Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rajma Galouti Kebab - Anniversary post!

Yes, yes and yes, this blog is one year old today. Time just flies. One day, I was contemplating whether I should start a food-related blog or not. I had been completely oblivious of the existence of this wonderful world of foodie blogs until I searched for a recipe and there was this pic-by-pic detailed explanation of the Aloo Curry recipe by dear Shilpa. Traveling from one link to the other, realized the maze of food blogs and the amazing camaraderie that everyone shares - a sisterhood of sort!

Started the blog one fine afternoon. It was a wonderful feeling on receiving my first few comments from Ashaji, Bee and Sandeepa. Wow - the very few people who inspired me to tread on this path never travelled before. Thank you, fellow-bloggers, for inspiring me to start off on this wonderful journey. I have learnt so much about cooking in the last year - so many techniques, so many cuisines, so many wonderful moments!

There are a few people who have been there in-person and encouraged me to go on. My hubby R has been a constant encouraging factor. Some of the best pics of my blog have been taken by him. Sir would wait patiently when I went about clicking the pics while he was just waiting to eat his dinner! A tradition, I am sure, most hubbies of foodie bloggers are aware of! :) I love it when you tell our friends about my blog - some pride there. If it was not for you and our love for good food, this blog would not have been here! Thank you, dear! You have never been so patient. :)

My parents were visiting me last year. They were so amazed at the response from visitors to the Odiya recipes particularly. Some recipes that they have every other day and never think of making when calling friends over. But those recipes have a uniqueness to it that is very specific to the Odiya cooking. I am always looking for such recipes. This year has been a eye-opener in terms of how certain things are only specific to Odiya cooking. As well as how some dishes are actually made in other cuisines but we have been thinking that it is only made in Odiya houses. Thanks, Maa and Baba, for everything!

Some of my friends have prodded me to go on blogging. Asking me when they will see the next post after "refreshing and visiting" patiently even when there was a dry spell (read "zero new post") for more than a month. You have helped me get back my blogging spirit many a few times! My college friends, Vrindu and Poonki, were the first few visitors to this blog. They are both in the opposite side of this world. Their statement that it feels like I am treating them with my posts has always been there in the back of my mind while posting. My friend Prajakta and my colleague Nathan have complained in a good-humored jovial manner when I stopped blogging due to work pressure. Thanks for being there, guys!

Thank you to Silu apa for the encouraging kind words. It was amazing getting to know that you read my posts. For background of others, it was my nephew's birthday and my aunt-in-law, mom and Silu apa got talking. She mentioned that there are a few Odiya cooking blogs and there was one from Pragyan from DC area. My loving aunt-in-law just jumped at the opportunity and she is like "This is her". That was a wonderful moment for me as a foodie blogger...I still smile thinking of that moment...my moment of joy and pride! :) We got talking. She is special for me and made me feel on cloud nine. Thank you to Silu apa and all the visitors to this dear blog of mine - an extension of me and my culinary journey! I look forward to many more years of blogging...miles and miles to go before I stop!

Now coming to the recipe, this one caught my attention when I was looking for some nice and different veggie dish to make when R's friend was visiting us. His wife is vegetarian. Since I was making Lamb Biryani for the three of us, wanted to make something equally exquisite for her as well. Found this post by our dear Tarla Dalal-ji (adding a "ji" at the end of someones name is a nice way of respecting someone in India) with some really unique recipes of veggie kebab and tikkis. Wanted to try them all that day, but time and stamina were not my best friend that day. Will definitely try the rest some other day...till then, I hope you enjoy this! Note - Galouti kebab is made with meat - this is a vegetarian version of the same.

Ingredients Makes about 30 kebabs

Soaked and pressure-cooked Rajma (kidney beans) - 2 cup
Paneer (cottage cheese) - 1 cup
Boiled, peeled and mashed Potatoes - 1 cup

Sliced onions - 2 medium
Finely chopped Ginger -3 tbsp
Finely chopped Green Chillies - 4-5 chopped or as per taste
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Curry powder - 1 tbsp
Garam Masala - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Chopped Coriander - 3 tbsp

Corn-flour - 1 cup

Canola oil - 1 tbsp + for deep frying

  • Heat the 1 tbsp canola oil in a kadhai on a medium flame and fry the onions till they are golden brown.
  • Add the ginger and green chillies and saute till the ginger is cooked.
  • Add the mashed Rajma-Potato-Paneer followed by Turmeric powder, Curry powder, Garam masala and salt. Cook till the mixture leaves the side of the utensil without sticking. Add the chopped Coriander leaves a minute or two before you stop cooking the mixture, while the mixture is still warm. You don't want to cook the mixture with the coriander leaves much else it loses its flavor.
  • Divide the mixture into equal portions and shape each portion into flat, round kebabs.
  • Make a thin batter of corn-flour. Dip the kebabs in this mixture before deep-frying. I tried doing them directly without the corn-flour as Tarlaji's recipe instructs but it kept breaking up.
  • Heat the oil for deep frying on a medium flame and deep-fry the kebabs till golden brown in colour from both sides.
  • Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with sliced onions and green-chilli for added heat. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lata's Eggless Mango Cake

After Shilpa's Eggless Date Cake became a favorite in my family, the Eggless Mango Cake recipe by Lata definitely caught my attention as a must-try. On my day off from work, I set off on my attempt...and I was not disappointed. A day-off put to good use :) Here is the recipe with minor modifications from Lata's version. Thanks, Lata, for sharing this recipe!

Ingredients Makes 2 medium-sized cakes

Note - For convenience, ingredients are shown in the order in which you would like to measure if you want to get done with one measuring cup. Instead of having to repeatedly clean and wipe dry the measuring cup.

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Skim milk powder - 1/2 cup (I use Sanalac brand)
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp

White sugar - 1 cup
Mango pulp - 1.5 cup + few tbsps for garnishing, as per taste
Hot water - 1/4 cup
Fat-free Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Canola oil - 1/2 cup

Crushed pista or cashewnuts - 1/2 cup + few tbsps for garnishing, as per taste
  • Sift together the wheat flour, milk powder, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • Add crushed Pista or cashewnuts.
  • Blend together mango pulp, water, sugar, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour this into flour mixture and fold slowly to get a uniform mixture. Do not mix much as it will affect the softness of the cake.
  • Grease the baking pan with cooking spray or ghee or butter. Pour the above mixture into this greased pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahreinheit for about 45 mins. Poke a knife into the cake and pull it out. If the cake is done, the knife will come out clean.

Use some mango pulp and pista\cashewnut as garnishing. Even whipping cream will do as garnish! We loved it as-is :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicken Makhani

Chicken has always been my favourite. Since R prefers lamb over chicken, we don't have it that often. But when we do, I always try to make it in a different way so that it is something new and interesting for R to enjoy it as well. That's the reason I am always looking for new chicken recipes to try.

On one of our recent trips to the Indian grocery store, found the Chicken Makhani masala by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I had already tried and liked his Veg Jalfrazie masala. Thought of giving this a shot and it turned out good. And easy to make such a delicious and rich-looking dish. How often do you get that so easy!

Ingredients makes 4-6 servings

Sanjeev Kapoor's Chicken Makhani Masala - 1/2 pack
Chicken - 2 lb, approx. 20-25 pieces
Onion - 1 medium, chopped in long pieces
Heavy Cream - 1 tbsp
Canola oil - 1 tbsp
Sugar - a pinch
Salt - additional, as per taste (Check before adding since the Makhani masala has some salt)

  • Heat oil. Add sugar to brown. Add the chopped onions and cook till they caramelize. You don't want to cook it fully, want some of the crunch to still remain.
  • Add the masala and let it roast a little.
  • Add the chicken and stir it to uniformly coat the masala. Let it cook for in High heat for 10-15 minutes while stirring at regular intervals so that it does not stick to the side of the utensil.
  • Add water as per the consistency you would like and let it cook covered in Medium-Low heat for 10-15 minutes so that chicken is cooked and turns soft. Take care not to overcook else the chicken will turn fiber-ish!
  • Add heavy cream (optional) and salt as per taste to finish off.

Enjoy with warm paratha, roti or rice! We had it with Jeera Rice and Raita.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kingly Kalakand

When I first had milk-cake (cake version of kalakand) as a ten-year old, my first question was "why is it called that? neither does it have frosting, nor is it milk!". Ten-year olds are so dumb! No offense to any other ten-year old before my nieces and nephews start complaining :)

When I read Sandeepa from Bong Mom's Cookbook had a microwave version of the Kalakand, I just had to try it. R's sweet-tooth has always been a major encouraging factor for me to learn new Indian desserts. Just like his niece who has been born and raised here does not treat Indian desserts as desserts, R does not like western desserts like cakes and ice-cream. It has to be an Indian dessert to pass off and be accepted by his enormous sweet appetite..how selective :( His dislike for cakes and ice-cream is A blessing for me in disguise, to be frank! Else by now, I could have easily passed off as a master Sumo wrestler, I am pretty sure of that..

Ingredients Makes 20 pieces

Sweet Condensed Milk - 1 can
Ricotta Cheese - approx. 2 lb
Cardamom Powder - 2 tbsp
Sliced nuts for garnishing
  • Lightly grease a microwaveable bowl with ghee.

  • Mix the condensed milk with Ricotta cheese, both of which are 1:1 by volume. Make sure to press the ricotta cheese into the condensed milk can. Otherwise, you will have more liquid in your mixture and it just takes forever to make..trust me, it feels like FOREVER! Add the ground cardamom powder to this mixture and start the microwave ride..

  • Microwave for 5 minutes. Take caution such that the above mixture does not boil over in the process.

  • Stir the mixture well and microwave again for 5 minutes. If the mixture starts rising to spill over, stop and stir before commencing again.

  • Microwave for another 5 to 10 minutes, as required. Usually done between 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Keep aside to cool so that it can solidify a little to be able to cut into managable pieces.

  • Garnish with saffron and\or nuts, as per taste.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summer afternoon in a Oriya household with Pakhala...(Precautionary warning - Long post :))

As a kid, summer meant early closing of school, lassi in the evening and lots and lots of festivals (some specifically directed for particular section of people such as unmarried girls, married women). And the most important change in food, you can have lots of mangoes "amba" to eat and the soothing "Pakhala" for lunch. Read on if you would like to get a glimpse at some of my most coveted close-to-heart memories of summer in India and my attempt at trying to keep some of that going on in this far-far-away land of America!

Summer meant half-day school..which kid would not love that ;) Schools start early so that they can close early and everyone can get home early and avoid the heat. Not sure how much the "avoid the heat" objective of this idea worked...coz this meant for me and my friends more play-time in the evening, starting a little early in the afternoon :) This was in addition to a long summer vacation which usually commenced late April and ended late June. Note though that my teachers would load us with more homework than one can handle (ofcourse!). Actually, this year, the heat was so much that schools were closed early for summer vacation. Do you know that in the past few years, Orissa has recorded some of the highest temperatures in India? Sad!

Of course, how can I forget to add the hours of power outage that provided plenty of opportunity for family time ..talk about finding the silver lining in the cloud :) Early on, these outages were random and strewn throughout the day. This became a lot more organized where the electricity board would make postings in the daily newspaper (and eventually announcements on local TV channels) about the time in various areas where power outage "load-shedding" would occur!! Being in the capital of Orissa provided us some relief at times. Should check with Maa-Baba if the situation is still the same! >:(

One best thing about Bhubaneswar is that you get plenty of cool breeze in the evening, such a pleasant respite from the humid heat. In the summer breeze, sitting with family and friends and enjoying a cool glass of mango lassi is heavenly. With some spicy accompaniments such as Aloo chop, samosa (called "singada" in Orissa) for company, the world is so right! Miss those evenings :(

Now the heat does not deter the festivities from engulfing everyone. There are two special festivals during this time - Savitri Amabasya for married women to pray for their husbands (quite similar to the Karva Chauth of North India with different rituals based on the Savitri-Satyaban mythology) and a 3-day Rojo/Rajah for young girls to celebrate and enjoy the swings (actually this festival falls quite close to the onset of monsoon). During Savitri Amabasya, ladies fast for their husband's long life. They can eat any fruit though on that day, no rice nor any cooked foods.

Talking of fruits, mango is aplenty in this season and there are a number of varieties of the same in the market. Raw mangoes are pickled into a sweet pickle (yes, it is sweet which used to be a major surprise for my non-Oriya friends who were only used to the hot mango pickle!). We used to have mangoes after lunch cut into slices. Just could not wait to finish up lunch..

Coming to lunch, Pakhala is the one we would have most often during summer. I believe this is one of the most authentic Odiya food. If I am not mistaken, the rest of the eastern part of India also have some variant of this. Pakhala is rice soaked in water which is served with various other accompaniments. The rice can be tempered with different types of tempering based on taste.

In my in-laws place, they even have this for breakfast followed by a late lunch. Last time when I was in India, R's aunt had made some real delicacies - Ladyfinger in Mustard sauce and green beans in onion gravy. Though I tried to watch and learn, I just cannot mimic it here. Next time I am in India, I am going to make sure to learn it first! I crave for them every time we have Pakhala here!

The above pic shows pakhala with ladiesfinger fry ("bhendi bhaja"), mashed shrimp ("chingudi checha"), crushed badi ("badi chura") and mashed potato ("aloo chakata"). You could possibly have it with it with any curry, as long as it is not gravy-based.

Pakhala - serves 4

Raw rice - 1.5 cup
Yogurt - as per taste

Canola oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 6-10
Crushed garlic - 1 tsp

Soak the cooked rice with water for a few hours. The longer you soak the rice, the ore it ferments and the more lethargic you will feel after eating it :) I usually for an hour or two. Some like it soaked overnight!

Before serving, garnish the soaked rice with some sour yogurt.

Additionally, you can "chaunk" it. Heat canola oil. Add mustard seed. Once it crackles, add 6-10 curry leaves and crushed garlic.

Ladiesfinger fry / "Bhendi bhaja" - serves 4

Ladyfinger - 20-30
Canola oil - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp or as per taste
Chilli powder - as per taste

Clean the ladyfinger with water. Soak it dry with a paper towel and cut it into 1 inch pieces. You definitely don't want to cut and clean them - they end up very gooey and messy!

Heat canola oil. Add the cut ladyfinger. Stir in high heat till it stops sizzling and all the gooey stuff has vanished. Add turmeric powder, salt and chilli powder. Note - You can add a tbsp of onion-ginger-garlic paste after the ladyfinger is half-cooked, for additional taste. Cook in Medium heat for some time to complete the cooking.

Mashed shrimp / "Chingudi Checha" - serves 4

Small or medium-sized shrimp with head - 30-40 small or 15-25 medium
Green Chilli - 2
Garlic - 2-3 large cloves (Pod is the grouping of Cloves)
Red onion - 1/2 thinly chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp, as per taste
Salt - as per taste
Chilli powder - as per taste

Marinade the shrimp (after de-veining it, I leave the shell on for the extra crunch) with salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder for 15-20 mins.
Heat some canola oil and fry the marinated shrimp till well-cooked.
Using the food processor, lightly crush (not finely grind) the shrimp with garlic and green chilli.
Mix the above mixture with chopped onion and you are good to go! Yummy!

Crushed Badi / "Badi Chura" - serves 4

Badi - 20
Onion - 1/2 thinly chopped
Garlic - 1-2 pods
Green Chilli - 1

Lightly roast the badi with a little canola oil till it slightly browns.
Crush the badi either using a food processor or using a crusher with hand.
Add crushed garlic, thinly chopped green chilli and chopped onion.
You can add a few drops of mustard oil for added flavour.

Mashed Potato / "Aloo Chakata" - serves 4

Potato - 3-4 large
Onion - 1/2 large, thinly chopped
Ginger - 1/2 tsp
Cumin - Chilli Powder - 1 tsp (add more for added heat)
Salt - as per taste
Mustard oil - 1 tsp
Green chilli - 1-2

Boil potatoes to cook them. You can also use the pressure cooker to boil the potatoes. Mash the potatoes after peeling them with the rest of the ingredients.