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The Tamilians have this set of predictable PJs that they unleash on poor unsuspecting souls at the most unexpected times. One of them is to sarcastically indicate the miraculous nature of an occurrence by pretending like its going to rain. After several hours of looming clouds and threatening winds, it finally rained today evening. Perhaps in cognizance of the miracle of Lakshmi posting a recipe every day for the past 15 days!!! No, I don’t want to pretend I’m funny, but it is a big deal that I actually blogged “RECIPES” daily. Not that there’s any dearth of recipes to share, I cook quite a bit. And yet to cook, take a photo, write about it and post is not cycle that I thought I could get myself to do as a “daily routine”.

And so the Rains in celebration.

It’s the final day of the recipe marathon, and I am concluding this with a simple dish that takes less than 30 minutes to cook up for two people. The “behind the scenes” have been hilarious, chatty and like a massive group hugs. That calls for a separate post unadulterated by recipes. For now the two rice peas pulav.

Ingredients

  • Red Rice – 1/2 cup (Rice from Bhutan)
  • Basmati Rice – 1/2 cup
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Green Peas – 1 cup
  • Onion – 1 no. (cut into thin slices)
  • Cardamom – 1 no.
  • Clove – 2 nos.
  • Bay leaf – 1 no.
  • Cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch.
  • Red Chilli – 2 nos.
  • Coconut – 1/4 cup (grated)
  • Garlic – 2 pods (minced)
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee/ Oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. In a pot, heat some ghee/oil, saute the bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Add both rices and fry for a minute till the basmati turns white. Add 2 cups of water and cover and cook until the rice is done. (note: Both these rices have similar quick cooking times and water needs. Please modify method and cook rices separately if you’re substituting)
  2. Parboil the green peas in a microwave on high for 4 minutes.
  3. While the rice is cooking in a skillet, heat some ghee/oil, add the minced garlic and red chillies broken into bits and cook until garlic starts to turn golden. Saute the Onions. Add parboiled green peas, salt and coconut and saute for a minute.
  4. Remove the bay leaf from cooked rice. Mix rice and cooked peas-onions using a flat ladle. Take off flame and transfer to a serving dish.

Serve with a yogurt based gravy or raita.

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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Chocolate is soul food for me, chocolate is the most delicious thing on earth. There is no equivalent to the experience of placing a perfectly shiny piece of chocolate on your tongue, letting it melt slowly in your mouth till it goes all around and then chewing it when it becomes too irresistible. I love cooking with chocolate mostly because I end up eating a lot of it neat while chopping.

That said I don’t exactly start my day with hot chocolate – its one of those things I make when I am particularly tired mentally. Every bit of making hot chocolate is invigorating – starting with the aroma of chocolate that is beginning to melt to the whisking of chocolate to a smooth shiny consistency. I like my hot chocolate dark and rich with not too much milk or flavourings.

Ingredients (for one serving of hot chocolate)

  • Dark chocolate – 2 ounces (I use 2 1/2 ounces for darker hot chocolate)
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Warm Milk – 1/2 cup (adjust as per taste)
  • Honey – 1 tsp
  • Vanilla extract or flavouring of choice – 1/2 tsp

Method

  1. Chop chocolate with a serrated knife.
  2. Warm water in the microwave for 20 seconds on high. Add chopped chocolate, whisk and microwave on high for 1 minute or so. Stir once in between after the first 30 seconds.
  3. Whisk the chocolate well till its smooth and shiny. Add honey and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Pour into serving cup. Let it cool to lukewarm.
  5. Warm slightly, pour warm milk and serve.

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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Vegetables simmered in a midly flavoured gravy which is usually lentil based is perhaps the closest I can get to describing what a Kootu is. Kootus are the goodness of vegetables with the best combination and right proportion of spices that don’t attack your taste buds with the sourness of a sambar. Kootus come in very handy to answer most of these existential questions one needs to answer in the kitchen, like “What do I cook today?” or “Now what does one do with this vegetable that doesn’t even have a name?”. Kootus come in many avatars – there’s Poricha Kootu, Pal Kootu, Mor Kootu, Puli Kootu, Varutha Araitha Kootu, Araitha Vitta Kootu and Thenga Pal Kootu. And then for flavourings one can add or subtract from the basic spices, toast and grind, toast and simmer or soak and grind. The choice of lentils though usually Moong Dal, could also be Toor Dal or Channa Dal or a combination of dals.

Ash Gourd Kootu

Ingredients

  • Moong Dal – 1/2 cup
  • Vegetable/s – 200-250 gms
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Hing (asafoetida) – 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee or Oil – 1 tsp

For flavouring, to be toasted and ground

  • Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  • Channa Dal – 1 tsp
  • Coriander Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Black Peppercorns – 1/4 tsp
  • Red Chillies – 2 nos.
  • Whole Hing (asafoetida) – a small piece
  • Grated Coconut – 2 tbsp (rounded)
  • Ghee or Oil – 1 tsp

Method

  1. Toast all the ingredients for the flavouring paste except coconut in ghee/oil till the dals turn golden. Take off flame and add coconut and keep aside to cool. Blend into a smooth thick paste with a couple of tablespoons of water if required.
  2. Pressure Cook the Moong Dal in enough water. Par boil the vegetables with turmeric and hing in a microwave safe container.
  3. In a deep vessel, heat oil/ ghee pop the mustard seeds, add the vegetables (parboil at this stage if you’re not using the microwave). Add the moong dal followed by the paste. Mix well and simmer on a low flame till the kootu starts to bubble.
  4. Add salt, simmer for an additional minute and take off flame.

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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Pudina or Mint is God’s gift to mankind – its green, it smells like a beautiful dream, it tastes like heaven, it adds a flavour to anything and its perennially available. According to the Wikipedia, Mint is a diuretic, its good for your digestion and it whitens teeth. So its like this super efficient smart leaf with a zillion desirable qualities rolled into one.

Kalanda Sadam (literally Mixed Rice) is the Maami brigade’s gift for people like me who scratch their heads each time they need to fix a meal. Make the perfect pot of rice, put together a few simple ingredients, mix and you’re done.

Ingredients

  • Rice – 1/2 cup
  • Pudina Leaves – 1 cup (washed and tightly packed)
  • Onion – 1 (fine chopped)
  • Green Chilly – 1 (seeds removed and cut into long strips)
  • Peanuts – 1/4 cup (or more if you like)
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 1 tsp

Method

  1. Cook the rice in a pressure cooker. Each grain of rice must be separate.
  2. In a pot, heat some oil, add the mustard seeds and channa dal.
  3. Add green chilly and onions and saute till onions turn translucent.
  4. Add the pudina/ mint leaves, turmeric, hing and salt. Saute till the leaves are cooked and water content is reduced. Take off from heat.
  5. Add Ghee to the Rice. Toast peanuts in a microwave for 1minute or so.
  6. Add Rice and toasted peanuts to the Pudina/Mint saute in the pot. Mix well using a flat ladle (thuduppu in Tamizh). Be careful not to mash or break any rice.

Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot with Raita or Curd.

Other Recipe Marathoners’ posts:

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Kashayams are magical medicinal drinks conjured with a few simple kitchen ingredients. Think of a singular drink that takes less than 5 minutes to cook and that can cure nausea, drive away cold, take care of that nagging lack of appetite or those digestion problems after an unnecessary binge – that’s a typical Kashayam for you.

Maamis (the south indian women brigade) in the part of the world that I live in don’t just excel at making Kashayams but also excel in feeding their children Kashayams with smart techniques for taste acquisition and negotiation that would put a ninja to shame.

Ingredients

  • Ajwain (Carom Seeds) – 1/2 tsp
  • Black Pepper Corns – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Jeera (Cumin) – 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  • Honey – 2 tsp (adjust to taste)
  • Water – 3/4 cup

Method

  1. In a dry skillet on medium heat, roast the ajwain, black pepper corns, coriander seeds and jeera till you get an aroma.
  2. Skin the Ginger piece and crush. Add water and followed by ginger to the rest of the ingredients in the skillet.
  3. Let it simmer till the water is reduced to 1/2 cup.
  4. Strain the kashayam. Add honey and serve warm.

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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AFAM – Dry Fruits Round up

Botanically a tomato is a fruit not a vegetable; cashew is not really a fruit; a peanut is a legume and not a nut; an almond is a seed and not a fruit. And there are fruits that may not necessarily be naturally dry but dried either by sun bathing or with a help of a dehydrator.

However, in a culinary sense dry fruits would refer to not just fruit that’s dry but also all nuts whether fruit or seed and even ordinary dates, even if they also happen to be sold in another drier “dried” form . Since definitions are so wildly varied, even if one is looking at an ingredient from a purely culinary standpoint, how does one define if something qualifies or not as a dry fruit?

When we chose “Dry Fruits” as the theme for AFAM in December 2007, we anticipated these differences in definitions and we decided that we’ll not set any boundaries of what would qualify as a dry fruit and what wouldn’t. We decided to let the food lovers in the virtual world define what a “dry fruit” is – although this might seem like making things very vague, we were quite confident that no one would drastically call a cabbage a dry fruit.

So here’s the round up of all the lip smacking entries we’ve received.

panettone_pudding_dhivya.jpg
Panettonne Pudding with Dried Apricots
Dhivya Karthik at Culinary Bazaar

oats_porridge_dhivya.jpg
Dried Fruits,Apple and Oats porridge
Dhivya Karthik at Culinary Bazaar

Dry Fruit Pongal
Suthi at SuthiRecipe

Dry Fruit Burfi, Cahew Murukku, Almond Murukku, Nuts Kheer and Kulfi
Suthi at SuthiRecipe

kalva-peas pilaf
Peas Pilaf with Raisins and Cinnamon
Kalva at Curry in a Kadai

DriedFruitsMuffins_viji
Dry Fruit Muffins
Viji at Vcuisine

pumpkinbreadviji.jpg

Spicy Pumpkin Bread
Viji at Vcuisine

bee-jai-warcake
Fruit and Nut War Cake
Bee and Jai at Jugalbandi

Christmascake-happycook
Christmas Cake
Happy Cook at My Kitchen Treasures

gretchen-coconutbananabrea...
Coconut Banana Bread with Lima Glaze
Gretchen Noelle Jones at Canela & Comino

mewa_achar-meera
Mewa Nu Achaar
Meera at Easy Indian Food

Cashew and Almond Chikki
EasyCrafts at Simple Indian Food

rajitha
Fruit and Nut Oatmeal Bar
Rajitha at Hunger Pangs

namratha
Festive Fruit and Nut Squares
Namratha at Finger Licking Food

NutsinHoneysrivalli
Nuts in Honey
Srivalli at Cooking 4 All Seasons

cookiesvijaya
Cookies with dry fruits and nuts
Vijaya at Daily Meals

marta
Torte Di Mandorle – Shell like Almond Chocolate Cake
Marta at An Italian in US

mom...
Mom’s Delight
Nags at For the Cook in Me

Dry Fruits Kuzhipaniyaram
Renuka at Fusion

fruit_cake_sailu
Fruit Cake
Sailu at Sailu’s Food

paru-egglesscinnamoncake
Eggless Cinnamon Fruit Cake
Paru at Brindavan – a journey for authentic Karnataka recipes

Rina
Christmas Fruit and Nut Cake
Rina at Rina’s Recipes

Nutty_Mini_Pie
Almond and Pistachio Ice Cream Pie
Mansi at Fun and Food

Focacciabharathy
Fig, Golden raisin and Date Focaccia
Bharathy at Spicy Chilly

raagacake
Fruit Cake
Raaga at The Singing Chef

mangokheerasha
Mango Kheer
Asha at Aroma Hope

suganya
Dried Fruit and Nut Cake
Suganya at Tasty Palettes

e-Fig-Tapenade
Fig Tapenade
Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska

Date_niblets
Khajoor Niblets (recipe follows)
Jigyasa and Prathibha at Pritya

Ingredients
500 gms seedless dates; 1 tin condensed milk (400 ml); 100 gms cashewnuts; 100 gms almonds; 100 gms dessicated coconut

Method

  1. Chop the dates into fine bits.
  2. Toss them with the rest of the ingredients into a thick-bottomed wok. On a low flame, stir the mixture for 6-8 minutes. As the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan, switch off the flame. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Grease your palms with a little ghee (clarified butter or oil) and roll the mixture into thick long pieces – 1 inch thick and 5-7 inches long. Coat them lightly with dessicated coconut so that they do not stick to each other.
  4. Freeze them for 20 minutes and then chop them with a sharp knife into bite sized pieces. (Freezing them helps to retain the shape while chopping. Use a sharp knife so it may cut through the cashews and almonds.)

dryfruittruffles.jpg

Dry Fruit Truffles
Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen

We wrap this round up with Coffee and Dried Currants Cake from our side.

Thanks to all those who participated.

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Pongalo Pongal :)

pongapaanai
Poongapaanai – vessel used for making Pongal

topviewofpongal
Milk for Pongal beginning to boil

pongalopongal
Pongalo Pongal – milk boils over

ricedaladdedtopongalRice and Dal being added to make Pongal

Happy Pongal!

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