way).

3. Now gather all edges of the rolled dough around the stuffing (like you would do for a paratha) and remove the excess dough.

4. Dip the stuffed ball of dough in flour and start rolling it out (I rolled mine about 6-7 inches in diameter, and about 1/8" inch thick).

5. Cook on a medium heat until brown spots appear. Apply ghee on both sides as you cook.

6. Let cool completely before you store. These stay good at room temperature at least for a week, and even longer if refrigerated.

The polis turned out just wonderful and barely survived a day. Now, I am looking forward to making another batch in a day or two.