Saturday, October 24, 2009

Storing your curry leaves

Curry leaves were never so precious. Back in India, almost everyone has a curry leaf plant or your vegetable vendor gives them for free when you buy other veggies. I realized the importance of curry leaves only after coming to US. I practically use them every single day and it is frustrating to know that your grocery store doesn't have it the day you want. The store I buy all my Indian groceries and veggies carries real big packets of curry leaves and I must say they are expensive. So when they start going black in about a week's time, you obviously feel bad.

Two weeks back I got a huge packet of curry leaves and was wondering how to save this precious commodity. My friend S told me that she just dumps them in a freezer and they stay really fresh. Long back I was searching for some recipe and I came across what I believe was some kind of food forum. There somebody mentioned that storing your curry leaves and herbs in an aluminum foil keeps them fresh. So I said let's try keeping them in an aluminum foil in the freezer, and believe me they are just as fresh as I bought them.

I put a sheet of foil inside a zip bag, put the leaves in it and just dumped it into the freezer. Thankfully, it worked. It's been over two weeks now and I am so glad, I never need to throw them away.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Aloo Tikki

Diwali is here and we had a potluck dinner planned for this evening. I made a sweet dish and also a starter dish of Aloo tikki (potato patties). Who doesn't love potatoes? And this one is super-simple and super-yummy. All you need is just four ingredients right from your pantry - potatoes, red chilli powder, garam masala, and bread crumbs, and of course some salt.

Boil some potatoes and mash them with a fork, so that they retain their texture. Add salt, red chilli powder and some garam masala, and mix well. Divide the mixture into equal sized balls(so that tikki is about 2" in diameter). To make a tikki, press the ball between your palms and cover both sides in bread crumbs. Coat the bottom of a pan with oil and shallow fry the tikkis until golden brown. Serve it with tomato ketchup or sweet tamarind-date chutney.

I used 8-10 large potatoes which gave me 50 tikkis. I used plain bread crumbs, but you can use seasoned ones. I would suggest using red potatoes as they are less starchy and don't become very mushy.

Matar (Green peas) Rice

I love green peas and this rice is one of my favourite dishes. It tastes delicious and is pretty simple to make. Main ingredients you need are rice, peas and some fresh masala, which basically is made of just four ingredients - coconut, corriander seeds, cumin seeds ad dried red chillies.

2cups Basmati rice
1cup peas (you can always add more)
4cups water
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
4 Tsp corriander seeds
2 Tsp cumin seeds
6-8 red chillies (dried)
1.5-2 Tbsp jaggery
5-6 curry leaves
Salt to taste

Before you start wash the rice and drain all water, and keep the rice aside. Start by taking about a teaspoon of oil in the pan. Add coconut flakes, chillies, cumin and corriander seeds and saute it for about a minute or until the mixture color changes slightly. Take them out and grind them into a fine paste. Add about a tablespoon of oil in the same pan to make tempering. Now add rice to it and saute it for a minute. Add peas and saute for another minute and then add water (preferably hot). Now add salt, fresh masala and some jaggery. Put the lid on and let the rice cook. Serve it with some ghee (clarified butter), freshly grated coconut and cilantro.

Happy Diwali

It's Diwali and this year I am busy studying for my exam. I did not get time to make any sweets or other Diwali specialties. They are pretty time consuming. Though I couldn't make anything this year, I was delighted to see the snap my mom sent me from her Diwali album. All these dishes look so festive :) I have been making them every year since I have been here in US. I definitely plan on making every single dish (well may be not Anarsa :P) sometime this year (once I get time) and will post the recipes as and when I make these dishes. For now, I will just post the snap. Hope you enjoy it too.

Friday, October 16, 2009

At Last...

I love cooking and always wanted to write my own food blog. I want my blog to be a ready reference to the recipes I love and also to those I try. I used to write recipes in my own recipe book ( I have this same journal probably since I was 15-16, that is for more than 10 years now), but now it's old and I have to make sure that I don't lose any of the pages. Though I loved food, I hardly cooked when I was in India. I was either a full time student or was working full time and mom used to take care of everything. But even then I used to try out new recipes. I used to watch almost all food shows especially Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana-Khazana. After coming to US, I became a full time cook and realised that I really love and enjoy cooking. Whenever I try some new recipe, I always tell my mom about it and elaborately tell her how to make that dish. So this is a good way for her to access my cooking adventures :) Being a Maharashtrian, I think my initial posts will include a lot of Maharashtrian and Indian dishes, because that is what I cook on a daily basis. I look forward to jotting the recipes I love and also the new ones I try.