Pineapple Raita



Pineapple is one of those fruits that is delicious to eat. In addition to being delicious, it has a lot of healthy benefits tagged to it. So if you get a recipe loaded with healthy ingredients, its always a hit. And so was my mom's Pineapple Raita.

My mom learnt this from one of the TV Food Shows and tried it out at a party and it was an instant hit. No-one had eaten it before. Initially I didn't like it much as it is not salty like the regular raita you eat; but is sweet and salty - a very distinguishing flavor, which I like now.

This is a great twist to the regular raita. Try it out and decide by yourself.


PineappleRaita


Preparation Time: 5-10 min
Cooking Time: 5-10 min
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:

1 can pineapple or 1 cup fresh pineapple
2 cups dahi / yoghurt
1-2 tsp sugar or 3/4 cup sugar if using fresh pineapple
salt to taste
1 tsp roasted jeera/cumin powder
black pepper to taste


Method

  1. If using fresh pineapple, heat fresh cut pieces of pineapple in a wok/pan till it is half boiled - it gets all soggy. Add 3/4 cup sugar and keep stirring on low-medium heat till it becomes like syrup. Cool completely. You can use it immediately or store it in an jar in your fridge; ready to use when required.
  2. Take dahi/yoghurt in a bowl. Add sugar, jeera powder, black pepper and salt and whisk well till smooth. Remember salt should be added just before setting it on the table. Adding salt before hand in any raita will make dahi sour/khatta.
  3. Add pineapple pieces. Mix well and serve.
  4. Pineapple raita goes well with spicy rices like biryani.

Sending this off to Waiter there's something in my ... Pineapple being hosted by Andrew of SpittoonExtra

Lauki Ke Kofte



This is a dish which is very popular with kids as it contains deep fried pakoras. The fact that these pakoras are made of Lauki and hence healthy is good for moms to know and make this.

LaukiKofta


Preparation Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
Serves: 4-5, makes about 20 Kofte

Ingredients:

1/2 Lauki / Bottlegourd or 2 cups grated lauki with water removed
3 tblsp Besan / Gram flour
1 large onion, ground to a paste
2 medium tomatoes, ground to a paste
1 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
1/2 tsp haldi / turmeric
1 tsp dhaniya / cilantro powder
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
salt to taste
oil for deep frying


Method:

  1. Grate lauki. Take it in your hand in big chunks and press tightly to remove as much water as you can.
  2. Add besan to this and mix well. Make balls out of this and deep fry them in low-medium heat. Be very gentle when frying. Turn then only when you see them slightly golden on the sides. Remove when completely golden-brown.
LaukiKofta1


  1. Heat 1 tblsp oil in a pan. Add jeera and let it splutter. Saute onions till transluscent.
  2. Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric and dhaniya and fry for 30-40 sec.
  3. Add tomato puree and salt and let it cook till oil separates from the tomatoes.
  4. Add 3 cups water to make a thin gravy. Add koftas and let it boil for 1 min. Do not stir it too much now or the koftas will break. This curry needs more water as the water gets absorbed in the koftas.
  5. Serve with rotis.

Tips

  • Besan has to be just enough for binding and to ensure that the koftas don't disintegrate when frying. If the amount of water left out in your grated lauki is more, then you will need more besan. Ideally first fry only one kofta to see how it is. If is holds well then fry all or add more besan to it. If you add too much besan, koftas are going to be hard.

Garam Masala



Garam Masala is used in most North Indian dishes. "Garam" which literally means "hot" is a part of the name as this bleand uses spices which, according to Ayurveda, are considered warming like cloves, pepper, cinnamon. Different people in different parts make this by adding different spices. Here's a recipe that I got from my mom. She makes the exact proportions mentioned below and stores it in an air-tight container.

Note that Garam Masala should be used in very small quantities in food as too much can overpower the dish. Always add this to your dish right at the end of cooking.


GaramMasala


Time: 20 min
Makes about 560 gms

Ingredients:

100 gm Laung / Cloves
100 gm Kali Mirch / Black peppercorns
100 gm Badi Elaichii / Black Cardomom
50 gm Chotti Elaichii / Green Cardomom
50 gm Sonth / Dry Ginger
50 gm Tej Patta
25 gm Nutmeg
25 gm DalChini / Cinnamon Sticks
50 gm Shahjeera
10 gm Javitri / Mace


Method:

Sun dry all the above or roast them for a few minutes. Grind to a fine powder. Store in an air-tight jar.

Simple Vanilla Cake



Nothing like eating this plain, old Vanilla Cake. I made it yesterday after a long time of eating various other flavors. And this reminded me of the times I made cake as a kid with my mom. We didn't have any electric mixers - so I used to mix by hand. After every couple of minutes, I would ask my mom "Ho gaya kya? (Is it done?)", and my mom would come, see the softness and tell me to go on. Wow!!! Thinking about it now, I wonder how I did it and I think Technology is great:)

You can top this with any frosting of your choice - chocolate, strawberry, coconut, caramel - and a full fledged party cake is ready with no fuss. You can make layers with frosting in-between.


VanillaCake1


Preparation Time: 15-20 min
Waiting Time: 35-40 min
Makes: 1 9 X 13-inch cake or 2 8-inch rounds

Ingredients:

2 cups Maida / All purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup Butter, softened
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Essense


Method:

  1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt well.
  2. Beat sugar and butter in a deep bowl till soft. Scrape bowl to beat everything properly. In a stand mixer, this takes about 3-4 min on medium speed.
  3. Add eggs one at a time beating continuously. After adding the final egg, beat for about 2-3 min.
  4. Add flour-baking powder-salt mixture to this slowly beating continuously.
  5. Add Vanilla essence.
  6. Pour the contents to a greased 9" by 13" baking dish.
  7. Bake at 350 F on center rack for about 35-40 min. A toothpick inserted in the cake should come out clean.
Thats my cake all ready to be eaten.

VanillaCake2


Carrot and Spinach Rice



When I first read this recipe in one of my recipe books, I didn't think too much of it. My husband likes to take "spoon-foods" to work. So its mostly rice. I always run short of ideas on what kind of rice to make as we are not regular rice-eaters. So I gave this recipe a shot - and it turned out just amazing - so different from any other rice that I have eaten.

CarrotSpinachRice


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 10-15 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked Rice
1/2 tsp Jeera
2 Onions, sliced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup grated Carrot
2 cups chopped Spinach
1 tblsp Oil / Ghee
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste


Method:

  1. Heat oil / ghee in a pan and add Jeera. When it crackles, add onions and garlic and saute for 3 min.
  2. Add carrots, spinach and saute for another minute.
  3. Add rice, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup water and mix well.
  4. Simmer and cook for 5-7 min till the moisture evaporates.
  5. Serve hot.

Singhare ki Puri



This special puri is made especially during pujas that require fasting. Many Indian fasts require the use of special flours, fruits, and spices. Many commonly used cooking ingredients are not allowed during fasts. Singhare ka atta or Waterchestnut flour is usually a "vrat" or a fasting item.

SinghareKiPuri


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 10-15 min
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

2 cups Singhare Ka Atta or Waterchestnut Flour
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
sendha namak / rock salt to taste
1/2 cup dhaniya/Cilantro leaves, chopped
1-2 green chillies, chopped fine - optional

Method:

  1. Knead all the above ingredients into a dough. Mix all the ingredients before you add water as potato will also aid in some binding. Add water slowly as this flour is different from regular flour and needs less water.
  2. Make small ball out of this and roll / pat them into puris.
  3. Deep fry the puris in oil / ghee till golden.
  4. Serve with Alu/Potato Curry especially made for fasting or any other curry of your preference or just with plain yoghurt and pickles.

Tips

  • Some Indian grocery stores do carry this flour.
  • You can use regular wheat flour too if you are not fasting but just carrying over the tradition.

Vrat wali Alu ki Sabzi



This potato sabzi is mostly made during pujas when many fast(vrat). During fasting most people don't eat salt, whole wheat flour, onions etc. This dish is made without these basic ingredients and still tastes yummy. So I make it at home even though I don't fast. :-)

VratKiAluSabzi


Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 5-10 min
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

3 potatoes, boiled, peeled and coarsely mashed
1 tsp Ghee / oil - though ghee is preferred
2-3 green chillies, slit length-wise
sendha namak - rock salt - I use regular sea salt as I don't fast
1/2 cup dhaniya/Cilantro leaves, chopped

Method:

Heat ghee/oil in a pan. Add green chillies, salt and potatoes. Add water based on the kind of consistency you like. Add dhaniya leaves. Serve with Roti / puri. During fasts since you can't eat whole wheat flour, my mom makes puris using Singhare ka atta (Waterchestnut Flour).

Vegetarian Tacos



I loved Tacos the first time I ate them here at my cousin's house. I never got to asking her how to make them, but always wanted to make them at home. So I got the whole "Taco making kit" :-) from the store and made them as said in the recipe. They were really good, but I wanted them to be softer when you bite. So then I tried it using flour tortillas and the results wree just as I wanted them to be.

It was a big hit with my daughters too. So I make them pretty regularly these days.


Tacos


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 10-15 min
Serves: 3 (makes 6 Tacos)

Ingredients:

1 can red Kidney beans - I boil 1-2 cups kidney beans at home
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 green/red pepper/capsicum, de-seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp dhaniya / coriander powder
salt to taste
2 tblsp oil
6 medium corn tortillas / Taco shells
4-5 tblsp of your favorite salsa

Taco Toppings
shreded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
salsa
fresh cilantro, chopped
tomato
black olives
sour cream

Method:

  1. If using regular red kidney beans, soak for 4-5 hours, boil till cooked and drain water.
  2. >
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add jeera and let it crackle. Saute onions till transluscent.
  4. Add red chilli and dhaniya powder. Fry for 30 sec. Add garlic, peppers and salt and let it cook. When its almost done, add tomato and cooked beans. This is the Taco filling.
  5. When you are ready to eat, heat a griddle.
  6. Spray oil on a tortilla and place it on the hot griddle. Let it cook lightly on one side - about 30-40 sec. Flip it over and cook the other side till you can see small bubbles forming. Now sprinkle a little cheese in one half. Put 2-3 tblsp of Taco bean filling on top of the cheese. Top it with 1 tblsp salsa. If you like sprinkle a little more cheese on top of this. Cover this with the other half of the tortilla. Cook both sides till slightly crisp and brown. Top it with your choice of toppings like lettuce, cheese, olives, sour cream etc and serve hot.
  7. If using Taco Shells, fill each shell as above and bake at 300 F for 5-6 min. This makes them slightly soft so that they don't break with your first bite.
MakingTaco



Chana Dal with Lauki



This is my husband's favorite. His mom always makes it with tomato instead of lauki/bottlegourd. My mom made it with lauki and I like both styles. But I have been cooking it with lauki lately because as all of us know "Lauki is healthy" and the fact that my daughters eat less vegetables as is. In this form lauki is invisible - totally mashed and hidden in the dal. My daughters never see it and love the dal. This goes well with Rice - can be eaten with Roti too :)

ChanaDal
Preparation Time: 5 min
Waiting Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 10 min
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:

1 cup Chana Dal
1/2 Lauki / Bottle Gourd,chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 medium Onion, ground to a paste
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tsp Jeera / Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tblsp oil / Ghee

Method:

  1. Boil Chana Dal, Lauki, turmeric and salt with 3-4 cups water till soft. First put chana dal and water and then add lauki so that you can skim lauki pieces later on. If using a presure cooker, it takes about 20-25 min on slow heat.
  2. Heat oil/ghee in a pan, add jeera and let it crackle. Add Onion paste and fry for 4-5 min.
  3. Skim the lauki pieces out from the dal and add them to the pan. Mash properly.
  4. Add dal and garam masala. Adjust consistency by adding water if you want to thin the dal. Boil for 3-4 min.
  5. Serve with Rice / Roti.

Tips

  • You can use tomato puree instead of lauki. I like the taste of lauki in Chana Dal.
I had to really put on my thinking cap when I read Kids Lunches event hosted by Srivalli and created by Meeta as a regular Monthly Mingle.

[MM+KidsLunches.jpg]


Most of the time for my day-to-day cooking, I don't think "What to cook for kids today?" I just cook what I would normally and hope that the kids would eat. I make slight modifications to suit my daughters taste buds and my aim to feed veggies to them.


Tuar Dal



The reason I am blogging this very simple dal is because I came to know recently that not everyone cooks it this way. Its very common in Northern India where people (my nani's family, my dadi's family) cook it every single day. This goes well with rice and so its cooked mostly for lunch as people in North eat a little rice for lunch. Dinner usually has roti's and no rice, so there are other vegetables to go with it.

TuarDal


Preparation Time: 3-4 min
Waiting Time: 25-30 min
Cooking Time: 5 min
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

1 cup Tuar dal
3 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
1/2 cup dhaniya leaves

For Tempering
1 tsp Ghee
1 tsp Jeera / Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Red Chilli powder
a pinch heeng - optional as many don't like its flavor

Method:

  1. Pressure Cook dal with water, turmerc and salt for about 20 min on slow heat.
  2. Let it cool.
  3. Take ghee in a ladel and heat it. Add hing, jeera and red chilli powder. Once it crackles, pour it on top of the dal. Keep a close watch - the tempering burns very easily.
  4. Add chopped dhaniya to the dal and serve hot with rice. Rotis also go well with it if you have another vegetable dish on the side.

Kadhi



Kadhi needs no introduction to Indian people. To every Indian this immediately gives the imagination of "Kadhi-Chawal" which is how it is eaten most often. It is popular across India. Different regions make it differently. Some make it thick, some thin. Some use Kadhi Patta, some use Dhaniya leaves.

Making it is very easy. I make it whenever I am too lazy to make anything else. There are many kinds of Kadhi - Boondi Kadhi, Pakora Kadhi, Alu Kadhi, Palak Kadhi, Vegetable Kadhi etc. In all these, the base Kadhi which is made of sour dahi (sour yoghurt) is the same. This can be eaten as is too. To this you can add boondi or pakora or alu etc.


PakoraKadhi


Preparation Time: 5-30 min - depending on type of Kadhi
Cooking Time: 5-10 min
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

For Kadhi
3 cups sour curd / yoghurt
1 cup water
2 tblsp besan / gram flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tblsp Garlic - optional - I like the flavor of Garlic
1 tsp oil
1 tsp Rai / mustard seeds
1 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
1 tsp Red Chilli powder or 1-2 whole Red chillies

Additions

1 1/2 cup Boondi

or Pakora

or 1 1/2 cup spinach

or 3-4 potatoes

or 2-3 cups mixed vegetables(potato, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower etc)


Method:

  1. Beat curd/yoghurt, besan, turmeric, garlic and 1 cup water with a whisk/spoon till there are no lumps.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add rai and jeera. Let it splutter for a min. To this add red chilli (powder or whole). Add the curd mixture and more water depending on the consistency you like. Let it boil for sometime - about 7-8 min.
  3. This is the base Kadhi.
  4. To this one of the following needs to be added.
Boondi Kadhi

Heat a little water in a pan and add 1 1/2 cups boondi to the hot water. Leave it for 1-2 min, drain and add to Kadhi.

Pakora Kadhi

Mix together 1 1/2 cup besan/gram flour, salt to taste, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and 1/4 tsp Baking Soda into a smooth thick paste. Heat oil for deep frying in a pan and make small pakoras. To make pakoras, drop 1 tsp of besan paste into the pan. If the pakoras get tails, just break the tails once you take them out. Add these pakoras to the Kadhi.

Palak / Spinach Kadhi

Remove stems from a bunch of spinach, chop coarsly, put in boiling water for 2-3 min and add to Kadhi. I use 1 cup frozen Spinach as is.

Alu / Potato Kadhi

Boil 3-4 potatoes, peel and cut into bite size pieces. Add to Kadhi.

Vegetable Kadhi

Boil 2 potatoes and 1/2 broccoli. Cut into bite-size pieces. Chop 1 large tomato into bite-size pieces. Add this to the Kadhi. Adjust salt.


Tips

  • To Kadhi, you can also add Kadhi patta or dhaniya/cilantro leaves if you like.
  • While making pakoras, you can add onions and diced potatoes to the besan mixture.
  • I usually serve Potato and Vegetable Kadhi with rotis and the rest with rice.
  • When serving Kadhi with Rice, serve Papad along with it.

KadhiChawal



Atta-Dal Kachori / Bhidai



When anyone says Kachori, you imagine a crispy, khasta Kachori with filling (mostly dals-lentils). This is different kind of Kachori and a common one in Madhya Pradesh, a state of India. It is also called "Bhidai". It is very similar to puri in terms of softness, but also has dals(lentils) and spices mixed in it. Since it is soft, it serves as a main bread during meal times. It is served with thick potato gravy curry and Dhaniya chutney.

Kachori


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 15-20 min
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

4 cups Atta / Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Moong Dal, soaked overnight
1 cup Urad Dal, soaked overnight
4 tblsp Oil
4 tsp Sof / Fennel powder
3 pinch hing
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. Grind the dals to a fine paste using as little water as you can.
  2. Knead all the above into a hard dough. Do not use any more water. The water from the dals should be enough to knead it.
  3. Make loyi / small balls out of this dough.
  4. Roll it out into a puri and deep fry in hot oil.
  5. Serve with Alu sabzi and Dhaniya Chutney.

Ghee



Ghee is clarified butter. Without ghee any Indian sweeet is incomplete. A good quality ghee adds a lot of flavor and aroma to your food. In India, Ghee is considered to be the best cooking oil. Milk in India has a lot of cream in it which accumulates at the top of the milk and can be skimmed. My mom used to skim out this cream and save it in the fridge. When enough has been accumulated she used to make Ghee.

These days the Ghee you get in Indian stores here in the US is pretty good but I have my mom's recipe of making ghee in case you live in a country where you don't get good Ghee or just want to make at home. I am posting 2 methods here, one for when you have the skimmed cream from the milk collected and the second method when you don't have skimmed cream. Ghee can be stored on your shelf - no need to refrigerate.


Method 1 - using skimmed cream

Boil 2-3 cups cream in a heavy bottomed pan. Simmer and let it boil till it becomes clear and you can see the bottom of the pan. Keep a watch and stir regularly to avoid burning as this sticks very easily to the base. Cool and strain using a cheese cloth to avoid any solid particles to pass through. Store in a jar on your shelf.

Method 1 - using unsalted butter

Heat 8-10 sticks unsalted butter in a heavy bottomed pan till it melts. Simmer and let it boil till it becomes clear and you can see the bottom of the pan. It will become frothy and then slowly turn clear. Keep a watch and stir regularly to avoid burning as this sticks very easily to the base. Cool and strain using a cheese cloth to avoid any solid particles to pass through. Store in a jar on your shelf.

Chinese Fried Rice



The Indian style of cooking Chinese is very different from the rest of the world and hence the name Indo-Chinese. I love chinese food - maybe because of the fact that growing up in India, this was the second largest number of restaurants you would find after Indian cuisine and also because its so tasty - noodles and manchurian and spring rolls, oooohhh - I wish I could find an Indo-Chinese restaurant here in Boston now.

ChineseFriedRice


Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 10 min
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

2 cups Rice, cooked and cooled
3 tblsp Oil
1 cup beans, chopped fine
2 carrots, chopped fine
1 onion, sliced fine
1/4 cabbage, chopped fine
2 spring onions, chopped fine
2-3 green chilies, slit lenghtwise
1" ginger, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 tblsp soya sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a stir-fry pan and fry all chopped vegetables for 4-5 min. They should not be too soft, but a little firm.
  2. Add salt, pepper and rice. Mix well.
  3. Add soy sauce and fry for 1-2 min.
  4. Serve hot with manchurian.

Basic Pastes



How much ever anyone tries to convince me to make ginger - garlic pastes at home - I have always been very lazy for this. I know that store-bought bottles don't have the same flavor as home-made ones. But what the heck? Its pastes - right? I'll use more of it each time to get the right flavor. I had unlimited excuses to not make them at home.

Its only later on in life that I realised that these are the basics to Indian cooking and when the basics don't have the right flavor - how will the recipe be perfect? So here I am today - making my own pastes at home.

Try it to know the difference. I know its difficult to convince yourself, but its very easy and thats the main reason I started it.


GingerGarlic


Ginger Paste

Wash, peel and chop ginger. Grind along with a tblsp of vinegar(for preservative) to a fine paste. Store in an air-tight jar for upto 3-4 months.

Garlic Paste

Wash, skin and chop garlic. Grind along with a tblsp of vinegar(for preservative) to a fine paste. Store in an air-tight jar for upto 3-4 months.

Ginger-Garlic Paste

Take equal amounts of both (100 gm Ginger, 100gm Garlic). Wash, peel and chop ginger. Wash, skin and chop garlic. Grind along with a tblsp of vinegar(for preservative) to a fine paste. Store in an air-tight jar for upto 3-4 months.

Gujiya



This is a typical Holi snack which my mom always made and I enjoyed it a lot. I only like my mom's gujiyas. The process is very elaborate but the result is very yummy. All my friends still miss my mom's gujiyas on Holi. I too make Gujiya every Holi using her recipe.

Gujiya


Preparation Time: 1 1/2 - 2 hrs
Cooking Time: 30 min
Makes: 15-20 pieces

Ingredients:

For Dough
3 cups Maida / All Purpose Flour
3 tblsp ghee / oil
Salt to taste

For Filling
200 gm Khoya
1 cup Sugar
2 tblsp Suji / Rava
2 tsp Khus-khus
1/4 dry cocount, grated
1/2 cup kishmis, Almonds and Cashews
1/2 tsp Elaichii powder
1 tblsp Ghee


Method:

  1. Heat 1 tblsp ghee.
  2. Fry kishmis, cashews, khas-khas and grated coconut separately and keep aside. Ensure that you fry coconut and khas-khas last as it uses up all the ghee. They need to fried for about 2-3 min each.
  3. Fry suji/rava and khoya separately till golden. Depending on the type of khoya - fry it for about 10-15 min. If it gets too dry then the gujiya filling will be very dry.
  4. Cool all the above fried ingredients.
  5. Mix everything together along with sugar and elachii powder. Keep this filling aside.
  6. Knead the ingredients under For Dough with water to a hard dough.
  7. Make balls and roll them out. The size depends on what size gujiyas you want.
  8. Now we need to make the gujiyas D-shape and fill it. I always use a gujiya maker that I got from India for this. Here in US, you get a dumpling maker which can be used with equal ease. You can also fold it to a D-Shape using your hand.
  9. Using a Gujiya/Dumpling maker - Take a puri and place it on the maker. The puri size has to be bigger than the maker round size. Put a spoonful of filling in the center. Dip your finger in water and spread this water all around the edge of the maker. Carefully close the maker ensuring no filling comes in the sealing edge. Press lightly to seal the gujiya. Open the maker and remove the gujiya.
  10. By hand - Put a spoonful of the filling in the center of the puri. Dip your finger in water and spread this water all around the edge of the puri. Now seal the ends by bringing one half over the other. Press the edge lightly. If you want a designed edge, start from one end folding the edge towards the inside in a spiral form till you reach the other end.
  11. Heat oil for deep frying gujiyas and deep fry them on medium heat. While you are frying keep the rest of the gujiya's covered so that they don't dry.

Tips

  • Ensure that no filling comes in between the sealed edges or else the gujiya will open during frying and the filling will be in oil. You need to change oil if this happens or else this filling will get stuck on any gujiyas you fry. While closing if any filling comes out, and believe me it does even with experts, then use another fresh puri and put this gujiya inside that and seal like a regular gujiya.
  • Make the filling a day in advance and the gujyas next day so it isn't as tiring.
  • Make all gujiyas and then deep fry them as you can't make them as fast as they fry. You need to keep the made gujiyas covered with a thick cloth/plastic cover during this time to prevent drying.
  • I normally make Papdi's the same day as Gujiya as I use the leftover Gujiya dough to make papdi's. I normally make more Gujiya dough so that it is definitly left-over.
  • Here's a photo of a dumpling maker you find here.
  • DumplingMaker

Publishing this again to send it off to Purva's Holi Hai Event

Freezing Food



My mom never used frozen foods. It was always fresh vegetables. So we always did a weekly vegetable shopping.

Since the concept of frozen food was new to me, when I saw frozen foods, I always thought that frozen vegetables do not have the same nutrients as their fresh counterparts. I started using them often once I came here and started work. You don't have a maid at home who can do all the cutting and cleaning for you. So frozen food is a blessing to a working woman. But it always gave me a sense of guilt that I was not giving the best nutrients to my family. So I did my research on frozen vs fresh and was pleasantly surprised to find that frozen food have the same nutrients as fresh. How soon after being harvested was it frozen is the question that decides the quality of frozen food. The nutrients do not reduce during the freeze period. Here is a link to one of the sites I checked. Well from then on - I have been very happy about using frozen vegetables for cooking everyday food.

You get frozen food in the freezer section of all grocery stores. This would be the best according to me as fresh food gets frozen very soon after harvest if it is being harvested for freezing. The more the time spent outside soil, the lesser the nutrients. But if you want to freeze vegetables yourself, you can do that too. Infact many vegetables can be just washed, cut and frozen. Some need blanching.

Remember a few ground rules though:

• If you are buying frozen vegetables from the market, tranfer them to the freezer as soon as you get home.

• If freezing at home, ensure you remove all air from the freezer bag when closing it to prevent freezer burn.

• If you feel that the vegetables have gone bad, trash it.

Process of freezing

Blanch or steam all vegetables and cool them quickly in ice water before freezing. This step inactivates enzymes that will damage flavor, nutrients and texture during freezer storage.

Process of packing

All packing has be air tight and with as little air as possible. Here in US you g et very convenient zip-lock bags which are ideal for this.

Thawing

I prefer thawing overnight in the fridge. But if you have forgotton and need it immediately, microwave in slow increments of 1-2 min checking inbetween.

Some Common Vegetables

Asparagus Wash well and cut off the tough portions. Depending on the thickness of the stem, blanch for 2-4 min. Cool in ice water for 2-3 min and pack.
Beans Wash well and cut into sizes you want. Blanch for 2-3 min. Cool in ice water for 1 min and pack.
Broccoli Wash well and break flowers into smaller sizes. Blanch for 2-3 min. Cool in ice water for 2-3 min and pack.
Cabbage Remove outer leaves and wash well. Chop into desired sizes - pieces or shred. Blanch for 1 1/2 - 2 min. Cool in ice water for 1-2 min and pack.
Carrots Peel, wash and cut/shred as you want. Blanch for 2-3 min. Cool in ice water for 2-3 min and pack.
Cauliflower Wash and divide into florets. Blanch for 3 min. Cool in ice water for 3 min and pack.
Celery Wash and cut as desired. Blanch for 2 min. Cool in ice water for 2 min and pack.
Cilantro / Dhaniya leaves I haven't been able to freeze this. But you can make it last longer by chopping it and storing it in a paper towel in your fidge. Its lasts about 10-12 days.
Chillies Wash and dry. Pack and freeze.
Cucumber Wash, peel and cut as desired. Pack and freeze.
EggPlant / Baingan Wash and cut as desired. Blanch for about 2 min. Cool in ice water with lemon juice in it (about 1 tsp in a quart of water). Pat dry and pack.
Garlic Separate bulbs. Pack and freeze.
Ginger Wash and cut into desired sizes. Pack and freeze.
Kadi Patta / Curry Leaves Wash and dry. Pack and freeze. Retains its flavor.
Mushrooms Pack and freeze.
Okra / Ladyfinger Wash and cut into desired size. Blach for about 3-4 min and cool in ice water for 3-4 min. Pack and freeze.
Onion Remove outer skin, wash and chop as desired. Pack and freeze.
Green Peas Wash well. Blanch for 1 min and cool in ice water for 1 min. Pack and freeze.
Paneer / Indian Cottage Cheese Cut into desired sizes. Pack and freeze. Paneer tends to stick to one another. So wrap portions individually, so you can take one portion out and thaw it.
Pepper / Capsicum Wash, remove seeds and chop as desired. Pack and freeze.
Potato Potatoes should be cooked and then freezed. You can cut them into desired size, boil until cooked, cool, pack and freeze.
Pumpkin / Kaddu Pumpkin should be cooked and then freezed. You can cut them into desired size, boil until cooked, cool, pack and freeze.
Spinach Wash well and remove stems. Blach in small quantities for 1 min. Cool in ice water for 1 min. Pack and freeze.
Tofu Cut into desired sizes. Pack and freeze. Tofu sometimes changes color on freezing but thats fine. This color change depends on the kind of Tofu used. Tofu tends to stick to one another. So wrap portions individually, so you can take one portion out and thaw it.
Tomatoes Wash, remove stems and cut into halves/quarters. Pack and freeze.


Almost anything can be frozen. I have freezed cooked curries and batters for upto a month. And they stayed fresh. Its just a process of trial and error. If at any time you feel something has gone bad, trash it and its a lesson well learnt.

Paneer Pista Hariyali



This is one of those dishes that I tried when I first bought a microwave in India. And it turned out great. I gave all credit to my microwave forgetting that its actually the ingredients that matter. Whether you use a microwave or a stove, the results would be the same. So irrespective of whether you use a microwave for elaborate cooking or not, try this out and you will be amazed by this new feel and taste of paneer.

PaneerPistaHariyali


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 15-20 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

200 gm Paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium onions, cut into big pieces
1/4 cup Pistas with hard-cover - remove hard-cover
1/2 cup milk

Grind to a paste
1 Green Chilli
1/4 cup chopped Dhaniya Leaves
1-inch Ginger
4-5 Garlic Cloves
1/2 tsp White Pepper powder
Salt to taste
4 tblsp Oil


Method:

  1. Take Onion pieces and pistas along with 1 cup water in a microwave safe dish and microwave covered for 6 minutes. Cool slightly. Slip the skin of pistas.
  2. Grind onion pieces, pistas and all the ingredients written under paste to a fine paste.
  3. Microwave the prepared paste for 5 min.
  4. Add 1/2 cup water, a pinch of sugar and Paneer and microwave for 2 min.
  5. At serving time, add milk, microwave for 2 min and serve.

Tips

  • Instead of using the microwave you can also use your gas stove.
  • Use milk to thin the gravy.
  • I don't use White Pepper.

Shakarkand Ki Kheer



Most people in India fast for various reasons. Mostly these fasts are related to their religious beliefs. During these fasts, they eat only specific food items. What is allowed and what is not also varies. In my nani's house(grandma), they never eat salt, roti, potatoes - these are some I remember now. Since these comprise their staple foods, they come up with innovative ways or substitutions of these - which is Sendha namak (rock salt) for sea salt, Singhare ka atta (Waterchestnut flour) for Whole wheat flour, shakarkand/sweet potato etc.

Shakarkand ki Kheer is what I learnt from them. It is made by thickening milk and adding grated sweet potato to it. I tried it out recently and it is definitly yummy and so I decided to blog it.


ShakarkandKheer


Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 30-60 min
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato, boiled and grated thick
3 cups whole Milk / 1 1/2 cup half and half
6 tblsp Sugar - Adjust it according to taste
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom
a pinch of saffron - optional
1 tblsp chopped nuts - Cashews, Almonds and Raisins - optional

Method:

  1. Add milk/half and half to a pan and bring to a boil. If using whole milk, simmer and let it thicken till it becomes 3/4-1/2 in volume. If using half and half (which is already thicked), simmer for about 5-10 min. Keep stirring occasionally so that it doesn't burn at the bottom of the pan. Remember that as the kheer cools it thickens a little more.
  2. Add grated sweet potato and boil for another 5 min.
  3. Stir in sugar, cardomom and saffron.
  4. Cool before serving. Some people like it hot/warm. Before serving top with chopped nuts.

Tips

  • You can use Rice, Carrots, Makhane, Shakarkand instead of Semiya. A few facts to note with these variations. For Rice kheer you need more milk and thicken it more - I usually simmer the milk for about an hour if using whole milk. All the othere need less milk and need to thicken lesser.

Palak / Spinach Pakora



Palak Pakora is a healty nutritious snack which can be made quickly. Pakoras are specially cooked in India during rainy days. As it gets a little cold and wet - hot pakoras taste even better.

You can make many kinds of pakora. The base mixture is mostly the same - besan/gram flour mix. You can dip any vegetable of your liking in this and deep fry them to make pakoras. I mostly make the besan mixture and make a little of different kinds of pakoras every time to serve everyone's tastes.


PalakPakora


Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 20-25 min
Serves: 5-7

Ingredients:

a bunch of palak / baby spinach leaves, washed and stems cut off
2 cups besan / gram flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Red Chilli powder
salt to taste
oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. Mix besan with turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and water well. Add water slowly - the consistency should be that of a loose paste. It needs to be mixed for long - if using hand to mix it. You can even use a hand/stand mixer. When you drop a drop of mixture in a glass of water, the drop comes up - this is an indication that its ready. This is our dip.
  2. Heat oil. Dip each leaf of spinach in besan mixture and put it in the hot oil. You can fry 4-5 pieces at a time - depending the size of pan. It should not be over crowded.
  3. Deep fry on slow-medium heat till golden brown on both sides.
  4. Serve with tomato ketchup / any chutney.

Tips

  • The above palak pakoras absorb a little more oil than usual, but are very crispy.
  • You can chop spinach and mix it with the besan. Then put medium-sized rounds of this into the hot oil. This is another variety of palak pakoras.
  • You can dip many vegetables in the besan mixture and deep fry to make different kinds of pakoras. Sliced potatoes for Potato Pakora, chopped Onions for Onion pakora, Quartered bread slices for Bread pakoras, mixed vegetables for Vegetable pakora etc.

Semiya Kheer



Most often kheer is made during religious festivals in India like Janmashtmi, Ram Navami, etc. Its been decided by us all that Gods like sweets. Who knows though? But it is always a holiday during these festivals and so, we as kids would wait for them and the fact that mom would make all these sweet delicacies is an added enthusiasm.

Do you need a reason to make kheer? You can make it anytime and you have so many options. The base is the same - milk, boiled for so long that it looses most of its water and is thick and creamy. To this you can add - rice to make Rice Kheer, Semiya/Vermicelli to make Semiya Kheer, grated Carrot to make Carrot Kheer, Makhane/Lotus Seeds to make Makhane ki kheer.....the options are unlimited.


SemiyaKheer


Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 25-30 min
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

6-7 tblsp Semiya /vermicelli
3 cups whole Milk/1 1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp Ghee
6 tblsp Sugar - Adjust it according to taste
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom
a pinch of saffron - optional
1 tblsp chopped nuts - Cashews, Almonds and Raisins - optional

Method:

  1. Heat ghee in a pan and stir fry semiya for 1-2 min till light golden.
  2. Add milk/half and half and bring to a boil. If using whole milk, simmer and let it thicken till it becomes 3/4-1/2 in volume. If using half and half (which is already thicked), simmer for about 5-10 min. Keep stirring occasionally so that it doesn't burn at the bottom of the pan. Remember that as the kheer cools it thickens a little more.
  3. Stir in sugar, cardomom and saffron.
  4. Cool before serving. Some people like it hot/warm. Before serving top with chopped nuts.

Tips

  • You can use Rice, Carrots, Makhane, Shakarkand instead of Semiya. A few facts to note with these variations. For Rice kheer you need more milk and thicken it more - I usually simmer the milk for about an hour if using whole milk. All the othere need less milk and need to thicken lesser.

Alu Tikki



Alu Tikki or potato patties is an all time favorite among Indians. Alu Tikki can be used for creating so many snacks - eat it as a cutlet - make a burger out of it - make it into a sweet and tangy chaat. You just need to figure out what you want to eat today.

Although when you say "Alu Tikki", it means potato, but you can add a lot of vegetables to it like green peas, onions, boiled and mashed cauliflower/cabbage - anything and make it even healthier.



AluTikki


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 10-12 min
Makes: 10-12 pieces

Ingredients:

3-4 Potatoes
2-3 Green Chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp Red Chilli powder
1/4 cup Dhaniya/Coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
A pinch of Asafoetida
Oil to fry

Method:

  1. Boil, peel and mash potatoes.
  2. Add green chilies, coriander leaves, salt, asafoetida and red chili powder to the mashed potatoes and mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture into 10-12 portions and shape them into round flat tikkis - like patties.
  4. Heat a griddle and shallow fry the tikkis/patties on medium heat in oil till golden on both sides. Drain onto an absorbent paper.
  5. Serve the tikkis with ketchup/chutney or make a chaat out of it by topping it with Chole, dahi/yoghurt, tamarind chutney and sev.

Tips

  • Its easier to peel and mash potatoes when warm.

Shahi Toast



"Shahi" means Royal and as the name suggests this dessert is a rich bread pudding with dry fruits and a flavor of cardomom. It is very easy and quick to make. When in a hurry for a dessert you can make this and it is loved by all.

You can make it in sugar syrup or rabdi (thickened flavored milk). Personally I like it both ways. Both have their own flavor and taste and liked by all.


ShahiToast


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 10-12 min
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

For Toast
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed and cut diagonally into quarters
Oil for deep frying

For Topping
1/2 cup grated khoa
1 tblsp thinly sliced pistachio nuts and almonds
1 tblsp raisins

For Sugar Syrup
2 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
few strands of saffron - optional
1 tsp cardamom powder - optional

     OR

For Rabdi - Milk Syrup
1 litre Whole milk or 1/2 litre Half and half
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardomom powder
few strands of saffron - optional

Method:

You can either use Sugar Syrup or Rabdi for dipping the toasts in.

Make Sugar Syrup

  1. Boil sugar and water until the sugar dissolves completely - about 5 min.
  2. Add saffron and continue boiling until this is of 'one wire' consistency - about 4-5 min.
Make Rabdi

  1. If using whole milk - heat on slow heat and reduce to half. Stir frequently to avoid burning at the bottom.
  2. If using half and half - heat for about 5-10 min on slow heat.
  3. Add sugar, saffron and cardomom. Mix well till all sugar dissolves.
Make Toast

  1. Heat oil in a pan and deep fry bread slices on medium heat till golden. The bread fries very quickly, so take care to remove immediately before it turns black.
  2. Dip the fried bread into sugar/milk syrup for 1-2 min till it soaks in the syrup. Remove immediately and arrange on a serving tray.
  3. Garnish each slice with khoya and nuts.

Bharwan Bhindi / Ladyfinger



Stuffed vegetables always create a kind of apprehension that it will be tough to cook - but its not the case usually - and this is a perfect example of it. This way of cooking bhindi gives a new twist to it. Many people, including my brother doesn't like bhindi cooked the plain way, but give it him in this form and he likes it.

BharwanBhindiMain


Preparation Time: 20-30 min
Cooking Time: 15-20 min
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

Filling
2 tblsp dhaniya/Corriander powder
2 tblsp jeera/cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tblsp Red chilly powder or to taste
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp Amchur/dry mango powder
Salt to taste

1 lb Bhindi
2 tblsp oil
1 large onion, sliced thin

Method:

  1. Wash bhindi and cut the ends. Slit it ensuring you don't break it into 2. If the bhindi is too lon, cut it into halves before sliting. The length has to be bite size.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients under filling.
  3. Fill each bhindi with this mixture. Fill carefully as there is a possibility of breaking it into 2 if not gentle. Keep the left-over mixture.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and saute onions till transluscent.
  5. Add stuffed bhindi. Cook covered on low heat till bhindi is cooked. Stir occassionally.
  6. Add the left-over mixture when the bhindi is almost done. Cook for another 1-2 min.

Tips

  • This vegetable recipe doesn't use any water.
  • Add a little peanut powder in the filling and add a new twist to it.
  • Here's a picture of uncooked stuffed bhndi.
BharwanBhindi



Pani Puri



Pani Puri has many names across India - golguppa, gupchup, puchka are some of them. Whatever be its name, it is enjoyed by one and all in the same manner.

It is not just delicious, but easy to make and fun to eat. The best place to eat it is in front of a chaat bhandar, where the chaat-wala makes it and serves you one after the other and you keep stuffing your mouth with it....mmmm....Yummy!!!

To eat it at a chaat stall might not be possible in other countries but we tried to emulate this at our Holi Chaat Party, where my husband served pani puri to all in the same fashion. Everyone ended up enjoying it even more.


PaniPuriMain


It is made of 3 parts
    - Pani, sweet and sour water
    - Puris, deep fried small rava puris
    - Filling, a dry mixture

Preparation Time: 15-20 min
Cooking Time: 20-30 min
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

For Pani
3 Keri/Kachhe aam /Raw mango
2 bunches Pudina/Mint leaves
3-inch Ginger, chopped
7-8 green chillies, chopped
2 tsp Lavanbhaskar Churan (preffered) - You can use jaljeera powder if you don't have this. I like it better with Churan.
1 jug water
salt to taste

For Filling

1 cup chole, soaked overnight and boiled
1-2 potatoes, boiled and mashed coarsly
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 tsp LavanBhasker churan/Jaljeera powder
1 tsp Amchur/dry mango powder
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/3 cup Dhaniya/Coriander leaves, finely chopped

For Puris

2 packets Golguppe, store bought or home-made

Method:

Make Pani

  1. Boil mango - pressure cook till 1 whistle. Cool and remove the peel. Remove all the pulp from inside.
  2. Grind pudina and the rest of the ingredients, except water to a smooth paste.
  3. Mix the pudina mixture with mango pulp and water. Add water slowly to ensure you get the desired consistency.
  4. Adjust seasoning. If not sour enough, add a little tamarind juice. If too sour, add a little sugar.
Make Filling

Mix all the ingredients under Filling well ensuring you don't mash it.

Make Puri

When using store bought ones, microwaving them for about 30-40 sec would give them a fresh feel.

Serve Pani Pani

PaniPuri


  1. Take a puri which doesn't have any holes in it. Make a small hole at the flat top by pushing gently with your finger.
  2. Put a tsp of filling inside this.
  3. Dip it in the pani to fill it completely. Serve and eat immediately.

Tips

  • The filling can be made with anything that you prefer - only potatoes, only chole, sprouts etc.

When I came across Lakshmi's Regional Cuisine of India, RCI-Lucknow event being hosted by Lavi, I just had to send this as I have eaten Lucknawi Chaat and this cannot be out of it. So here it goes off to Lavi.

PaniPuri



Dhaniya / Cilantro Chutney



Chutney is a condiment commonly used in India as dips. It can be compared in the US to salsa. It is usually made fresh and can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

It is very versatile. You can use it as a dip with finger foods, in your sandwich instead of butter/margarine. It is made of different kinds of leaves depending on what season it is. Chutneys are made using many main ingredients - Dhaniya (Cilantro), Pudina (Mint) and also a mix of the two. Tomatoes, Coconuts, Peanuts also are used to make chutneys and each acts as a side to a different dish.

Traditionally a mortar and pestle was used to crush the leaves and then powdered spices added. But today a mixer/grinder can be used which makes it very easy.

DhaniyaChutney


Total Time: 15-20 min
Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 bunch Dhaniya/Cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1-2 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp Amchur / dry mango powder
2 tsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves or 1 tsp garlic paste
salt to taste

Method:

Grind all the above ingredients with no water to a smooth paste in a grinder. Adjust seasoning according to taste.


Tips

  • Lemon juice gives it a nice color.
  • Over time the color of the chutney changes.


Sending this off for Lemon Day. Hope you like this and am able to use it for all the lemons you have. Though it uses very little lemon, but anything is better when you have so many lemons.

Thin Crust Pizza



Pizza of any kind has always been my favorite. Making pizza's at home has been a process of slow transition for me. Initially we always used to order in - then I started to get the pizza base from store, top and bake it at home - now from when I learnt that making a base is so easy - just like making a roti dough each day - I have started to make pizza base at home too. This way I make a personal pan pizza for each member of the family their way and we don't have to discuss and compromise on toppings.

Pizza


Preparation Time: 20-25 min
Cooking Time: 10-12 min
Makes 1 12" pizza

Ingredients:

25 oz - 1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
pizza sauce - of your choice
shredded cheese - of your choice
toppings - of your choice

Method:

  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Leave it covered for about 5-8 min. The yeast will rise.
  2. Knead flour, salt, the risen yeast and water to a soft dough. Don't add all the water at the same time. Depending on the climate the amount of water will vary.
  3. Make a smooth ball of the dough and roll it out using a rolling pin or just press it to a 12" round circle.
  4. Place the base on a pizza pan. Curl up the edges a little.
  5. Spread sauce over the crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
  6. Bake at 500 F for 10-12 min or until the edges are golden.

Tips

  • You don't have to let the dough rise as when creating a thin-crust - rising would make it softer and not toasty.
  • Pressing the dough into a round creates a better crust.

Pasta with Pesto Sauce



I used to think that pasta's come only in red and white color sauces until I learnt this green pesto sauce. I love the flavor of garlic in Italian dishes and this pesto sauce gives a very nice flavor to the pasta. In authentic Italian cuisine, pesto sauce is made using basil but creativity is your choice. Try using cilantro, parsely, mint instead of basil and you'll be surprised by the different yummy flavors you can make.

PestoPasta


Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 10 min
Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

For Pesto sauce
1 lb basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts, roasted (optional but preffered)
8 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4 cup Pecorino cheese, grated

1 lb Spaghetti, cooked according to instructions on pack

Method:

  1. Grind all ingredients under Pesto Sauce, except cheeses, in a food processor to a consistency you like. Some like it grainy in which case pulse it slowly. Some like it in a smooth paste.
  2. Mix in the cheese and Pesto Sauce is ready.
  3. Mix cooked spaghetti with sauce, top with a little cheese and serve.

Tips

  • If you don't want to make Pesto Sauce at home, you can find a ready-made jar at your local grocery store.
  • If you don't have Pecorino cheese, increase the amount of Parmesan to 3/4 cup.
  • Pesto Sauce is ideally prepared in a mortar and pestle.
  • Try using cilantro, parsley, mint in Pesto Sauce instead of basil.
  • You can use any pasts you like - penne, elbows etc.
  • You can also add steamed vegetables like broccoli, peas, carrots, corn etc to pasta to make it healthier.

Quick Fried Rice



This is what I usually do with my left-over rice. My husband likes food-to-be-eaten-by-spoon recipes at work. So I make this frequently when there is left over rice. Its quick, easy, healthy, tasty and filling. I use mixed frozen vegetables in this. The bag that I buy has a mix of carrots, beans, green peas and corn.

QuickFriedRice


Preparation Time: 10-12 min
Cooking Time: 8-10 min
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

1 cup mixed vegetables
2-3 cups left-over rice or cooked rice that is cooled completely
1 onion, sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder or 2-3 green chillies, slit
1 tblsp oil
salt to taste


Method:

  1. Saute onions in oil on medium heat till transluscent.
  2. Add turmeric and chilli. Fry for 30-40 sec.
  3. Add veggies and salt. Simmer and cook till soft - about 2-3 min if using frozen.
  4. Add cooked and cooled rice. Mix well.

Green Beans and Coconut



I learnt this recipe from my friend. Its so quick and easy and has a very distinctive coconut flavor. It needs beans (obviously :)) and as cutting beans is very time consuming - so I always have a bag of cut, washed beans in my freezer. It also needs coconut - ideally fresh but may not be available always or quickly - so I use dry grated coconut from the store. You can decide to use fresh beans and fresh coconut.

BeansWithCoconut


Preparation Time: 10-12 min
Cooking Time: 10-12 min
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

2 cups cut beans
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 tsp rai / mustard seeds
8-9 curry leaves
1 tsp oil
salt to taste


Method:

  1. If using frozen beans, run it thru water in an stariner to remove any excess water. If using fresh beans, wash, cut, boil and cool beans till soft but not mashed.
  2. If using fresh coconut - grate it.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and stir fry curry leaves and beans till soft - about 4-5 min if using frozen beans. Remember that frozen cooks quicker.
  4. Add grated coconut and salt.

French Cut Beans with Besan



This is a recipe I learnt after I came here and it was a hit in my family right from day 1. Its very easy and quick to cook. With the quality and quantity of frozen vegetables we get here, this one is a winner. I always have a bag of french-cut beans in my freezer. Being already cut in the french-style is the time-saving part. Plus the fact that frozen foods cook faster.

BeansWithBesan


Preparation Time: 15-20 min (much less if using frozen cut beans)
Cooking Time: 10 min
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

1 bag French cut beans - about 4 cups cut beans
1/2 cup Besan / Gram flour, roasted
1-2 onion(s) sliced into thin 1" slices
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 -1 tsp Red chili powder
1 tsp dhaniya/coriander powder
salt to taste
1 tblsp oil


Method:

  1. Saute onions in oil on medium heat till transluscent.
  2. Add turmeric, red chilli and dhaniya. Fry for 30-40 sec.
  3. Run the frozen beans thru water in a stainer to defrost them and remove any excess water from them. Add beans and salt. Fry on slow heat till fully cooked and the flavor of spices to get into the bean - about 4-5 min.
  4. Add roasted besan and fry for 1-2 min.
  5. Serve hot.

Filo Samosas



This is an easy samosa when you are in a mood for samosa but don't want to spend too much time on it. It reminds me of the samosas I used to have back in Hyderabad - small layered ones with vegetable filling. We used to get them at my work place almost every evening.

FiloSamosa


Preparation Time: 45-50 min
Cooking Time: 20-25 min
Serves: 7-8

Ingredients:

1/2 package Filo pastry
butter, melted
Filling - whatever you want to fill, could be left-overs, or made fresh.
To make a fresh filling, check out Samosas


Method:

  1. Make the filling.
  2. Take a sheet of filo. Be very careful in handling filo as it tears easily. Brush butter on half the sheet and fold in half. Cut into 2 equal strips. Remember to keep the rest of the filo sheets covered with a damp cloth.
  3. Take one half and lay it flat. Brush it with butter.
  4. Place about 1 tblsp of the filling on the bottom of the strip. Give it a triangular shape. Fold the end of the pastry over the filling covering it and making a triangular shape and continue folding up the strip to the top, alternating diagonal and straight folds to maintain the triangular shape.
  5. FiloTriangle


  6. Make all samosas like this.
  7. Preheat oven 375 F. Place the samosas in a greased pan, brush with butter and bake till golden brown - about 20-25 min.
  8. Serve with Tamarind Chutney / Dhaniya Chutney.

General Filo Handling

  • Allow Filo dough to thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • Carefully unroll Filo sheets onto a smooth, dry surface.
  • Cover Filo completely with plastic wrap, then a damp towel.
  • Keep Filo covered until needed. Do not leave uncovered for more than one minute to avoid drying out.
  • Microwave butter until melted. This will give you a lighter and flakier pastry.
  • Brush each layer of Filo with melted butter, margarine or oil.
  • To prevent edges from cracking, brush edges first and then work into center.
  • Be sure to brush the last layer of Filo with melted butter.
  • Fillings should be chilled and not excessively moist.
  • Filo may be rolled and refrozen to store when not in use.

Bakhlava



This recipe is from my sister-in-law, Aditi who made it last weekend. I have been planning on making this since a long time - the filo sheets are in my freezer - but haven't been able to get down to it. But the yummy recipe of Bakhlava is here.

Bakhlava


Filo (also "phyllo") is an extremely thin pastry dough. You can find filo in the frozen section of most grocery stores near desserts and pastries. Filo is sold rolled in 1 pound boxes of 20-30 sheets, and will keep for months in the freezer. Defrost it overnight in the refrigerator. Avoid defrosting at room temperature as the sheets will stick to one another. Filo dries very quickly in open air. When using filo sheets, cover the rest of sheets while working on one. Since most recipes using filo use butter/margarine to layer inbetween, its useful to have a good pastry brush to bruch quickly and layer.


FiloDough

Preparation Time: 50-60 min
Cooking Time: 50-60 min
Makes about 35-40 pieces

Ingredients:

For Syrup
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp rose water

1 (16 ounce) package filo dough
1 1/2 pound chopped nuts (walnuts, pistachios)
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tblsp ground cinnamon


Method:

Make Syrup

Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Take off the flame and add rose water. Cool.

Make Pastries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F(175 C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon and 2 tblsp sugar. Set aside.
  3. Unroll filo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan or fold the sheet on the corners(folding on a different side each time so that it is not too thick just on one side).
  4. Place two sheets of filo in pan, buttering thoroughly in between the layers. Repeat until you have 8-9 sheets layered. Cover remaining filo with a damp cloth to keep from drying out as you work.
  5. Sprinkle 2-3 tblsp nut mixture evenly on top. Top this with 2-3 sheets of filo, buttering in between. Add a second layer of nuts followed by filo and continue this process till you have about 8-9 sheets left. This will be the last or top layer of filo. Depending on the number of sheets you want to use you can increase / decrease the layers of filo in between. Only the top and bottom layers have to be thick - atleast 8-9 sheets. Based on the number of layers, the quantity of nuts would have to be changed.
  6. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts.
  7. Bake for about 50 min until baklava is golden and crisp.
  8. Remove baklava from oven and immediately pour syrup all over it ensuring you cover the whole pan. Let it cool uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This solidifies the bakhlava well.

Tips

  • Chop the nuts properly. If the nuts are thick the top layer will not stick properly. You can even pulse the nuts in a food processor taking care you don't powder them.
  • The sauce should be cool when you pour it, else the bakhlawa will become soggy.


General Filo Handling

  • Allow Filo dough to thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • Carefully unroll Filo sheets onto a smooth, dry surface.
  • Cover Filo completely with plastic wrap, then a damp towel.
  • Keep Filo covered until needed. Do not leave uncovered for more than one minute to avoid drying out.
  • Microwave butter until melted. This will give you a lighter and flakier pastry.
  • Brush each layer of Filo with melted butter, margarine or oil.
  • To prevent edges from cracking, brush edges first and then work into center.
  • Be sure to brush the last layer of Filo with melted butter.
  • Fillings should be chilled and not excessively moist.
  • Filo may be rolled and refrozen to store when not in use.

Wine and Health



Louis Pasteur claimed, “Wine is the most healthful of beverages.”

WineGrapes
Its only in the 1970s and 1980s that people started to introspect the (dis)advantages of wines. In earlier times wine was considered healthier than water. Isn't that news? - was to me. This is because the alcohol and acidity contained in wine acts as an inhibitor to the growth of any harmful micro-organisms which can cause illness and disease. This doesn't imply that we should all stop drinking water and replace it with wine. :) It implies that wine does have benefits, but we need to understand its behaviour in different situations.

There's a French paradox about wine - How come the French who consume large quantities of fat in their diets and smoke numerous cigarettes suffer less incidence of heart attacks than anywhere else, and on average live 2-2.5 years longer.

The answer to this - They have a relaxed environment at mealtimes along with moderate consumption of wine.

Surprised ??? Well I was. I definitly agree that a relaxed environment is good -health-wise - less strain on your heart plus eating slowly aids in efficient absorption and metabolism of fats, but Wine???

Well, the answer came from the fact that most wines are made from grapes and grapes have phenols. These little compounds have high antioxidant properties. One kind of phenolic compounds are believed to prevent the oxidation of Darth Vader Cholesterol. Anther phenol - Quercetin, is said to be a powerful anti-carcinogenic. Quercetin is able to inhibit the development of the cancer gene. It is usually found in garlic and onions but is also present in wine. Studies have shown that incidences of intestinal and stomach cancers are lower in diets high in the consumption of foods containing Quercetin.

But wine is not for everyone and everyone is not for wine.

One downside to wine consumption is that it can elevate triglyceride levels, which is associated with health problems such as diabetes. Those who already have high triglycerides should avoid or limit their wine consumption.

Studies have shown that alcohol can increase estrogen levels and raise tumor progression in women with (or at high risk for) estrogen-positive breast cancer.

People who suffer from migranes have their migrane triggered by a substance called 5-hydroxytryptamine which is also present in red wines and so such people should stay away from red wines. In the same manner people with asthma know that sulphur triggers it. Most wines contain a level of sulphites that are generally okay for asthma sufferers to consume, but you should consult your doctor first.

On the other hand, if you are likely to suffer from osteoporosis (weak bones) then it may do you good to indulge in moderate wine consumption as a little wine can help protect against it. However, drink too much and you will make things worse, as heavy drinkers with unhealthy lifestyles are at a much bigger risk of developing osteoporosis. Plus it is now agreed by many medical authorities that people who consume wine at a moderate level are less likely to suffer coronary heart disease than both - those who drink heavily and those who never drink. Once again lets reiterate that drinking heavily can result in a heart attack.

The key is Drink regularly in moderation. So how much is moderation? Here in the US the level regarded as moderate consumption would allow for 25gms of alcohol per day giving a weekly total of 175gms. But you need to remember that we all hold different views on the levels of drinking which we regard as moderate consumption. Some of us can hold our drink better than others and some of us are unable to drink a glass without feeling the effects. We should remember that the ability to metabolise alcohol varies from one person to another so those with a lower lean body mass should consume less than those of a higher level.

I got most of this information from this UK based site, which talks about UK statistics but the (dis)advantages of wine would still be the same.

Serving Wine



Its not a mystery How to serve wine? Just take a wine glass - one of those nice sleek thin stemmed glasses and serve. Thats it!!! Whats the big deal? But here I am having a whole post about serving wine and that's because I used to think the same until I did my little research on Serving Wine.

WineGlasses


Here are a couple of things I found out that matter to wine.

Temperature - As a general rule - whites are served chilled and reds at room temperature. We would all have seen a small bucket, filled with ice and a bottle of wine sitting in it - this can be used to get the bottle to the desired temperature in about 20 min.

Opening the bottle - I have seen people make a big deal out of it :) and you can do too - It is a big deal!! Remove the metal foil using a sharp knife or special foil cutter ensuring that no jagged bits remain on the pouring surface. If its getting difficult to remove try pushing it into the bottle and decant the wine into a jug using a skewer or kebab stick to hold it down. If there are bits of cork in the wine, strain it through a simple kitchen strainer. Be especially careful with Champagne and Sparkling Wine as the corks can eject with tremendous force and cause injury. Always open these bottles at an angle away from you - and your best china. Remove the restraining wire and hold down the cork while twisting the bottle from the base. As the cork ejects, angle it out of the neck to release the gas slowly.

Decanting - This step is required if you are using an old vintage wine that has been stored for several years. This storage creates a sediment at the bottom of the bottle which we try to eliminate while serving. Even if a little sediment comes into a glass, its allright - no harm done. But if you do need to decant, simply pour the wine slowly into a glass keeping an eye on the neck of the bottle. When you see sediment in the neck, it's time to stop.

Glassware - The best glasses for appreciating wine are made of plain, thin, clear glass. The shape of a wine glass can impact the taste of the wine, and for this reason different types of wine are served in different glasses. A long stem allows for ease of swirling and the glass shape will trap and deliver the aromas. Holding the glass by the stem minimises temperature change.

WinGlassTypes


The three main types of wine glasses are:
• White wine glasses: tulip shaped
• Red wine glasses: more rounded and have a larger bowl
• Sparkling wines: tall and thin - flutes

Fill Level - The glass should never be filled more than about half full. It may look mean but you can pour as often as people require. You need to give space to swirl the wine and enjoy the aroma.

If you don't finish the bottle, most wines will live quite happily for a couple of days. Whites are better off in the fridge and reds left out at room temperature.

Alu / Stuffed Parantha



My mom makes these every Monday, and I used to wait for Monday - so we can have these tasty paranthas. My husband can eat Alu Parantha anytime. You can eat it with any sabzi, plain dahi or just achhar. I make it any day I don't want to cook a sabzi. :)

AluParantha


Preparation Time: 10-15 min
Cooking Time: 20-30 min
Makes 10-12

Ingredients:

For filling
3-4 potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1 inch ginger grated
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp dhaniya / coriander powder
1 tsp amchur / dry mango powder
1 1/2 tsp Sauf / Fennel powder
salt to taste

For cover
3 cups Atta / Whole wheat flour

Ghee/Oil for frying


Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients under filling to make the filling.
  2. Knead atta into a soft dough using water - just like any other roti dough.
  3. Make 2 inch balls with the dough.
  4. Take a ball, slightly flatten it to make a bowl shape, and place 1 tsp of potato mixture in this.
  5. Seal the bowl by bringing the edges together.
  6. Dust the filled ball with flour and roll it out, with the join down, into a circle - approx 6 inch diameter. Roll slowly taking care that the filling doesn't come out too much. If any filling comes out - its ok, just press it down lightly and dust a little flour on it before rolling over it.
  7. Heat a griddle over medium to high heat.
  8. Place a rolled parantha onto the heated griddle. Smear ghee/oil on the top side of the parantha. Once the bottom side turns a little golden, turn it over and let the greased side cook. As the greased side is cooking, grease the other side too, then turn the parantha and cook.
  9. Turn a couple of times letting each side cook till both sides are brownish. Remember that you need to monitor the heat as a very high heat can easily start burning them. A good parantha has to have a very nice brown and not black color.

Tips

  • Use of ghee to grease gives a nice flavor to the paranthas.
  • Instead of Alu you can stuff cauliflower to make Gobhi paranthas, onions to make onion parantha or anything else that you can think of. You can even fill grated paneer to make paneer paranthas.....mmmmmm...yum