Pithla

19 Oct

Maharashtra is an agrarian state and prides on it’s cuisine while using the most simplest of ingredients and creating one of the most yummy dishes is Pithla. Pithla is incomplete without mentioning Bhakri, but honestly I struggle making bhakris, if not eaten hot mine become chewy and sometimes break. So I make rotis or chapati with it and I love to eat rice with it and serve pickle on the side. Pithla is made mostly by hardworking people who have physical work mostly farmers, because it satisfies their hunger and gives them energy to get back to work, because it has chickpea flower which is a source of protein. This recipe needs more oil because it aids in digestion. Well, let’s go for it.

Tip: Mix in some ghee before serving. Since chickpeas are a little tough on the tummy, ghee softens the process.

All you need:

  1. 1 cup chickpea flour
  2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 tbsp of crushed ginger, garlic and green chilies(I use 3 cloves, an inch of ginger and 2 green chilies and just pound them together)
  4. 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  5. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
  7. 1 tsp cumin powder
  8. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  9. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  10. pinch of asafoetida
  11. 2 cups of water
  12. 3 tbsp oil
  13. Salt as needed

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Heat oil really well.
  2. Temper it with mustard seeds, once they pop, add cumin seeds. Let them sizzle.
  3. Add half the cilantro add the crushed garlic and ginger and green chili. Saute the mixture for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chopped onion. Saute them until they turn light brown in color.
  5. Add the spice powders, turmeric, cumin and red chili powder. Saute till oil starts leaving the sides.
  6. Add the gram flour slowly making sure you mix it well.
  7. Add the water slowly, stirring the mixture continuously and make sure there are no lumps.
  8. If the mixture thickens immediately, add ore water to thin it out.
  9. Cover the mixture, let it cook for about 10-12 minutes. It will thicken once cooked.
  10. Stir well and check for no more raw chickpea flour.
  11. Season with salt.
  12. Garnish with the remaining cilantro leaves. Serve with a dollop of ghee alongside bhakri/roti.
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Pedhe with condensed milk

27 Sep

On auspicious occasions Indians are known to make desserts or buy them and distribute it to family, neighbors and friends. This year we bought our own bike, the Rocket III which has been on my husband’s bucket list. I had no access to Indian store that day to buy sweets. Luckily I had all these ingredients at hands and made these small yummy balls which uses khoya(dairy fats)/ mawa in the original recipe. This is an instant recipe which was a big hit.

All you need:

  1. 1 cup condensed milk
  2. 1 cup milk powder
  3. 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  4. 1 tsp cardamom powder
  5. 2 tbsp warm milk with few strands of saffron dissolved in it.
  6. 2 tbsp of your choice of dry fruits/ nuts to garnish

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Heat ghee in a pan, let it melt.
  2. Add condensed milk and let it melt into a more liquid state, add the milk powder at this stage. Stir well.
  3. Cook this mixture until it bubbles and starts to thicken. It took me about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Add the warm milk dissolved with saffron, let it cook for a minute or so or until the mixture is thick and starts leaving the pan. Turn off the heat.
  5. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
  6. Remove the mixture to cool it down on a plate.
  7. Grease palms with ghee and divide mixture into equal size balls and roll them into round balls and press down in the center with thumb.
  8. Garnish with chopped dry fruits in the dent. I used almond and pistachio.

Stuffed eggplants (Bharli Vangi)

20 Aug

Cooking was not fun for me when I got married, I struggled, I have failed and cried. I felt I am letting down my parents because my dad was an amazing cook, my mother learned late in life but now she is a wonderful cook and I was in no way close to getting there. I felt frustrated so I made a decision to write some recipes down that were dictated by my mother, this is one of them and I always end up making this vegetarian curry better than the last time. So here goes.

Tip : I always cut my eggplants and dunk them in cold water until I get other ingredients ready, this helps in prepping but also helps prevent oxidizing and removes bitter juices if any.

All you need:

  1. 8 small sized eggplants/brinjal – slit lengthwise I prefer to chop off the tops (refer pic)
  2. 1 small onion finely chopped
  3. 1/2 cup roasted peanut powder
  4. 1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  5. 2 tbsp grated jaggery
  6. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  7. 1 tsp sesame seeds powdered
  8. pinch of asafoetida/hing
  9. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  10. 1 tbsp red chili powder(or as required) I use mix of degghi and kashmiri chili powders
  11. 1 tsp goda masala (availale in Indian stores)
  12. salt as required
  13. 4 tbsp oil
  14. 1/2 cup water
  15. cilantro (garnish)

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. In a bowl mix together the onion, peanut powder, shredded coconut, sesame seeds powder, jaggery, 1 tbsp oil, salt, red chili powder, goda masala.
  2. Drain the eggplants and stuff the slit eggplants with this mixture carefully making sure it does not break the eggplants open. Fill only until the slits are filled completely. Hold on to the excess mixture.
  3. Heat remaining oil in a kadhai/wok/pan.
  4. Temper the oil with mustard seeds, as soon as they pop add asafoetida let it sizzle, add turmeric powder and add stuffed eggplants.
  5. Fry them in oil gently for about a minute, turn, fry them again for another minute or so, add half cup of water.
  6. Add the remaining mixture. Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes until they turn soft. The onions and eggplants leave a little water of their own. If it is too dry add little water.
  7. Remove the cover and cook for another five minutes until almost all the water is evaporated and eggplants are completely cooked and you have a thick gravy.
  8. Season with salt. Stir gently.
  9. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with chapati or roti.

Mango Kulfi or pop

25 Jun

IMAG2084Summer means lots of cooling down at the pool, lakes, water parks, dams, and feasting on cold icecreams, pops, smoothies and other cold beverages. You don’t feel too hungry, you are always thirsty and crave for anything cold. I make sure every summer I have pops in my fridge. I love mango pops and when you add cream to it just makes it even better. In India that is called kulfi.   Sharing a well known recipe for Mango kulfi. Next on my list in watermelon cucumber pops.

Tip: I added saffron strands in each mould for the extra oomph! Don’t forget to soak saffron strands in 2 tbsp warm milk or hot water before using them.

All you need:

  1.  3 cups milk
  2.  1/2 cup condensed milk( if you do not have this, increase the cream and sugar quantity)
  3. 1/2 cup cream
  4. 4 tbsp sugar
  5. 1 tsp cardamom powder
  6. 2 ripe mangoes pureed or 1 cup mango pulp
  7. 1 tsp cornstarch

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Mix everything together in a heavy bottom pan except for mango pulp and cardamom powder. Bring to boil carefully not letting the milk stick to bottom stirring occasionally.
  2. Simmer down for 20 minutes.
  3. Cool down. Add pulp and cardamom powder.
  4. Blend in a blender or just mix it thoroughly.
  5. At this point you can either use a sieve for extra creamy texture but I love my lumps 😉
  6. Pour in moulds. Refrigerate overnight.

How do you Chai?(Tea)

3 May

When I read the title of a book called, ‘Coffee, Tea or Me’, the first thought that crossed my mind was, may be it is a debate between tea aficionados or coffee addicts. But the book was completely different. Ha ha, well since then, this topic has been brewing in my mind, that how do you prefer to make tea? Honestly, I would have indulged in a long debate on handling tea and its contents. But as time has passed, we are not reserved anymore about certain methods, like tea should be made in this specific way, there are so many flavors, so many new experiments with tea or coffee and so many beverages that are now easily available. Well I am a fan of Chai Tea Latte myself. But in olden times in India, people say it was one of the tests that the bride-to-be was secretly given, to make tea, if you passed the test, you were supposed to be shortlisted as an eligible wife. He he. Sure, I get it, tea is THAT important. Tea is definitely something that can uplift my mood and I am sure a coffee lover can relate to the feeling as well. However, coffee is not my department. I have had long chats on tea with friends and family. And the last conversation I remember with my dad before he passed away was he told me to buy Orange Pekoe tea leaves and make tea. So let me share my method of making basic English tea that my dad taught me and his update as well with tea.

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Tea served with paniyaram or appe and green chutney

Tip: Remember, more ‘tea-dust’ in the tea, the stronger it is. Do not leave the tea for long. The longer you leave the tea the stronger the taste. Too long is also not good for health. Generally the sugar and tea leaves are to be used in same quantity so if the tea mixture is too strong, use as many teaspoons as the servings. If the tea leaves are light use one teaspoon more to the entire servings. Sweeter the sugar, lesser quantity should be used.

For eg: If the number of people to serve are 6, stronger the tea use 6 teaspoons or even less, lighter the tea, use 7 teaspoons or 8 teaspoons.

If fine sugar is used it is already too sweet so use 6 teaspoons in this instance, if crystalized sugar is used  use 7 teaspoons.

Pour just about the amount of milk that will make the color of the tea change from darkest brown into a medium caramel color, like they will describe ‘tan’ in foundations . Ha ha.

All you need:

Servings : 2

  1. Tea leaves (loose) 3 teaspoons
  2. Sugar in crystal form 3 teaspoons (if fine sugar is used reduce one teaspoon)
  3. Water : Use 1/3rd cup of water per serving
  4. Milk as required (I prefer boiled hot milk because if the milk is raw,you can taste the raw milk in tea)

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. In a deep vessel pour 1/3rd of a the cup of water used for measurement.
  2. Add sugar. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Let the water boil.
  4. Add tea leaves and remove the vessel off the heat and keep it covered.
  5. Steep the leaves until they settle at the bottom. Do not uncover the lid many times just to check. Leave it for a while.
  6. Uncover, strain the leaves through a strainer dividing equally in two cups.
  7. Pour milk only as required. Do not overpower the milk or else it will be too milky, do not pour very less or it will be too strong.

Update: So my dad told me smaller the tea leaves stronger the tea, meaning more dust stronger tea, so I buy loose Orange Pekoe tea leaves that are not the strongest of tea leaves. So for example I have to make myself some tea, I will need 1/3rd cup of water, 2 teaspoons of crystalized sugar and 2 teaspoons of tealeaves. Earlier I would use one teaspoon for one cup of tea. That’s just the update of my own method of making tea.

P.S: There are many methods and flavors of tea. Many people just put all ingredients together and boil it until the tea becomes darker. Some also add ginger to their tea for medicinal or health benefits. Some add even more spices like cardamom, saffron, etc. Some people just boil the water sugar and tea first and then add milk and boil it further. Some people prefer cold milk in their tea. Some people use sugar cubes and boil ingredients without sugar and add it later. To each his own. Happy Tea lovin’!

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Chai from a local tea stall

Mutton Sukha (Dry spicy goat chunks)

1 Mar

Goat meat is not easily available and not even savored as much in America. An alternative is lamb. However, we have a Halal store nearby(lucky me) so we manage to get decent mutton(I prefer calling it mutton than goat meat), never asked where it comes from though….but I am not really worried about it because unlike steaks, we hardly keep mutton rare or even medium rare, it is always well done in Indian homes. Also one major thing I was missing in my life was my Indian mixie(blender here). I tried Ninja, Oster and they failed big time, my friend has the Magic Bullet but the same complaint-doesn’t grind it to a paste. Indian homes need a good blender, so last year I got one from India. The store guy was so nice to adjust the wires as per US requirements of voltage and plugging. Yay! Now I make yummy chutneys, spice paste, juices, everything in my blender. Love it. My mutton received compliments, so I must have done something right. Hence sharing the recipe. The picture does not do justice to the taste because it was devoured quickly I could only manage to click this one on my phone.

mutton-sukha

Tip: You can add 2 cups of water while cooking the meat and reserve the stock to drink it as mutton soup or use it later in some recipe that requires broth.

All you need:

  1. 1 lb mutton(cut into medium size pieces,washed and cleaned, you can use boneless I prefer using meat with bones)
  2. 5-6 dry red chillies( you can adjust as per your choice but I chose to use Byadgi red chillies, really spicy, you can use Kashmiri red chillies, they give color not as much spice)
  3. 3-4 garlic cloves
  4. Ginger (about 2 inches)
  5. 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  6. 1 tsp turmeric
  7. 1 tsp red chili powder
  8. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  9. 1 tsp fennel seeds
  10. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  11. 3 cloves
  12. 1 green cardamom
  13. 1 black cardamom
  14. 1 cinnamon stick
  15. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  16. 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  17. 2 tbsp yoghurt or curd(room temperature as it prevents curdling)
  18. 1 tsp Lemon juice
  19. Salt as required
  20. Oil as required
  21. Water as required
  22. Cilantro for garnish

Ready,Set, Go:

  1. Marinate the cleaned mutton pieces with the dry spice powders, turmeric, red chili powder, salt and ginger garlic paste for about half an hour(you can prep in the meantime)
  2. Heat a pan on medium heat and dry roast the whole spices, dry red chillies first for about a minute and then add the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, cumin seeds and roast them until fragrant, be careful not to brown them. Keep the spice mix aside until it cools down.
  3. In the meantime, heat oil in a separate dutch oven or pressure cooker to cook the mutton.
  4. Add in the chopped onion and fry until brown, add the mutton pieces and fry them until they have a sear on them. Add salt and water(little only to cook mutton).Cook the mutton completely in the pressure cooker or the dutch oven. Mine takes about 20 minutes.
  5. Now take the cooled down spice mix and blend it along with lemon juice, ginger and garlic. Add water as needed until it forms a smooth paste.
  6. Heat a pan with oil or ghee(I always use a mix of oil and ghee)
  7. Add the spice paste to it and fry it till oil leaves sides.
  8. Add the yoghurt and mix on slow heat but continue stirring until the paste is bubbly to prevent it from curdling.
  9. Do not add the entire stock, just a little bit to keep the spice mixture moist, add the mutton pieces and fry well until the mixture covers the mutton and the moisture is evaporated.
  10. Cook for about 5-7 minutes and garnish with chopped cilantro

Vangi Batata (Eggplant Potato curry)

4 Apr

I have taken a long hiatus. After Dad passed away last year I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. However today I thought let me share what I have been eating. I have started to eat clean. On my way to reduce a few pounds. Reduced meat intake and piling on the veggies. So wanted to share this simple easy Indian recipe which takes less than 30 minutes to prep and make and is super tasty. Or I am rather too quick! Here goes.

Tip: To prevent oxidization of eggplant/brinjal immediately drop the pieces in cold water after cutting them until you prep other things for making the curry. Remove from the water before using the pieces.

All you need:

  1. 4 medium sized eggplants/brinjal – quartered
  2. 1 potato – quartered
  3. 4-5 garlic cloves – minced
  4. 1 inch ginger – minced
  5. 1 inch jaggery
  6. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  7. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  8. pinch of sesame seed powder (optional)
  9. pinch of asafoetida/hing
  10. 1 tsp turmeric
  11. 1 tbsp red chili powder(or as required)
  12. 1 tsp goda masala (availale in Indian stores)
  13. salt as required
  14. oil 2-3 tbsp
  15. cilantro (garnish)

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Heat oil in a kadhai/wok/pan
  2. Temper the oil with mustard seeds, as soon as they pop add cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric.
  3. Add minced ginger garlic to the oil and fry it for about 30 second or until raw smell disappears.
  4. Add the eggplant/brinjal pieces and potato pieces. Stir well.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients that is the red chili powder, goda masala, jaggery, sesame seed powder.
  6. Season with salt. Stir well.
  7. Add about a cup of water and let the vegetable curry cook for about 7-10 minutes.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with chapati, naan or roti.

Caramel Custard in a Pressure Cooker

16 Dec

One of my favorite deserts is Indian caramel custard, now people may also call it flan, caramel creme and the brother/sister is known as Crème brûlée. My dad always made it in the pressure cooker, I think it helps release the juices and the texture is more dense which I prefer to the light and fluffy ones, melt in the mouth sorts because then my tastebuds are left wanting more whereas this feels mouthful! Okay, I must mention, I have baked this in ramekins in the oven, but this one definitely needs a pressure cooker.

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Tip: My dad insisted on buffalo’s milk for a better texture, but I have made this one with cow’s milk. I wish I had buffalo milk. Also, while caramelizing sugar, use a tablespoon of water to spread sugar evenly.

All you need:

  1. 2 cups whole milk
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1/3 cup sugar or castor sugar (separately required)
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. On low to medium heat, dissolve 1 cup sugar in milk. Keep stirring until sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Whisk eggs until the color is lightened and start forming soft peaks.
  3. Gradually pour eggs in the milk making sure that you are stirring slowly with the other hand. Let the mixture thicken not boil, just heat it. We don’t want to scramble the eggs. The custard is ready.
  4. In a flat bottomed vessel (one that fits in the cooker), melt the 1/3 cup sugar and add a tablespoon of water which will help in caramelizing the sugar evenly. Spread the mixture evenly in the vessel tilting the vessel back and forth making sure the sides are also covered.
  5. Get the pressure cooker ready by pouring enough water at the bottom just like a warm water bath you’d create in the oven for ramekins.
  6. Pour the egg and milk mixture in this vessel and place it in the pressure cooker. Cover it with another vessel so the condensed water does not enter the caramel custard.
  7. Let it whistle once and reduce the heat to low for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the vessel and let it cool down to room temperature.
  9. Flip it on a plate and cool it in the fridge before serving it.

Guvar Batata (Indian Cluster beans vegetable with potato)

25 Nov

Guvar is not a very famous vegetable or I’d call it a neglected vegetable in the plethora of Indian vegetables. Mostly consumed in western areas of Maharashtra, it is liked by other communities and added as a part of Sambhar (lentil dal of South India) but it is definitely not popular as okra or eggplants. I personally love it and can eat it any given day. The frozen variety of cluster beans cooks quickly and saves time but if you buy it fresh, traditionally it is washed then the ends are trimmed and the beans are broken into pieces by hand as cutting does not remove the fibers that may get stuck in the teeth or throat when you chew these beans. The older the beans the more fibers that come off, the younger the beans, the fresher and less fibrous ones. Make sure the color is vibrant green and not yellowish green or a faint green. This recipe is typically cooked in parts of western India. So here goes.

Tip: You can boil the beans for 8-10 minutes with a pinch of turmeric and salt if you are in a hurry to cook.

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All you need:

  1. 1 lb Guvar or Cluster beans (washed, trimmed and chopped into long pieces)
  2. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  3. 1 tsp cumin seeds(optional)
  4. 6-8 curry leaves (optional)
  5. pinch of asafoetida or hing
  6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 1/2 tbsp goda masala (can be substituted by 1 tsp of Garam Masala + 1 tsp of red chili powder)
  8. 1-2 inch pieces of jaggery(can be substituted by 1 tsp of sugar)
  9. 1 medium sized potato(washed, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces)
  10. 1 tbsp of peanut powder (optional)
  11. salt to taste
  12. 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Heat oil in a deep pan or wok and add mustard seeds. Let them splutter.
  2. Add cumin seeds, curry leaves(optional) and hing or asafoetida. Let it all sizzle.
  3. Add turmeric and the chopped beans along with the potato. Stir well.
  4. Cover the pan with a flat plate and pour some water over it so that the vegetable is steamed and the vegetable does not burn.
  5. Cook this until the cluster beans and potato are tender about 20-25 minutes (less time will be required if it is half-boiled), stirring regularly in between making sure the vegetable does not stick. Also, if the water evaporates add more on the dish and a few teaspoons inside until it gets cooked.
  6. Add goda masala or red chili powder + garam masala.
  7. Add jaggery, adjust salt. Mix well. Cook until the jaggery melts in the vegetable and is combined well. Turn off the heat.
  8. Finish off with sprinkling peanut powder(roasted peanuts ground into powder). Serve with roti, rice and dal, chapati or naan.

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Kappa (Yucca root) fry Kerala style

6 Oct https://mefoodatarian.wordpress.com/

I should be grateful for the number of followers I have on this blog and I should have titled this post as apologetic because I have been so lazy to post! I have been concentrating more on my other blog. But I honestly want to say sorry to all the ones who believe in me and have followed my blog as faithful readers! Sorry! I have backdated this post but I will be try to be more consistent.

My husband has his roots in Kerala as I have mentioned before. It took me time to learn some of the delicacies of Kerala cuisine but I have definitely caught up with a few. I may not have mastered them since the people in Kerala are generous with the use of coconut oil but it will be difficult to guess that a Maharashtrian has made the South Indian delicacies. Well if anyone wants to see the optimum use of a coconut they should definitely visit a native of Kerala.

Yucca root or cassava or tapioca is what we call Kappa in Malayalam(language spoken in Kerala). Its starchy and can replace potatoes. It is high in carbs and low in protein. It is low in fat and cholesterol-free! So I love it and my husband loves it with beef-fry. I will share the recipe soon. Let’s get down to this one.

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Tip : A clean kappa is one with close ends and has no spots or growth on it. To clean kappa, you will need a sharp knife, strong board and strength! Cut the ends, cut in half, peel, or peel first with a peeler and cut in half and then cut half in half lengthwise. You will see the thread that you see in the pic. It also resembles the core of the pineapple. Trim the core where you see the thread. Cut the remaining part into cubes or quarters.

All you need:

  1. 1 whole Kappa/Yucca root/Cassava
  2. 1 tsp turmeric
  3. 4 red whole dried chilies (I also add finely chopped green chili as I love it hot)
  4. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  5. 1/2 tsp cumin(optional as its not traditional)
  6. 4-5 cloves of garlic, remember to crush the garlic for it to release its oil and coarsely chop it.
  7. 1 small red onion or 3-4 pearl onions chopped finely
  8. 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  9. 2 tbsp oil preferably coconut
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 2 tbsp Shredded coconut to garnish
  12. Water for boiling

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Clean, peel, cube and wash Kappa.
  2. Boil Kappa cubes in water that covers the cubes for about 10 minutes or until tender. Remember to add salt and half the turmeric to the water. Drain the water.
  3. Now comes the tempering. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, once they crackle add the cumin(optional), curry leaves and red chilies.
  4. Now add garlic and onion and saute till onions turn pink(you can even brown the onions if you like).
  5. Add remaining turmeric. Adjust salt.
  6. Add the kappa cubes and mix well. Let the kappa get coated evenly with the entire mixture.
  7. Turn off the heat and garnish with shredded coconut.

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