Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kala Chana Pulao

A Rice preparation that is wholesome, delicious and also an one-pot wonder - what is not to like in it? :) Found the recipe here - Thank you, Ujwal!

Ingredients

1 cup Rice - soaked for 1 hour
2 tbsp Canola Oil
3/4 tsp Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
1 Onion sliced, medium in size
1/2 tsp Ginger Paste - 1/2 tsp Garlic Paste (I used 1 tsp Ginger garlic paste)
1/2 -1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Vegetable Curry Powder
Salt (to taste)
2 tsp Lemon juice
Coriander leaves (A few with stalk)

Soak together overnight
1/2 cup Kala (black) Channa
1  Cinnamon
2-3 Cloves
2 cups Water




Method


  1. Soak Channa overnight with all the ingredients given under "Soak together overnight" and pressure cook for one whistle, Keep on low flame for 20 mins thereafter. Reserve the stock.
  2. Strain Channa. Measure stock and add enough water to make it upto 2 cups (double the volume of the rice).
  3. Heat Canola Oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add Jeera. When it turns golden, add the sliced Onion and stir fry till the raw smell is gone.
  4. Add Ginger Garlic paste and fry for a min. 
  5. Add in cooked Kala Channa, Lemon juice, salt, Garam Masala, Vegetable Curry Powder, Red Chilli powder. Fry for 2 minutes. Add Rice. Mix. Add coriander leaves.
  6. Add the measured stock and water mixture. Boil.
  7. Cover with a well fitting lid. cook on low flame until almost done.
  8. Fluff with fork to let the steam escape so that rice grains do not stick to each other. If needed, cover it for a few mins to continue cooking the Rice in it's steam.
  9. Garnish with a sprig of Coriander leaf or Mint leaf.
Serve hot with cool Raita!



Bingsu .. no cousin of Bingo!


Tried this dessert this past weekend and how I regretted not having tasted it so far. Sometime back, I had carried it out and of course, it was a disaster. Never ever carry it out - even if you do, have it soon after.

Bingsu is a Korean dessert consisting of shaved ice, condensed milk, chopped fruits and red bean paste. The wikipedia page for the same is here. I had this at Shilla's Patisserie at Centerville, VA. It is served in large portion - two or three people can easily share it depending on appetite. Do check it out! As well as the Mango Souffle Cake pic below - so light, creamy and delicious.

While we are on Korean food, sharing a pic of the Vegetable Pancake and Mushroom Tofu Soup from Lighthouse Tofu next door. I can have this seven days a week - that should tell you how much I like it!! Enjoy!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fragrant Lemon Rice


It is surprising that we eat Rice often and yet I had not made Lemon Rice ever! From childhood memories, there was one Holi (the color festival of India to welcome Spring season) when my mom had prepared Lemon Rice. After the exciting morning playing colors with friends and family, the Lemon Rice was distinctly fragrant and flavorful. It is one of those meals that leaves a distinct mark in your memory.

When having friends over for a simple dinner this past weekend, I decided to try my hand at making the Lemon Rice. So scoured the websites and VahReVah! video tutorial on the same. Finally decided to use the recipe posted here at "Chef In Making - Recipes with a twist" and slightly modify it. Thank you, soniaabrol, for the recipe.

To prepare for approx. 20 people, use the following measure of ingredients when you have a few appetizers and other side-dishes to accompany. For more or less people and more or less menu items, change the rice amount accordingly.



Ingredients

Rice - 4 cups (raw)
Canola Oil - 2 tbsp
Asafoetida (Hing) powder - 1/8 tsp or 6-7 pinches
Mustard Seeds - 1 tbsp
Dry Red Chillies - 6-7 (or depending on taste)
Curry Leaves - a bunch, approx 15-20 leaves
Peanuts - 1 cup (more or less on preference)
Cashews - 1/2 cup (optional)
Chana Dal - 1/2 cup
Urad Dal - 1/4 cup
Turmeric Powder - 1/8 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp (or depending on taste)
Sugar - a pinch
Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp (or depending on taste)
Coriander Leaves - to garnish (optional)

Method

  1. Soak and clean the Rice. Keep it soaked for 10 mins or so.
  2. Boil a large pot of water. I cook Rice in open pot instead of Rice cooker. So the Rice should be nicely submerged in water and boiling. I let the Rice boil and continue cooking for approximately 10-15 mins. The Rice should be cooked so that it retains it's shape and is not mushy. Strain the remaining water from the Rice.
  3. Spread out and cool the Rice under a fan so that it does not continue cooking in the steam. Stir it every now and then so it uniformly cools down. I use a flat large plate or container for this part to increase the surface area of cooling.
  4. Take a large pot. Add Canola Oil.
  5. Add Asafoetida (hing) powder and let it sizzle a bit and flavor the Oil. 
  6. After a couple of seconds, add Mustard seeds. Let the seeds splutter.
  7. Add dry Red Chilies, Curry leaves and raw Peanuts.
  8. When the Peanuts are almost roasted, add the Cashews if you are adding. Cashews get browned faster, so keep a close watch once you add them.
  9. Add Chana dal and Urad dal. Let them cook until they are nicely brown and fragrant. Keep a close watch here as well as they brown quickly. You want them roasted and have a light golden brown color on them.
  10. Add Turmeric Powder, Salt, Lemon Juice and Sugar. Mix well. I don't like the Rice too sour, so I add less Lemon Juice - depending on your taste, you will want to add more or less of the same.
  11. Stir in the cold rice and fold it into the spice mix. The rice will turn a beautiful light yellow in color.
  12. You can garnish with fresh chopped Coriander leaves. I skipped this part coz the Rice was flavorful as-is and did not want the dominant smell of Coriander leaves to take over the same.
Enjoy with Cucumber Raita. It can be made with left-over Rice as a quick breakfast as well. This can be a one-dish meal as well.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Marbled Choco-Vanilla Bundt Cake by my darlings Shriya and Vindhya


My dear friend aka sister Poonki's 6 year old twins Shriya and Vindhya love cooking. So instead of saying "even 6 year olds can make it!", I need to say "6 year olds made this!".

They are both such a divine bunch of energy - any day I am feeling down, just talking to them for 5 mins gets me going! Thank you, girls, for all the love and affection. And for this recipe - everyone, please encourage them. I have a feeling they will soon have their own blog  (which I think they should start .. like yesterday!) - all my blessings and love for the little angels. Enjoy the video when we have them uploaded (both their mom and aunt are debating the best medium for it still!) - they truly sound like professional chefs! :)

Here is the video link (Update on 09/01/2014)

Ingredients
Set 1

1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
11/2 tbs sugar
1/4 cup hot water

Set 2

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Set 3
1 cup maida
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

1) Lay out the ingredients.


2) Mix ingredients in set 1. Set aside the cocoa mixture
3) In a bowl , add butter, sugar and vanilla extract in set 2 .
4) Beat with a mixer for 10 min
5) Add eggs and beat for 2 min
6) Add set 3 ingredients
7) Add cocoa mixture to half the batter


8) Pour both the batter alternately in a cake tin and bake for upto 40 min at 170 C
9) Take out and eat!!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Baked Sambhar Powder Small Eggplants



Ingredients

Small Purple Eggplants : about 12 (small as in closer to egg-size, try to get all of them of same size for uniform baking)
Sambhar Powder - 8 tsp
Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1 tsp (or as per taste)
Pepper - 1 tsp
Garlic - chopped into tiny pieces - 8 cloves

Method
Give two diagonal cuts on the Eggplant leaving the stem intact.
Mix all the ingredients except Eggplant together to prepare the oil-spice mix.
Place the oil-spice mix using a small spoon into the Eggplant cuts.

Place them lying on their side in a baking pan lined with Aluminium foil.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Bake for 15 mins
Reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
Bake for 10 mins
Note - Keep a close watch since oven temperature and cooking time may vary.
Poke with a knife and make sure the Eggplant is cooked.
Take it out and cover with an Aluminium foil to continue cooking and let the juice flow.
Serve hot.

It was a good side-dish with Biryani. It is so easy and quick to prepare that I will be making it more often for sure. This was definitely something I just came up with combining a number of baked Eggplant dishes as inspiration for this Indian-taste twist. It will be a good side-dish for Rice-dal and Chapatti for sure. Enjoy!



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Achari Vegetable Curry


Ingredients

Shan Achari Masala - 1 pack (Shan Achari Gosht also works, but it is less spicy)
Cauliflower (aka Gobi) - 1, chopped into florets
Mushroom - 1 large pack, remove the stem of the mushroom and chop into 3-4 pieces each
String Beans - 1 bunch, chopped into 2 inch pieces
Dry Green Chana - 1 cup, soak overnight and pressure cook with an inch of chopped ginger and Salt for approx. 2 whistles
Potatoes - 2-3 medium, chopped to match the cauliflower florets size
Paneer - a few pieces, as per taste
Canola Oil - 2 tbsps
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry Bay Leaf - 3-4
Dry Red Chilli - 2-3 (optional)
Salt - 1 tbsp (or as per taste)
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped into small pieces
Onion\Ginger\Garlic paste - 12 tbsp (grind 1 large Onion, 1/2 inch Ginger, 7-8 Garlic cloves, 2 Green Chillies is optional)

Method

Grind Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies together
Heat Canola Oil.
Season the oil with Cumin Seeds, Dry Bay Leaf and Dry Red Chillies.
As the spices start browning, add the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies paste. If there is any of the paste remaining, freeze it to use later. I keep it in refrigerator if I intend to use it within the next day or two in a tightly sealed container.
Mix the paste with the seasoned Oil and stir till the paste is cooked and the Oil separates. Takes about 5-10 mins.
In the meanwhile, heat another pan and start frying the veggies one-by-one. I do one veggie at a time since that will make sure the veggies are uniformly cooked. If you don't have one or more of these veggies, don't worry - it is perfectly okay to skip them. Different combination of veggie stuff will give it a slightly different taste - not that much of a difference though! I leave them half-cooked so that when mixed with the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies, they can cook together completely.
As the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies paste is cooked, add the Shan Achari Masala. Mix together and stir for 2-3 mins.
Add the fried veggies and mix well.
Cover and cook for a few mins, particularly if the veggies are half-cooked.
Serve this hot with Rice\Chapatti.

Achari Vegetable Curry with Peurto Rican Beans in the background

Fried Plantains (Puerto Rican)


One of my friend's mother-in-law and a very dear friend of mine was recently in town. She very sweetly remembered that I had expressed an interest in learning more about the Puerto Rican cuisine and maybe a recipe or two. We ended up meeting last Sunday and cooking together. That was one of the most memorable get-togethers that I have had. We ate, drank, laughed and cooked some. "Life is good" because of such moments that we share with near and dear ones. Thank you, Beita ... love you and always count my blessings that I have you as a friend. Amen to many more such moments to be blessed on all of us.

She taught us Puerto Rican Beans and Rice (will post later) and Fried Plantains. Both were delicious, full of flavors and the best part - easy peasy to make. The whole house smelt so good when both these dishes were being cooked.

Ingredients

Plantains - not too ripe, just perfect
Canola Oil - for frying one side at a time (not as much as one would need for deep frying)

Method

Cut the plantains as shown in the pic.


Heat the oil.
Place the plantains in a layer so that one side gets cooked.
As it slightly browns, turn over the other side.
It is meant to be slightly cooked, but we also liked a batch that was slightly overdone and crispy. Or as Beita said "If you kids like it, go for it!" :)

As we kept making these, they kept disappearing. So you can imagine! Even the kids love it..so plan the portions accordingly when preparing. We had it as a side with the Rice & Beans as well. The sweetness of the fried plantains gave a nice twist to the savory Rice & Beans. Bon appetit.

Thank you, Beita, for the wonderful recipe and the memories. A shout-out to my fellow learners in this cookout - dear A-Chau and Huey :)