Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sesame Honey chilli potatoes

Deep fried potato fingers coated in a honey-chilli sauce and covered in toasted sesame seeds - this dish is a crowd pleaser. If you have a pack of frozen French fries on hand, this is very easy to put together. Even if you don't, except for the time spent in chopping potatoes into French fries, this is pretty much a quick recipe.

What you need:
Frozen French fries - I used half of a 28 oz pack
Oil - to deep fry

For the sauce :
Red chilli sauce - 1 tbsp.
Tomato ketchup - 1 tbsp.
Garlic - 1 clove, minced
Oil - 2 tsp
Honey - 1 tbsp.
Toasted sesame seeds - 1 tbsp.
Sriracha sauce - 1 tsp (This is optional. I usually add it to spice up the potatoes just a tad bit more)
Spring onion greens/Coriander - to garnish

Deep fry the frozen fries as per package instructions and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and saute on high heat. Lower the heat and add red chilli sauce, tomato ketchup and Sriracha (if using). Add the fries and mix well so that the sauce coats each piece well. Stir in the honey and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Garnish with chopped coriander or spring onion greens.

Serve immediately as this, though still tasty, tends to get soggy as time goes on.

This is my entry for Week 4 of the Blogging Marathon under the theme Festival Special dishes for Valentines day as this is something that my Valentines absolutely love.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#73

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rava kesari

BM # 73
Theme : Festival Recipes
Recipe : Rava Kesari

I may have mentioned a few times many times in my previous posts that my mother is a wizard in the kitchen when it comes to sweet making. She has perfected the art of making Indian sweets and is a master at it. Kesari, though one of the relatively easier sweets to make in her repertoire, is one that she makes exceptionally well and with great ease. She generously adds ghee and cashews to her kesari and doesn't measure any of the ingredients. She puts in a bit of this and a pinch of that, the aromas rising tantalizingly all the while, but the best part of it is when she ladles out some of this hot kesari into a plate and hands it to you. While I don't possess her finesse or prowess in the kitchen, I still can make a decent kesari.

What you need :

Rava/Sooji/Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Water - 2.5 cups
Food color(Yellow/Orange) - a few drops
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Ghee - 3 tbsp.
Cashews and raisins - a few, to garnish

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. of the ghee and roast the rava in it over a low flame. The rava should not start to brown. When it gives out a good aroma, remove from heat, transfer it to a plate and leave it aside to cool.
Heat a teaspoon of ghee and roast the cashews and raisins separately in it until golden. Set aside to cool.
Heat water, sugar and the food color in the saucepan until the water starts to boil. Add cardamom powder and the roasted rava, little by little, stirring carefully all the while, to avoid lumps. Let it cook over a medium flame, stirring every now and then, until thick. Add in the rest of the ghee. Stir well and switch off the heat when the kesari looks shiny. Mix in  the roasted cashews and raisins.
In my family, we usually eat kesari by the spoonfuls. So we don't bother to cut it into squares, but if that's how you like it, you can choose to pour this out onto a greased tray and then cut it into squares.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#73

Friday, January 13, 2017

Peas pulao

One pot dishes are my favorite kind. A few veggies, some form of protein and carbs, a few spices and seasonings - all thrown into one pot - that's all it takes to make this pulao. On days when you aren't inspired enough to create something that takes more than 10 minutes of time and effort, this kind of dish is there to the rescue. Having frozen green peas on hand makes it even easier.

What you need:
Basmati rice - 1 cup (soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained)
Green peas - 1 cup
Coconut milk - 1 cup (optional  - can be substituted with a cup of water)
Water - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 chopped fine
Ginger - a small piece
Green chilli - 3 or 4
Garlic - 4 cloves
Butter - 3 tbsp.
Cardamom - 2
Clove - 5
Cinnamon - a small piece
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Biriyani masala - 1 tsp (optional)
Sliced almonds - a few, to garnish

Melt butter in your pressure cooker. Add cardamom, clove, cinnamon and bay leaf. Saute on low flame till fragrant. Grind the ginger, chilli and garlic to a coarse paste without adding any water. Add this into the cooker and saute. Mix in the sliced onions and fry till translucent. Add the green peas, biriyani masala, salt, drained rice, coconut milk and water. Close the cooker and cook till one whistle. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Once the pressure settles, serve hot with raita.

This is my third post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #72 under the theme vegetarian dinners.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pavakka varuval (Crisp, fried bittergourd)

If you've read some of my previous posts, you know that we are a family that loves bittergourd. Even the little girl loves this veggie and will eat it in any form.
Marinated in spices and then deep fried, this dish will make you fall in love with this much maligned vegetable. The only things to keep in mind are that it takes a good 20 to 30 minutes on a medium flame to fry these bittergourds to the right crispness, and that the oil in which you deep fry these gourds cannot be used again for deep frying something else as it will have the residue of all the spices. So, you either have to discard it or use it for tadkas.
My dinner today was phulkas, chard dal and pavakka varuval. This is my second post for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #72 under the theme Vegetarian dinners.

What you need:
Bittergourd - 4
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - 1 tbsp soaked in just enough hot water to cover it
Oil - for deep frying

Cut each bittergourd into half. Then slice each half vertically into two. Deseed and then cut into chunks. Don't cut them too thin, as they will shrivel up considerably on frying.
Take the bittergourd pieces in a large bowl. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Mix in thick tamarind extract. Mix it all together well. Cover and set aside for at least half an hour.
Drain any liquid that has collected in the bowl, squeeze out any excess liquid and then add handfuls of the bittergourd to hot oil and deep fry over a medium hot flame until it turns brown.
Remove on to a paper towel.

This tastes good by itself or as a side dish for rotis or rice.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Puri masala

The weather here in Minnesota is getting colder by the day. Today, I drove through roads where I was not able to see the lines that mark the lanes or distinguish between the sidewalk and the road. This kind of weather makes me long for tea that is spiced with ginger and cardamom and deep fried snacks. Puris make an appearance at our dinner table on days like this. My favorite accompaniment for puris is this simple yet very flavorful potato masala that is served in restaurants in South India. With just a few ingredients and a bit of your time and supervision, you can make this curry which you cannot go wrong with.

What you need:
Potato - 3 or 4, medium sized (boiled, peeled and mashed)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Green chillies - 3 or 4, slit into half vertically
Ginger - a small piece, chopped fine
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp. (* See note)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Salt - to taste
Juice of half a lemon

Heat oil in a pan. Add chana dal, urad dal and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the slit green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Saute a bit and then add the chopped onion. Saute on a low flame until the onions turn translucent.  Add turmeric powder and the mashed potatoes. Mix well and stir in a cup of water and salt as per your taste. Let it boil for a few minutes until the masala thickens. Switch off the heat and mix in the lemon juice.

Serve hot with puris.

Note : * I am partial to coconut oil and think that it imparts a characteristic flavor to this masala. However, any oil will serve the purpose.

This is my entry to the second week of Blogging Marathon #72, under the theme Vegetarian dinners.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Friday, January 06, 2017

Chocolate chip cookies

There are some dishes that you can always create in your kitchen with perfection and, seemingly, with no effort. A chocolate chip cookie is not one of them. It is one of those things where the end product can sometimes end up too soft and gooey, or too crisp or at times, brown so much that it starts to smell charred well done. There's no easy way around this one. You must try, try and try again until you have that perfect recipe. And once you do, you write it down so that you won't forget the measurements you used and then, you can recreate that perfect cookie any time you want to.
This recipe that I am sharing with you today is an adaptation of one such recipe that I came across in a book called Sensational Cookies by Linda Amendt. Following this recipe will yield cookies that are soft, chewy and just right.

What you need:

All purpose flour - 1 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Butter (softened, at room temperature) - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Chocolate chips - 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat well to mix. Mix in the vanilla. Then slowly add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix with a spatula until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie, as these cookies will expand while baking.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to turn a light brown.
Remove onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

This is my second recipe for Blogging Marathon #72 under the them Kids' Delight - Cakes & Cookies. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Black forest cake (Eggless)

When I was growing up, cakes were not very common. There were plum cakes for Christmas, but other than that, we hardly ever ate much cake. For birthdays, the standard fare was always payasam and a sadya - very rarely did the celebration involve cutting a cake. The few birthday cakes I remember eating were all iced with flowers that looked bright, colorful and beautiful, but were really hard to bite into. Now, with a profusion of flavors, frostings, toppings and fillings to choose from, I find that I prefer simple flavors and minimal frosting.
For the last few years, I have been baking the new year cake for the get-together that me and my friends host on new year's eve. This year, I made a crowd favorite - an eggless black forest cake.

What you need:

Basic chocolate cake - 1
Whipped cream ( 1cup of heavy whipping cream + 5 tbsp. of sugar beaten at high speed till stiff peaks form)
1 jar of canned cherries
Chocolate shavings

With a serrated knife or a cake leveler, cut the cake into two layers. Place the bottom layer on the cake board. With a pastry brush, apply some of the canned cherry syrup all over the cake. Alternatively, you can use sugar syrup too. Evenly spread a layer of whipped cream on this layer and top it with some chopped cherries. Place the second layer of cake on top of this. Apply cherry syrup over it and then spread whipped cream on top of it. Frost the sides of the cake and smooth the icing with an offset spatula. Top the cake with some cherries and chocolate shavings.

This is my second recipe for Blogging Marathon #72 under the them Kids' Delight - Cakes & Cookies. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM
This recipe also goes to Kids' delight event hosted by Vidhya’s Vegetarian Kitchen and run by Srivalli – Spice Your Life!