Sunday, August 31, 2008

Off blogging till October

Hi All,

I will be off from blogging till October and possibly, November too. Will be travelling a bit during this period along with entertaining family and friends which is bound to take up a lot of my time. In addition to all this, I am starting to take a new type of assignment at work and completion of school work. Too many things to do before the end of the year..please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Everyone, take care and have a great time!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Simei Upma (aka Vermicelli Upma)

Come weekend and a pretty relaxed one where there is no activity planned out. Feel like having a filling breakfast for a change and want to have something different and not too rich in taste.

How about taking another shot at simei upma? Had tried it a few times before and it had either turned out too bland for our taste or too mushy..yuck! This time, I went about googling and found this and this by dear Archana and Shilpa respectively. Thanks, guys! Ended up with a combi of the two recipes. Here is the final result that we loved to devour and have a satisfied weekend breakfast. A good option for weekday office lunchbox as well!

Ingredients Makes 3 servings

Bambino Vermicilli 1 and 1/2 cup
Canola Oil 1 tsp
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Green chillies 3
Curry leaves - 8-10
Urad dal 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp
Cashew - 10
Chopped onion - 1 small
Chopped carrot - 1/2 cup
Green peas - 1/2 cup
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp (Increased or decreased according to taste)
Salt - 1 tsp, or as per taste
Lime juice - 1 tsp


  1. Heat ghee and fry the vermicilli till it turns out slight brown in colour. Keep it aside. If vermicelli is not fried properly, it becomes soggy.
  2. In the same pan, pour canola oil. Add mustard seeds allow to splutter.
  3. Add green chillies curry leaves, urad dal, chana dal/cashew.
  4. Add onion, carrot, green peas. Add turmeric.
  5. Add asafoetida.
  6. Add 2 cup hot water and bring to boil. Note - The quantity of water largely depends on the vermicelli type. Also, and stir till the vermicilli cooks (Tip - After cooking for sometime, if the vermicelli is still uncooked, add water in very little quantity - 1/3 cup at a time - and repeat if you still need more water.).
  7. To this, add the ghee-roasted vermicilli, sugar and salt. This upma tastes great when it is a balanced taste of sweet and spicy. Stir together.
  8. Turn off heat and add lime juice. Mix well.
  9. Keep it covered for a few more minutes with heat turned off for the semia to settle down and for it to remain in string form.
  10. Add additional ghee before serving for additional taste. Serve hot. A shot of tomato ketchup also enhances the flavors!

We enjoyed it a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.

This goes for the WBB - Combi Breakfasts event being hosted by dear Latha of Masala Magic. The due date for this event is August 31st.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cuttack-ia Dahi Bara Aloo Dum with CLICK post and a Me-Me

Dahi Bara (aka Dahi Vada) with Aloo Dum is a favourite street-food of the city of Cuttack in Orissa. Dara Bara is urad dal fritters in spicy yogurt gravy. You can't escape from the aroma of the same from the street vendors. Very enticing, I should say!

Cuttack is a very vibrant city in Orissa. It is more than thousand years old and was the capital of Orissa before Bhubaneswar. I have plenty of memories of the fun-filled summer vacations at my granny's place. My cousin would plan all the outings - movies, eating out and visiting other relatives. Time would just fly by. This is also the city where I was born. :) Check out more about Cuttack in wikipedia here.

When my mom was here with me last year, she laid out this fan-fare for us one evening. Amazing! Sending this to the event Curry Mela being organized by Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons. The due date for this event is August 20, 2008.

Dahi Bara recipe Makes about 20-25

Urad dal - 1 cup
Rice flour - few tbsps, about 2 tbsps
Salt - as per taste
Ajwain seeds - 1/2 tsp
Canola oil - for deep frying

Yogurt gravy

Canola oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2-3
Curry leaves - about 6-10
Grated ginger - 1 tbsp
Salt - as per taste

Ground and roasted cumin-red chilli powder - as per taste

  • Soak urad dal overnight.
  • Blend it in food processor next morning and let it sit at room temperature for the urad dal to ferment. On summer days, usually by evening, it is adequately fermented.
  • If the mixture is too free-flowing, add a few tbsps of rice flour to thicken it. It should be thick enough such that you can just hold the mixture with your hand and fry it. It should not be too thick or too thin.
  • Add salt and ajwain seed. Mix well.
  • Deep fry in hot canola oil. Put your hand in the water before taking the mixture in your hand. The prevents the mixture from sticking to your hand.
  • Keep stirring the bara in the oil so that it is uniformly cooked.
  • Once removed from the oil, drop it into a bowl of water. It will remove the excess oil and make the bara soft and easy to soak the yogurt mixture.
  • How to prepare the yogurt mixture? Heat a tbsp of canola oil. Add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add dry red chillies, curry leaves and grated ginger. Beat the yogurt with some water to thin the yogurt. Add the oil mixture to the yogurt with salt and ground roasted cumin-red chilli powder.
  • How to prepare the ground and roasted cumin-red chilli powder? Dry roast 1 cup cumin seeds in a hot pan. When the cumin is half-done, add 1 cup whole red chilli (no need to pack it in the cup). Continue roasting till the flavors are easily detectable. Note of warning - It is pungent. So keep your exhaust fan on and if possible, a window or door open.
Aloo Dum

Potatoe - 5 large
Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Tomato paste - 10 tbsps (Blend 2 onion, 6 garlic clove, 1 inch ginger, 2 tomato)
Dum Masala - 1-2 tbsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Canola oil - 1 tsp
Dry red chilli - 2
Dry bay leaf - 2-3
Salt - as per taste
Coriander leaves - few tbsps

  • Heat canola oil. Add dry red chilli and dry bay leaf.
  • When the chilli and bay leaf is roasted, add the onion-ginger-garlic-tomato paste. Stir and let it cook on High heat. The paste will tend to splutter initially. So take care in this stage. You can half-cover it with a cover, if that helps.
  • Add the dum masala, salt and garam masala and continue cooking.
  • When the raw smell is gone, add the boiled potatoes. Continue stirring and cooking. You can reduce the heat to Medium during this stage. Takes about 10-15 minutes.
  • Garnish with Coriander leaves.
Note - You can have this Aloo Dum as-is with Roti, Paratha or Puri\Luchi.

How to assemble the Dahi Bara-Aloo Dum?
Take two pieces of Dahi Bara in a container. Add a spoon or two of the Aloo Dum. Top it with Bhujia, chopped onions, chopped chilli and coriander leaves. You can add a sprinkle of rock-salt (optional).

Click, Click and click! Love photography even though have always had a problem with the lighting of the pictures. I am working consciously on that aspect of my photography these days. The following is one of the pics that I feel I have done justice in terms of the lighting. The first photo below is my entry to Click: Citrus event due August 30th, 2008.

Enjoy some of the other pics taken by yours truly of the radiantly beaming and shiny fresh oranges, my favourite fruit and flavour lately!

Book MeMe

When Sra tagged me for this MeMe, I was pleasantly surprised and excited. Really appreciate the gesture and for thinking of me, dear Sra! :)

Being the single child and pretty shy one (have surely come a long way since then!), books were my best friends. To date, they are. Give me a good book, I am out of your way for days. When I get gifts for kids, I am perpetually tempted to buy books. However, books are no longer the same craze with kids these days..shocking that even some parents don't appreciate books as gifts!

Coming back to me, I really don't get that much time to read novels these days..thanks to work, school, household work and entertaining friends/families. Not that I mind any of the mentioned items, but I do wish I could make more time and revive my reading passion! And of course, complete the numerous half-read books lying around the house crying to be read and conquered!! :) The one I am using for the MeMe is one of those crying bleeding books...

The rules of the MeMe are the following:
  • Pick up the nearest book
  • Open to page 123
  • Find the 5th sentence
  • Post the next three sentences
  • Tag 5 people and acknowledge the person who tagged you.
The book I am picking is Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. After reading The Da-Vinci code, I bought all his past novels. However, have not been able to read them till date. I picked this one up during our Dominican Republican trip. I still need to finish it..sigh!

Mortati knew that all the exits to Vatican City were guarded, and the missing cardinals could not have gone far, but still with less than an hour before opening prayer, he was feeling disconcerted. After all, the four missing men were no ordinary cardinals. They were the cardinals.

Hope this intrigues you to read this book! So surprising that one of the main plots of this book was in the above lines :)

I would like to tag the following dear blogger friends for this MeMe:

Thanks, everyone, for reading through this long post! Look forward to hear from you. Have a great week ahead and enjoy the Summer Olympics! :)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Magnetic post - Orange Chicken and a award

This year has been quite eventful so far. Apart from the various trips R and I have taken, we have had a few gatherings at our place to catch up with friends and family. Looking forward to a few more over the course of the coming months. Need to start learning lot more new recipes. I always like to have a few new items when I have anyone visiting us. Or even for potlucks, for that matter. This post has one such recipe that I have tried recently - Orange Chicken.

I first tried Orange Shrimp at P.F.Chang's - tangy and hot invoking all the taste buds! It was four years back and till date, whenever we go to P.F.Chang's I will browse through the menu from the start to finish and end up ordering this each and every time. I am the more experimental one between R and me when eating out..but Orange Shrimp and Pad Thai of most Thai restaurants (not all restaurants make it that good..will not name any here but I know!) are never a matter of compromise :) Tweaked the recipe here based on the comments in there and as per our taste. Disclaimer - It does not taste exactly like the P.F.Chang's Orange chicken, but it was pretty good for home-made. The flavors were there.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

Step 1

Chicken - 1 lb, about 25-30 pieces
Eggs - 2
Paprika Powder - 1/4 tsp
Corn flour - 1/2 cup
Flour - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1.5 tsp
White pepper - 1 tsp
Canola oil - 1 tbsp

Marinade chicken with beaten eggs, paprika powder, corn flour, flour, salt, white pepper and canola oil. Keep aside for about 15 minutes. Tip - During these 15 minutes, prepare the sauce and solution from Step 2 and Step 3 respectively. Deep fry the chicken pieces on High to Medium-High heat. Don't over fry it else the chicken turns fiber-ish. Keep the chicken soft.

Step 2

Soy sauce - 2 tbsp
Orange juice - 3 tbsp
Brown sugar - 4 tbsp
Vinegar - 5 tbsp
Orange zest of 2 oranges

Make a solution of soy sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar and orange zest. Keep it aside for use in Step 4.

Tip -
  • I used dark soy sauce and thus, the dark color. Light soy sauce can be used instead for a lighter color.
  • Be careful while getting the orange zest. If you scrap too deep on the orange skin, the zest will become bitter.

Step 3

Corn-flour - 1 tbsp
Water - 1/2 cup

Make a solution of corn-flour and water. Keep it aside for use in Step 4.

Step 4

Canola oil - 1 tbsp
Ginger paste - 1/2 tsp
Crushed Garlic - 1 tsp

Crushed red chilli - 1/4 tsp
Green onion - 1/4 cup (or, Red onion - 1/2 chopped)

Rice wine - 1 tbsp

Sesame oil - 1 tsp
Canola oil - 1 tbsp

Peanuts - as per taste.

Heat a wok on High heat. Once the wok is hot, add canola oil. When oil is heated up (don't let it smoke), add the ginger paste and crushed garlic and stir. Once browned, add crushed red chilli and and green onion (or red onion). Let the onion caramelize. Leave the onion slightly crunchy.

Add rice wine. Add the solution from Step 2 and bring it to a boil. Add the solution from Step 3 and let it thicken for between 5 to 10 minutes. Once thickened, add sesame oil and canola oil (1 tbsp). If you like green pepper, chop them into small cubes and add them as well.

Once the liquid is fully prepared, add the chicken from Step 1 and stir slowly. Leave it on heat for between 2 to 5 minutes.

Roast some peanuts and garnish before serving. Enjoy it with warm rice!

Just the way I have a magnetic-akin attraction to Orange Chicken and Pad Thai, I love collecting magnets from every place that I or R visit. I took this up after R and I got married. They are my treasure - each and every magnet evokes memories of the relaxed days of joy when visiting a certain place! Like Raymond says in "Everybody Loves Raymond" when talking about the demented family memories at his brother's wedding "Only keep the good ones". Isn't that sweet and very practical? :) Try practising it and it will zero out a number of unpleasant events from your life...some unpleasant events are just not worth holding onto. OK, enough of philosopher Pragyan talk! Coming back to the magnets, here is my entire collection.

Sending this for the "Fridge Magnet" event being hosted by Veda here. The due date for this event is August 11th, 2008. I always regret that I did not get one when visiting SFO :(

Note that some of the magnets are not place-specific. A few have a certain witty tongue-in-cheek comment and I just could not resist adding them to my collection. They bring a smile to my face any day as I glance them. Highlighting them below.

I am including a pic of one of my favourite accessories of my kitchen playground. This one has always evoked a comment from even the most silent of visitors to my house. Some friends and relatives who don't think too highly of my cooking skills even nod in agreement..."only keep the good ones", so you know how often such acquaintances cross my mind ;)

Lastly, I would like to thank Simran of Bombay Foodie for thinking of me while passing on the "Blogging Friend Forver" award. (Link) Appreciate it, dear!

The following rules apply to this award:
  1. Only five people are allowed to receive this award
  2. Four of them are followers of your blog.
  3. One has to be new to your blog and live in another part of the world.
  4. You must link back to who ever gave you the award.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following readers of my blog. Day to day interaction with each of you adds a special charm to the whole blogging experience. Keep it going, fellas! :)

  1. Shibani of Pearls of East
  2. Sagari of Indian Cooking
  3. Sra of When my soup came alive
  4. Sia of Monsoon Spice
  5. Sharmila is someone new on my blog and lives in India. She has an extensive collection of recipes and crafts. Check her out at Kichu Khon.