December 30, 2010

Seasoned yogurt rice w/pomegranate

This is another all time South Indian classic. When my family has eaten a lot of spicy food during the week, and craves something cooling and quick, this is the first thing that comes to mind. It is also a great way to do something with that day old rice.  
What I used: Serves 4
2 cups day old cooked rice (If the rice is too dry, sprinkle a little water and soften it in the microwave or cooker. It’s best if the rice is soft and mushy)
2 cups plain yogurt (buttermilk or low-fat yogurt will give you a lighter dish)
2-4 green chilies slit (If you are not a spice fan, omit this)
2 tsp fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp chopped curry leaves
¼ cup fresh pomegranate arils
¼ tsp jeera/cumin seeds
¼ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp kadale bele (yellow split lentils)
½ tsp uddina bele (split blackgram)
¼ tsp hing/asafetida powder
Salt to taste

Mix the rice, salt and yogurt together in a serving bowl. Refrigerate.

Use a small saucepan for the tempering. Add ghee; on medium heat, add the mustard and cumin seeds, when the splattering subsides, toss the dhals and sauté till they turn slightly brown. 

Add the green chillies and curry leaves. Cover for a minute. Add hing powder. Turn off the heat and put the tempering into the rice mixture.  Add chopped cilantro and pomegranate arils. Stir all of it together gently. Serve chilled or as is. Enjoy!

December 28, 2010

Seeme badnekaay/Chayote squash stir-fry n wrap

I love veggie stir-fry's. They are the ideal 2 in 1 dish for dinner and lunch. Healthy too!
What I used: Serves 4 as side dish
2 cups chayote, washed, halved, seeded, soaked in water for a few, peeled and cut into 1 inch strips
1 cup onion chopped
½ tsp red chili flakes
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp kadale bele (Bengal gram/ yellow split lentils)
½ tsp uddina bele (urad dhal/split black gram)
¼ tsp mustard seeds
A few curry leaves finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
In a skillet, on medium heat, add oil. When it begins to shimmer, add in the dhals. When they get golden brown, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Then, add in the onions and squash, cook on medium high for the first 2 minutes, then on medium heat until the chayote is soft and crunchy. Add in the chili flakes, turmeric and salt. It may cook in about 7-10 minutes.
I usually cook this stir-fry for dinner, as a side dish with chapathi/tortilla and rice. The remaining is wrapped into chapathi/tortilla rolls for lunch the next day. Enjoy!

December 26, 2010

Yummy Corn Salad

This was a kick-ass party pleaser we had at our White elephant party potluck! Thanks so much Shreya for sharing the recipe with us. Credited to Shreya :-)
What she used: Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or starter
1 can Black beans
2 cans whole kernel sweet corn
1 hot pepper
12 cherry tomatoes
3-4 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 green onions
1 large mango chopped
1/3 medium onion chopped
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt (as desired)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder

Mix all; serve with corn chips/salsa. Enjoy!

Simple spiced cider

This was a warm welcome drink by the host of our WEP (White elephant party) Seema. She had decked her home with a grand Christmas tree, the dining table had a tree of candles, and the house was filled Christmas mementos. The air was specially filled with the aroma of spicy tangy apple cider cooking in her crock pot. A sip of this warm drink just made our evening. Thank you Seema, the recipe is credited to her!

What she used: Serves 6-8
1 bottle apple cider (Fresh pressed/fermented apple )
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
A few slices of orange

In a slow cooker, combine apple cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Wrap allspice and cloves in a small piece of muslin/cheesecloth, and add to pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and keep warm. Enjoy!

Green apple kesaribath (Semolina pudding)

A little twist to the authentic South Indian classic pudding; Kesaribath can be made with many fruits like banana, pineapple, pomegranate, and apple. Green apple is a little tangier and hence caught my taste buds. Try it!

What I used: Serves 4
1 cup fine chirotee rave (finest semolina/ wheatlets)
1 cup green apple, peeled and grated
1 and ½ cup sugar (add 2 cups if you have a sweet tooth)
3 cups water
A pinch of saffron
¼ tsp cardamom powder
4-6 tsp of ghee/butter
A few raisins to garnish

In a medium saucepan, dry roast the rave on low heat until it is light brown. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the grated apple, water and saffron. Bring it to a boil on medium heat until the apple is nice and soft. When the water is on a constant boil, it is time to add the rave.

 Using a serving spoon, scoop the rave little by little; add it into the water, stirring constantly. When the mixture thickens to form a smooth pudding consistency, add the sugar. 

Stir it in thoroughly to form a smooth mixture without lumps. Turn the heat to low and cover for 5 minutes. 

When the mixture has thickened, turn off the heat. Add cardamom powder, raisins and ghee. Serve hot. Enjoy!

December 25, 2010

French toast w/ fresh cherry sauce

Can a morning get any better than this? Lying in bed with my 2 little boys (Yes, I am a bad mom, haven’t trained them to sleep in their room. But I feel more guilty to keep them away, maybe a year later. In India we always slept with our parents until we started school at least, so the guilt hangs over my shoulders now), I was wondering what to make for breakfast. A cold rainy morning, how about a colorful breakfast to warm it up? Fresh cherry sauce and toast it was! I really want to write more of what I feel, but with my children always hovering around me, I will cut it short and come straight to the recipe. 

What I used: Serves 2, or 2 kids and an adult
2 eggs
2 tsp sugar
¼ cup milk
4 large thick bread slices
½ a stick/3 to 4 tsp of butter
8 fresh cherries, seeded
Powdered sugar to dust

Start with getting a saucepan on medium heat. While that is getting hot, crack the eggs, milk and sugar into a bowl large enough to dip the bread. Whisk it with a fork or egg beater. 

Dip the bread into the frothy mixture, let stand for 10-15 seconds on each side. 
Add a thin slice of butter into the pan and place the soaked bread. When it gets a golden brown color, turn it to the other side. Do the same for all 4 slices. Set aside.
In the same pan, add 2 thin slices of butter. When it begins to melt, add the cherries and cook on medium until the cherries and soft n pulpy. Mash it down with a fork and strain it. Serve the warm sauce over the toast with butter and dusted sugar. 

It is so good, believe me, you will forget gourmet french toast forever! Enjoy!

December 24, 2010

Sorekaay Halwa (Sticky calabash confection)

What I used: Serves 4
4 cups grated Sorekaay/Calabash/Green Bottle gourd (Remove the seed and fleshy membrane inside. Grate the skin and white matter)
2 cups white sugar (Vegans, substitute this ingredient with brown sugar)
2 cups milk (Vegans, substitute this ingredient with almond milk)
2 tsp condensed milk (Vegans, eliminate this ingredient)
4 tsp ghee/butter/oil
A few saffron strands
½ tsp powdered cardamom seeds
Raisins to garnish

In a thick cooker pan or skillet, add 2 tsp ghee and roast the grated gourd for about 5 minutes on medium-high. 

Add the milk, saffron and sugar; cook it on medium heat for the next 15-20 minutes, until all the water content evaporates and you are left with a thick consistency. 

When it reaches this stage, add the condensed milk, ghee, raisins and cardamom powder. Cook on low, and constantly stir it for about 5 minutes so it does not burn. 

Turn off the heat. Serve it warm as dessert. It tastes great with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side. Enjoy!

December 23, 2010

Garlic chicken Conchiglie

Conchiglie is a type of pasta, deriving its name from the Italian word conchiglia meaning seashell. This shape is said to be good at retaining sauce. The garlic chicken pasta is quick and filling enough to make for lunch/dinner.
What I used: Serves 4
2 cups of Conchiglie/Shell pasta cut into chunks as desired
2 boneless chicken breasts fresh/frozen
4 large garlic cloves chopped
2 cups ripe tomatoes cut into large chunks
1 cup fresh/frozen peas
1 cup onion cut into chunks
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
Pinch of turmeric
½ tsp black pepper powder
A small bunch of cilantro chopped for garnish
1 tsp brown sugar
Salt to taste
½ cup grated fresh Parmesan or paneer  
3 tsp olive oil

Cook the pasta in ample boiling water and a little salt (or as per instructions on the box). Drain; reserve a cup of the pasta water. Set them aside.
In a large saucepan on medium-high heat, add olive oil and cumin. When the aroma fills the air, add garlic and sauté. 

Add the chicken chunks and cook until the edges have turned brown. Add onions and let it soften. Now add the tomato chunks and cook until they are soft and pulpy. Toss in the powders and brown sugar, sauté for just a minute, and add the reserved pasta water. Check the salt as the water already has some, and then add more if needed. 

Bring it to a quick boil on high heat. Once the chicken is cooked, lower the heat and add the drained shells. Toss well.  Garnish with cilantro and Parmesan. Serve hot. Enjoy!

December 22, 2010

Baked Tilapia in pomegranate sauce

It is that time of the year when the grocery stores are overflowing with ruby red cherries and pomegranates. I have been using both the fruits in season to my advantage. Here is one baked fish recipe with pom sauce. Spicy, sweet and tangy – my favorite combinations! Try it.

What I used: Serves 4 to 6
4-6 boneless tilapia filets
To marinate:
½ cup fresh pomegranate arils/fleshy seeds pressed and juice extracted
1tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
A pinch of turmeric
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
¼ tsp brown sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
For the sauce:
½ cup pomegranate arils divided, one part kept as is, the other part pressed and juice extracted
½ tsp chili sauce
¼ tsp cornstarch
Pinch of sugar and salt
Mix the marinate ingredients and brush both sides of the filets. If you prefer a thicker coating of marinate, reduce the amount of pom juice.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 375 degree F. Grease/spray a thin coat of oil on a baking sheet. Place the fish and any raw vegetables you would like.  Bake it for 20 minutes, or until the fish pierced with a fork comes out moist and flaky.
While the fish bakes, get the sauce ready.  Mix the cornstarch, pom juice, chili sauce, sugar and salt. Mix well;  bring it to a boil in a small saucepan on low heat. Turn the heat off. Add the reserved pom arils/fleshy seeds. Pour over the fish before serving. Enjoy!

December 21, 2010

Butter chicken

This is of my all time favorite chicken dishes. I love the smooth and creamy texture of this butter curry that covers the spicy grilled chicken.  It is a signature dish of North India.

What I used: Serves 4
2 lb boneless chicken cut up into chunks
To marinate:
1 cup yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp red chili powder 
2 tsp mustard/vegetable oil
Salt to taste
For the gravy: 
Part 1
1 lb/2 cups ripe tomatoes diced
½ cup onions diced
6 tsp Butter
4-6 garlic cloves
2 Bay leaves
2 green cardamoms
Part 2
1 tsp ginger paste
½ tsp garlic paste
4-6 Green chilies, cut lengthwise, seeded, deveined and the flesh chopped
2 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
½ tsp crushed dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
½ tsp garam masla powder
2 tsp regular tomato ketchup (I add this just to get a little color, and tangy kick)
2 tsp honey
1 cup cream

Mix all the marinating ingredients and add the chicken. Refrigerate this mixture for three to four hours. Preheat the oven for 5-10 minutes. Place the chicken pieces on a greased baking sheet and broil it on 450 degree F for 30 minutes. 

While that is cooking in the oven, get the gravy ready. Heat 2 tsp of butter in a pan. Add green cardamoms, whole garlic cloves and bay leaves. Sauté for two minutes, add the diced onions and tomatoes; cook them all until soft and pulpy. Cool and grind to a paste. 

Filter this mixture and discard the bay leaves and cardamom. Set aside. 

In a large saucepan on medium heat, add the remaining 4 tsp butter. Add the cut up green chili skin, ginger and garlic paste.  Sauté for two minutes; add the filtered tomato puree, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, salt and one cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes. 

Add honey, tomato ketchup and crushed kasoori methi. Add in the broiled chicken pieces. Simmer for five minutes and then add fresh cream.  Give it a gentle stir before serving.

Serve hot with paratha/chapathi or just plain cooked rice. Enjoy!

December 19, 2010

White elephant party cake

I made this cake for our white elephant party last night. The party was filled with giggles and laughter, especially the gift unwrapping. We were rolling on the floor laughing. It was a lot of fun. Two things I absolutely loved were the spiced apple cider and the corn and bean salad.

December 17, 2010

Mughalai Chicken

This colorful chicken dish was prepared by my friend Divya, for a potluck gathering. The Mughalai dish complimented the Mughalai Biriyani so well. I bet all of us had a high calorie yummy feast that night. The recipe is credited to her. Thankyou Divya :-)
What Divya used:
2 lb chicken (boned or boneless)
¼ cup yogurt
4 tsp ghee/ butter / oil
2 bay leaves
1 cup onion chopped
6 hot green chilies slit lengthwise
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
To grind:
¼ cup cashew nuts soaked in water
Whole garam masala (1 inch cinnamon piece, 2 cloves and 2 green cardamoms )
½ cup onion chopped
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp black pepper powder
In a small saucepan, on medium heat, fry about 3 tsp onions, whole garam masala, poppy seeds and cumin. When the aroma fills the air, add in the powders. Set aside, cool and grind it to a fine paste with the soaked cashews.
Mix this paste with yogurt, massage it onto the chicken pieces and marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator.
In a medium, heavy bottom pan, heat ghee on medium heat. Add the bay leaves and fry for a few seconds. Add the slit green chilies, ginger garlic paste and chopped onions; sauté till the onions are light brown in color.
Add the chicken pieces, and salt to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for about 25 minutes or till the chicken are fully cooked. Sprinkle garam masala powder and cook for a couple minutes more. Serve hot with naan/chapathi or plain cooked rice and yogurt salad. Enjoy!
Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Egg n veggie stirfry/wrap

This egg based stir fry has a good amount of vegetables. It can be part of dinner, or used in chapathi/toritilla rolls and wraps. Both my son and husband finish their lunch boxes when I make these!

What I used:  (Serves 4)
4-6 large eggs
1 cup peas fresh/frozen
1 cup scallion/spring onions
1 cup fresh carrots grated
½ tsp pepper powder
¼ tsp chili powder
Salt to taste
1tsp olive oil

Heat a wok or saucepan on medium-high, add the olive oil and immediately add the scallions, and peas, roast it for a minute. Add in the carrots. Move out the vegetable to the sides of the saucepan. 

Crack the 4 raw eggs in the middle. Scramble it and cook it for a minute. Add the pepper, salt and chili powder. Combine the egg and veggies mixture; keep tossing it on high heat for 2 minutes only. It may be eaten as is, or rolled into a wrap.

Please note: If you are using it in a wrap, let it cool it or refrigerate it for a few before using it, so its fresh. Enjoy!