Saturday, November 6, 2010

Almond Shortbread

The Halloween celebrations last weekend have officially marked the beginning of holiday season. I love this last quarter of the year where you have all the celebrations, festive foods and lots of sales (read shopping) to look forward to. Considering the gigantic sweet tooth that I have, I love these sugar high holidays - A reason to eat more sweets and feel a little less guilty about it.

Almond Shortbread Cookies
(From this recipe, Makes 12 wedges)

I have a bunch of bookmarked recipes and have been wanting to make these shortbread cookies for a while now. This is probably the simplest baking recipe ever. You just cannot go wrong with it. The recipe calls for Almond Meal. This is an expensive ingredient. One pound packet costs about $12. I was very sure that I will not be able to use up so much quantity in a couple months. I was reading the label on the packet and it said "Almond meal is simply the blanched almonds ground..." So I thought why not make my own almond meal? All you need is blanched almonds.

(Almond Meal)

I used 1/2 lb blanched almonds which yielded 3 cups of ground almond. The recipe I followed for shortbread also mentions that adding sugar while grinding almonds helps absorb oils from the nuts.
1. Using a coffee grinder or Indian style mixer-grinder or mixie as many people call it, ground almonds in batches.
2. I divided half pound almonds in 4-5 batches. With every batch add a couple pinches of sugar and grind to a medium powder.
3. Voila, you almond meal is ready! Store in an air tight container in the fridge.

I followed the recipe from Joy of Baking word to word. The only change was instead of rice flour, I used corn flour.
  • In a bowl, beat together 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature) and 1/4 cup sugar. Add 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
  • In another bowl, mix 3/4 cup APF, 1/4 cup almond meal, 2 tbsp corn starch and 1/8 tsp salt.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients in butter-sugar mix. This forms into a soft, buttery and loose dough.
  • In an 8" round pan press the dough and score into wedges. Prick the dough with a fork so that it won't puff up.
  • Bake in a 300 F oven for about 50 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Let cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges and cool completely before storing.
The shortbread tasted great and we had it with evening tea for three days in a row. The next time I make it, I think I will use a square pan and cut it into sticks instead. I think powdered cashews will taste equally good and plan to use them next time.

This weekend celebrates Diwali, the festival of lights. Wish you all a very Happy Diwali and a wonderful year ahead!

Monday, October 25, 2010

One Pot Vegetable Stew

I am a big fan of one dish meals. Who wouldn't like it if you could have all the flavors and nutrients in one dish instead of cooking a couple different dishes? These one pot wonders often cook in my kitchen. Though rice tops when it comes to one dish meals, stews and pastas are also the tough contenders when it comes to balanced meals.

One Hot Stove, the host for Blog Bites event is hosting its eighth edition this month, which by the way ends in a few hours. And I am gonna make it just in time :) The theme for this month's BB8 is One Dish Meals, and here is my entry.

Vegetable Stew
(adapted from this recipe)

This is a very simple and versatile stew. All you need is some veggies and spices of your choice. I used onion, potato, carrot, bell pepper, corn, tomato and black eyed peas.

1. In a pot heat 2 tsp oil and add a clove of garlic - grated or minced.

2. Add 1 small onion diced, and saute until translucent.

3. Next add half a carrot and 1 small potato and let them cook for a while.

4. Add pepper, corn, tomato and cooked beans of your choice along with 3 cups of water or vegetable stock.

5. Season with red chilli powder, cumin powder, a teaspoon of sugar (optional) and salt to taste. Feel free to use the spices of your choice. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes on a medium heat.

6. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and toasted bread. Alternatively you can toss in some short cut pasta as the stew simmers.

With proteins from the beans; carbs, vitamins and fibers from veggies and whole grain bread/pasta, this one pot stew is a complete meal. And now off it goes to BB8!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Delicious Vegetarian turns One!

Delicious Vegetarian turned ONE just a couple days back... YAY. I can't believe it's actually been a year. What started as a getaway from studying for CPA exam has become a fun activity for me (though I always thought I should write a blog, I was more than happy reading and enjoying what others wrote).

I'll take this opportunity to say "Thank you Mom" for teaching me the basics of cooking and being an inspiration. Thank you dad for trying my recipes in the times when I could barely call myself a cook. And a BIG thank you to A, my ever supportive husband. Oh by the way, he is also the designated photographer of this blog and often my sous chef too :)

I also want to thank all my friends who read my blog and email me their feedback, tips, comments etc etc. AND a thank you to all you readers. So let's celebrate the first birthday of my lil blog with something sweet.

But before I write any more, let me answer the question in my earlier post. The answer is PURPLE BASIL
. It smelled so good. I thought it smelled like a combination of fennel and basil. How I wish I could cook with it. But with A being under the weather, I had no time for a few days and had to give away my basil before we went out of town. Hopefully I will get it again come next summer.
Gajar (Carrot) Poli

(adapted from this recipe)

Ever since I came across the recipe for Gajar Poli on Aayi's Recipes, I wanted to try it. I followed the recipe with some modifications.

1. For the carrot mix, I used a cup each of shredded carrots, milk and sugar. In a pan add a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) and saute carrots until slightly tender.
2. Add milk and cook until the mixture starts to thicken. Add sugar and mix well. The mix will loosen up after adding sugar.
3. Cook until the mixture thickens again. Add a teaspoon of cardamom powder and let cool.
4. To make poli, take a small ball of whole wheat dough and slightly roll it out. Stuff it with carrot mix and close all the edges as you would do for a dumpling.
5. Roll the stuffed ball and cook both sides on a pan, and serve.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welcome to My Kitchen!

Have you ever heard of a food blog event that doesn't ask you to cook at all? Wait till you read this. This week Nupur of One Hot Stove is hosting a real fun event which asks the participants to write about their own kitchens, how they organize it and post some snaps of their spaces.

The event is just for this week. I was out of town and wasn't sure until today if I would be able to participate. But now that I can, I am so glad. Every cook longs for a great looking, clutter free and well organized kitchen, and I am no exception. I just cannot work in a kitchen that is full of clutter and my biggest necessity is to have everything organized. But apartment living hardly offers you any options. I am not unhappy with my kitchen, I only wish it had more storage space.

(Left side of kitchen)

Mine is a 9x11 rectangular kitchen. On left side are cooking range, 2 counters, sink and a dishwasher. This side has a total of 4 overhead cabinets. 2 small square ones, and a full and a half cabinet. It also has a half cabinet under the first counter. The counter next to the stove is used the most, and drawer under it holds all the cooking tools.

The next counter has a corner rack for dinner plates, a caddy for forks & spoons, and a dish drainer. This counter is not used very often for prep purposes, and whenever I need it, I simply keep aside the dish drainer. Simple rods, a couple baskets and s-hooks from Ikea really helped organize things.

At the very end of left side is a small pantry that houses my groceries. The recycled pasta sauce and Bournvita bottles carry all dals, dried beans, and other items. They have really optimized the use of pantry. I also have some groceries in simple Rubbermaid take along containers just because of the fact that they are stackable.


On the other side of the kitchen is the fridge and next to it is a counter. However, this counter is of no use since microwave takes almost the entire space. It also has a full overhead cabinet that holds extra spices and snacks.

(Right side of kitchen)

Next to this counter is some free space, where I have a bookshelf. Sounds odd... isn't it? I was looking for something which I could use for appliances and other stuff. I have spent a lot of time looking for storage solutions. I looked for baker's racks and kitchen cabinets, but they were too expensive. Then I bought a simple folding table, but had to return it as it was too big for the space. Then I had this thought of using a bookshelf and it worked just perfectly. Thankfully, it doesn't look that odd (or may be I am used to seeing it there).

The drawers under the microwave counter are full of steel bowls, knives, strainers, peelers and some other stuff.

I am very fond of storage bins as they prevent clutter. On the topmost shelves of overhead cabinets (which are accessible only with the use of a footstool) I have packets of snacks (like parle-G, granola bars), spices and the like put up in plastic baskets. I would hate to dump food packets on the shelves and then rummage through them to find what I need, so I bought these baskets from dollar shop - a simple and cheap solution. So far I am happy with my kitchen. It is totally functional, plus there is nothing more I can do to it even if I want to as there is no more space.

If you too want to share your kitchen spaces, join the "Kitchen Link Party" here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

Wish you all a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Homemade Puris for Panipuri

My love for Panipuri is inexplicable. Known by different names such as golgappa, phuchka; panipuri is probably the most popular street food in India. Having good puris is the utmost requirement for a good panipuri. I usually use storebought puris, but most of the times they are not so fresh. And that is why I started making my own puris. Of course I don't always make them, as making them is quite a task. But believe me it is so worth it.

Puris for Panipuri are made with a semolina dough. The dough is then rolled and deep fried in oil. I have made these a few times now, and all I can say is they are way better than the puris we buy here at India grocery stores.

Puris for Panipuri
Making the dough is very simple, but what is difficult is rolling it out. To make this dough all you need is semolina, APF, salt and water. Most of the Indian stores carry panipuri flour. If you have that, all you need to do is form a dough. I normally use semolina, but this time I had some leftover panipuri flour from last time, so I used that instead.


(makes about 12o puris of 1.5" diameter)
2 cups semolina
4-5 tbsp APF (more or less as needed to bind the dough together)
1/2 tsp salt
Warm water
Oil for deep frying
( If you use panipuri flour, skip APF)

1. In a bowl take semolina and salt, and soak it in little bit of water for about a minute. Now add APF and make a dough. Put about a quarter teaspoon of oil and knead until smooth. Make sure that the dough is firm.

2. Once dough is formed, let it rest for about 30 minutes.

3. To make puris, take some dough and roll it out very thin. Using a small cookie cutter cut it into individual puris.

4. Heat some oil and deep fry these puris on a medium heat until golden brown.

5. Let cool completely. Store in an air tight container.

Remember that this dough is very elastic and keeps stretching back. That is why it is very important to roll it out very thin. If you fry a thick dough, puris will be soft and not as hard as the ones needed for panipuri. If some of the puris don't puff up, don't worry - you can always use them for Ragda puri or Shev puri.

Before you store your puris, check if there are any soft puris in the batch. Sort them out, spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 180-200(F) degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. Enjoy the fruit of your hard work!

You can find the recipe for Panipuri here.

And now a little quiz time. Can you guess what this is? I got it from the Farmer's market.
I will be back with the answer and a recipe for the above in a couple of days. See you then!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A New Twist to Dahi Vada

I have always loved watching cooking shows. Remember the 90's, when there were just a couple of food shows on Indian television? I never gave a miss to Sanjeev Kapoor's 'Khana Khazana'. Later when Tarla Dalal's show started I watched that too. If I found something interesting, I would grab whatever paper I could find and jot down the recipe. Later I started keeping a paper and a pen before the show started. Of course I don't need to tell you that I never tried those recipes :P

Then came the time when I developed more interest in cooking and decided that I would try the recipes soon enough. And I did a few actually. I have no memories of what they were or how they turned out. While going through my old recipe journal, I found a few recipes that I had jotted down from these cooking shows. And one such recipe is
'Low Cal Dahi vada'. It is from Tarla Dalal. The funny thing is, years later I found it online and realized how awfully I had written it in my journal :D

Moong Beans Dahi Vada

(adapted from this Tarla Dalal recipe )

Traditionally, Dahi Vada (which is a dumpling soaked in yogurt mix) is made with urad dal but this one is made with green moong. I had some leftover moong sprouts from the week, and I had been wanting to try this recipe since ages. I used the following to make these Dahi Vadas.

For making Vadas you need -
1 cup sprouted green moong beans
2 green chillies
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
A pinch of baking soda (optional)
Salt to taste

1. To make vadas, grind moong and chillies together into a fine paste.
2. Add ginger, cilantro, baking soda and salt, and mix well. The batter looks like this -
3. Now spray the sandwich toaster with oil and put a spoonful of batter into each of the four compartments of the toaster.

4. Once the top side starts to look dry, turn the vadas and let them cook for a couple more minutes. Take them out and put them in cold water for about 2-3 minutes.
5. Take vadas out of water, squeeze them between your palms and take the excess water out. Now put vadas in yogurt mixture.

To make yogurt mix, you would need -
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp dry mint leaves (optional)
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
salt to taste

In a deep bowl, mix the above ingredients. Make tempering of 1 tsp ghee, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp asafetida and 4-5 curry leaves. Pour this tempering on the yogurt mixture and mix well. Put vadas in and let soak for about 30 minutes. Keep in the fridge to chill. Serve cold.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sweet Coconut Rice

I am back to blogging after two long months. I was studying the entire summer and am so glad that it is over. So no more studying for me now. The laziness really took over me for a couple weeks after the exam. My poor brain was so tired that I needed to relax for a while.

Over the past couple weeks I haven't been cooking anything much besides regular meals. I have spent those weeks watching movies and tv, going out shopping/window shopping, knitting and sleeping. Now I feel fresh and am all set to try those bookmarked recipes.

Two days back it was Narali Pournima and I thought I should make coconut rice at least this year. Narali Pournima is a Maharashtrian festival. A dish called 'Naralibhaat', which means coconut rice is a special preparation on this day. I remember celebrating even the tiniest festival as a kid. My grandmother used to make all those special dishes associated with each festival. Thinking of those days really makes me nostalgic. My granny made an awesome coconut rice. It's literally been ages since the last time I had it.

If you have a sweet tooth like I do, you would definitely love this rice. Another reason I like it is the combination of coconut and jaggery. I totally enjoy all those foods that have the coconut-jaggery combo. This rice is made by adding a mixture of coconut and jaggery to cooked rice.

Sweet Coconut Rice
To make this rice, you would need the following -
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1.5 cups jaggery
1.5 cups shredded coconut, fresh or frozen (I used fresh)
A pinch of saffron threads soaked in a tablespoon of warm milk
1.5 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
5-6 pieces of cloves
1/4 cup mix of cashews and raisins (optional)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

1. Before you start, wash the rice two to three times and keep it aside for about 30 minutes.

Cook the rice as you would normally do (1cup rice + 2cups water) and pour saffron milk over it. Now gently mix it with a fork. An alternative to making this rice is to saute washed rice on ghee and then cook it.

In a pan add about 1-2 tsp of ghee, jaggery and coconut. Let it simmer until coconut and jaggery are mixed well. Make sure that there are no lumps of jaggery. Once cooked, the mixture will look like this -

In another pan, heat a tablespoon of ghee and add cloves to it. Add cooked rice and saute for about a minute.

Now pour the mixture of jaggery and coconut over rice and gently mix everything together. Add nuts before mixing. Let it cook for another minute or so.

Add cardamom powder if you like. Serve hot or at room temperature.

I made this rice in a jiffy and forgot adding nuts to it. That is why you don't see any nuts peeking through the rice.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kiwis and Limes

Two months back, I was in India. My trip extended by ten days because of flight delays due to Icelandic volcano eruption. On my way to the airport, I was telling mom what all (of course food items) I wanted to take with me to US, but couldn't take for some reasons, and how she must get them when she visits me later this year.

With all those heavy-hearted goodbyes and the most annoying immigration procedures, I was finally at the gate, waiting for boarding to start. And suddenly comes the news that my flight has been canceled. Ughh... At first I was really very tell me who wouldn't. Mom was very happy that she got ten bonus days to spend with me, and so was I :p

In those ten days I bought all those food items that I had forgotten about...adjusting the weight of my bags, taking off items that I thought were okay not to carry etc etc. One of these days my cousin K and I were in a grocery store to buy stuff in my new list. As we were checking out, I noticed a Panha (which is a raw mango drink) concentrate. I so wanted to buy it, but it was available only in one kilogram cans, and no way I could have fit it in my luggage. I will make it this summer if I get good raw mangoes. I really miss having all these awesome concentrates which are used to make Sarbats; especially now that the temperatures are soaring up.

When I was visiting my brother in Mumbai, my SIL made us a Karvanda Sarbat from the concentrate they had just bought from their Konkan trip. It was extremely refreshing and tasty...beautiful pale pink color ,a little sweet and a little sour. A & I adore lemonade made from fresh limes and have lot of it every summer. With my busy schedule these days, I was planning to make some concentrate so that we can have lemonade instantly. Suddenly I remembered the Karvanda sarbat and thought what if I make a kiwi lemonade instead. I thought probably kiwis would give a similar taste as they too are sweet and sour.

Kiwi Lemonade
(Kiwi Lemonade Concentrate - Makes about 15 cups of Lemonade)

I was looking for Kiwi Lemonade recipes and found a lot of identical recipes, but they were not close to what I was looking for. I wanted to make a lemonade that tastes more like Sarbat. Mom gave me a recipe once for Lime sarbat concentrate, and I decided to make some modifications to incorporate kiwis into it. Here is how to make this concentrate.

1. In a pot mix 2 cups of sugar with 2 cups of water to make simple syrup. Once the sugar dissolves completely, let it boil for a minute, and then turn the heat off.

2. Peel 5 Kiwi fruits, cut them into big chunks and puree them. This will be about a cup.

3. Strain and mix kiwi pulp with half a cup of fresh lime juice, and add this to sugar syrup.

4. Let cool and store in an airtight jar in the fridge. This can be used in the next 5-6 days.

5. To make lemonade mix 2 tablespoons of concentrate with a cup of water. Add a pinch or two of salt and stir well. Serve very cold.

I used a colander to strain kiwis and that is why the seeds are also in the concentrate. If you don't want the seeds in your lemonade, strain in a regular strainer. The lemonade gets a nice pale green color because of kiwis and is very refreshing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Green Tomato Chuteny

I have been looking for green tomatoes all these years. Ours being a small town, the Farmer's market here is a tiny one. I was never able to get green tomatoes here.

Two months back I bought a membership to a farm co-operative located in some town nearby, which recently opened their store here. With one membership, you can buy a total of 120 pounds of organic veggies without paying a single penny over what you have paid for membership. Isn't that amazing? And yes the membership is dirt cheap. I am so happy this summer as I am getting fresh and luscious veggies. I go there every Saturday morning and get my week's stock of vegetables.

On my yesterday's trip I was very happy to see green tomatoes at the store and got a few of them. To my disbelief, some of them already started changing color by the time I was home. I was out for a long time and it was the crazy heat that was responsible for it. Thankfully it did spare a couple for my chutney. Huh...

I was planning to make this green tomato chutney for a while now. I always loved chutneys, especially the tangy ones. Mom used to make this chutney quite often and of course I follow her recipe.

Green Tomato Chutney

1. Cut 4 green tomatoes in big chunks and saute on a teaspoon of oil for a minute. I used 4 small tomatoes.
2. Lightly toast a teaspoon of sesame seeds, grind them to a coarse powder and set aside.
3. Grind together 4-5 green chillies, 1/2 tsp grated ginger and tomatoes into a paste.
4. Add a teaspoon of sugar, ground sesame seeds and salt, and pulse it a couple times.
5. Make tempering of 1 tsp oil, 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp asafetida and a pinch of turmeric. Pour this tempering on the ground mixture and mix well.

Add some cilantro if you like. Serve it as a side with rice or chapati, or slather on bread slices to make sandwiches.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zucchini Flapjacks...Desi style

Weekend is here and fridge looks deserted as it looks every weekend. There is a lone zucchini lying in the crisper and nothing else. It's been in the fridge for a week and I still haven't used it. Huh... A is out for his cricket practice and I am too bored to go out and shop (though it takes just 5 minutes of walking to go to the grocery store). I was thinking of what to cook for dinner with this single zucchini and it just clicked.

(serves 2)
1. In a bowl mix 2 cups grated zucchini, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup each of rice flour and gram flour and about a quarter cup of chopped onion.

2. Add a teaspoon each of red chilli powder, white sesame seeds (lightly toasted), and carom seeds. To toast the sesame seeds, simply microwave them for 30 seconds.

3. Also add 1/8 tsp turmeric powder, a pinch of asafetida, and salt to taste.

4. Mix all the above ingredients well by adding water as needed, to form a soft dough. You need about a quarter cup of water.

5. Coat the bottom of a pan with very little oil and put a small ball of dough in the center. Spread the dough by pressing it with your fingers until it is about quarter inch thick.

6. Put the lid on and let it cook until you hear a sizzle. Now take the lid off and flip it to let the other side cook. Add some oil if needed. Don't put the lid on when the other side cooks.

7. Serve hot with the condiment of your choice.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mixed Fruit Sandwich

I must confess... ever since I read the theme for Blog Bites#4 hosted at One Hot Stove, I have been thinking of using the long waiting ingredients in my kitchen. In fact I loved this concept so much that I now plan on looking for such lurkers once every month.

Here is a list of current lurkers in my kitchen. This is the same list from my previous post. The only difference is that I have striked out the items that I used or that I finally started using as a part of this challenge.
1. APF ( I have this for the longest time since I started using whole wheat flour as much as I could in baking). I still have a little more APF left.
2. Chana dal which I don't use very often and which has not been used in almost 3 months
3. 1 packet of cake mix - Totally forgot about it and it had expired a couple months back, so had to trash it- So what if it cost me just a dollar? Felt very bad for wasting it
4. Baking cocoa
5. In the fridge door- Red chilli sauce, Soy sauce
6. Soyabean flour: I have started using this daily with whole wheat flour for making Chapatis
7. Found in my freezer- half a packet of methi leaves, drumsticks, pineapple chunks, leftover tomatoes from can, paneer ( I didn't even know it was there - just a few small cubes - but without even thinking about it, I trashed it - well if you don't know of something that you have you better not use it... right?) and of course frozen bananas-4 of them 1 left
8. 3 carrots, half a cabbage, spinach packet
9. 6 4 Eggs which expire in a couple days
10. About 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Wow... I am impressed :) that's a way better use of ingredients. I don't think I would have used them so quickly otherwise.

Well there is one more thing that I forgot to add to this list and that is strawberry jam... just about a tablespoon of it way down at the bottom of the bottle. And yes it expires in next 2 days... and I actually mean 2 days. I normally would have thought of having a regular bread butter jam sandwich for breakfast or would have trashed the bottle after realizing that it had expired and probably not felt bad for trashing it thinking it was just a tablespoon of jam after all. But wait...not at present, and that is because presently, I am going through 'Find ways to use lurkers' phase. So I had to use that last tablespoon.

Mixed fruit Sandwich

I was browsing Suma's blog and read this post where she mentions her family's favorite Banana sandwich. After reading it I thought wow... a Banana sandwich! I have never had a fruit sandwich before. Her sandwich (and that leftover jam in the bottle) actually compelled me to try this mixed fruit sandwich. I thought what if I try using different fruits and nuts instead of just Banana, and that is how I came up with this Mixed Fruit Sandwich.

1. Toast and butter bread slices.

2. Spread jam/ preserve of your choice.

3. Add whatever fruits and nuts you like and serve.

I used whole wheat bread; and banana, apple, dates, and coarsely chopped pistachios & cashews. The sandwich tasted really good with the crunchiness of nuts. There are a couple of things that I would like to share. Add bananas at the end so that they don't turn black and sandwich won't get soggy. The drawback of this sandwich is that unfortunately it can't be made ahead of time. You must immediately eat it to really enjoy the taste. I have no experience with kids, but I am positive that kids would love it.

I am sending this to Blog Bites# 4 as my second entry.

I am glad that I was able to use the perishable stuff as planned and did not waste it, which doesn't always happen.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Banana Bread for Chocolate Lovers

The theme for this month's Blog Bites event hosted at One Hot Stove calls for using up the food and ingredients in the kitchen that are just waiting to be used. Hmmmm.... interesting! So get ready, it's time for stock taking of the pantry.

Okay, here goes the challenge... in Nupur's own words -
Look into your kitchen cupboards, your refrigerator and freezer and raise your hand if you see any of the following; And my response to each question follows.
  • Open bottles of jams and preserves that have not been touched for months: Yes
  • Ingredients bought for a specific recipe that you have not used again: Yes
  • Foods given to you as gifts but that you never get around to using: No
  • Food at the back of the freezer that you can't even get to: Yes
  • Bottles lined up in the fridge door filled with mysterious sauces: Yes
  • Leftovers in the fridge waiting to be used up before you forget about them and chuck them out next weekend: Yes
  • Ingredients that you buy because they are nutritious and you feel like you should be eating them, but you can't think of ways to use them, so they sit there, taking up space and mocking you: Yes
  • Foods that are dangerously close to or just past the expiration date: No
  • Overripe bananas that you are collecting in the freezer: YES
  • Spices that you bought in bulk because the price was right but are now rapidly losing their flavor: No
  • A bulk package of something that will last you until 2035: No
  • Ingredients that you are saving for a "special occasion" that never comes: No
  • Impulse purchases from grocery shopping trips that are sitting around 6 months later and making you feel guilty: No
Well as you see I said yes to more than half of these questions and realized how much stuff I have that seriously needed my attention. So thanks Nupur for coming up with this great idea.

To start with, I made a list of all those lurkers in my kitchen. Some of these need an immediate action, else they will have to go in the trash and others need to be used because they have not been used in a really long time. So here goes the list -
1. APF ( I have this for the longest time since I started using whole wheat flour as much as I could in baking)
2. Chana dal which I don't use very often and which has not been used in almost 3 months
3. 1 packet of cake mix - Totally forgot about it and it had expired a couple months back, so had to trash it- So what if it cost me just a dollar? Felt very bad for wasting it
4. Baking cocoa
5. In the fridge door- Red chilli sauce, Soy sauce
6. Soyabean flour
7. Found in my freezer- half a packet of methi leaves, drumsticks, pineapple chunks, leftover tomatoes from can, paneer ( I didn't even know it was there - just a few small cubes - but without even thinking about it, I trashed it - well if you don't know of something that you have you better not use it... right?) and of course frozen bananas-4 of them
8. 3 carrots, half a cabbage, spinach packet
9. 6 Eggs which expire in a couple days
10. About 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Surprisingly, the list is not as long as I thought it would be. I ended up using almost half of these items in the last two days and have plans for using a few of these in the next two days. I used methi leaves and some of chana dal by making Dal-Methi. Pineapple chunks were used as an additional topping on a takeout pizza yesterday.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

We had friends over for cards night and I decided to make this double chocolate banana bread from the recipe that I read on The Sisters Cafe. I had all the ingredients that the recipe calls for and amazingly a lot of them were in the list above. Probably that was the main reason for making this chocolate banana bread.

I followed this recipe from The Sisters Cafe with a slight modification. I used butter instead of oil and baking powder in place of baking soda (since I did not have baking soda on hand). I did not use a lot of chocolate chips since I had just about half a cup of them. Everyone loved the cake bread. It was very moist and inspite of having so much chocolate, it still had that banana flavor.

This is my entry for Blog Bites # 4 hosted at One Hot Stove.

I plan to use carrots and drumsticks in Sambar (recipe is in the middle of the post) that I will make today to go with Idlis. The plan with the remaining carrots is to go in Manchurian along with cabbage, soy sauce and red chilli sauce. Some more chana dal will be used in Mixed Dal Appey sometime this month. And predictably enough spinach will be used for making Spinach parathas in the next 2-3 days. The last frozen banana, which can definitely sit a little longer in the freezer may be used in Sheera or Banana Pancakes.

I hope to use all of these as planned and not waste any. I also have one more kitchen cabinet left to check for any hidden packets. Thankfully I am not an impulsive shopper when it comes to groceries, so the chances of finding something mysterious are quite unlikely.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Methi in Chana Dal (Chana dal & Fenugreek curry)

I am back after quite a long break from blogging. About 2 days back I was reading about the Blog Bites (BB) event that is hosted at One Hot Stove, and this month's theme had me thinking of all those lurkers in my kitchen. Just as I was reading about this blog bites event, the first thing that came to my mind was Chana Dal. This is one dal that I don't use on a regular basis and is sitting ignored in one corner of my pantry. I also have a packet of methi (fenugreek leaves) that is patiently waiting in the freezer. I have been planning to use them for quite a while now, but obviously haven't used them yet.

Mom makes this methi dal that I simply adore. It is a such simple recipe, something that I treat as a comfort food. A perfect recipe to use up the ingredients in my kitchen that have long been waiting to be used. However, is not from any other blog, so I can't send it to BB. But coincidentally, I learned of an event hosted at Suma's blog. The theme for the event is Delicious Dals from India and guess what this methi dal perfectly fits the bill :)


(Serves 4)
1/2 cup chana dal
1 cup methi leaves (chopped)
Handful of raw peanuts (soaked for about 30 min)
1 tbsp gram flour
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coconut flakes
1 tbsp jaggery (more or less as needed)
4-5 dried kokum pieces
2-3 green chillies
Salt to taste
Tempering of 2 tsp oil

1. To start with, pressure cook methi, chana dal and peanuts.

2. Mash the cooked dal with the back of a ladle and then whisk in the gram flour to the mixture.

3. In another pot, make tempering and add to it chopped green chillies, kokum, the above mixture, salt, cumin, coconut flakes and jaggery.

4. Add about a cup of water (more if needed) and bring dal to a boil.

Serve with steamed rice or chapatis. The dal tastes the best when served hot. Now, I am sending this to off to Suma for the Delicious Dals from India event .

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Time out!

I have been MIA for over a month now. Last month was quite eventful. It was a last minute India trip to see my 13.5 year old ailing dog. Unfortunately he is no more. We had him right since the day he was born, and he was the baby of our house. It still feels nightmarish and I just can't get over with the fact. May his soul RIP.

I have an exam at the end of May and my studies took a back seat with the events unfolding. I was so depressed to even open my books. To add to this misery, my flight got canceled due to Iceland volcano eruption and I am stuck here in India :( I have already changed my reservation twice, and do not wish to go through this for the third time. I am looking forward to boarding the flight next week and am hoping that conditions don't deteriorate.

I really need to concentrate on my studies now and make good for the lost time. I will be gone for a while and will be back in June. Until then ciao!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sweet Shankarpali

I am leaving for India in a couple of days and wanted to keep some snacks ready to eat for DH. One of the snacks I made is Shankarpali, because they have a long shelf life and are quite filling.

Shankarpali is a Maharashtrian snack often made for Diwali. A dough for Shankarpali is formed by boiling together milk, ghee and sugar and then adding flour to it. Small squares are then cut and deep fried. All purpose flour is often used in making shankarpali, but shankarpali made with whole wheat flour are also popular.

To make Shankarpali, simply follow these steps-
1. In a saucepan mix a cup each of milk, sugar and ghee (clarified butter) and bring to a boil. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt to the boiling mixture. You can also add oil instead of ghee, but according to me, ghee tastes much better.

2. Take the mixture off heat and add as much whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour) as needed to form a soft dough. Make sure that flour and milk mixture are properly combined. You probably would need about 3-3.5 cups of flour.

3. Let the dough cool. Once cool enough to handle, knead it well and let it rest for about 1.5-2 hours. Before making Shankarpali knead it once again.

4. To make Shankarpali, take a small ball of dough and roll it about quarter of an inch thick. Make sure that you don't roll out the dough very thin. This will make Shanarpali hard once they are fried.

Cut into squares (or diamond shape) with a traditional Shankarpali cutter (which is like a rotary cutter) or regular pizza cutter. Luckily I have a cutter that has multiple cutters attached to a rolling pin, which makes my job a lot easier. This is how it looks like -

5. Deep fry the cut squares in oil or ghee until golden brown. Let them cool. Store in an airtight container.

Appetizing Black Chana Salad

About twelve years back, I traveled to Himachal for a trek. It was a long and boring journey as the train got delayed. On one of the stations, a guy hopped in the train just as it was about to leave, with a bamboo basket hanging by his neck. We were hungry and eager to see what was in there. He was selling some chana chaat. We were a little disappointed to see that it was only chana that he had. We had not tasted it before and decided to try it. As soon as I tasted it, I was in love with it. After that we kept on buying more one after the other. I can never forget the taste of that chaat. It had cooked black chana, onions, tomatoes, lime juice and some spices. Black chana is a type of chickpeas, but is smaller than chickpeas. It has a nutty taste and is high in iron and proteins.

After that trip, I have made black chana salad numerous times using the ingredients that were in the chaat. When I made it for the first time mom and dad both loved it. 'A' too loved it when he had it for the first time and now is a big fan of this salad. I make it often in summer. I generally use sprouted chana but soaked chana is totally fine.

To make chana salad you need -

2 cups black chana (cooked)
1 cup raw onion (chopped)
1 medium tomato (chopped)
Handful of minced cilantro
2-3 green chillies (cut in rounds or finely chopped)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp chaat masala
Salt to taste

To get chana ready for salad, soak it in water overnight. The next day pressure cook it until tender. If you want to use sprouted chana, drain the soaked chana and keep it in a sprout maker. After 6-8 hours you will have it ready. When you pressure cook chana, add some salt to it. For making salad, in a bowl mix cooked chana, onions, tomatoes, chillies, and cilantro. Add salt, chaat masala and fresh lime juice. Mix well. Salad is ready to be served. Serve it cold or at room temperature.

Just a couple more things - add green chillies according to your heat preference. Green chillies blend very well in the salad. If you cannot tolerate much heat, just add a green chilli, split open vertically, and take it out once all the ingredients are mixed well. That should give just enough kick to the salad.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Homemade Yogurt - Indian style

Making yogurt at home is not a big deal in India. Setting the yogurt is a daily chore. It is a part of routine to boil milk and add a spoonful of the day's leftover yogurt to it before going to bed. The next day you have a perfectly creamy yogurt. I am a big fan of such homemade yogurt for its texture and taste. I truly missed it when I first tasted yogurt in the US. My yogurt consumption subsided noticeably. Though I missed the fresh yogurt that I was used to eating, I eventually got used to this new taste . I have tried setting the yogurt with plain store bought yogurt, but never got the results.

Some days back I read a post on One Hot Stove about making homemade yogurt. I was so excited to read it. Nupur mentioned that she used Yogourmet culture. I decided to give it a shot and went to the local organic grocery store. There were a couple of yogurt starters. As soon as I saw a packet of Yogourmet, I jumped on to it :) I simply followed the instructions on the packet and woke up to a perfect yogurt I was dreaming for.

I used the following -

4 cups whole milk
1 sachet of Yogourmet culture (5gm)

I boiled the milk and let it cool. Since I did not have a candy thermometer, I used my judgment to gauge the temperature of milk and added the culture to the warm milk. I let it sit for about 6-7 hours and got amazing results. You must read the original post by Nupur (and I strongly recommend it) where she has explained the process step by step in detail. I cannot thank her enough for letting us know about this yogurt culture. The only reason I am writing this post is because I am super excited to see the way this yogurt turned out.

Another thing that I did differently was that I did not remove the malai (skin that forms on the milk) before adding culture. That is the thick patch you see on yogurt in the picture above. It is all malai that happened to set on one side of the casserole. I wanted to see if I can churn any butter, but that did not succeed. Anyway I am happy that I can now eat fresh yogurt everyday :)

March 2: An update

Today I tried setting a new batch of yogurt with the leftover yogurt from previous batch and it worked beautifully :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Holi with Puranpoli

It is Holi today. Holi or the Festival of colors is a widely celebrated festival in India. In Maharashtra, Holi is celebrated by burning a pyre of wood, which symbolizes triumph of good over evil. Holi means Puranpoli.

Except for last some years, there had never been a year when I did not eat Puranpoli on the day of Holi. Last time I made Puranpoli was 4 years back. But it was so much of work, that I did not make it after that. This year both A and I were craving for Puranpoli, so I decided to make it. I would like to dedicate this post to my Mami (aunt) who taught me how to make it. I was about 20-21 when I first tried my hand at Puranpoli and I definitely give her the credit for it. Thank you Mami!

But, before I write this post let me say this loud and clear that though I know the process of making Puranpolis, I am not an expert. I must tell you that I make very good Puran and I can make a very good poli (chapati), but I am not that good when it comes to making Puranpoli :) Those who have tasted a real Puranpoli should know what I mean. Anyway... I still keep on trying hoping that one day I too will master this art.

Puranpoli is made by stuffing Puran (which is a concoction of cooked chana dal and jaggery) inside a whole wheat dough.

Ingredients for Puran:

1 cup chana dal (pressure cooked until soft)
1 cup jaggery
1/2 tsp of nutmeg powder or cardamom powder

In a deep pan, mix cooked chana dal and jaggery and let it cook thoroughly. The mixture will start to thicken and will look dry. To check if Puran is ready, make the spatula/spoon stand in it. If it falls or leans, it means that you need to cook it more. If the spoon stands strong, your Puran is good to go. However, to use this Puran for making poli, you need to make it soft and free of lumps. You can use a food mill or simply your food processor. Once you have this soft puran, add nutmeg powder or cardamom powder to it as per your liking.

To make dough for Puranpoli, mix the following in a bowl -

1 cup whole wheat flour (sifted)
1 tbsp all purpose flour (sifted)
1 tbsp sooji/rawa (sifted)
A pinch of salt

To the above, add water to form a loose dough. Once you form a loose dough keep adding oil until it becomes soft and elastic. You probably would need about a quarter cup of oil. Let it sit for about half an hour. When ready, the dough will look like this -

To make Puranpoli, start by taking a small ball of dough, and roll it out a little just so that you can stuff the Puran in. Now, take a ball of Puran and put it inside the dough and close all sides. Roll it out and cook both sides on a pan. Puranpoli is ready to be served.

Serve it hot or at room temperature. Puranpoli is generally served with ghee, milk or Katachi amtee (a tamarind based curry); ghee being the most popular.

Wish you all a very happy Holi!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No cook event: Chutney Sandwiches

There are a lot of different events hosted by food bloggers. There are some food bloggers who are extremely creative and come up with some fabulous ideas. Until now, I did not follow any particular food blog, but came across some posts that were entries to different blogging events. I am still very new to the world of blogging (read food blogs) and have never participated in any event before. Some time back I stumbled upon a blog called " One Hot Stove" by very talented and super-creative Nupur. She hosted a 7 day recipe marathon from December 25 to December 31 counting down to new year - One dish every day. Of course I came to know about it after it was over.

Last month I learnt about a recipe repost event by Jaya of "Desi Soccer Mom", but I was late again :( She told me about the "No Cook Event" this month hosted by "PJ". I thought it would be interesting to see what different dishes people come up with where there is zero cooking involved. I just went through my previous posts and was surprised to find quite a few dishes with no cooking at all. The dishes that could qualify for this event are -Swiss Rolls, Bhel, Mango Chutney and Shrikhand. But, I decided to post a new one for this event. Considering the little time that I have on hand, I thought Chutney Sandwiches would be a perfect dish for this event. So here is my very first entry to any food blog event.

Chutney Sandwiches:

I decided to go with chutney sandwiches as they can be ideal for breakfast or even brunch. Chutney can be made ahead of time and sandwiches can be assembled in absolutely no time. Apart from being very tasty, it is a healthy meal option.

Ingredients for chutney:
1 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
3/4 green chillies (or as per taste)
Handful of cilantro
Juice of half lime/lemon
1.5 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Grind together green chillies, coconut and cilantro into a fine paste. Take out in a bowl and add lime juice, sugar and salt. Chutney is ready. You can also add some mint leaves while grinding. Sometimes I also use spinach and grind it with other ingredients. Spinach gives chutney a nice green color. All you people who hate spinach, trust me - you wouldn't even taste it in the chutney.

To assemble the sandwiches, butter the bread and slather chutney onto it. Top it off with the veggies of your choice. I used only the tomato and cucumber this time.

I often make a multilayer sandwich with different veggies in different layers. You can also have one layer of chutney and another with a slice of cheese and veggies. It makes a great lunch too. It is also a very good option to take along for picnics.

And now off it goes to PJ's No cook Event!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Veggie Cutlets

As a kid I loved everything that was coated with bread crumbs slightly fried on oil, and I still do. Mom used to make veggie cutlets quite a few times. My brother and I loved them for all the tasty reasons and mom loved making them because that way she made us eat all those veggies that we normally would not eat. She also made sure that those weren't too oily. If you don't like certain veggies, this is a good way to eat them. Potato is the important ingredient in this dish as it binds the veggies together.


3 boiled potatoes (mashed)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 cups carrot (peeled & shredded)
1 cup green peas
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chilli powder (more or less as per taste)
Salt to taste
Bread crumbs for coating

1. In a pan saute the carrots and onions until tender. You can add the veggies of your choice. Shredded beets can be used instead of carrots.
Add mashed potato, peas, red chilli powder and salt, and mix very well. Make sure that potatoes you add aren't too mushy.
3. Take some of this mixture and form patties. Coat all sides of this patty with bread crumbs.
4. Coat the bottom of a skillet with some oil and fry both sides of the patty until bred crumbs turn golden-brown. Serve with tomato ketchup.

The above mix makes about 20-22 palm size cutlets.

Friday, February 12, 2010


There was no special occasion to make Shrikhand today. In India, sweet dishes like this one are made on some special occasions such as festivals. I bought this yogurt tub and totally forgot about it. I generally don't throw away yogurt containers but reuse them to store things in my fridge (they are especially very useful in storing Idli and Dosa batters in the freezer in small batches). So there were two more yogurt containers sitting beside this one and I didn't even realize that I have one unopened yogurt tub. Duh... I immediately checked the date on it and said to myself "Ah... I am glad I still can use it" (though it can still be usable for a couple days after the use by date, I strictly stick to the date on package and use it by that date). There was no way I could have used it in one day. A loves Shrikhand and so do I. Needless to say DH was very happy to see this on tonight's dinner menu :)

Shrikhand is made of strained yogurt. In India, the most common method to get rid of excess water in yogurt is to tie the yogurt in a cloth and hang it overnight. This makes the yogurt thick and creamy. Now you just need to add a few more ingredients and voila Shrikhand is ready! No cooking involved. It is just the assembling and mixing of different ingredients.

1 tub yogurt (32 oz)
Sugar as needed
A few strands of saffron
Handful of slivered almonds or charoli nuts

1. Strain the yogurt. Initially I used the traditional "hang in a cloth" method, but now I don't use it any more. I think the best way to get thick yogurt is to use a colander or big strainer like this. Line with cheesecloth or a couple of sheets of paper towel, and dump in the yogurt. Cover the yogurt with paper towels and make the colander/strainer sit on a deep bowl in the fridge. After 3/4 hours you will get a thick yogurt.

2. Add sugar, saffron strand and nuts, and mix well. You will need about half the sugar of total yogurt(strained). Start by adding little less than half a cup and increase the quantity of sugar as required.
Traditionally Charoli is used in Shrikhand. But I always hated it :P, so I don't even bother to look for it in Indian stores. For me almonds work the best. I soak them in warm water for a few hours, take the skins off and finely cut them vertically.

Once your mixing is complete, Shrikhand is ready. Serve it with puri. There is no other combination that is as good as Shrikhand- Puri.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hot n Sweet Tomato Saar

Saar is one of the elements of a Maharashtrian meal. Tomato saar and Kokum saar are the most popular. Saar is similar to a soup but of a thinner consistency. Think of it as a consomme. However, unlike soups, it is served with the main course. It is usually served with rice, khichdi or by itself like a soup.

There are a couple different ways to make tomato saar, but I generally use the following method.

(Serves 3-4)

5 ripe tomatoes
2 tsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cumin powder (optional)
1/2 tsp asafoetida
3/4 green chillies (less if you want it to be too hot)
A couple of sprigs of cilantro (optional)

Start by boiling tomatoes for about 10 minutes. Remove the skin and puree them by adding some water. Strain this puree in a pot and add salt and sugar. Add water as needed and let the saar boil. In another pan temper ghee with cumin seeds, asafoetida and green chillies. Add cumin powder if you like. I generally use it because ghee infused with cumin gives saar a nice flavor. Now add this tempering to the boiling saar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. You can also add some coarsely chopped cilantro if you like. Serve hot. The heat from chillies gives it a nice kick and natural sweetness of tomatoes coupled with sugar adds to the sweetness.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Masala Dosa & Uttappa

It has been one crazy winter this time. Come every weekend and the weather ought to be bad. For the past few weekends there have been ridiculous amounts of snow. If at all snow showed any mercy, there has been this ruthless cold all through the weekend. Though cold can be manageable, there is nothing you can do when everything is snow packed. These are the times when food comes to comfort you. One of such comforting dishes is masala dosa served with hot sambar. I am a big fan of south indian food. I can literally have idlis and dosas everyday. Believe me it is heavenly to have dosa dunked in hot sambar.

Onion uttappa is another dish that I totally love. I use the same batter to make dosas and uttappas, so whenever I make dosas, uttappas come hand in hand. Masala dosa is made by putting some potato sabzi inside the dosa. I use the following to make dosa batter -


3 cups rice
1 cup urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp toor dal
1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
Handful of thick poha

To make the batter, soak all these ingredients separately (rice and lentils.. rest can be soaked in the same bowl)overnight or for 7-8 hours in warm water. I noticed that soaking in warm water speeds up the fermentation, so I generally use warm water. After they are soaked, grind them into a paste which should be slightly on a rough side. Now let the batter sit to ferment. It will take anywhere from 8-10 hours at the least for the batter to ferment. Add salt before you use the batter.

To make dosas, take a ladle full of batter and place it on the center of a pan. Spread it out in circular motion and let cook. Make sure that you spread a thin layer. Add some oil on it while it cooks. Dosa is ready to be served. Serve it with hot sambar and coconut chutney.

For Masala (potato sabzi) you need -
3 medium potatoes (boiled and diced)
1 large onion (cut into thick slices)
4/5 curry leaves
3/4 green chillies
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Tempering of 2 tsp oil

In a pan make tempering and add to it green chillies, curry leaves and onion. Saute the onion until tender. Add potatoes, salt and sugar, and mix well. Let it cook for a minute or two. Masala is ready for your dosa. You can also add about a teaspoon of grated ginger root if you like. Add it to the tempering just before you add onions.

For Sambar you need the following :
1 cup cooked toor dal
1 medium onion
1 medium tomato
1 cup veggies of your choice
1.5 tbsp sambar powder
3 tbsp tamarind pulp (or as required)
3/4 dried red chillies
Few curry leaves
1/4 tsp ground clove
Salt to taste

1. Make tempering of 1 tsp oil and add curry leaves and red chillies to it.
2. Add onions and tomatoes and saute until tender. Add other veggies of your choice and let them cook.
3. Add cooked toor dal, tamarind pulp, sambar powder (I use MTR brand), salt and water, and let it boil for some time. Add some ground clove at the end (optional).


Put some dosa batter in the center of a pan and spread it out just as you would do for a dosa but slightly thicker. Add some chopped onions and green chillies on top while the batter is still wet.

Once one side cooks, flip it and let the other side cook. When you flip it the onions will caramelize giving uttappa a really nice taste.
Serve hot with sambar or coconut chutney.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tangy Mango Chutney

On yesterday's grocery trip I spotted some mangoes in one corner of the store. Every time I see mangoes, I look for the hardest and fully green mango and buy it hoping that it would be sour. And every time after cutting it I promise myself that I am never going to buy mangoes again. Well well well... that hasn't happened yet and I don't think it is going to happen any time soon. I am just being optimistic here that some day I will find a raw mango that tastes exactly like the raw mangoes in India.

I love raw mangoes and I am pretty sure that 99% of Indians love them too. So the moment I spot raw mangoes, I think of all those tangy dishes I can possibly make. But I have been so unfortunate...I never get tangy mangoes. Alright...enough of complaining. This time's mango was no exception, but I had so decided to make mango chutney that I didn't even bother that it wasn't sour. I somewhat achieved that slight tangy taste by adding amchur powder which basically is a dried mango powder.

To make mango chutney follow these steps-
1. Take mango and onion in 1:1 ratio (both grated - I used a total mix of 1/2 cup).
2. In a grinder, make some green chilli paste.
3. Add grated mango, onion, a couple of sprigs of cilantro (optional), a tablespoon of ground peanuts, salt and little bit of sugar, and churn it just a couple of times.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rich and Creamy Naaral Wadi (Coconut fudge)

Back in India, there is a huge coconut tree in our garden. My grandparents planted this tree in the early 60s and it is still standing strong. It always had a massive yield and still does today. We probably never had to buy coconuts. My grandmother had a sweet tooth... a real big one :) and she always made naaral wadi. It is such a delicious sweet. Naaral wadi or coconut fudge is made by boiling a mixture of coconut, sugar and milk. The mixture is then poured on to a cookie sheet and squares are cut once it cools down.

(makes about 15-20 squares of 2"x2")

1 cup shredded coconut (frozen or fresh)
1 cup half and half/ whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
A few strands of saffron (optional)

To make naaral wadi, mix coconut, milk and sugar. You need to stir the mixture almost constantly until it cooks. As the mixture heats up, milk will start boiling. If you want to add saffron add it once the milk starts to boil. Saffron gives it a nice flavor and color. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes thicker. As the milk starts to condense, the mixture becomes creamier. Just a heads up: As the milk starts to boil and mixture starts to thicken, it will start splattering vigorously.

Now turn the heat off , let the mixture cool down a little, and add powdered sugar and cardamom powder, and mix well. This will thicken the mix further. Grease the cookie sheet or place a plastic wrap on the sheet and pour the mixture. Roll it out or press it with your fingers to a desired uniform thickness and then cut into squares.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Street Food: Bhel

Bhel, often called Bhelpuri, is a popular street food in India made with puffed rice and namkeen. Namkeen is a salty snack made of gram flour and is usually fried (not a healthy one I must say). In the US, Haldiram is one namkeen brand that you can find in most Indian grocery stores. Sometimes namkeen also comes in packets with names like punjabi mix or bombay mix. You can also get bhel mix which basically is a mix of puffed rice and namkeen. There are different varieties of Namkeen all over India. Besides these two, you also need some more ingredients.

(serves 2)

2 cups puffed rice
1 cup namkeen
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped raw mango (optional)
Mint-green chilli chutney (as per taste)
Tamarind-date chutney (see link at the end of the post)
Handful of chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

To make mint chutney grind a handful of mint leaves and 4/5 green chillies into a fine paste. Add water as needed. You can also add some cilantro when you grind it. To the tamarind chutney add about a quarter teaspoon each of cumin powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder. In a large bowl mix puffed rice, namkeen, onions, tomatoes, raw mango, mint chutney and salt. Add tamarind chutney and mix really well. Top it off with some finely chopped cilantro, shev and serve.