Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Vegan Fruity Muffin (Low Calorie/Fat)

Fruity Muffin

If you have a toddler to care for, you will probably appreciate how difficult it is to fill some one up with healthy food. They all have days when they will just about eat everything they see and days when they become so fussy and stick to some flavour of the day. For most toddlers, one thing seems to remain a wee bit consistent – desire to have sweets. That is one of the reasons why they seem to take fruits better than vegetables. When my wee one goes through that spell where there is barely any intake, my brain starts thinking quickly what I can prepare to fill him up, afterall they need the calories to do all the jumping and screaming and playing. Muffins usually go well both with my husband and my wee one. I was inspired by a vegan chocolate cake recipe and was hoping to make it but got lazy and decided on quick muffin. I recently bought the silicone muffin moulds hoping it will help me make low fat muffins. I am usually sceptical about using elements like silicone but because it will not be used regularly I thought I will buy them. I had some blueberries for the cake and used some of it in this muffin and also relied on dry fruits (I soaked couple of prunes, apricots and dates in hot water and ground it) to sweeten it predominantly. It is not very sweet but if you have a sweet tooth, you may want to add couple of more spoons of sugar. It was not just a toddler muffin but even my husband and I quite liked it. Here is how I made them…

¾ cup flour, combination of whole wheat and refined flour
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 tablespoon dry fruit puree
4-5 tablespoon water
3 teaspoon oil
1 banana, mashed
1 pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Handful of blueberries

Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder

Add the banana, dry fruit puree, water and oil and mix just until well combined. Add the blueberries and give a quick stir. The batter should have just enough liquid so it will drop when picked on a spoon

Fill the muffin moulds to ¾ volume and bake at 180degC for 15 minutes


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Idli Dosa Sambar

Idli Sambar (Arachuvitta sambar)

Idli and dosa are a staple in TamilNadu and I am sure they will get anyone who has tasted it before to drool just thinking about soft idlis, yummy sambar and delicious chutney. I recently heard a tamilian here say to him even if the restaurant does not serve good idli and dosa it is ok as long as the sambar is yummy. Such is the love for sambar and I would be lying if I said I did not like it. When growing up, my mom used to make delicious sambar that prompted me to eat so many dosas that she will have to make so many of them. A few people have asked me for recipe for idli sambar and finally here is how my mom makes it and now I make it. It is quite the same as the famous ‘arachuvita sambar’ made in Brahmin households. I would suggest you to use a variety of vegetables like drumstick, carrot, ‘avarakai’, eggplant etc. I did not have most of them but had an eggplant to use up. If you use other vegetables the process would still be the same. This sambar has been a hit in my family and also among my friends and always gets me great compliments. Loaded with vegetables and lentil and aromatic spices, it can fill you up in a healthy way. I have suggested certain quantities for the paste to grind. Depending on how much sambar you make (which depends on how diluted you like) and also depending on whether or not you prefer a lot of the freshly ground spices, you may have some paste left over. Just put it in an airtight container and stick it in the fridge to use for sambar next day or even add it to the vegetables you prepare. As ‘arachuvita sambar’ is also made during some festivals, on such occasions you can skip the onions.

4-5 pearl onions (sambar onion)
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
Turmeric powder
Couple of handful of vegetables of choice (like drumstick, aubergine, carrots etc.)
Few curry leaves
2 heaped teaspoons sambar powder
¼ cup toor dal, cooked
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Salt to taste

For the paste:
3 tablespoon coriander seeds (dhania)
3 tablespoons channa dal
4-5 dry red chillies
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoon grated coconut
2-3 pearl onions

To make the paste, fry all mentioned ingredients except coconut. It is easier to fry each of them separately as they take different length of time. Roast dhania until it starts to dance in the saucepan; roast channa dal until it turns golden brown; roast dry red chillies until they just start changing colour; roast fenugreek seeds until it turns slightly dark; add few drops of oil and fry the onions until it turns golden

Heat little oil in a kadai and add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the pearl onions, turmeric powder, asafoetida, vegetables and stir

Add the sambar powder and give a quick stir

Add 2 cups of water, tamarind and curry leaves, cook covered until the vegetables are done

Add the ground paste, dal and salt and mix well. If needed add more water and boil

Serve hot with idli, dosa, pongal, upma or rice

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Gatta Kadhi

Gatta Kadhi

Every time my brother and SIL visit us, we try our best to visit places together and also take good packed lunch with us so we can just spread our blanket in a nice place and enjoy nature at its best. My brother said he fancies having kadhi and also described one that he used to have when he was working in North India. I figured he was describing something made with besan added to the kadhi. I first thought it was pakoda kadhi and thought I will make fried pakodas for him. On second thoughts I wondered if it was gatta that he was referring to. The first time I came across gatta was on a television program where the presenter was Rajasthani and she was explaining how it was a common thing there and that it was considered a good form of protein for vegetarians as it is made with chickpea flour. Gatta is nothing but gram flour/chickpea flour dumpling. Anyway, I then looked up a book by Tarla Dalal and ever so slightly adapted the recipe to make this wonderful kadhi that everyone liked. Don’t get overwhelmed by the list of ingredients, trust me it is very simple to make...

For the gattas:
¾ cup besan
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon yogurt
Turmeric powder
Pinch of ajwain (carom seeds) aka omam
1-2 tablespoon oil
Salt to taste

For the kadhi:
2 cups yogurt
2 tablespoon besan
Few curry leaves
1 teapsoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
A small piece of ginger
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
Turmeric powder
2 teaspoon chilly powder
2 teaspoon coriander powder
Salt to taste

To make gatta:

Mix all ingredients and make a firm dough using little water

Roll into a cylinder and cut into about inch long piece, ensure each piece is bite size. Boil these in plenty of water for about 7-8 minutes. It is important that the water is boiling before putting the gattas in. If required you can cut them further now

To make Kadhi

Beat the besan and yogurt together and add some water to thin it and ensure there are no lumps.

Heat little oil and add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, bay leaf, asafoetida, cinnamon, cloves and once the seeds crackle add the turmeric powder, chilly powder and coriander powder

Add this to the yogurt besan mixture and allow to just boil on low flame

Add the gatta and simmer for few minutes and add salt

Serve hot with rice!

You can enjoy this as a soup as well so the gattas fill you up while the yogurt cools you down.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Kathrikai Gothsu (Aubergine/Eggplant in Sauce)

Kathrikai Gothsu (Aubergine/Eggplant in Sauce)

Indian marriages are known for their grandeur, scale and food and being a south Indian, I used to love the food at south Indian marriages (I did not get to go to more than one North Indian marriage though). These days, in order to manage the crowd better, close relatives and friends are typically invited for the actual ceremony while others are invited to the reception. Honestly, reception food is a bit disappointing as it is not the traditional menu and is in between north and south Indian food. Reason I am talking about food in wedding is because I used to love the gothsu served with breakfast during weddings. Usually served with upma or pongal, I always enjoyed the subtle flavours in it. I say subtle because it usually has sour and some heat but in moderation and none of them overpower each other. ‘Masiyal’ is what I used to make usually with pongal and upma until I cracked the gothsu recipe. Ever since I was successful with this, it has become a regular on our menu. My husband does not like very hot and sour dishes so this is perfect balance for all of us. Here is how I make it…

4-5 eggplants, chopped (use just one if you are using the big Spanish eggplant)
2 tablespoon channa dal, cooked (I pressure cook it but you could soak it for a while and cook on hob)
½ teaspoon tamarind paste
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
Turmeric powder
2 heaped teaspoons sambar powder
1 teaspoon cooking oil
2 green chillies, slit
Salt to taste

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the onions and green chillies

Once onion turns soft, add the tomatoes and cook until it turns mushy

Add turmeric powder, asafoetida, curry leaves and the eggplants. Add enough water to submerge the ingredients, add tamarind paste and salt and cook until eggplants are done

Add the sambar powder and cook until raw smell goes

Add channa dal and simmer for a few minutes

Serve hot


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Garlic Podi (garlic powder)

Garlic Podi (garlic powder)

Garlic powder brings back nice memories to me. It was one of the recipes that I tried as part of my food experiment about three years back. I looked up the internet and made a powder very similar to usual idli milagai podi but with garlic in it. This recipe I have posted below is different from that will post the former once I recall it. Anyway, it was during the winter that I made it and we were going on a day out with some friends. I made a brave attempt to make idlis and take this powder along. I say brave because I barely had any tools to make the idli batter. I soaked the urd dal and used idli rava and had to grind using Tesco value handheld blender. I took the idlis with the podi I had made and I must say the idlis were by no means soft but my friends were just glad to get packed idli near Inverness when it was snowing heavily. For whatever reason, I never made garlic powder again until recently. This time I wanted to try something different and came across a recipe here. I thought it is a good starting point and have lined up some ideas to improvise this and will post them as I succeed.

1 full garlic, skin peeled
2 tablespoon channa dal
1 tablespoon urd dal
5-6 dry red chillies
Generous pinches of asafoetida (use a small portion of the solid one for better flavour)
Salt to taste
Little oil

Heat few drops of oil and roast the dals and asafoetida until dals become golden brown then roast the garlic until golden brown then follow with red chillies until they begin to darken

Add required salt and grind to powder consistency. Some like it coarse, while some like it fine

Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. I made a batch about 10 days back and it is still good in the fridge.

Enjoy with idli, dosa or rice, especially curd rice.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Baby Potato Peanut Roast

Baby Potato Peanut Roast

Baby potatoes are not just a beautiful sight but a yummy treat. When I was a kid, baby potatoes were not always available in the market. My mom was once very excited seeing them and bought it and was telling us that boiled potatoes sautéed with a special spice mixture is yummy. She was preparing it was looking so good and I was looking forward to eating it for lunch. Unfortunately by lunch time, my brother became unwell and we had to go to the hospital. We had lunch after returning from the hospital and despite sitting on the kitchen counter for a while and not being hot, it was absolutely yummy. Reason I brought that up is that everytime I see baby potatoes, it just reminds me of my first encounter with it. It is funny how our brain remember few specific things. This recipe is not how my mom used to make it, infact I just made this recipe on the fly. The final photograph was taken on a different day when I made this extra hot and that is why it looks more reddish.We all liked it and I hope you will too…

About 10-12 baby potatoes, steamed or boiled and peeled
¼ cup roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, roasted
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon soya sauce
3 dry red chillies, soaked in water for 10 minutes
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste

Grind together peanuts, coriander powder, sesame seeds, oil, soya sauce and dry red chillies adding just enough water to make a paste

Heat little oil in a skillet and add the potatoes, turmeric powder and asafoetida

Add the paste and little water and cook on low flame and add salt

Keep cooking until it comes to desired consistency (some like it roasted so it has a crisp coating and some may like it just soft)

Serve as a starter or accompaniment with rice. If you like hot, sour and sweet combination, then add some brown sugar and heat for a couple of minutes so it glazes the potatoes as well.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Kulfi Ice Cream

Kulfi Ice Cream

Like most kids, we loved spending time at our grandparents’ place. We were closer to our maternal side than paternal grandparents. My maternal grandfather used to work in the railways and lived in the railway quarters. Like many quarters, this one was buzzing with people almost all the time as there was always someone coming off shift. The most exciting part of our stay there was in the night time as that is when a kulfi ice vendor would come. He would come on a tricycle with a big metal pot in which he would keep the ice cream and would have put ice cubes and water surrounding the pot and insulate it with red cloth. He would them remove them from the mould and slice them and sell on banana leaf. I could never get enough of them but was always restricted as my parents feared we will catch a cold. To tell you the truth, I may not buy kulfi from such a vendor now fearing hygiene (I had no data to say they are unhygienic but it is just my fear) and make a fuss about it but back then, I never knew about all these and ignorance was bliss. I am glad I did not fuss then and enjoyed those yummy kulfi.

Apart from bringing back lovely memories, it is now extra special because this is the 200th recipe on my blog. What a journey it has been; so much learning, so many successes and so many failures in my kitchen; so many people I reach out to. Although my husband prefers to have ‘usual’ dishes and does not really like to have my experiments for a meal, he has been quite supportive by tasting almost everything I make and criticising it. My mother is not just a good cook but she does things in a jiffy and I have kept her as my benchmark for that. My grandmother shares loads of ideas especially traditional recipes of those days. My brother is quite critical about my whole blog itself but my sister-in-law tries recipes from it and once he says it is good, reveals it is from my blog. If one has got to do more than the routine chores and everyday duties, there has to be support and encouragement. I sincerely hope I will be given the strength and energy to achieve more milestones.

Anyway, here is the recipe...

1 tin sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3-4 tablespoons chopped nuts (pistachios, cashew, almonds)
1 pinch saffron

Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan until it reduces to about 75% and remember to stir every now and then

Add the condensed milk and mix well and simmer for about 15 minutes so it thickens and also add the saffron and nuts and simmer for few more minutes. I used couple of spoons of milk to wash down the condensed milk tin as well.

Cool completely, pour into moulds of your choice and freeze for atleast 12 hours.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Butter Beans Curry

Butter Beans Curry

Best way to get low fat protein is consuming legumes, pulses. While butter beans (also called lima beans and double beans) are not a regular in my kitchen, I am trying to explore few recipes with it to see if it can get a nice place on our menu. The main dish for dinner was dosa and I usually make a variety of masala to stuff it to increase the nutritional value. I thought I will make such a masala with the butter beans but had my own doubts about how it will go down with everyone. I then changed plans to make something like a sambar but not quite a sambar. I was not keen on using the usual sambar powder but wanted to get some consistency to the dish. So I chose coriander and chilly and also used potato to thicken. I later realised that the potato was not really necessary as the once I mashed some butter beans, it started thickening by itself. Butter beans has a unique property of being able to detoxify sulphites. Sulfites are preservatives used in a number of readymade food items and also used to preserve dry fruits. Like most beans, it helps reduce cholesterol and also help you by giving energy to burn while keeping the blood sugar stable. It is also rich in iron and also manganese and magnesium. Here is how I made the sambar like curry

¾ cup butter beans
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 sprig curry leaves
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ - 1 teaspoon chilly powder (optional)
2-3 tablespoon coriander seeds
3-4 dry red chillies
1 potato boiled (optional)
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Rinse and soak the butter beans overnight and cook in pressure cooker or if you prefer to retain its shape, boil it on stove top until done

Roast the coriander seeds and dry red chillies, cool and grind to powder

Heat about a teaspoon oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters add the onions and couple of minutes later add the tomatoes, asafoetida and turmeric powder and cook until soft

Mash a few of the beans and add all the beans, some water, curry leaves, potatoes and salt and boil

Add the powdered coriander chilly powder and chilly powder if using and simmer

Serve hot with roti, rice or dosas