Thursday, 31 May 2012

Walnut Pesto Sandwich

Walnut Pesto Sandwich

I am not a big fan of sandwiches although I every now and then I do fancy couple of sandwiches that I had when I was in the States. Somehow, untoasted bread does not really appeal to me so I prefer few grilled sandwiches. I came across a recipe for walnut pesto on a television porgram and thought it will be good on a grilled sandwich and make a quick and healthy breakfast. Walnuts are very nutritious and their shape reminds me of the brain and they are indeed good for the brain. They are said to improve memory and also have anti-inflammatory properties in addition to being anti-oxidant rich. The vitamin E in walnuts is said to be special as it is in a form in which it lends significant protection against cardio-vascular problems. Having said all this, I am not a fan of walnuts so any dish in which I cannot quite detect it would be ideal for me. This pesto was very good in that sense. I spread generous portion of it on wholemeal bread, slapped a slice of cheese, grilled and packed it for breakfast. The best part is that my husband liked it too. What a healthy dish that goes down well!

7-8 walnuts, broken to smaller pieces
1 pack of basil leaves (30g)
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Bread slices to make the sandwich along with some cheese slices if desired

Roast walnuts in a dry pan until it just begins to change colour. Also roast the black peppercorns

Grind together the walnuts, pepper, basil leaves, garlic, olive oil and salt to a paste without adding any water

Smear this on a slice of bread, slap a slice of cheese on it, close with another bread slice and grill the sandwich

Yum yum yum!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Aloo Tikki

Aloo Tikki

Aloo tikki is a very popular North Indian dish and I was surprised I had not made it in ages and not blogged about it either. It used to be one of the dishes that I used to make in my mom’s kitchen whenever I managed to get some time away from my books as a student. Some deep fry but most shallow fry it on a hot griddle and I prefer the latter. My wee one is not a fan of potato and will clearly put it on our plate if I give him any. However when I give it in the form of baked chips, potato cake etc., he does not realise it and has it. I then thought I will make tikki for a change and it went well too. You could add some boiled peas if you like but in the interest if time and simplicity I skipped it. I also preferred chilly powder to green chillies as my wee one may not fancy chilly but it is upto you. Mint or coriander chutney will be great with these tikkis, this time though, I served with ketchup. Here is the recipe…

1 big potato boiled
1teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon chilly powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon coriander leaves
2 wholemeal bread slices, crust removed
1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
½ teaspoon onion granules (optional)
Salt to taste

Mash or grate the potato well and add the ginger and coriander leaves

Wet the bread slices and squeeze the excess water out and squash it between your palms and add to the potato

Add the coriander, cumin powder, chilly powder, onion granules and salt and mix well

Smear some oil on your palms and take lemon size balls and pat them to desired thickness

Heat a non-stick pan and cook both sides of the tikkis until golden brown and add little oil if needed

Serve with a chutney or ketchup

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sundakai Paruppu Kadaisal (Turkey Berry Dal)

Sundakai Paruppu Kadaisal

One of the many gems used in Indian cuisine is sundakai a.k.a turkey berry. Many would have seen it in dried form in many Indian grocery shops. I had only seen it once in the fresh form before I moved out of India. After that, I saw it recently in an Indian food shop here and was delighted so just grabbed a small quantity. These berries are quite commonly used in ayurvedic treatments I am told. It has medicinal properties that make it great to treat phlegm, mucus and cough. It is capable of helping the body get rid of bacterial infestation of the stomach making it very good for the digestive system. It is said to help cure night blindness by strengthening the nerves. Its bitter taste helps kill worms in the gut. While there are a good few recipes one can dish out with dried berries, I noticed there were far fewer recipes using fresh berries. Here is one for you...

1 cup green turkey berries
½ cup toor dal
½ teaspoon tamarind extract
10 pearl onions
1 tomato
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3-4 dry red chillies
Cooking oil
Curry leaves

Wash and smash the turkey berries so their seeds come out. Smear turmeric powder so they do not become dark

Bring together, chopped tomato, about 5 pearl onions (smashed lightly), toor dal, couple of dry red chillies, add required water and pressure cook well so they can be mashed

Mash this mixture

In the meantime, heat little oil and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add asafoetida, dry red chillies,pearl onions and sauté briefly

Add tamarind extract, little water and required salt (enough for the turkey berries and dal mixture). You could add little chilly powder at this stage if desired

Add this to the mashed dal, mix well and serve!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Chakkarai Pongal (sweet pongal)

Chakkarai Pongal (sweet pongal)

While growing up, I was not a fan of chakkarai pongal but always enjoyed it when distributed to devotees as prasadam in temples, especially vaishnava temples. It will be given in special cups called ‘dhonnai’ which is made with a specific leaf. There will be no shortage of ghee in these temple chakkarai pongal and I always wondered what magical powers the cook in the temple kitchen (called madapalli in tamil) has to make such yummy dishes. The best part is that when they give you a small cup of the prasadam, we would wish they gave us more but by the time we finish having that cup, we will feel so satiated and full. Over the years my taste seems to have changed and once in a while I do fancy some sweets. One such dessert is chakkarai pongal. I used to make this more often in very small quantities, far less sweeter when I was weaning my wee one as it is in mushy consistency and has goodness of mung dal and as I also add milk to it, it was quite a good dish for little ones as well. I had not realised I had not posted this recipe earlier and now a reader had asked for it; so this has finally made it to the blog. During pongal festival, this dish is usually made in mud pots and in my house it is made in ‘vengala paanai’. I started making it in my vengala paanai but had misjudged the quantity and capacity of the dish and had to transfer it later. The final colour or the dish will depend on the jaggery used and you may need to adjust jaggery quantity based on how sweet your jaggery

is. It is best served warm and with a dollop of ghee on top. Some people add mace also to this but I don’t like it, so I didn’t. Here is the recipe...

¾ cup rice
¼ cup mung dal
4-5 tablespoon ghee
1 ½ cups jaggery
Couple of pinches cardamom powder
Couple of pinches saffron
2 tablespoon chopped cashew nuts
2 tablespoon raisins
½ cup milk

Heat some ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add little ghee. Add the rice and dal and fry until aromatic

Add milk and atleast 3 cups of water and cook stirring often. The dal and rice should turn out mushy. You may need to add more water to get the desired consistency

Add jaggery and little ghee and keep stirring until all jaggery dissolves and is well combined. Allow to simmer

Add the cardamom, saffron and if desired some mace and mix well and cook for couple of minutes. Again you may need to add more water to keep the consistency a bit lose as it could turn out dry once cooled

Fry cashews in ghee until golden and raisins until puffed. You could do this at the very start to avoid using multiple dishes

Add the cashews and raisins and mix well

Serve warm

Friday, 18 May 2012

Low fat Almondy Apple Strawberry Milkshake

Low fat Almondy Apple Strawberry Milkshake

I quite like milkshakes because they are an easy way to have fruits and get your five a day portions. However, some people may be wary of taking milk due to varied reasons like calories, fat, lactose intolerance etc. Although I am not too worried about these at the minute, my interest was in increasing the fibre content in my diet. For that reason and also in the interest of folks who are looking for milk substitutes, I chose oats milk for this recipe. Oat milk is naturally cholesterol free and lactose free and has cancer preventing phytochemicals too. I went for the store bought oat milk although it is not difficult to make it at home. This milkshake is rich in antioxidants, fibre and many other trace nutrients essential to keep the immune system functioning well. I added very little sugar and stuck to unrefined brown sugar. The flaked almonds are optional as some people may not like the little bites and nutty flavour from them in a milkshake.

3 glasses oats milk
2 tablespoon flaked almonds
5-6 strawberries (I used frozen)
3 apples, cut with skin
2 teaspoon brown sugar or any other sweetner of choice

Combine part of the milk, all apples and strawberry together and blend. Add sugar, almonds and more milk and blend further

Serve chill!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Arisi Upma

Arisi Upma

While growing up, rice upma was one of the dishes mom used to make often because all of us at home liked it. Infact I used to love the bits that were a bit overcooked and came out crisp at the bottom of the dish. Speaking of the dish, it is normally made in a traditional utensil called ‘vengala paanai’ which is a heavy metallic pot. The heaviness of the pot allows slow cooking without burning the food. My mom had bought one for me in my ancestral town of Kumbakonam as usually people there expect very high quality when it comes to utensils and end up being demanding customers. Anyway, she had sent it to me sometime back and I finally got to use it now as an uncle of mine asked me for arisi upma recipe. My husband does not like this dish at all so, honestly I have never made it before; my sister-in-law makes it often though. I got the recipe from my mom and almost followed it just until I wanted to add my twist. I substituted part of the raw rice with raw brown rice. As this recipe involves grinding the rice coarsely, one cannot find the brown rice without being told. So there you go, some wholegrain added to otherwise traditional recipe. A little technique that gets used while cooking this dish is covering it with a small cup half filled with water. This is said to prevent the upma from going dry and also, if you think you need more water, you could just add it from this cup as it would be warm. Some people like the upma grainy (grains standing out), some like it bit more mushy. The below recipe is for the latter so do reduce water quantity if you like it grainy. My mom used to make something called ‘pachai puli’ to go with this; I did not as it needed aubergine which does not arrive until middle of the week. So, finally, here is the recipe...

1 ½ cups rice (I used ½ cup brown rice and rest regular raw rice)
1 heaped tablespoon toor dal
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dry red chillies
Few curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urd dal
2 teaspoons channa dal
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Grind together rice, toor dal, cumin seeds and black pepper to a powder that is not fine but not too coarse

Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed dish or vengala paanai and add mustard seeds. Once it begins to crackle, add the dry red chillies, urd dal, channa dal, curry leaves and asafoetida. Allow the dals to start browning

Add about 3 glasses of water and required salt and bring to boil

Add the ground rice mixture and stir quickly so lumps do not form. Cover and cook on slow flame stirring occasionally. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, you can check if it is done by tasting the rice; if it still has a bite, give it more time. Depending on the desired consistency, you may want to add little more water in the middle of the process, make sure you add boiling water

Serve hot with a tangy chutney or kuzhambu

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Bread Upma

Bread Upma
My mother-in-law was here with us recently and whenever folks are around I try not to ask them to prepare food but if they wish to help, they could help with the clean up. However, I thought my husband may fancy some dish that his mother makes and asked him if there was anything I should ask her to make for dinner on one of the week days. His immediate choice was bread upma. I then recalled how much he actually liked bread upma as he used to make it every now and then before we had our wee one. I somehow did not really enjoy the dish as it seemed a bit too dense for me. Anyway, after enjoying what his mother made, he later asked me to make it one morning for breakfast. He does not usually bother me with request for any specific dish so I was glad he even asked me for something but the condition was that ‘it has to be as good as mom’s’. Ah well, I have heard many women face this challenge of meeting husband’s expectations that his wife cooks like his mom but fortunately, in my case I could set my own benchmark as he is not too picky in some ways. Anyway, what better than a challenge in the kitchen for a food blogger. I set out to make it similar to how she makes but could not let it miss my touch. Addition of ginger garlic paste made quite a difference to the dish and so did the roasted groundnuts. I added it mainly because it is a good source of protein and it will be nice to have something crunchy along with the otherwise soft consistency of the dish. I was unsure if he would like it so did not bother crushing it coarsely but next time, I would. So the verdict was ‘I have indeed shown that I am quite a serious food blogger with about 300 recipes on my blog’. So, this recipe is a keeper. Below mentioned quantities serves two.

5 slices bread (I used wholemeal bread)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2-3 green chillies, chopped
Turmeric powder
½ cup peas
3 tablespoon yogurt
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (optional)
1 teaspoon sambar powder
Handful of roasted groundnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Cooking oil
Few curry leaves

Cut the bread slices into small bite size square pieces and add the yogurt and mix so it is all coated in yogurt. Set aside while you get on with rest of the steps

Heat some oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles add onions and turmeric powder

Add tomatoes, curry leaves and peas and cook until tomato becomes mushy

Add the sambar powder, salt and cook for couple of minutes so raw smell goes off

Add the yogurt coated bread slices and mix together and cook for a couple of minutes

Garnish with roasted groundnuts and serve!