Friday, November 30, 2007

Blacks and blues!

Madhuri is back! All might be thinking whats the relation between the title and her comeback film. Look at the posters of the movie! Doesn't she look gorgeous in that black and blue dress. She is 40 - some are blessed and some work hard to stay so beautiful at that age. Now madhuri dixit isn't exactly my favorite heroine - but I admire her for her dances. My top 3 choices are

1. Maar dala - Devdas. - Will talk about greens in a later post
2. Didi tera dewar - HAHK
3. Ek do teen - Tehzaab

So inspired by madhuri's lovely dress - here's my blacks and blues food presentation - Nilla wafers and vanilla frosting. Nilla wafers are so crunchily yummy. I use them a lot in many desserts I make. I used Pillsburry supremely creamy vanilla frosting. This presentation is a twist on the cream biscuits that I loved as a kid. I usually sandwich vanilla frosting between nilla wafers. The taste is very similar to cream biscuits back in India. So here's a toast to MADHURI and the color combo of Black and Blue!

Btw, apart from blueberries, blue potatoes and very very very few foods - there is hardly any blue colored food around! I wanted to use some naturally occurring aqua colored food - does it exist? I searched on the web - some say blue food is not delectable, some say it has cancer fighting properties. I adjusted to the blue aqua colored decoration sprinklers instead. However I found aqua colored drinks, flavored ice sticks and some candies - but I think its just food color.

Should I make an event with this concept - Color combinations, a lovely dress and food presentation ideas? or is some blog already hosting this event?
I will let my food blog visitors decide.

Date Cinnamon Porridge

I saw the AFAM Dates event recently and was pondering over what to make. I first wanted to make Date pistacho kulfi - but since I am in still in my picky mode - no heavy cream for me. After that I forgot about the event until yesterday - I was having my breakfast (apple cinnamon oatmeal) - flash flash - why not use Dates instead of apple and have something like a date cinnamon combination for the breakfast. So here I present Date-Cinnamon Porridge that I prepared today for breakfast. Its totally heavenly - I had it with few slices of strawberries and banana.

Dates have distinctly exotic flavor. They are called as "Kharjuram" in telugu.Wiki has a wonderful report on dates. I was amazed to see the varieties of cultivars in dates. I used medjool dates which are succlent, soft and sweet variety. Also, dates are healthy option to satisfy your sweet/candy cravings. Look at the data - Dates (100 gms) come upto about 280 calories while the same amount of M&M's are about 510 calories. Top of it - dates are totally fat free while M&M's - 27.8 grams of fat in that 100 gms!

1. 7-8 Dates - chopped ( The amount can be adjusted as per your sweet taste levels)
2. milk - 1 cup
3. Quinoa (prewashed) - 1/2 cup
4. 1 tsp cinnamon powder.
5. 1 tbsp honey
Pistachios for garnish

Add cinnamon powder to milk and bring to a boil. If you donot have powder, boil the milk with cinnamon sticks and remove them later. Add dates and 1 tbsp honey. The amount of honey and dates can be adjusted for the level of sweetness desired. After the milk starts to boil, add quinoa. Cover the pot and simmer the mixture in low heat until the milk is absorbed by Quinoa which takes about 12-15 minutes. The porridge is done and what a sweetly-tastly breakfast - This dish can totally pass into the dessert category with vanilla icecream on the side!Ooh - another idea - how about making a date prasadam with rava? I will try that on some festival day.

Enjoy the warm porridge garnished with pistachios and strawberries.

Food & Music - My combination

Saw the movie Ratatouille? Whenever Remy the rat tastes something very nice and delicious - his mind goes all flashing and musical. The same thing happens to me sometimes. Whenever I eat something very nice - a song pops up in my mind - most of the time its associated with the food or may be was I listening to that song too much?.

Anyway, Eating the date porridge with a strawberry - the prelude of the song "Hum ko Sirf" popped in my mind. This one is surely associated to the dish. The music starts with a slow sound and then the pop - you hear the violin and then drums and then the whistle. Same with the porridge. The taste grows on you like the violin prelude with the sweet taste of strawberry coming as the first piano music introduction. The quinoa porridge hits you like the violin and then starts the drums and whistles of the exotic date flavor.

Listen to the song here

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quinoa with Asparagus and Chickpeas

There are some days like today when I become too picky about what I eat - ie become totally a health freak! and thats when I try to follow tips from books like "Chasing Life" by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He mentioned one's plate has to be filled with food with all the colors of the rainbow. So my veggies - tomatoes (red), asparagus (green). Beets (purple) can be added too - but i didnt here - I dont have them at home now. I can make a rice dish with these veggies - but instead chose a healthy option - Quinoa

I first tasted Quinoa orange mint salad at Whole foods market and its become one of my favourite salads. Quinoa is a high protein, tasty grain which is easy to cook. It is high in fiber contentnt and essential linoleic acid that are required by the body. Quinoa has twice as much protien as the same amount of rice. It is light and crunchy at the sametime. Many desserts and salads can be made with it. The rooty flavaour of asparagus and the savoury taste in the sun-dried tomatoes combined with chickpeas will be a great addiiton to quinoa.

Quinoa (prewashed) - 1 cup
asparagus - cut into 1/2 inch pieces - 1/2 cup
sundried tomatoes - 1/4 cup
chickpeas - canned - 1/4 cup
garlic - minced 1 tbsp
olive oil - 1 tbsp
cumin powder - 1tsp
mint and cilantro for garnish
Heat olive oil in a pan and saute garlic for a minute. Add the asparagus, sundried tomatoes and chickpeas and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, salt, cumin powder, 2 tbsp of lemon juice and quinoa. After the water starts to boil, cover the pan and simmer the mixture until quinoa absorbs all the water(takes about 15 minutes). Quinoa (initially white) turns transparent and a small white spiral sprouts of the seeds(look at the closeup). I had this salad with yogurt - tasted very healthy and very yummy. I will be sending this recipe to Suganya's Tasty Palettes Veganism Event. Its so amazing that so many food blog events are being organized and all of us can share the wonderful recipes and food experiences.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Poached eggs

The recipe is adapted from the "poached eggs" by Sara moulton. Poaching is the process of gently simmering food in liquid, generally water, stock or wine (wikipedia). Poaching also produces food with low calories aka NO oil - isn't what all those of us who want to maintain/loose weight. Poaching eggs just takes 5 minutes.

In a shallow pan heat water drizzled with vinegar and salt. After the water starts to bubble - create a whirlpool in the center using a wooden spoon and drop the egg yolk and white together in the center of the whirlpool. The rotation of water will prevent the egg from dispersing. The yolk covered with the egg white will curdle into the center. Allow the egg to cook for 2-3 minutes and serve over tomatoes. Sprinkle few chives, chopped olives, salt and pepper. Enjoy with a warm toast.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ginger Lemonade

I just finished my experimental work and was browsing the wonderful food blogs while waiting for the experimental data to be processed. I came across the Think spice blog which is commemorating spices in the cooking world. One of the points was to send in any dish cooked by dear ones that might have the spice as a highlight. The moment I saw the spice ginger - my dad came to my mind. He is a wonderful loving father. He used to make me and my sister ginger tea and ginger lemonade during our examinations. I miss him so much! I also realized today is the last date for the entry - and I thought I cannot make it. But thank god - I have good experimental results, so I returned home happily - and I still have 2 hours before the clock strikes 12 :) So here I present Ginger Lemonade for the Think Spice Ginger blog event and also for my dad!.

1. 5 Lemons Juice
2. 1 cup sugar ( I used splenda)
3. 1 cup water
4. Ginger minced - 4 tbsp

Mix and heat the above contents until the sugar dissloves and the syrup starts to boil. Cool the mixture and pour 2:1 ratio of the syrup to water over ice and serve.

Kodiguddu Sunni - Egg sweet

This is trademark sweet of my grandmother. I haven't seen this sweet being sold in any shop nor seen anyone making it except my grandmom. Whenever i was done with school final exams - she had this sweet ready for me. Its my favourite - nothing can beat this one. Yesterday I was soo soo craving for this sunni ( pronounced as "sew"+ "ny" as in you in telugu). As you all know kodiguddu is Egg in telugu. One requires a bit of patience while making it. We have to constantly keep on stirring the mixture when its cooking. I had tough time just for three eggs. My grandmom used to make this dish in a big big pan with 60 eggs! Oh my god! she truly has some strength in her arms.

Anway - here are the ingredients and one has to follow it to the T.
Makes 8-10 pieces (1 inch squares);

3 whole eggs + 1 cup milk + 1/2 cup sugar+ 1 tsp elaichi powder. Mix these ingredients thouroughly - i use the blender-makes my job easy.

(Actually its 3/4 cup sugar - but i reduced the sugar amount and used splenda instead of sugar - keeping in mind the calories). Now, lots of ghee/butter goes into this recipe. For the mixture above, add approximately 2 tbsp of ghee. I added the smart balance butter - just so i dont increase my cholesterol levels:).

In a non stick pan, heat the butter, and add the egg/milk mixture and continuously keep stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture goes through four stages.

First stage - The liquid will slowly start thickening

Second stage - After thickening a bit, lots and lots of bubbling will occur

Third stage - the milk will curdle oozing out lot of water

Fourth stage - The evaporation of all the water formed in the third stage.

Once you notice the mixture is being browned if you leave it for a second without stirring - thats the point you remove the mixture and put it in a plate(already buttered) and allow the mixture to cool and set. After its cooled down- it can be cut into pieces and served. I cannot wait until then - so i just had it as soon as its hot out of the pan.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pomegranate Margarita

Its pomegranate season - and whats more than to have a drink with the taste on the background. Making margaritas is fun. Here are the tips

1. To salt the rim of the glass - try rubbing the rim of the glass with a lemon wedge and then dip it in salt.
2. Proportion of fruit juice to tequila ( this can be altered based on your taste) - 1.5 cups of juice and 3/4 cup of tequila. A little bit of sugar syrup can also be added. Blend the mixture and pour on ice cubes and serve.
3. Make ice cubes of fruit juice and use them to blend with tequila for a smooth crushed ice textured margarita

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving dinner

Hello all, Here's a shot of my thanksgiving buffet dinner table - Turkey, stuffing, corn bread with sundried tomatoes and rosemary, eggplant parmesan, caesar salad, gravy, cranberry sauce, wild rice pilaf with carrots, peas and mushrooms and for the ultimate dessert - angel food cake with berries. The recipes will be uploaded soon.

Angel food cake with mixed berries in a trifle dish

This is the easiest and the most prettiest dessert that will give a "WOW" expression from everyone - looking at it and also tasting it.

First - you have to make angel food cake. It can also be bought at stores. But i used the betty croker mix. Just follow the instructions on the box. I made two square pans cake with the mix. My trifle dish was round and i dont have round baking dishes at home - so just adjusted with the square ones - but it didnt matter in the end. Allow the cakes to cool down for atleast an hour. and then using a serrated knife to slice each cake midway into two halves. As the name suggests - The crunchy crust and the soft, super spongy cake all by istelf is heavenly.

Ingredients required:
2 cup strawberries sliced
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup black berries
1/2cup water
1/2 cup sugar
vanilla extract
Frozen Dessert whipped topping - Thaw this one in the refrigerator for 4 hours before use.

In a pan, put a tbsp of butter and put in all the berries. After a minute add the sugar and water. Allow the mixture to bubble a bit and the berries soften and then add vanilla/strawberry extract. I added a tbsp of corn starch mixed with water to thicken this syrup - so that it ends up with a spreadable jam like consistency.

Now for the decoration - be as creative as you can - any decoration will be good

First layer - I put in one layer of angel food cake, spread the mixed berries spread and also used some fresh berries on this layer,

Second layer - layer of cake with whipped cream spread

Third layer - cake with mixed berries spread and fresh berries

Fourth and top layer - put in the cake and add a heavy dose of whipped cream so that the it reaches the top of the trifle dish and then decorate the top with fresh berries. I also added few mint leaves for garnish.

Cover the dish and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wild Rice pilaf with peas, carrots and mushrooms

I didnt want a plain wild rice pilaf for the thanksgiving dinner. So I jazzed it up with peas carrots and mushrooms and a bit of indian touch and cooked the dish in an oven instead of the rice cooker. So here goes the recipe. The amount of vegetables and seasoning can be altered based on your taste.

1. Uncle bens' wild rice and long grain original recipe (picture shown). This one comes with herb seasoning etc - 3 packets. Each packet contains approx 1 cup raw rice.
2. Peas (Frozen or canned) - 1 cup
3. Shredded Carrots - 1 cup
4. Mushrooms - 2 cups
5. 1 tbsp of coriander powder (Cannot get away with the indian roots :) love the coriander/ dhaniya powder)
6. chicken stock - 1 cup
7. Bunch of cilantro for garnish

In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tbsp of butter. Add the carrots and mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Meanwhile, wash and drain the wild rice and add to the carrots and mushrooms. Saute the mixture for 3-4 minutes until you notice the rice going dry.
Add the water at this point. For every cup of rice i add 2 cups of water - no less no more and I always stick to this proportion when i cook pilaf/pulav or biryani. For this one I added 6 cups (one cup chicken stock and 5 cups water). Vegetable stock can also be added instead. Every box of the wild rice has a seasoning packet. I added just one packet of seasoning for the 3 cups of rice and added 1 tbsp of coriander powder for a bit of indian touch. The seasoning packet already has salt. I added a tsp of salt. Adjust the salt content as per your taste.
Add peas at this point and then allow the mixture to simmer until all the water is absorbed by the rice. Garnish with coriander. Cover the pan and place in a pre-heated oven at 400 F for 25-30 minutes. The rice will be done perfectly.

I realize the "valli's kitchen" mark on my pictures might be annoying - but it is just to protect my work from plagiarism.

Corn bread with rosemary and sundried tomatoes

Corn bread is one of the side dishes in the thanksgiving dinner. I dont remember which show i saw this recipe in - is it emeril or rachel - i am not sure - but somehow knew(ie heard on food network) that rosemary will be a great addition to corn bread. And oh my god! when the corn bread was baking - the smell was awesome.

1. Corn bread mix (I used marie calenders) - 5 cups
2. Sweet corn (Frozen or Canned) - 2 cups
3. Sun dried tomatoes - 1 cup
4. Few sprigs of rosemary (3 tbsp chopped)

Mix 1.5 cups of water for every cup of cornbread mix(as per the instructions on the package). Make sure the batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Add the rest of the ingredients -corn, sundried tomatoes and rosemary (chopped finely). If you are using frozen corn kernels - thaw them before mixing into the batter.Bake the corn bread at 375 F for 30 minutes - I have a picture of the corn bread baking in the oven.

To test if the corn bread is done - poke a knife/fork through it and if it comes out clean it means the bread is done. After the bread cools down - cut into pieces and serve.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fruit salad - mango, raspberry, mint & basil

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Ever tried mixing fruits with herbs? You ought to try this one and it can be one of the salads you serve on the thanksgiving table or as a dessert. Its part of my thanksgiving dinner table. My tryst with this salad happened at a display counter in central market. It was just mango and basil salad. The mint and raspberries are my addition to this recipe. The flavors in the salad are so distinct yet when combined - the salad is heavenly.

Ingredients -
1 cup chopped mango
1/2 cup raspberries (optional)
1 tbsp basil chopped
1 tbsp mint chopped
1 tsp lime juice

Mix the above ingredients and savour all the tastes that pop in your mouth. The mangoes i bought are a bit tart - so i added 1 tsp of splenda - artificial sweeteners or sugar can be added.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kheema tomato curry

I already had two "fry" dishes on my blog. The third one ought to be different. So here I present a LAMB KHEEMA or KHAIMA (ground meat) curry with TOMATOES. Its super easy and super tasty. The curry can be eaten with roti or rice. I spread some curry on bread slices and make a sandwitch out of this - its really yummy and makes a great lunch.

The ingredients list.

1. Ground lamb meat - 2 pounds
2. Onions large - 2 (avoid the sweet varieties) - chopped
3. 2 green chillies (jalapeno peppers)finely chopped
4. 2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
5. Tomatoes - 4 medium sized chopped ( i chop the tomato into larger pieces as I like tomato chunks in the curry)
6. Salt to taste (approximately 1.5tsp)
7. Pinch of turmeric
8. 3 tsp coriander powder
9. 1 tsp chilli powder ( this can be avoided if you want the dish to be less spicy)
10. Cilantro for garnish

In a pan heat 2-3 tbsp of oil. Add the chopped onions and green chillies and fry the onions until transparent(about 3-5 minutes). Add the ginger garlic paste and fry the mixture for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and allow the mixture to cook for 2 more minutes. The contents of the pan will look as shown

Now add the ground lamb, salt , chilli powder and turmeric and mix well. Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium low and allow the meat to cook for 10-15 minutes(Stir the mixtures once or twice midway to ensure uniform cooking). It is important to cover the pan when the meat is cooking. The water from the meat will accumulate in the pan at this point. Add the coriander powder and a pinch of any garam masala powder you have. And give 5 more minutes for this dish - and its done. Garnish with coriander before serving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Chicken Fry - Kodi Vepudu

This is a really easy and tasty chicken fry/ kodi vepudu recipe from my mom in law- totally yummy and goes well with rasam, sambhar! Great comforting dish on rainy days - its spicy too.

Caution - the oil content in this recipe is high - so if you are on a low fat diet then this dish is not for you.

Ingredients needed
1. 2 pounds of chicken pieces
2. 3 tsp of salt
3. 2 tsp of turmeric
4. 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
5. 4 tbsp of coriander powder(dhaniya powder) and 4 tbsp of chilli powder. Combined these two powders with water until you get smooth paste as shown

You can adjust the chilli powder depending on your taste. But 4 tbsp will give just the right amount of heat - i would say 6.5/10 - 10 being fiery hot.

Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces and mix them with ingredients 2,3 and 4. In a non-stick pan heat 5-6 tbsp of oil and add chicken mixture. Fry the pieces for about 10-15 minutes (stir the pieces every 3 minutes) until you notice the browning on the chicken pieces. The pictures are shown below. At this point add the coriander and chilli powder paste and mix well. Fry the mixture for 5 more minutes. Cover the pan and allow the mixture to cook for 10 more minutes in medium-low heat. Adjust salt if necessary and garnish with coriander leaves.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Easy potato fry

I feel this easy recipe is a favorite for everyone pressed for time. This is a very common recipe amongst the south Indians. I learnt this recipe from my mother - this is her favourite one for sure because it doesn't take much time to make - especially when you have to manage a hospital(she is a physician) and then home. I recommend a non-stick pan with a lid for this recipe.

Use red Potatoes for this recipe as they dont get mushed up when cooked. For more information on what potatoes to use for baking, boiling etc look up at

Peel the skin and cut the potatoes(2 medium sized) into evenly sized pieces. In a non-stick pan, add 2tbsp oil, allow few seconds for the oil to heat up. Add 1 tsp of mustard seeds(aavalu), 1 tsp of jeera, 10 curry leaves(karvepaku-you can reduce the amount if you dont like them), 3 dried red chillies, 1 tsp urud dal. Allow the mustard seeds to splutter and then add potatoes. mix well, add salt as per your taste and pinch of turmeric. Fry the mix for a minute and cover the pan. Lower the heat to Medium low.

[[[Additional water is not required for this dish.The water in the potatoes turns to steam and this steam condenses on the lid and inturn goes back to the pan to cook the potatoes. ]]]

Allow the potatoes to cook on medium low with lid on for about 5-10 minutes. The fry is done. Eat along with hot cooked rice and tomato rasam.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grilled Tofu with French Dressing

I wanted to do someting different on tofu, than just crumbled pieces on salad. Also at the same time the dish has to be easy. Another reason for preparing this dish is I need a tasty vegetarian protein rich dish.

For the dish,I used MorNu extra firm tofu and fat free french dressing from kraft foods, and some fresh ground pepper.The Tofu packet has 4 slices. I use 1 tbsp dressing per slice. Marinate the tofu slices in french dressing and ground pepper for about 30min to 1 hour and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side. You can use PAM spray to avoid tofu from sticking to the grill.

1 serving of this dish - 1 slice tofu grilled with 1 tbsp fat free french dressing. The calories for the PAM spray/oil arent counted here.
Calories - 70
Carb - 6.1 g
Protein - 5.3 g
Fat - 0.7 g

I like tofu a lot but it has a dull flavor. The french dressing added the needed extra zing to the tofu. The dish is super easy and healthy.

Sweets and Desserts

CLICK on the picture for recipe