Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ending 2013 on a Sweet Note - Gers Ogaily, a saffron cardamom flavored cake

We are at the close of 2013 and it has been a year that brought some good and some not so good things. Personally, my year has been a simple, unmomentous one and I close the year knowing my family and true friends are around and will be there for me through thick and thin. They are not physically near me but easily reachable with a big helping hand from all the technology available today. This year did bring more than my fair share of health issues, but now all of it is in the past and I look forward to the dawn of a new year bringing with it a bagful of experiences. I thank God for the gift of this year and ask for his blessings to make the next year a meaningful one. And wish the same for all of you.
And on this note, I would like to end 2013 on a sweet note with this cake called Gers Ogaily. Gers Ogaily is a traditional, saffron and cardamom flavored cake from Kuwaiti cuisine. This cake's taste is not an unfamiliar one to the Indian palette since a lot of our desserts use saffron and cardamom as flavoring agents. This cake is springy to the touch and is extremely soft with just the right amount of sweetness. I referred to the recipe given on this blog and can be referred for the original recipe. I added my touch to it and hence it is a modified Gers Ogaily.
All purpose flour / Maida - 2 cups
Caster Sugar - 1 1/2 cup
Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled - 1/2 cup*
Coconut Milk - 1 cup
Eggs - 4
Sesame seeds, toasted - 4 tbsp
Saffron - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom pwd - 1 tsp
Vanila Essence - 1 tsp
Rose Essence - 1.5 tsp
Baking pwd - 1.5 tsp baking pwd
Milk - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp*
Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius / 350 degree Fahrenheit. Grease and dust the bundt / cake tin and keep aside. Powder the saffron with a pestle and add the tablespoon of milk to it and keep aside to steep.
Sift together the maida and baking soda and add the sesame seeds and cardamom powder and keep aside. Separately combine the melted butter, coconut milk, vanilla and rose essences, mix and keep aside. In a big bowl combine the eggs and the sugar. Beat it till the mixture is frothy and has tripled in volume. Fold in the maida mix and the butter - coconut milk mix little by little into the egg - sugar mix. When adding these, start and end with the maida mix. Once completely combined, pour into the prepared bundt pan. Sprinkle the rest of the sesame seeds on top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. After 35 minutes, pierce a toothpick / knife into the cake to check if done. Depending on the oven you may need 35 to 45 minutes to bake this cake.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Gers Ogaily is mildly sweet cake. So when serving, feel free to sift some icing sugar on this cake.
- All ingredients should be at room temperature unless specified other wise.
- If powdering cardamom in a mortar and pestle add a bit of sugar to make the powdering easy.
- Leave the saffron strands intact instead of powdering it if you like and continue to the next step of steeping it.
 - * If using salted butter omit the salt. I used Amul butter since getting unsalted butter in India is so difficult.
My saffron and cardamom flavored cake, Gers Ogaily, goes to this event -
Holiday Baking by Ammaji Recipes

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mirchi ka Salan

As famous as the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani is its accompaniment the Mirchi ka Salan. It is a Hyderabadi specialty made with big green chillies in a peanut and sesame gravy. At home, we don't usually make any accompaniment to go with biryani or masala rice. But today when I made masala rice I felt like making some gravy to go with it. I thought of rassawala aloo and at the same time my husband felt like having mirchi ka salan. And that's when my husband came in the kitchen and popped the idea of making mirchi ka salan. So out we came from the kitchen and checked recipes on the internet and decided on a mix and match of three recipes and dropped some and added some and came up with this yummy salan . This is a keeper in our home now and I thought it would be great to share it.  
Making this mirchi ka salan was fun because we divided the tasks to get done quickly. So while I gathered the ingredients, put it out in bowls and ground the paste, my husband did the chopping, roasting, and sauteing. And thus was cooked this mirchi ka salan.
Green chillies - 4 (I used Bhavnagari chillies)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 8 to 10
Onion - 1/2
Turmeric pwd - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli pwd - 1 tsp
Tamarind - 1 tsp
Jaggery - 1 tsp
Salt as per taste
Oil - 3 tbsp
for paste
Peanuts - 2.5 tbsp peanuts
Coconut, grated - 1 tbsp coconut
Poppy seeds - 1 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 1/2
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander pwd - 1 tsp
Soak the tamarind in water and make a paste and discard the waste. Slice the onion and keep aside.

Heat a pan and dry roast separately the peanuts, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, coriander powder and coconut. Then add a little oil and fry the onion till light golden. Keep all these aside till cool and then grind to a fine paste.

Cut the stalks of the green chillies and carefully deseed as much as possible. Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the chillies on low heat.
In the same pan, add a little more oil if needed and once it's hot add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Once spluttered add the fenugreek seeds and the sliced onion and saute till the onion turns light golden. Add the turmeric and red chilli powders and saute for a minute. Then add the ground paste and saute for a few minutes. Add 1 cup water and a little salt and let it boil. Add the fried chillies and the tamarind paste and jaggery. Let it cook for a few minutes. Check for seasoning and if done take off the heat.

Keep covered till ready to serve.  

Kohlrabi / Gaanth Gobi, Kashmiri style

This is a recipe for Kohlrabi or Gaanth Gobi made the Kashmiri way. We do not make ganth gobi this way usually, actually every time ganth gobi is made it is only me who eats it. My husband detests this vegetable completely and refuses to even take some in his plate. It is funny how sometimes on my insistence he lets me serve some vegetable and then to show that he had some he moves it around in the plate and then throws it in the trash can. It is during moments like these that I get a feeling of having gone back in time and glimpsed his childhood.  
When we were in the US, my husband's colleague once made kohlrabi / ganth gobi this way and I really liked it. So, he gave me his mother's recipe. The recipe did not have exact measurements and I sort of approximated it and hence this can be called my version of Kashmiri style Kohlrabi / Ganth Gobi sabzi.  
Ingredients (serves 2)
Kohlrabi / Ganth gobi - 4 to 5
Cumin / Jeera seeds - 1/2 tsp
Black cardamom / Badi elaichi - 1
Green cardamom / Chhoti elaichi - 1
Asafoetida / Hing pwd - 1/4 tsp
Clove - 2
Coriander / Dhaniya pwd - 2.5 tsp
Fennel / Saunf pwd - 1 tsp
Dry ginger / Sonth pwd - 1tsp
Red chilli / Lal mirchi pwd - 1 tsp
Oil - 5 tbsp
Salt as per taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Peel the kohlrabi / ganth gobi and cut it into half and then slice into thick semi circle pieces. If there are tender leaves, wash and roughly chop and keep aside.
Heat 3 tablespoon oil in a pan and saute the ganth gobi in it. The original recipe calls for deep frying the ganth gobi pieces till golden. I cannot bring myself to deep fry vegetables so sauteed them instead. When done, scoop the ganth gobi out, draining the oil as much as possible and keep aside. Add the rest of the oil into the same pan and add the cumin seeds, black and green cardamom, cloves and hing and saute it for a few seconds. Add in 1/4 cup water and stir. Once the water is hot add the powders - red chilli, coriander, fennel and dry ginger, and mix. Stir this mixture till the water evaporates and then add 2 cups of water and let it boil. Add salt and the fried ganth gobi pieces and stir. Cover the pan and let the ganth gobi cook till just soft and add the sugar and stir. You can avoid the sugar but I believe the sugar brings together all the tastes. At this time the gravy should look red or dark red. There should be a little gravy which is thinnish.

Take it off the heat and it is ready to serve with rice.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chana Dal

This is a nice Chana Dal that my husband likes very much with chapati. When small, this chana dal and chapati featured quite often on the breakfast menu at their home. And tastes from childhood usually makes for a favorite meal. At home, we don't make this often because this dal irritates my stomach and I cannot eat more than a spoon or so. So every time I make this I have to make some other side dish for me and that is not something I look forward to.
Though different from tuwar dal, it may not be easy to distinguish the two immediately. Chana dal is more curvy than tuwar which is more flattish. I remember this incident years back, when I went to the store to buy stuff mom wanted. One of the items was tuwar dal and I went to the stack of dals and was flummoxed when I saw so many types. I did not really recognize one dal from the other and hence picked a pack of dal and asked a staff which dal it was. He said it was arhar dal. Since it wasn't tuwar I asked him what were the other dals they stocked and since I did not hear tuwar dal I came out of the store without buying any dal. I did not know then that arhar and tuwar was the same until mom told me and then she showed me the two dals and taught me to recognize both.
Chana dal - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1
Tomato - 1
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Coriander pwd - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tsp
Green chilli - 2
Turmeric pwd - 1 tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt as per taste
Wash the chana dal and soak it in water for half hour to one hour. Then pressure cook it in 1.5 cup water for 2 whistles. The dal should be cooked just right without turning to mush.
Chop the onion, tomato, green  chillies and coriander leaves and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a kadai or pan and when hot add the cumin seeds. When the cumin splutters, add the chopped onion and saute till golden. Add the chopped green chilli and tomato and saute. Saute for a few minutes and add the coriander, turmeric and red chilli powders and saute. Add the boiled chana dal with the water and let it all boil together. Add salt and more water if required. Check seasoning and adjust if required. Add the coriander leaves and let it all come together. 
This Chana Dal goes well with both chapati and rice.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gajjar Koshimbir / Carrot Salad

The winter season is a great time for many vegetables and fruits - fresh crops of cauliflower, green peas, carrots and green vegetables flood the market. Year round we get the orange carrots but this time of the year the juicy red carrots hit the markets. These carrots are sweet and can be eaten raw without any addition but there are so many dishes that taste best with this type of carrots. And these sweet carrots makes for a great salad and today I decided to make one. So today, it was a carrot salad made the Maharashtrian way with peanuts called Gajrachi Koshimbir.
Carrots - 3 to 4
Peanuts - 1/4 cup
Coconut, grated - 2 tbsp
Lime jce - a dash
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric pwd - 1/2 tsp
Ghee / Oil - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt as per taste
Grate the carrots in the thick grater. In a bowl, mix the grated carrots, sugar, salt and lime juice together. Lightly roast the peanuts and rub the skin off and crush them. Add the grated coconut and crushed peanuts to the grated carrot.
Heat a pan and add the ghee / oil and when hot add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter take it off the heat and add the turmeric powder and immediately pour it on the carrots. Mix well and Gajjar / Carrot salad is ready.
Cool it in the refrigerator if you like or serve as is.

Vegetable Frittata with potato, tomato, spinach and onion

Frittata, the Italian vegetable omelette that is filling enough to make it meal on its own. Once you have a frittata, this will be your omelette of choice. Apart from the taste, the frittata makes for a healthy dish with the addition of all the vegetables in it.
Ingredients (for 1 omelette)
Eggs - 2
Onion - 1
Spinach - 10 to 12 leaves
Tomato - 1
Potato - 1
Cheese - I used mozzarella, and cut about 5 slices from the side, you can reduce or add as much as you want.
Salt as per taste
Black pepper pwd
Slice the onion, potato and tomato and cheese and keep aside.
Heat a pan and add a teaspoon of butter and saute the onion till just translucent and keep aside. Add a little more butter and sear both sides of the potato slices and keep aside. In the same pan lay the spinach leaves for a minute so that it is just wilted and take it out immediately. Add the tomato slices and sear both sides and take it out.
Grease a baking dish and start with layering the vegetables. Start with the potato slices at the bottom, then lay half of the spinach leaves, lay the sauteed onions over that and the tomato slices over the onions. Add the rest of the spinach leaves over the tomato slices.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a little salt and black pepper powder. Pour this over the layered vegetables and pop the baking dish into the oven to bake at 160 degree Celsius. After 5 minutes top the baking omelette with the cheese slices and let it bake till firm. Carefully take the pan out and after a few minutes serve it.
This is a filling meal in itself without adding any bread. When making for more people increase the quantity and bake in a larger dish and cut into wedges to serve.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Masaledaar Dal / Lentil Fry

Dal Fry
This is a Dal / Lentil fry that is apt for those cold afternoons when something nice and spicy is needed to warm ourselves. Pair it with rice and a papad and make a meal of it curled up on your sofa. Or water it down and have it hot as a soup. Dal is an integral part of Indian meals and is made in so many different ways across the country. India has different varieties of dals / lentils and each of them can be made in so many ways ways and with different seasonings changing the taste completely. Dals / Lentils are also paired off with vegetables, meat and other dals / lentils to create different dishes and tastes.

This dal fry is my husband's favorite amd looks forward to my making this and sometimes time permitting makes it himself. I do not make it often because I feel the other dals I make take lesser amount of oil / ghee than this Dal Fry. The other ways I make tuwar dal requires oil / ghee only for the tadka whereas in the Dal Fry enough oil to fry the onions is required. But guess it's ok when this Dal Fry is made once in a while.  
Tuwar Dal - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1.5
Tomato - 1
Garlic - 4 cloves
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - 1/4 tsp paste
Turmeric pwd - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1 tsp
Green chilli - 2
Coriander leaves - 2 to 3 sprigs
Oil - 2 tbsp oil / butter
Salt as per taste
Crush the cumin seeds, julienne the garlic cloves, slit the green chillies and chop the onion and tomatoes.
Wash and clean the tuwar dal and add 1 cup water and pressure cook for 3 whistles.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan and when hot add the crushed cumin seeds. Stir it and add 3/4th of the chopped onions and julienned garlic and saute till the onions are light golden in color. Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the green chillies and saute till the tomatoes turn mush. Add the cooked dal in along with 1 cup of water and little salt and mix well. Let it boil and check for salt and add some if necessary. Add the tamarind paste and the chopped coriander leaves and stir in and give it one boil. Take off the heat and keep aside.
In a separate pan add the remaining oil or add some butter for that extra taste. When hot add the remaining chopped onion and saute till light golden. Add a pinch each of turmeric and red chilli powders and mix and then take it off heat and add it to the prepared dal. Keep covered till ready to serve.
Serve hot with rice and papad.

Monday, December 23, 2013

State Bhavan Canteen Review - Viva O Viva, restaurant at Goa Niwas

Viva O Viva is the restaurant / canteen at Goa Niwas, the State house of Goa. In Delhi, every state has a State house or bhawan for the use of its members and officers of the government. Most of these State houses or bhawans have a canteen or restaurant to cater to the needs of its guests and some of them are open to the general public as well. These canteens and restaurants usually provide a cheap eating option though not always authentic. Most of these canteens have Delhified their food and the usual paneer and stuff gets served to cater to the northie tastes. But sometimes you do find dishes which sticks to the original recipe and our undying hope to get some fresh, authentic and tasty Goan food led us to this restaurant.
Many a times we planned to visit Viva O Viva at the Goa Niwas but every time we decided to stick with the familiar and went to our usual haunts. Then we went there one Sunday afternoon and couldn't resist going there again last night for dinner. The Goa Niwas building is relatively new and was inaugurated in 2010 by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. The building, the lobby and reception is well maintained and minimally and tastefully done up.
Viva O Viva is more like a canteen than a restaurant with genuine effort made to lift the utilitarian looks. The chairs are a pleasant lime color and the tables have plastic table mats with Mario's cartoons. The canteen has a huge plasma TV, a mini teeing mat and a Foosball table and right now the Christmas decorations are up. Two hand written white boards are kept leaning against a pillar - one with the day's menu and the other with the specials. The canteen is currently being operated by a couple from Goa who also have a catering business.

Till date we have had their Prawn Curry, Mackerel Curry, Prawn Peri Peri, King Fish Masala Fry, Mackerel Ambotik and Rice. The Prawn Curry and Mackerel Curry was "the" best dish for us, it was a coconut based curry with kokum in it. The fish was fresh and its flavor intermingled with the coconutty gravy which we enjoyed by eating with our fingers and licking it! The King fish masala fry was fried just right in a typical Goan red masala and was served with a little salad on the side. The Prawn Peri Peri is a signature dish of Viva O Viva and is again a typical Goan dish with a vinegary red masala. The Mackerel Ambotik is another great fish curry and is sour like the name suggests. Viva O Viva serves the usual white rice and pav to go with their curries. The pav is nothing great to write about - it is the usual huge pav found here in Delhi. The seafood is fresh and comes in three times a week from their suppliers from - Kochi or Gujarat or Andhra Pradesh.
They serve the Goan delicacies bebinca and dodol for dessert along with a couple of puddings. Currently, they have a Christmas special going and have included Christmas sweets and puddings in their menu.
 Mackerel Ambotik
 Prawns Curry
King Fish Masala Fry
Pricewise it is not cheap like the other canteens but we thought the food was really good and did not mind paying for it. All in all Viva O Viva serves some serious fresh and authentic Goan food.

Our Verdict: Definitely go there if you are a Goan food lover who loves to eat seriously yummy food. If ambiance and decor matter more than the food, then stay away. Viva O Viva could be the answer to your seafood cravings without burning a huge hole in your wallet.

Daliya Upma / Savory Bulgar with vegetables

Bulgar / broken wheat or daliya eaten in any form makes for a wholesome meal. It is a good source of fiber, iron and Vitamin B-6 and is believed to help in regulating sugar levels. At home, my mother makes daliya just like an upma. It is very easy to over cook or under cook daliya leaving a disgruntled eater behind. I wasn't fond of this upma also and hence did not try it out too often but the few times I attempted turned out to be an overcooked mass. But recently after making this a few times I did manage to make a good upma. I do think the Bulgar / Daliya upma tastes good with a few vegetables in it. Of course, it does give me the additional satisfaction that we increased our day's intake of vegetables.

Daliya - 1 cup
Onion - 1, large
Tomato - 1
Carrot, diced - 1/4 cup
Green Beans, chopped - 1/4 cup
Green Peas - 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds
Curry leaves - 5 to 6
Coriander leaves, chopped - 1 tbsp
Green chilli - 3
Coconut, grated - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt as per taste
Chop the onions and green chillies and keep aside.
Heat a kadhai and add the oil. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Once spluttered add the chopped onions, chillies and curry leaves. Saute till the onions are light golden in color and then add the chopped tomato and saute again. After a minute add the chopped vegetables and stir on low heat. Season with salt and mix well. Add half a cup of water and cook till the vegetables are done and the water absorbed. Add 3 cups of water and give it one boil on high heat. Check for salt and adjust as required. Keep the heat on low and add the daliya in a steady stream stirring all the while. Cover the daliya with a lid for 5 minutes and let cook. Parallely keep an extra cup of water to warm, in case the daliya upma dries up and more water needs to be added. Take the lid off the kadhai and stir it occasionally so it does not catch the bottom. If the water is drying up then add the warm water little by little to cook the daliya. When done, stir in the grated coconut and chopped coriander leaves. Bring it all together in the center, and take off the heat. Cover with a lid for at least 5 minutes, after that take the lid off and fluff the upma before serving.

When serving add some more grated coconut and chopped coriander on the upma. Serve hot.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nankhatai - the Indian Eggless Cookie

The Nankhatai is the most recognized and celebrated cookie in India. It has a good penetration in urban and rural households since it is eggless and a pure vegetarian cookie. In India, although biscuits are more popular and common, most bakeries have local versions of cookies. The most common of them being the Nankhatai. It is so much a part of our daily fibre that in some hill stations, vendors make them fresh in a coal fired oven placed on their push cart. The Nankhatai could have been influenced by the English biscuits and scones and may not necessarily be completely Indian in origin.

Another fast disappearing feature in Mumbai is the bhaiya, who balancing a steel trunk on his head walked through lanes and by lanes hawking khari biscuit, jeera biscuit and nankhatais. When we were kids, mom would buy stuff occasionally from the bakery, till I insisted on trying the stuff once from the bhaiya and called him over. The biscuits and nankhatais were really fresh and from then on he came regularly to check if we wanted anything. In fact, he stopped only a year or two after my marriage when mom asked him to stop coming because of low consumption (after all the main gobbler - me was not around).
Today's recipe is this ubiquitous eggless cookie - the nankhatai. I made this nankhatai from the recipe given here.  
Maida - 1 cup
Caster Sugar - 1/2 cup (can be reduced if you dont want it too sweet)
Ghee - 1/2 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Green cardamom - 4
Cream - 2 tbsp (optional)
Salt - a tiny pinch
Melt the ghee and keep aside to cool down. Powder the cardamom seeds finely. Mix together the cardamom powder and caster sugar. Mix or sift together the baking soda, salt and maida.

In a bowl pour in the ghee and add the sugar and mix well. Mix the maida into this ghee mixture little by little till all the maida in added in. Then with your fingers make this into a dough, in case the dough is sticky sprinkle a little maida and make into a dough. But if the dough turns powdery like mine did, add a little malai at a time to form into a ball of dough. Keep this dough aside for a minimum of an hour to 4 hours. I kept my dough overnight because the urge to bake struck me at 11.30pm and then waiting for an hour plus the baking time seemed too much.

So the next morning, I took the dough out again and I had to knead it a little again with warmed hands because the dough was stone cold from the Delhi temperatures. Equal sized balls have to be made and since I am slightly challenged that way, I used a tablespoon measure to scoop out each portion. Shape them into balls and flatten them slightly and arrange on an ungreased tray. Keep a distance of an inch between every nankhatai. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius, the original recipe stated 170 degree but I tweaked it based on my oven's performance. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Do check after about 17 minutes so it doesn't brown, if your oven heats fast then you may end up burning it.  
 Nankhatai baking in the oven

My Nankhatai - the Indian Eggless Cookie goes to this event -
Holiday Baking by Ammaji Recipes

Friday, December 20, 2013

Kohlrabi / Gaanth Gobi Sabzi

Kohlrabi or Gaanth Gobi as it is known in Hindi comes into the markets once the temperatures start cooling down. The ganth gobi is from the same family as the cabbage and has a slightly similar smell to cabbage only stronger.  Both, the bulb and the leaves can be used to make sabzi as long as you get tender leaves. Most times the ones we get in the market are mature kohlrabi and hence needs to peeled completely. The kohlrabi or gaanth gobi is rich in Vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber. It is a rich source of Vitamin C and also contains good amounts of many B complex groups of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, etc. The ganth gobi also contains minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, etc. 
At home, we peel the ganth gobi and dice into small pieces to make a thoran with a little grated coconut. It takes a little time to cook but care has to be taken to cook it till just crunchy.
Kohlrabi / Ganth Gobi - 250 gms
Green chillies - 2
Curry leaves - 5 to 6
Turmeric pwd - 1 tsp
Coconut, grated - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
Peel the ganth gobi and dice it into small pieces and slit the green chillies and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add the oil. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add the green chillies and the curry leaves and stir and immediately add the diced ganth gobi, the turmeric powder, salt and half a cup of water. Mix well and cover with a plate which can hold water. Add some water in a plate and cook on low heat. Check after 10 minutes, if the ganth gobi is cooked; it should still retain a little crunch and should not be overcooked. It should take about 10 to 20 minutes to cook, depending on how tender the ganth gobi is and how small pieces it is cut into. Add the grated coconut into it and toss it once before taking it off the heat.

Keep covered till ready to serve.

Rasam - arsenal to fight the cold

Yes, another rasam. I am down again with a bout of cold and cough, guess it had to happen, what with the temperature changes we went through from all the travelling in the past 15 days. Nothing much tastes nice at this time and all I can taste is super hot and spicy stuff. This time round I am going all out with antibiotics, cough syrup, steaming, lots of honey and ginger paste, hot water to drink and of course Rasam. When I spoke with my aunty a couple of days ago, she told me to make a concoction of a few spices and cook it till it reduces to half and drink it down. Else add the spices with tomato and make a rasam of it. She did ask me to use kokum if possible, but I couldn't find my stash of kokum however much I searched for it. So my version has tamarind but if you have kokum use it.
Tuwar Dal - 1/4 cup
Tomato - 2
Ginger - 1.5 inch
Garlic - 8 to 10
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
Black peppercorns - 1 tbsp (more if you can take it)
Coriander sprigs - 5 to 6
Turmeric pwd - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1 tsp
Tamarind - 1 marble sized ball
Salt as per taste
for seasoning
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 4 to 5
Oil - 1 tsp
Wash and pressure cook the dal till cooked well and keep aside. Soak tamarind in water.
Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds and black peppercorns lightly till it aromas are released. Powder this in mortar with a pestle / silbatta. Once powdered add the ginger and garlic to this and continue crushing till all this comes together.

Take a sauce pan and add a cup of water and this ground mixture and put it on high heat. Stir it and let it boil till it starts to reduce. Then add 2 cups of water, the chopped tomatoes, 1 to 2 sprigs of coriander, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt and cover with a lid and cook on low heat. When the tomatoes are cooked add the tamarind pulp, a pinch of salt and mix well. Add more water if required and add the coriander sprigs. Let it boil once and take it off heat and keep covered.
Heat a small pan and add the oil and when hot add the mustard seeds. When it splutters, take the pan off heat and add the curry leaves and immediately pour into the rasam.

This rasam is meant to open up all those blocked channels and make your nose drip and your brow sweat. So add more spice if you think you can handle it. Have a soupy Rasam and rice in a bowl or just sip it hot, burning down your throat.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet Potato Chips

Who can resist a bowl of chips when watching the idiot box. Most of us sit mesmerized in front of the TV and our hand moves automatically between the bowl and mouth. The chips disappear really fast. The only downside to this yummy snack is its unhealthy nature. Fried in oil, with no known benefits chips only adds to our calorie and fat intake. With fall season comes an assortment of vegetables like the greens, the purple yam, the sweet potato and pumpkin.
Sweet potatoes was not something I liked previously. Till date, I do not like it the way my mother makes it at home. Recently, I tried the sweet potato chat that we get on the Delhi streets during winter and really liked it. The sweet potatoes are smoked and then peeled and diced into pieces. The sweet potato pieces are sprinkled with chat masala and a hot and tangy chutney and given a quick mix before serving it in leaf bowls with a toothpick.

So, I tried this recipe that is simple and tasty at the same time. Do give it a shot for a change from the potato chips.

Sweet potato - 2 cup
Oil - 1 tbsp and a little more to grease the tray
Salt as per taste

Seasoning options
Thyme or Chat Masala or Oregano - a dash

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Peel the sweet potato and slice it in rounds of 1/4th to 1/2 inch width. Keep it immersed in water, so it doesn't oxidise, till ready to cook. Drain and wipe dry, put it in a bowl. Sprinkle a little salt and pour the oil in and mix well. Grease a baking tray and spread the sweet potato slices out and bake for 10 minutes. Then turn each slice over and bake again till done without crisping or blackening. Take it out of the oven when done and sprinkle with the seasoning of choice or leave it simply salted.

Serve this out in a bowl and eat it when still hot.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Adraki Aloo Gobi Sabzi


In my ex-office, a few of us would lunch together and it was a shared affair. So, just before lunch time we would call each other up on extensions and ensure each of us got to the lunch room. And if any of us did not like what we had carried, we immediately gave it off and grabbed a little of everything from the other boxes. Most of us liked some dish or other from each others home and I liked this Aloo Gobi sabzi that my colleague, V got. His wife made his lunch and whenever he got this sabzi I would stake a claim right at the start. Eventually I got round to speaking with his wife and got this recipe. She gave me her recipe which I followed to the T and got it just right.
And with this, I am reminded of his daughter, G, whom V collected from her day care and brought over till such time that he wrapped up his work. She was so cute and I was happy when she took to me and insisted on sitting with me in my room till V was ready to leave. I was the listener to her poems, rhymes and daily happenings at her class and day care. She was one of the persons that made my day just by being there and I missed her sorely when I left that office and moved to another state.
Today after a long time, I made aloo gobi this way and was happy with the results. It's a very simple and easy recipe and requires very few ingredients as well. The key is in letting it cook on very low heat with minimal seasonings.
Potato, diced - 1 cup
Cauliflower florets - 1 cup
Ginger, chopped - 1 tbsp
Cumin seed - 1 tsp
Green chilli - 2
Turmeric pwd
Red chilli pwd
Tomato, chopped - 1
Coriander - a few sprigs
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt as per taste
Keep the diced potato and the cauliflower florets in water till ready to use. Slit the green chillies roughly powder the cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle. Clean the coriander leaves and chop it.
Heat a kadai and add the oil in. When the oil is hot, add the crushed cumin seed and after a few seconds add the chopped ginger and saute. Add the slit green chillies and turmeric powder and saute for a few seconds. Then add the red chilli powder and salt and the potato and cauliflower and mix well. Cover with a lid that can hold water in it. Keep the heat on low, pour some water on the lid and let the vegetables cook slowly. After about 10 minutes, add the chopped tomato and mix in well. Cover the kadai again with the lid and continue cooking on low heat. If the water has evaporated add some more. The vegetables will take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook. It should be just done and top with coriander leaves and take off the heat. Keep covered till ready to serve.

This vegetable does need a little more oil than normal but it tastes just yum. Serve this Adraki Aloo Gobi sabzi with phulkas or roti.

Carrot & Pumpkin Soup - a Beta Carotene rich Soup

The carrot and pumpkin soup is a nourishing and comforting soup to have in the winters. Both these vegetables are currently in season making it easy to get and it's healthy at the same time. Carrots and pumpkins are rich in beta carotene, which gives them their orange color. Once consumed, beta carotene is turned into Vitamin A which is good for good vision, strong immunity and healthy skin and mucous membranes.
Carrot - 1/2 cup
Pumpkin - 1/2 cup
Black eyed peans - 1/4 cup
Onion - 1, medium
Celery - 1 stalk
Garlic - 4 cloves
Tomato - 1, medium
Red chilli flakes - a couple of pinches
Oil - 1 tbsp
Butter - for garnishing
Black pepper crushed - 5 to 6
Thyme - a dash
Soak the black eyed beans for 30 minutes. Chop the onion, garlic, tomato and celery and keep aside. Slice the carrot in rounds and dice the pumpkin.
Pressure cook the black eye peas with 1/2 cup water for 1 whistle. When the pressure is released mash half the black eye peas.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add  the chopped onion, saute for a couple of minutes and add the garlic, celery and red chilli flakes. Saute till the onion turns golden and add the carrot, tomato and pumpkin and cover and cook till just done. Add the cooked black eyed beans and mix well. Add the crushed black pepper and thyme and take it off the heat. Keep covered till ready to serve.  
Serve hot in individual bowls with a spot of butter on top for garnishing and bread rolls on the side. I was happy to toast some pau with butter that I brought back from Mumbai and have it with my Carrot and Pumpkin Soup.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chunky Chicken Sandwich

In our quest to get our chicken sandwich right, we tried a few combinations. With this chunky chicken sandwich, we are almost there in getting the taste right. A Ciabatta roll would work best for this sandwich. In case you are unable to find Ciabatta in your local bakery, go ahead and make it with regular sandwich bread like we did.
Bread Slices - 4
Chicken breast - 1
Lettuce leaves - 2
Tomato - 1
Onion - 1
Jalapeno - 5 to 6 pieces (optional)
Oregano - couple of dashes
Black pepper powder - a pinch
Mayonnaise - 3 tsp
Mustard - 0.5 tsp
Cut the chicken breast into chunks, wash it well and sprinkle some salt and keep for about 30 minutes. Heat a pan and cook the chicken pieces till done, sprinkling water as required. Take it off the heat when done.
In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise and mustard together. Thinly slice the tomato and onion.
Lay two bread slices out and apply the mayo-mustard on it, then layer the lettuce leaves, onion and tomato slices. Spread the chicken pieces as well. In case using jalapeno then add it. Apply the mayo-mustard mix on the remaining two slices and place it face down on the prepared sandwich. Heat a ridged pan. Press the prepared sandwich lightly and place it on the pan and lightly grill both sides.