Thursday, September 18, 2014

TOOR DAL KHICHDI

TOOR DAL KHICHDI
The weather is getting cooler here by the day and that's when I feel like eating things which are mushy,warm & comforting like a khichdi,soup,risotto etc. I usually like my rice to be perfectly cooked,each grain separate from the other. But,for this dish, I let go of my usual expectations and embrace the warm,flavourful,mushy, healthy & delicious rice. It doesn't take that long prepare a big batch of comforting Toor Dal Khichdi.
TOOR DAL KHICHDI
This is a perfect way to sneak veggies into your diet. Even into your child's diet. No one will know what's gone into it because you are pressure cooking everything till they are really really soft,which means,they almost disappear and melt and become one with rice and dal. The best way to eat it is with a big helping of ghee,which will almost immediately melt into a pool and a serving of spicy mango pickle. Atleast,that's the way I think it should be eaten.
TOOR DAL KHICHDI
I love one pot meals and this one fits the bill! You just throw all the ingredients into the pot one by one and that's pretty much it! I've used just carrots,peas and green beans for the veggies but you can switch and use whatever combo you would like. Maybe,you could hold back on that beetroot. It is going to turn your rice into some other colour! Unless, your child or the child in you wants a pinkish Khichdi! This recipe is from Sia and this is the first one I've tried from her blog. It's just awesome and I am looking forward to trying more!

TOOR DAL KHICHDI
TOOR DAL KHICHDI Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice
3/4 cup Toor Dal

2 tablespoon ghee
1 inch piece of Cinnamon
3 green Cardamoms
3 Cloves

1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 dried red chili
1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida

1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground Coriander
1 1/2 cups of mixed vegetables
1/4 cup cilantro,chopped
3 serrano chilies, split
1 inch piece of ginger,peeled and crushed
Salt

Method:
Wash and soak the rice and dal in water for 15 minutes as you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker on medium-high heat and add the cinnamon,cardamom and cloves. Let it sizzle and infuse the oil for 30 seconds. Then, add the mustard seeds and once they pop,add the cumin ,red chili and asafoetida. Stir well for 30 seconds. Then, add the drained rice and dal followed by turmeric and ground coriander. Mix well. Add in the mixed veggies,cilantro, chilies,ginger and salt. Stir well. Pour 8 cups of water, mix it in,check for salt and let it come to a boil.
Put the lid on with the weight and cook on medium heat for 5 whistles. Turn off the heat and let the pressure go down on it's own. Open the lid,stir well,adjust the consistency if needed. Check for seasonings and serve hot with ghee and pickle. You can garnish it with some more cilantro,if you'd like it that way!

If you want to cook this Khichdi without a pressure cooker, you can do the same in a heavy bottomed vessel. Cook down till the rice and dal turns mushy. Adjust water as needed.


I am very happy whenever I make this. It's mostly because we 3 love it equally. It is a well balanced meal and very filling. A little goes a long way.It also reheats well which is an added bonus! That way, I don't have to worry about what we have to eat the next day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

CLASSIC BANANA BREAD

CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
Did you have a situation at the grocery store when you saw a banana and it was called a Plantain? I have had such days here. Back in Kerala, a Cherupazham was always called a Plantain and an Ethakka, a Banana. It is just the opposite here. I didn't get a hint about it till I moved to Bangalore. There, everything was a banana. There was no distinction between Cherupazham and an Ethakka. And, I hated the Bananas they gave us in our hostel. There were rumors that our warden would go to the fruit market late in the evening to buy the leftover fruits,which would be bananas,so ripe that they would fall off of the bunch. I think it was true.The discoloured bananas would welcome us every morning by the food counter in the hostel and I never ate it. It was never a yellow one, it was always the over ripe black skinned banana.
My Daisy Mummy's husband Jose, to this date, will not eat a banana if it has a black spot on it!
CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
We used to have monthly Birthday celebrations at the hostel and that was the single night where the person serving rice would use the most flattest spoon they can find. It's because, they are serving Pulao instead of the regular white rice! We would ask for a second helping and you should really see their faces then! And, while we were enjoying the 'spread', our warden would come by and place a banana by our plates. Yes, those same bananas. We would all take it with us as we exit the dining hall to wash our plates and leave it by the table they have kept for keeping our water bottles as we wash our plates! Yes, all the bananas will find it's way back into the kitchen, not to our stomachs! I am pretty sure many girls ate them,but, I didn't.
CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
Once I reached here, all the bananas were very pretty. So spotless, so yellow! But,after the terrific experience from the hostel, I wouldn't touch one. Jobin would eat his share but not me. The only way I would eat bananas were in the form of cakes,breads and muffins. I really enjoyed that form of bananas,for sure. Now, Ian loves bananas and enjoys eating it with Avilose Podi, Puttu, Cakes and even as is. So,we always have bananas at home. The other day, for some reason, there were quite a few sitting not so very pretty on top of the fridge.It was very spotted. But,that's exactly what you need for a Banana bread. More the spots,the better it is.
CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
So,all those were put into good use and Ian helped me mash up the bananas.I've been using Elise's recipe for years now and it has never let me down. Perfectly balanced and deliciously moist recipe for the most perfect Banana Bread. You can skip the nuts if you want to but I added some cashewnut for a bit of bite.

CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
Ingredients:
2-3 very ripe bananas *,peeled
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg,beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cashewnuts,broken tossed with 2 teaspoon flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Method: Pre heat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and butter a 4 X 8 inch loaf tin.
In a medium bowl,mash the bananas with a fork. Stir in the melted butter followed by baking soda & salt. Add in sugar,beaten egg & vanilla. Stir to mix.  Add in the flour and nuts and stir carefully till just mixed.Transfer the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean.Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan. Slice and serve.

* If you cannot find bananas (robesta variety),you can substitute by using 8 Poovan Pazham.


He loves helping me with my work around the house. He helps me put stuff away when we get back from a grocery store. He helps me unload the dishwasher. He is our little server when friends come over...just that he would make a stop in between to take a few quick bites! He knows what goes into his milk everyday and reminds us what we should be putting into it. He loves helping me mix a batch of cupcakes and lines the muffin tin all by himself. He helps us vaccum the house. He helps us in sorting trash...he even knows what goes into the recycle bin! He has grown a lot! Even though I enjoy every little help he does for me, I do miss the times where he was much smaller!

All 3 of us enjoyed this classic bread immensely!
 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

STRAWBERRY BLENDER SHERBET

STRAWBERRY SHERBET
The weather was perfect when I made this Sherbet. Not anymore. It is getting cooler here and this is not the kind of weather where one would want to eat a Sherbet. Well, I can eat a DQ Oreo Blizzard even in peak winter, but,not a Sherbet in Fall! Let's just face it. Oreo Blizzard is just plain awesome! I don't know what goes into it and I really don't want to know about it too...why spoil the fun?! Every time we go through a Drive-through, Ian senses it very quickly and says 'Mam' by the time we stop by the menu board!

STRAWBERRY SHERBET
Jennifer's recipes are fun and simple to make. The fresh Simple Strawberry Pie I made a few weeks ago was my first attempt with her recipes. It was simple yet totally delicious. I liked the fact that it uses fresh strawberries in a small amount. We rarely buy berries in bulk. It's always a small box,a pint or so. Whenever we buy berries,it is usually used up in cakes or as a filling for cakes. Off late, I've been trying things differently and made an amazing Blueberry Lemonade with fresh blueberries. I must say that was a very smart move from my side! It was just so,so refreshing and tasty!
STRAWBERRY SHERBET
This one is no different. A very small portion of ingredients are blended together (yes, blended!) to make a very refreshing Sherbet. A Sherbet has a small portion of dairy in it and that makes it different from Sorbet.The first one I ever ate was an Orange Sherbet a few years ago ,and I was bowled over by it. When I came across this recipe in her cookbook,I decided to give it a try just to see if I could make a decent Sherbet at home. I think, I did!
STRAWBERRY SHERBET

The recipe calls for frozen fruit,which,is the most simplest thing to make. Just clean your fruits,lay them in one layer on a cookie sheet and pop them into the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them into a ziptop bag,seal and freeze for future use. Also,simple syrup is just equal parts of water and sugar boiled together for a minute and cooled.You can save the remains for future cocktails,lemonades,iced teas etc.,
STRAWBERRY SHERBET
STRAWBERRY BLENDER SHERBET
STRAWBERRY SHERBET Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup milk

Method: Blend all the ingredients together,2-3 minutes until smooth. Transfer into a tight lidded freezer friendly container and freeze until firm,4 to 6 hours,stirring every 1 to 2 hours.









I want to tell you something. This recipe would taste just like it's ingredients. So, if you are not a fan of strawberries alone,do a half and half with another frozen fruit. We love frozen desserts,for that matter any dessert,so it was a hit with Ian. He knows where the frozen desserts are kept from the time he started to walk. Our freezer is in the bottom half of the refrigerator which makes it even easier for him to reach for all the ice creams, sorbets and sherbets!
  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

GINGER & MANGO PANNACOTTA

GINGER & MANGO PANNACOTTA
We were at Napa Valley a few years back and that was the first time I ever tasted a Pannacotta. It was a Buttermilk Pannacotta with Berry Coulis which was totally delish! I came back home and recreated something close to that,with a twist. It was my Vanilla Pannacotta with Pomegranate Sauce. Ever since,Pannacotta ranks high on my list of favourite desserts!
GINGER & MANGO PANNACOTTA
A long time blog reader of mine,C,had invited us over for dinner last year and she carefully remembered my love for it and made the same from my blog. I was so touched! Everytime we go out, I scan the dessert menu to see if a pannacotta is on the menu. There's something about a cold creamy pudding.

A very close family to ours was moving from Minnesota and we had gone to their house to help pack up some of their stuff . I had volunteered to bring in the dinner because that's the last thing they should be worrying about when they have a whole house to pack up! So, along with a Veggie Pulao & Chicken Tikka Masala,I took some Ginger & Mango Pannacotta along with us.
GINGER & MANGO PANNACOTTA
This recipe is spiced with ground ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. For those of you who think they might not their desserts spiced up, feel free to leave it out. I made one batch and set it in small bowls so that everyone gets their share and helps in controlling portion sizes. You can of course, set it in one container and cut them out into desired shapes. Serve it with a drizzle of mango pulp and a few pieces of fresh mango along with a sprig of mint!

GINGER & MANGO PANNACOTTA
GINGER & MANGO PANNACOTTA Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 pouch /7 grams unflavoured gelatin
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar *
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup sweetened canned mango pulp

Method: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over milk;let stand for 5 minutes to soften.Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat,gently whisk together cream, sugar,cinnamon & ginger; heat just until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat.

Stir in gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin. Whisk in mango puree. Pour into six to eight ramekins,cover with plastic wrap and chill until set.

*Adjust the sugar as needed depending on the sweetness from the mango pulp. The original recipe called for just 2 tablespoons of sugar but I added more to suit our taste.
I promise you, this would be the last of the mango related things you would get to see here for this year! I make sweet somethings with mangoes throughout the year because I used tinned mango pulp.I am a not a fan of the fresh mangoes we get here even during peak Summer.

It's getting a bit cooler in the evenings which kind of makes me happy because I will get to eat some Pumpkin Pies and Pecan Pies very soon!

Many of you tell me that a post without mentioning how Ian liked the food,is incomplete! :) Ian literally ran towards me when I brought the Pannacotta out of our fridge to photograph them. He stood beside me and I had a tough time pushing his eager hands away from grabbing my little bowls. He couldn't wait to taste it and from the way he behaved after that, I think he really really liked it. He's got his Amma's sweet tooth,for sure!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

JHINGA VINDALOO

JHINGA VINDALOO
We absolutely love anything Vindaloo! I've tried Pork Vindaloo, Chicken Vindaloo and now, Jhinga Vindaloo. All of them are loved by us,equally!Jhinga is the Hindi word for Shrimp / Prawns and I love the how rustic it sounds. It makes the dish feel so exotic and delicious,just how it turned out to be. I am a big Shrimp lover but I don't like it when it's served cold.Same is the case with other seafood. I like seafood to be spicy,juicy,fiery hot and full of flavour.
JHINGA VINDALOO
Whenever I hear the word Vindaloo, it reminds me of Goa. Amma used to make Pork Vindaloo very often at home so we never order it at any restaurant. A few years back when I visited Goa, Tia, my cousin, took me to one of her favourite restaurants there. I don't remember what I ordered but I know Tia ordered a vindaloo. I was really excited to try it out but somehow it wasn't to my liking. It was just not how Amma made it.
JHINGA VINDALOO
That experience made me realize that every household makes it different. So does the restaurants.It's just not the same anywhere.There might be one or two common ingredients but other than that, nothing is common.The most common ingredient is white vinegar. So, when I decided to try this recipe out, I was visualising it in my mind how the end result would be. This Jhinga Vindaloo is orangish-yellow and the curry has a kick from the vingear and spices used in it and I really loved it! Love all of Mr. Raghavan Iyer's recipes from 660 Curries!
JHINGA VINDALOO
JHINGA VINDALOO
JHINGA VINDALOO Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon coriander seeds,ground
1 teaspoon cumin seeds,ground
10 raw cashewnuts, ground
1 teaspoon cayenne / red chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup white vinegar, warmed in the microwave for 15 seconds
1 pound shrimp,cleaned & peeled but with tails on
2 tablespoons canola oil
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method: Mix together all the ingredients from coriander seeds through vingear to make a thin paste. Pour this over the shrimp and toss well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes.
In a wide pan, heat the oil on medium high and add the shrimp in one layer. Let it sear for 1 minute on each side. Pour the remaining marinade over and reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3-5 mins or until the sauce is almost absorbed. Serve garnished with cilantro.
Ian loved the curry and was asking for 'Chemmen', a new word that is. He is a sport when it comes to food, I think he is more like Jobin that way. I am a little reserved. I always have a list of things that I would never eat :)
This curry is so good and perfect for weeknight dinner.If you do try this out, don't forget to come back and tell me how you liked it!
 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN

THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
We eat out a lot and one of my favourite cuisines to try is Thai.If you ask me what's so Thai about this Ginger Chicken,kindly wait until you listen to the whole story. So, on Saturday night we found ourselves driving to our most favourite Thai restaurant in town and I found myself ordering the same old thing we order every. single. time.I don't like certain things to change and that order I place there,never changes!I may add a few things more, but, their Thai fried rice remains on the order.
THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
We brought back the leftovers and Jobin had it for a snack two days back. There must have been only a few tablespoons worth of fried rice and even I took a bite from it. Only after having that did I realise that I shouldn't have had it because it was late in the night and too late to go out to have some more. Ian was fast asleep by then! I watched Jobin relish every grain of it and like always,I wondered how they manage to flavor each grain of rice,so well!

I went to bed having a fried rice on my mind. I even told him that we would be having fried rice with some chicken tomorrow. He was happy to hear that bit of good news before dozing off and I was happy that I have decided on something to cook for tomorrow!
THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
Now that fried rice was fixed,what about the chicken? I scanned through my navy blue diary for recipes and other handwritten notebooks I have. Nothing felt worth trying at that point. So,during my daily conversation with Amma,I told her I was planning on something like a Ginger Chicken. That's when she mentioned about the Ginger Chicken in Bhanu's book. Bhanu Ravindran's cookbook has been a life saver in my family for years now. My Mamma bought the first copy which became the most wanted cookbook in our family that she bought many more. Everybody in my family or my extended family who loves to cook has this book with them. When Mamma passed away, Ammai,Appan's sister handed over Mamma's copy to me telling me that it should be with me since I am the one who loves to cook. That copy is a treasure of mine.

THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound / 454 grams boneless skinless chicken breast / thighs cut into 2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon lime juice
a pinch of red food colour

50 grams ginger
4 cloves garlic
150 grams onion

3-4 tablespoons tomato ketchup (or as you like)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
a pinch of red food colour

Oil
Cilantro

Method: In a small bowl, marinate the chicken pieces with soy sauce, salt and lime juice for 2 hours,covered in the refrigerator.Grind together ginger,garlic and onion to a smooth paste.

Heat about 1/2 cup of oil in a large saute pan and fry the chicken pieces until they are cooked and turn brown here and there.Drain them from oil and set aside.Into the same oil(add more if needed),add the ground paste and saute for 8-10 minutes or until the raw smell vanishes. If there were any pieces of chicken bits stuck to the pan, mix it along with the paste as it adds a whole new level of flavour.
Add the remaining ingredients to it and mix well.Add the fried chicken pieces,1/2 cup of water and simmer till the gravy thickens up and coats the pieces. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve with rice or noodles of your choice!

This is the best ginger chicken I have ever tasted! All the ginger chicken I've tasted so far in my life hardly has a flavour of ginger but a big touch of cornstarch in the sauce and that turns into a semi-solid jiggly mass when cooled.I hate to eat such kind of food.
The ground paste in this recipe proves to be the best base and the sauce clings to the chicken pieces so well. You should try this if you like Ginger Chicken or atleast just to see what's it all about.

I am usually done with cooking by the time Jobin is back from work for two reasons. 1) I want to the kitchen and the house in general to look neat when he walks in because I hate to walk into a dirty, messy house and kitchen. 2) We get to spend more time together and I won't be standing by the stove stirring and trying to do dishes at the same time.
All 3 of us enjoyed our dinner last night and I was very very pleased when Ian voluntarily brought me back my linens,plates etc., after I finished photographing this dish. I usually occupy his play area for it and maybe he wanted to get my stuff out of his area :-)
  
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