Friday, January 25, 2008

Bendakaya-Endu royyalu Pulusu (Okra and Dried shrimp)

This curry / pulusu is amongst the favourite dishes for those who hail from vizag, East and West Godavari districts. Its heavenly and so delicious. The basic ingredients of a "pulusu" are onion and tamarind juice. You can make this dish just with Okra (bendakaya in telugu) but the dried shrimp makes this pulusu totally a top level delicacy. Mom in law also makes this curry with eggplant/brinjal. She also adds hard boiled eggs to the curry, but I like them on the side. Any andhrites out there craving for this dish?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Delicious Prawn curry with coconut and cashew paste

Hello Everyone, I am posting a recipe after a long time. I was busy with work. I will have to come up with some plan to regularly post even during the crunch times. Today I made this delicious prawn curry - its rich and spicy and is heavenly when eaten with white steamed rice.

I am also making "printable pages" so that the recipes can be printed and cataloged in your recipe books. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Broccoflower with garlic crumbs

The recipe I present here is low fat version of the deep fried cauliflower. I used broccoflower (a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower) - for its color and also for its nutritional value. Additionally you would need garlic pods (about 6-7 sliced thin) and bread crumbs. Garlic flavored bread crumbs can also be used, though nothing can beat the aroma of fresh garlic being sauted (I think Sunita will agree with me and this recipe would be a nice entry to her "Think Garlic" Event).

Cook the broccoflower florets in salted boiling water. Drain the water and run the florets under cold water or place them in ice bowl to stop the cooking process (thanks to the food network shows). Wipe the cooked florests gently with a tissue/kitchen cloth to remove excess moisture. In a pan saute garlic slices in 2 tbsp of oil until they turn to golden brown color. Add the florets to the pan and saute until the florets are a bit crispy (about 5-6 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and any other herbs you like. For additional crunch add the bread crumbs and saute for 3-4 minutes and serve hot with ketchup or vegetable side dish. As I was finishing this writeup, I just realized - why did I go through such a pain of boiling florets, wiping them, saute them - I could have just placed the florets with garlic, bread crumbs and olive oil and bake the dish in an oven and get done with! :)

Have a nice day you all!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Satsuma mandarins and click

In telugu, "narinja" would refer to mandarin oranges that could be easily peeled and eaten versus "battayi" is something like navel oranges but with green skin and yellow flesh. I like mandarin oranges because they are sweet and tart at the same time. I bought a few "Satsuma mandarin" oranges - easy to peel, seedless variety. They are small in size, so can be put into the power juice without the use of a knife. I dont need to emphasize on how deliciously refreshing "freshly squeezed" orange juice can be. One thing to keep up with fresh juices is they need to be consumed within 10 minutes after preparing them, else they loose the nutritional value. One more thing we cannot get with a bottled juice - the froth over the fresh juice!Simply tasty.

A juicy way to spice up orange juice is to mix with carrot juice and sprinkle of rose water to give a blend that is out of the world tasty. Just clicked the pictures in time - sending them to CLICK "liquids" event hosted by jugalbandi.

Here's another drink - strawberry margarita, and it didnt make it to the contest. I will do the writeup for this soon :) Until then here's a quick look

Savory Couscous cake

This is the first recipe that caught my eye in the "Best Ever" cookbook series. I never tried leeks before, that was also another reason for making this recipe. Leeks belong to the onion and garlic family. They are notoriously dirty - full of dirt between the leaves, do clean them properly before cooking. Remove the tough green leaves and use the bottom white part of the leeks.

1/4 cup leeks chopped
1/4 cup baby tomatoes sliced
1/4 cup cheese ( any variety you like)
1/4 cup uncooked couscous

Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add 1tsp olive oil, garlic powder, salt and the uncooked couscous. Turn off the heat and cover the pan and set aside for the couscous to cook. In a small non-stick pan, saute leeks and tomatoes with 1 tsp olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked couscous with the cheese to the pan. Press down the couscous, and on low heat, allow the cheese to melt and bind the couscous together (shown in picture below). Cheese would make the couscous stay together as a cake. After about 5 - 7 minutes, the bottom of the cake would be crispier . Place the serving plate on the pan and turn over the cake (as in an upside down cake). Garnish with cilantro, tomatoes and serve.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My thoughts on making Jalebi

I love jalebi - who doesn’t. I usually buy the instant jalebi mix and make them, this time around I wanted to make them from scratch - had to send it to my cousin who is expecting a baby soon. You know sometimes it’s scary or may be I am over reacting, but I am not comfortable with gifting or making artificial foods for pregnant woman. Just for the sake of the picture above, I made few with orange and yellow color.

So, there are many jalebi recipes out there – basic ingredient is of course “all purpose flour” or “maida”. Some recipes mention fermenting the batter overnight, and some just for 4 hours. Yeast is also added to the batter to aid in fermentation. Semolina/rice flour is added for extra crunchiness. After going through lots of recipes over the net, here’s what I came up with the ingredients I had at home. The jalebis turned out to be great. The first time I made them, the shapes weren’t perfect – they represented the maps of all the countries in the world . So, second time I was a bit careful – and I am also jotting down my thoughts while making the jalebis. First the ingredients.

For Batter, (makes about 25-30 jalebis)
1. 2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
2. 2 tbsp – rice flour
3. 3/4 cup buttermilk + ½ cup warm water ½ tsp baking soda
4. 2 tsp baking powder

Combine ingredients 1-3 in a bowl. The batter should have a consistency like the pancake or dosa batter. Keep the batter in a warm place for fermentation overnight. I tried to use the batter after 4 hours, the jalebis were fine, but didn’t have enough crunchiness and they absorbed too much oil I thought. Some recipes use sour yogurt or yeast with warm water for fermentation – I don’t have both of them, so used the buttermilk (available at most grocery stores).

Add the baking powder to the batter few minutes prior to making jalebi. Previously, I added it before the batter underwent fermentation. The batter ended up with lots of air bubbles in it and it was difficult to pipe them into hot oil, because the air bubbles would break the flow of the batter from the piping tube. Food colors can also be added to the batter.

Frying the jalebis and getting the right shape:

I am no way expert in this – but here are my observations. I wish I had pictures for all the points, shall try to do next time.

1. The oil has to be maintained at the right temperature, not too high and not too low. Too hot oil will not yield good shape jalebis and too low, will not make them crunchy.
2. I maintained the temperature at about 350F-355F. If you have a fryer with temperature adjustments, its awesome – less work worrying about temperature. For experienced people like my mom in law, she can precisely guess when the oil is ready and when its not. I still didn’t reach that stage, so have to use a thermometer.
3. So, when you pipe in the batter into the oil, if the batter instantly rises up to the top, then the oil is too hot – we cannot make good shaped jalebi unless we are very quick. I am not that quick, so at the temperature I mentioned, I have enough time, about 3 seconds before the jalebi rises up to the top. So I count tic tic 1, tic tic 2 and tactic 3 – During this time the batter is still at the bottom of the pan, I finish the shape I want , and as soon as I am done, the jalebi as whole rise to top of the oil with sizzling bubbles (shown in the picture)

4. Fry the jalebis for about 2-3 minutes until golden and instantly dip into the sugar syrup ( boil 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water,1 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder and 1 tbsp lemon juice until one thread consistency). The lemon juice makes a whole lot of difference. Apart from being sweet, the jalebi should also have a hint of tanginess and the lemon juice gives exactly that and of course the fermented batter also adds to the tanginess.
5. Oh! and mainly, for piping the batter – use ketchup bottle, I don’t know who came up with this idea but most websites and recipes convey the same. But I feel the nozzle of the ketchup bottle is too thin. After frying, the jalebis will shrink a bit, making them harder than crispier. So cut the nozzle until the bottom, to get larger diameter jalebi with perfect crispiness

I hope this writeup will help anyone who wants to make jalebis at home. Do make them and enjoy the hot jalebis with vanilla icecream – its heavenly.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Salad with chat masala vinaigrette

Here goes one more salad recipe I love - the basic ingredients are same as muri mixture (puffed rice with tomatoes, chillies, onions, salt and lemon juice). Boil black eyed peas with salt until cooked ( I used a frozen packet). Toss in pomegranate seeds, chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, chopped spring onions or green onions and chillies (for heat). For seasoning/dressing it would be salt, lemon juice, pinch of chat masala and cumin powder mixed with half tbsp of extra virgin olive oil I call it "chat masala vinaigrette" :). I should try it on for salad with baby spinach leaves next time. The salad is great without the olive oil as well. The amount of peas and pomegranate seeds could be adjusted as per taste.

Between, its such a bad photograph - the bulb reflection can be seen on the spoon. I clicked this photograph in the night, didn't have natural light in the house - I am still figuring out how to avoid such situations, I am learning - its much better than my first picture on the blog! Look at that :) The recipe is kheema tomato curry. I don't know what I was thinking, I didnt even clean the dish properly, didn't prep the dish. Anyway, practice makes things perfect.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Vanilla pudding and berries

Want to make an impressive dessert without much hard work - Try the combination of instant vanilla pudding and mixed berries.

The basic ingredients for the berry tart (above) would be 1. frozen pie shells (bake them in the oven as per instruction takes about 10 -12 minutes), 2. Instant vanilla pudding and 3. Mixed berries. Pour the vanilla pudding in the pie shell and allow the pudding to set. Top it with whipped cream, berries etc. For extra shine on the berries, apply sugar syrup on them.

For a lazy girl like me who doesnt want to bake - try arranging "Nilla Vanilla wafers" in a tall glass/bowl and pour in the vanilla pudding and decorate with berries. Chocolate pudding can also be used - These desserts are a snap to make and delicious too.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cucumber Dill Salad

OK! Holiday season is long gone! I am back to the salad days with the cool cucumber and dill salad. I feel this is somewhere between a salad and a raita (because of the yogurt/curd factor). The ingredients would be cucumbers(1 cup peeled and chopped), red onion (1/4 cup of thin slices), salt to taste, dill leaves (2 tbsp I used dried from McCormick), pinch of garlic powder, tiny bit of sugar and lemon juice. Mix everything together with yogurt and serve chilled. Yeah! I know its such a common recipe, but hey -its my blog!

Tomatoes, chillies, shredded carrots, shredded coconut, roasted nuts, rice crispies - all or any of these could also be added for the extra zing to the salad.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Babycorn in Garlic Tomato Gravy

All of us have that "one" gravy recipe, where in the vegetables change but the base ingredients remain the same. This is one such gravy recipe. Mom usually makes it with lady fingers (bendakayalu). So the base is a mix of onion, garlic, tomatoes, cumin (jeelakarra in Telugu) and coriander (dhaniya powder). Chillies/Jalapeños/Chilli powder can also be added for heat. Either these ingredients can be finely chopped/minced/powdered or made to a paste as per the convenience. Here's how I made the gravy with babycorn and bell peppers (capsicum) to go with chapathis

1. 1 can Babycorn (1.5-2 cups for fresh babycorn)
2. Onions - 1 cup chopped and 1 jalapeño finely chopped
3. Garlic (4-5 pods) made into paste with 2 tbsp of jeera (can be substituted with garlic and cumin powder)
4. Capsicum /bell peppers chopped - I used one color each bell pepper (green, red and orange)
5. coriander powder - 1-1.5tbsp as per taste
6. Diced tomatoes - 1 can (tomato puree could also be used)
7. Salt and turmeric

Saute onion and jalapeño in a pan. Add the garlic jeera paste and saute for couple more minutes. Add the tomato pieces and cook until the tomato pieces wilt a bit. Add puree/capsicum pieces and babycorn, salt and turmeric.Cover the pan and lower the heat for the vegetables to cook in their own steam. Sprinkle some water if the curry is too dry. add the coriander powder. Cook for 5 more minutes, garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

When I was a novice in cooking, the stove flame would be going guns - full blown fire energy to cook the curries and I would never cover the pan! My mom saw this and told me that cooking chicken/meat or vegetables in their own steam will enhance the flavors of the curry by 10000 folds. Its a misconception that cooking curries/gravies on high flame will be quick, but actually it takes the same amount of time, because the pan is covered, the heat in the pan will accumulate in turn cooking the veggies or meat.

I am sending the recipe to ThinkSpice-Garlic event hosted by gracious sunita. Without the garlic jeera paste I don't think the gravy would taste as good.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Potato Kurma - amma's way

I dont know how myself and all my cousins got into the habit of calling grandma as amma and mothers as ma. I call both ammamma and nannamma as amma. I dont think it bothered them, may be they felt younger :) haha. So this is my ammamma's recipe. She makes it both with chicken and potato. Its a great combo with veg pulav or chapathis. I think it has a bit of kerala cuisine in it. Nevertheless its a snap to make this potato (aloo in hindi and bangala dumpa in telugu)kurma.


2 cups of potatoes cubed
1 large onion (made into paste with 1 or 2 chillies for heat)
1/2 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 bay leaves
4-6 cardamom pods ( I like cardamom. Reduce the amount if you donot like it)
1 cinnamon stick and few cloves
Salt to taste and pinch of turmeric

Saute bay leaves, mashed cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and cloves in 2 tbsp of oil for a minute (until you smell the fragrant masalas). Add in the onion paste and saute until it looses the raw onion smell (about 5 minutes). Add the potato cubes, salt and turmeric - saute for couple of minutes, cover the pan and lower the heat setting to "medium-low" and allow the potatoes to cook in their own steam. Stir often so that the potatoes donot stick to the pan. If you notice the potatoes dry up, sprinkle some water, do not add too much. The potatoes should look as shown in photograph when done. Turn off the heat and add yogurt and coconut milk mix to the potatoes. Serve the potato (bangaladumpa) kurma hot with roti/chapathi's or vegetable biryani.

I also made babycorn capsicum curry to go with chapathis - shall post the recipe in couple of days.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Chocolate on 1st

Am I crazy or what! Tea and chocolate! Yeek - was my first reaction - But thinking about it - I love chocolate cookies and cakes with Tea, then why not spice up chocolate with tea! I was bold enough to try the combination - Trust me I loved this pudding! I used "TAZO" spiced black tea to flavor up the chocolate pudding. There are many other flavored teas out there that I plan to combine with chocolate pudding. Btw, aren't the cups cute :)

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 cup milk chocolate chips (Ghiradelli)
1 1/2 cups milk. Boil the milk and spice it up with tea (ie dip in tea bags to infuse milk with the tea flavors)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (more might be needed-depends on taste)
1/2 cup eggs or equivalent egg substitute

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave according to the instruction on the packet (it took me about 30 seconds on high power and 60 seconds on medium power on microwave). Add the tea spiced milk. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with sugar and gradually whisk in the chocolate and milk mixture.

A useful tip I follow from Food network - whenever mixing warm/hot milk to room temperature eggs, do it slowly, else eggs will scramble and you wouldn't get smooth mixture. So add few tbsp of milk intially and whisk the mixture. This will allow the eggs to stabilize to the temperature of the warm milk.

Pour the egg + chocolate milk mixture into ramekins or cups and place in a deep dish. Pour warm water into the baking dish around the ramekins/cups until the water reaches the edge of the ramekins/cups. In a preheated 325F oven, bake the pudding for about 50–60 minutes, or until a fork inserted into the pudding comes out clean. Serve warm or chilled Tea spiced chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla yogurt and sprinkle of cinnamon/nutmeg.

Tea and Chocolate are few of my favorite and the combo would be ideal to send to the bindiya's event "These are a few of my favourite things"