Friday, December 19, 2014

Kathi rolls

A quick and easy meal on the go, an evening snack, an interesting way to use up left over rotis - any of these descriptions would fit a kathi roll perfectly. Called Frankie in Mumbai, a kathi roll is a medley of vegetables and masalas wrapped inside a flaky roti. Though I have eaten these in restaurants where the outer covering was made of all purpose flour/maida, I have tried to make my version healthy by using whole wheat rotis.

What you need :
Roti/chapati/parotta - as many as needed
Chaat masala
For the filling : (This recipe makes enough filling for 7 rotis)
Potato - medium sized, one - peeled and diced
Carrot - 1,chopped
Capsicum - 1/2, chopped fine
Onion - a small one, chopped fine
Green chilli - 1, minced
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Beans - 8, stringed and chopped
Tomato - 1, chopped
Oil - 2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Juice of half a lemon

Corriander/cilantro - a little, chopped fine
Salt - to taste

Steam cook the potato, carrot and beans.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the green chilli, and chopped onions. Saute until pink. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for another minute on low flame. Add the chopped capsicum and tomato. Cover and cook over a low flame until the capsicum is cooked yet crunchy. Add in the cooked veggies, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and salt to taste. Mix well and heat until any excess moisture evaporates. Add lemon juice and garnish with chopped corriander.

To make the roll:
Spread a generous helping of the filling on one side of the roti.
Sprinkle some chaat masala over it and then roll the roti in such a way that the filling is wrapped inside.

 Place a few rolls seam side down and drizzle some ketchup or chutney over it if desired.

This is my second post for Week 3 of Blogging Marathon #47 under the theme Cooking from the menu card of a restaurant - the restaurant of my choice being Puranmal.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 47 

Tomato soup

I have always been partial to tomato based soups. Though I have been making different kinds of soups this winter, the best, according to me, is this simple tomato soup. Vine ripened, juicy tomatoes give it a rich color and tang, which is balanced by the spice from black peppers and sweetness from the carrot.

What you need :
Tomato - 4 large, red, ripe and juicy - chopped
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Black peppercorns - 10-12
Carrot - 1, grated
Almonds - 8-10
Salt - to taste
Spring onion greens - a little, chopped, to garnish

Heat butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan. I used a pressure cooker for the entire process. Add the black pepper and fry for a few seconds. Stir in the onions and saute on low flame until pink. Add the carrots and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, almonds and salt. Saute until the tomatoes soften. Add 2 cups of water. Close the pressure cooker and let it cook till one whistle. Once the steam settles and the mixture cools down, blend in a blender until smooth. Heat until it reaches desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve hot.
This is my first post for Week 3 of Blogging Marathon #47 under the theme Cooking from the menu card of a restaurant - the restaurant of my choice being Puranmal.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 47 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hara bhara kabab

This is arguably one of the most popular starters in India. Whether at restaurants or at home parties, this is a dish that makes an appearance at the table quite frequently. The kabab possibly gets its name from the distinctive green color it has. Mine are not green because I used yellow peas instead of green peas.

What you need: 
Potato - 1 medium sized, boiled peeled and mashed
Spinach - 1.5 cups, packed, steamed, squeezed and mashed
Peas - 1/2 cup - soaked overnight, cooked and mashed
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger - a small piece, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Cilantro/corriander - a little, finely chopped
Oil - a little for shallow frying the kababs
Cashew - one for each kabab (optional)

Mash the potatoes, spinach and peas together in a large bowl . Ensure that any excess water is squeezed out from the veggies before mashing. Heat oil. Toast the cumin seeds in it. Add in the ginger and chilli and saute for a minute. Pour this over the mashed vegetables. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Shape into balls. I was able to make 13 kababs using this recipe. Flatten slightly between your palms. Press a cashew into the center of the kabab. Shallow fry on tawa, turning over now and then until both sides are well browned and crisp.
Serve hot with ketchup or mint and tamarind chutneys.
This is my first post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #47 under the theme North Indian party starters.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 47

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Badam katli

I have never believed in pressurizing my child to study or to excel in everything or in fact, anything that she does. I have always believed that children will do well if they are allowed to do what they are interested in. In the process, if they discover that they excel at something, that is a bonus. The unfortunate side effect of my beliefs is that, not many people agree with me. I am constantly asked if I send my child to xyz class or abc class. When I smile and say no, I often get incredulous looks that tell me that I am crazy not to send her to a place that everyone sends their child to. Oh well, it takes all sorts to make the world go round and unless my daughter expressly tells me that she is interested in taking up some hobby/sport/class, I am not sending her to one.
With that off my chest, I can now share with you this recipe for badam katli that I tried making using a really small quantity of badam as I wasn't sure if the outcome would be good. It did turn out good and the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you are trying to make a larger quantity.

What you need :
Almond(Badam) - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cardamom - 3 or 4 pods

Soak the almonds in hot water for an hour and then peel them. Grind the peeled almonds along with milk and cardamom to a smooth paste.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the almond mixture, sugar and ghee over a low flame until the mixture thickens and starts leaving the sides of the pan.
Quickly pour into a greased pan and smooth the top with a wet spatula.
When it is still warm, mark squares with a sharp knife. Cut when cool and store in an air tight container.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 46

Coconut laddoo

When Nestle launched Milkmaid in India, they held a contest for school children in which we had to come up with innovative recipes using Milkmaid. What I still remember about the whole thing is how absolutely enticing the coconut laddoos that appeared in the TV commercials for Milkmaid looked. The mom and daughter duo who starred in the commercial made the whole dessert making process look so uncomplicated. I wanted to make these laddoos for the contest, but for some reason, ended up making carrot halwa. Nothing innovative about warm off the stove gajar ka no prizes for guessing how that contest turned out for me. Anyway, years later, I tried out the Milkmaid coconut laddoo and must say that when they said easy, they really did mean easy. Mix, heat, stir, shape - that's all there is to it.

What you need:
Coconut flakes - 5 cups (I used sweetened flakes that I bought off the shelf at Target)
Milkmaid /condensed milk - 1 tin

Set aside about 3/4th of a cup of coconut flakes.
In a large saucepan (preferably nonstick to save you the hassle of cleaning), mix the remaining coconut flakes and the condensed milk. Switch on the heat and stir until it comes together and starts leaving the sides of the pan. Let it cool a bit and then shape into balls with wet or oiled hands. Roll each ball over the coconut flakes that you've set aside so they get a nice coating of the flakes.
And as easy as that, you have an ooh-inducing dessert. Dig in.
This is my first post for Week 1 of Blogging Marathon # 46 under the theme Indian desserts.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 46

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minimal oil vegetable koftas

Fall is a beautiful season. The heat of summer is gone, but the bone chilling cold of winter is not yet here. The changing colors of leaves on the trees - the gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and flaming red - these are testimonials of nature's artistry. The leaves have now started falling, a signal that fall is coming to an end and colder weather is imminent.
 While deep fried snacks are enjoyed by us, I do try every now and then, to see if a recipe can be tweaked to use less oil. These koftas were made to be used in a curry that I wanted to serve with rotis. However, we soon found that these made for a great tea time snack. Luckily, I had enough of these on hand to make a curry after we were done with our snacking binge.

What you need:
Potato - 1 large or 2 medium sized, boiled, peeled and mashed
Carrot - 1, grated
Green beans - 10, chopped very fine
Spring onion - 2, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Bread - 4 slices
Ginger - one inch piece, skinned and chopped fine
Dhania/corrainder powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

Add the carrot, beans spring onion, ginger and chilli to the mashed potatoes. Mix in salt, garam masala, red chilli powder, dhania powder and turmeric powder. Dip the bread in water, quickly squeeze out all the water and add it to the vegetables. Knead well and then divide into small balls.
Heat a paniyaram pan/aebelskiver pan with about 1/4 tsp of oil in each depression. On medium flame, fry these koftas, turning over until they are well browned and crisp on all sides. Do not rush this process. It will take time, but the end result will be worth it.
The recipe for the curry I made with these koftas in it, will be up next.
This is my third post for BM #45 under the theme healthy tea time snacks.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45

Crispy corn

The temperature outside has been steadily dropping over the last few days. I am one of the few people who still go outside for a walk in the morning, but am not sure I will be able to do that for much longer, given how many layers of clothes I have to wear and how cold it still feels despite all those layers. Warm soups, adrak-wali chai (ginger tea) and crisp, deep fried snacks are what the stomach craves for every day.

Mainland China's crispy corn chilli pepper is something that I love and have ordered  every single time we've eaten there. I love how crisp yet juicy the corn is, and how beautifully it is presented in a fried fritter basket. Here's my version of this to-die for snack/starter.

What you need :
Frozen American sweet corn - 2 cups
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 small, chopped fine
Spring onion(with greens) - 2, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, slit into half
Juice of half a lemon
Oil - 2 tsp
Oil - to deep fry

Defrost the frozen corn. Remove it on to a paper towel, cover with another paper towel on top and gently press to remove moisture.  Transfer the corn to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the rice flour evenly over it so that each corn kernel has a fine coating of flour over it. Keep this aside for at least half an hour so that any excess moisture is absorbed by the flour.
Heat oil for deep frying. Fry handfuls of corn until crisp. Drain onto a paper towel and set aside.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan. Add the green chillies, onions and spring onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the fried corn to it along with salt and lemon juice. Mix well. Serve hot.
This is my second post for BM#45 under the theme healthy tea time snacks.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45

Monday, October 27, 2014

Peanut chaat

Marina beach, the crowds, mallipoo (jasmine) sellers, Kwality ice cream carts, roaring waves......these sights, sounds and smells will be indelibly etched in your mind if you visit this beach even once. I love the raw mango, neatly sliced and sold with red chilli powder and salt that is commonplace in this area. Peanut chaat is another popular favourite that is sold along the beach. Boiled peanuts, raw onions, tomatoes, a dash of lime and salt - what's not to love about this simple dish?

What you need :
Peanuts - 1 cup
Onion - 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato - 1 small, finely chopped
Green chilli - 1, minced
Carrot - 1/2, grated
Juice of half a lemon
Corriander/cilantro - a little, for garnishing

Soak the peanuts in hot water for 2 to 3 hours. Drain, add half a cup of water, a pinch of salt and cook in the pressure cooker until three whistles. Remove and drain water completely. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Enjoy.
This is my post for Blogging Marathon # 45 under the theme healthy tea time snacks. It also goes to Valli's Kids' Delight event featuring nuts and legumes in a lunch box friendly avatar.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45

Monday, October 20, 2014

Apple crumble - the easiest and best dessert ever

Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I came home with a whole lot of apples after we went apple picking recently.  I've wanted to try an apple crumble for a long time and this seemed to be the perfect time to do it. I like to think of my version as a healthy one as it uses whole wheat flour for the topping, and very little fat in the form of butter. The smell while this is being baked in the oven is absolutely delightful and makes you want to keep opening the oven and breathing it in.

What you need :
For the bottom layer :
Apples - 2 medium sized (with peel), diced
Sugar - 2 tsp
Maple syrup - 1 tsp (optional)
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp

For the topping :
Whole wheat flour - 4 tbsp
Brown sugar - 2 tbsp
Cinnamon - 1 tsp
Cold Butter, cut into small pieces - 2 tbsp 

Take the chopped apples in a large baking dish. Squeeze lemon juice over it and mix well. Add the sugar and maple syrup and stir.

Take the ingredients for the topping in a mixing bowl. Mix with the tips of your fingers until it becomes crumbly. Evenly distribute the topping over the apples.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until the topping becomes dark brown and most of the moisture has evaporated. The mixture will bubble a lot once the apples start releasing their juices. So make sure your baking dish is big enough. Switch off the oven and let the dish remain in the oven for another 15 minutes. Serve warm as it is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

This, served with ice cream, makes three small servings. It is easily one of the easiest and best desserts I have made to date. The topping is crisp and offers a wonderful contrast in texture to the soft, cooked apples.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#45

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Eggless no food colour red velvet cupcakes

Red velvet cakes and cupcakes, with their bright red color and cream cheese frosting on top are stunning to look at and popular with adults and kids alike. I have shied away from making these because of the huge amount of artificial food coloring that is used to give the cake its vibrant red hue. In my search for alternatives to artificial food color, I stumbled upon this recipe which I recreated in my kitchen. Pureed beets are used in this recipe to give the cupcakes a natural red color.

What you need:
Whole wheat flour - 1.5 cups
Beet - 1 (medium sized, boiled with skin, cooled, peeled and pureed)
Sugar - 1 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1.5 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Cocoa powder - 4 tsp
Curd - 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

In a large mixing bowl, take the oil, sugar, beet puree, curd and vanilla extract. Mix well until sugar dissolves. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix. Spoon the batter into a lined muffin pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degree F for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely and frost, if desired.

While the color of the cupcakes was gorgeous,(The photo doesn't reflect how beautiful the color is as I used my mobile camera) there was a slight smell and taste of beets in them and though the spouse and I didn't mind that too much, the child was put off by it. The quantity of beets and using other ingredients that would probably mask its smell is something I am planning to experiment with and will update on this post.

Whole wheat eggless apple walnut banana squares

Some days back, I went apple picking. Apples, fresh off the tree, are so delicious, so crisp and so juicy - the store bought ones cannot hold a candle to these. Seriously, they are so juicy that even if you were to accidentally scratch one with your nails, you can see the juice spurt out. I came back home with a huge bag of apples that we picked and other than eating them as is, have been trying them out in various bakes. This week's theme for the Blogging Marathon is baking with veggies/fruits and this healthy apple square fits the bill perfectly.

What you need : (Recipe adapted from here)
Whole wheat flour - 2 cups, leveled
Apple -  finely chopped(with peel), 2 cups (I used about one and a half medium sized apples)
Walnuts - 1/2 cup, chopped
Over ripe banana - 2, mashed well
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1 cup * (see notes at the bottom)
Baking soda - 2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp

In a mixing bowl, mix together, the mashed banana, oil, sugar, yogurt and vanilla essence. Stir in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt to this.  Mix in the chopped apple and walnuts. Pour into a 15x10x1 cookie sheet, spread evenly with the back of a spatula or wet hands and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees farenheit for 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once cool, cut into squares and store in an air tight container.

Note :
The apples I had were sweet in themselves. Plus, I do not like my bakes to be overly sweet. One cup of sugar makes these squares only moderately sweet. Add up to half a cup more of sugar if you want it to be sweeter.